Foliage Watching

I’ve been a wee bit distracted by the gamut of orange littering the street. There’s little more beautiful than the transition of Fall.

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And evidently, I’ve been too distracted taking pictures next to leaves to blog the past few weeks. Infinite apologies.

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Note: I do have other shoes I swear

 

While I wasn’t foliage watching, there have been a few notable moments:

1) Halloweening in Chicago. It’s a hard life being a party animal unicorn. Costumes followed by a girls weekend in NYC. In withdrawal from everyone and both cities.

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2) It seems that I’m late to the auto-correct text jokes. Regardless, I lost my whole night a few hours of productivity this weekend due to uncontrollable laughter and amusement. I’m actually still chuckling to myself, which my coworkers are clearly loving this bright-eyed Monday morning. Read THIS

 

3) Mediterranean for lunch. I’m successfully hitting my Falafel quota every other day. Be still my heart.

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4) Wearing my underwear on backwards, because I’m that cool. Or maybe because I’m just that lazy to make the transition after my discovery in the work stall. Well, at least I got treated myself to Starbucks. Cheers.

Good day

Good day

 

5) Candy wrappers at the gym. Washington Sports Club is the epitome of health.

nothing like a Hershey's Kiss to fuel your crunches

nothing like a Hershey’s Kiss to fuel your crunches

 

6) My thoughts on trail mix exactly.

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8) Colleen’s new VW body. This made for a very fun drive to our 10 miler trail race.

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9) Tranny Tuesdays in Dupont. But really, there was a wine night with le friends and then the annual Dupont Drag Queen Race. Quite an impressive display of Halloween costumes and very tall, made-up men.

 

How has your November been?

 

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WIAW: NOLA Edition

New Orleans saw a college senior roll in for Mardi Gras…and limp out. And we can say that my body and health are still recovering from those four days. Nonetheless, I came back to the scene of music, humidity, and food. I’d like to underscore food many many times. I did a lot of running (indoors I might add, in order to avoid heat stroke hospitalization) to counter the NOLA tastings over countless days.

There was a successful balance between cooking and eating out.

 

 

Breakfast:

Birthday buckwheat pancakes par moi. Banana, just like dad used to make (cough, cough)

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Brunchers:

New Orleans must. Isn’t this what everyone eats post yoga class?

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Lunch:

Hidden neighborhood juice bar. Is that not the most amazing menu design??

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I’ll keep the lunch portion short and sweet. Let’s just say it involved starvation scavenging  a male fridge for something edible. Feat in itself, ladies and gentlemen.

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Din:

Is there anything better than a peasant dinner? Bold red, hearty wheat bread, pungent cheese, guacamole (game time decision), and an amazeball greek salad. Can I get an amen?

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And there were also restaurant tapas. Four times as expensive and not as delicious as our hodge podge snacks above. Some say I’m a cheap date when I’m not ordering lobster

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The  denouement was the birthday dinner. Steak, mashed potatoes, and peas for the boy. Fish, peas, and a yellow heirlooms for me. Wine x5. Could you have guessed?

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Oh, and let’s not forget dessert. Withold too much judgment please, as this baby was created in a kitchen sans pie pan, flour, sugar, butter, or anything relevant to baking.

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I may have had my face buried in some goat cheese right before this was taken. Please forgive.

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Any memorable meals in New Orleans?

Prepcation

Okay okay okay. So I may be guilty of taking blogging reprieve #387, but there was positive intent behind it. A little R & R in South East Asia? I’ll take it

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I have to say I feel utterly rejuvenated. Fourteen days of mango sticky rice, street Pad Thai, 5 hour muddy treks, spa days, ornate temples, sleeping on village floors, luxurious hotels, and so on.

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After accomplishing a big career to-do and  being finished with the Thailand/Laos planning, I feel ready to really buckle down and focus on my next steps and “the plan.” I’m a wee bit guilty of over-planning  and overextending details of my life, but at the same time I so often get consumed by the daily commitments that my to-do lists will then repeat for months on end. Thus I’m back from my first truly self-sponsored vacation with a college bestie and ready to focus on what the twenty four year old me needs at this moment.

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Coinciding with this motivated self is a very confused body and circadian rhythm. I’m thirteen hours off and surely feeling it on the return much more than on the arrival. Given that there are fellow type A’s out there who similarly like to micromanage the transit woes, I thought I’d discuss some of my lessons learned for jet lag and travel.

 

Tricks of the international trade:

  • Avoid checking bags if possible. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve arrived bagless at my international destination, only to have my bag returned the day I’m returning home. Save yourself some anxiety…and money buying new underwear

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  • Master the traveling chic. It’s that happy medium between wearing your PJs and being stuck in an uncomfortable formal gown, so that you’re confident if you meet your future husband while sitting in 5D. And luckily  that spells leggings and a cardigan or pashmina throw for me
  • Keep the stewardess on speed-dial. The 3 oz cups of water they serve could not possibly hydrate a mouse. I’m in constant need of a refill and why wouldn’t I on a 10 hour flight? Hydration is key especially with the hand and foot swelling that takes place inflight
  • Pack a neck pillow for 6+ hour flights. This trip was my first time using a neck pillow (which deflates to fit in my bag I might add), and it was a saving grace. I didn’t arrive in Bangkok in need of a chiropractor. Hallelujah
  • Prep those snacks. I’ve starved one too many times on flights when faced with the mystery meat that frequents airlines meals nowadays. Given I’m the snack queen, I can tell you I had sustenance on hand for my 23 hour flight
    • A few ideas: water dense veggies and fruit, protein bars, dried fruit and nuts, sandwich for your next meal, miso soup packets, seaweed snacks, etc
  • Slip on a pair of thick socks. A friend suggested this to me before I left and boy was it a great tip. Sandals and flats are the ideal security shoe; however, when the temperature on the plane drops to 50 degrees slipping on a pair of warm socks helps you maintain whatever menial amount of heat you have retained
  • Move it. I am not someone who will advocate doing lunges and stretches down the aisle. I once witnessed a woman do a full blown yoga sun salutation in the aisle, complete with chatarangas and down dogs. I still cringe. However, I will suggest you move when you make your arrival. I know all you want to do is sleep but whether you go for a walk and explore the city or hop on the treadmill briefly, you’ll thank me because these are the steps (literally) your body needs to adjust
  • Stay present. Whether your luggage is lost or you accidentally drank the native water, you’re at your prized destination and that’s what matters

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Any travel tips?

WIAW: Winter Good Eats

In between deep, fistful plunges into my bottomless snack bag purse, there were some good eats. Fresh hummus screams spring, yet the snow outside and my frozen strawberries not as much. Making do with my meals since the groundhog was clearly mistaken.


Breakfast:

Parfait please. Layered greek yogurt, protein pancake, strawberries, and sunflower seeds. Good Wednesday morning indeed

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Lunch:

I had an unnotable mid-day meal, however, the hummus I made was a salient concoction. I was a little tired of buying $4 “gourmet” hummus at Whole Foods, so I took matters into my own hands.

Edamame Hummus:

  • In a blender/cusinart, add 1/2 cup of bean of choice. I used a chickpeas and white navy beans
  • Add equal amount of edamame. Thawed if frozen
  • Add 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Add lemon juice and vinegar to taste
  • Season with herbs of provence and salt
  • Use on anything and everything savory

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Dinner:

Tempeh salad. The perfect accompaniment to book club reading. The Yoga of Jesus anyone? Wasn’t a huge fan of the book–the writing was not very succinct. So don’t you go rushing out to buy it all at once 🙂

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As of Late

Lately… my days look like this. Despite the kind beginning of the Spring Equinox

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Lately…I’ve been running more. Stella is getting her groove back and likes it. I ran my third half marathon, the DC Rock and Roll Half Marathon last weekend.  The route was hillier than when I PRed at it two years ago; I was also in Charlottesville hill shape then and actually training. I loved the race and it was so nice to run with a friend the entire time, rather than be plugged in to my pod. I loved having support waiting for me at the finish line 🙂

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Lately…I’ve been channeling Martha Stewart. The pre-insider trading/criminal Martha. Nothing is as cathartic as spending a few hours in the kitchen working on a dish for loved ones. Peach-pear pie anyone?

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Lately…Bloody Marys have made a come back in my life. I guess it takes a make your own Bloody Mary bar to make me reconsider my Mimosas. Getting in my veggies, right?

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Lately…Breaking Bad has been on the mind. Two episodes away from being caught up on the current season. Eeeeeeeee, so good.

 

Lately…I’ve been loving words like these, “I believe if you float that the wind will certainly one day find you… that it takes patience to hover and watch… it takes courage to put out your sails and wait for an invisible force… this is no external hand but the quiet space between effort and letting go.”

 

Lately…I discovered the best French restaurant in DC.Montematre, I have no complaints. It was the most delicious race fueling I’ve done. Wine helps the legs right?

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What have you been doing lately?

WIAW: Humpday Eats

Happy Wednesday!! The week is half way over so let’s eat. Or at least run through today’s eats. After my ski trip, I’ve been trying to sneak in more veggies whenever I can. A detox from wine and peanut butter was in order, big time

 

Morning:

Nothing like getting multiple serving of veggies in before breakfast. The greener the better.  Perfect accompaniment on my drive to work

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Took a break at work for some sustenance. Tea and yogurt on a rainy morning at my desk

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Thanks for getting me through the week with your sweet treats, Chobani. The blood orange was a new favorite find, and I can’t wait to try the new Chobani Bites

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Afternoon:

Tuna salad chefed up by yours truly. And then a bar and grapes for dessert

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Evening:

Finally put my birthday present to good use (thanks, mom!). I made a carrot soup to sooth the soul with my new immersion blender. I better get to making more soup before spring starts in twenty days!

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Before

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After

 

What’s your favorite Chobani flavor?

Made any soups this winter?

A French Feat

It’s a feat I had not endeavored since high school in AP French. One that transplants you back to the country d’amour. And envelops you in flavors teeming with richness and simplicity. One that heightens your appreciation for a perfect, buttery crust.

The Galette. For those of you to have yet been transfixed by this rustic dessert, it’s a freeform, French tart replete with the fruits of summer and the essence of Provence.

For a dinner party a few weeks back, I endeavored to prepare a galette. Nothing embodies celebration like a beautiful, caramelized fruit tart. Right? You can always go buy one too, but where’s the fun in that? Fewer stories about the struggles of finding a few sticks of butter on a Sunday evening, or fiddling with oven knobs that are devoid of any printed temperature value.

 

Apricot and Strawberry Galette

(Adapted from Katie)

  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks very cold butter
  • 12-16 TBS ice cold water
  • 1 1/2 lb ripe apricots, thickly sliced
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 4 TBS cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. Grand Marnier
  1. I doubled the recipe– it’s still more of an adequate serving size this way.
  2. Make the pie crust: whisk together the flour and the salt in a medium bowl.  Cut in the cold butter, and blend  until the mixture is coarse with small lumps.  Add the water 1 TBS at a time, stirring with a fork between additions, until the dough comes loosely together.  Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and wrap tightly.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425°F.  In a large bowl, mix the apricots, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch,  and Grand Marnier.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Roll out the dough into a large oval on a well-floured surface, then transfer to a baking sheet.  Pile the fruit filling into the middle of the galette, leaving at least an inch around the edges on all sides.  Fold the edges of the dough over the filling and press down.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 350°F and continue baking for 25-30 minutes longer, until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown.
  4.  Don’t be alarmed if the filling bubbles out somewhat – it’s that kind of dessert. Note: If you use frozen fruit it will definitely bubble over.
  5. Et voila! Enjoy

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What have you baked recently?

From This to That

Last week’s cold temperatures brought mumblings of winter storms. The seven degree wind chill and falling snowflakes did not come until this morning. I was quite surprised to find DC a winter wonderland as I headed to spin class before work.

This:

Salted sidewalks in  preparation

Salted sidewalks in preparation

BUNDLED

BUNDLED

That:

Fresh snow

Fresh snow

Copenhagen style

Copenhagen style

 

I’ve brought back my morning juice. As of recent, I have been making a concerted effort to either leave time for prep, juicing, cleaning, and packing in the mornings or to make the concoction the night before. My new project team is all a bunch of health nut guys funnily enough, so they love my juices of the day. I tend to stick to a variance of kale, celery, carrot, parsley, lemon, apple or orange. But yesterday, (dun dun dun) I added a huge beet.  Don’t get me wrong, I love beets but the beet flavor was a little too predominant for my morning imbibing, though the color was nice.

This:

WSJ musings

WSJ musings

That:

BEEETiful

BEEETiful

From student to seat of the teacher, all in blue. Wonderful moment
This:
Class time

Class time

That:

Post-teaching....peer reviews

Post-teaching...Peer reviews
Pardon the tears

 

Brace yourselves. Grocery stores are no longer selling canned pumpkin. This anguish is not to be taken lightly. Luckily enough, I had a spare can from my protein pancake addiction, and I got to baking for my Teacher Training graduation. Every celebration needs Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies right? Here’s my PRIZED recipe–you’ll make a lot of friends with this one, I promise

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (Recipe source Food Network)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips, not semisweet
  • Nonstick cooking spray or parchment paper

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line them with parchment paper. Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.

This:

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Oh, yes

Oh, yes

That:
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Pumpkin fest Pumpkin fest

 

A perfect complement to yoga certificates, food, and meditative states–the construction of our vision boards. For those of you who are reading this puzzled, it’s a photo collage to inspire, drive, and remind you of your goals.

This:

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We like magazines

We like magazines

That:

Finished.

Finished.

Tell me a this to that?

Liebster Interrogation

I’ve met so many really great people in the blogging world, and it’s fascinating how I’ve come to really know their stories. Anyway, I want to thank Hayley for nominating me for the Liebster Award. I’ll try not to bore you incessantly with mundane Grace facts. “Try” being the key word here.

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Here are the rules…

  1. Write 11 random facts about yourself
  2. Answer the 11 questions given by the person who nominated you
  3. Create 11 new questions
  4. Nominate 11 bloggers and mention them in your post
  5. Thank the person that nominated you and tell the people you’ve nominated

Facts:

1. I make my bed every single morning. And if I don’t get the chance to, which is incredibly rare, I’ll make it when I get home. My room just seems too disheveled if it’s not made. I also believe I sleep better when getting into an organized and inviting bed.

2. I only ate buttered noodles and pate for about two thirds of my life.  I took an interest in cooking and new cuisines in high school and then developed rapidly into a foodie. Now my parents don’t know who I am.  They can’t tell you how it happened, but they sure are thankful. I received many a threat that if I didn’t finish my glass of whole milk (yes, I know) or stay at the table until everyone was done, my principal would be called.

3. My grandmother is one of my favorite people. She’s incredibly strong, fascinating, and quirky. I never cease to be amazed by a new life story she tells me–about her travels, the people she’s met, or the antics of my dad. I can count the Christmases I’ve spent without her on one hand, so I really don’t know how to associate that holiday without Ma–making cookies on her butcher block, walking down the stairs hand in hand on Christmas morning, or discussing  politics the night of Christmas Eve.

4. I want a puppy, badly. Or more so, I want to vicariously have one. Not exactly in the right house, city, or stage of my life for one. But hopefully soon. I crave the long walks, cuddle sessions, and companion runs. I may or may not have a few names picked out in anticipation.

5. A few friends the other night made the discovery that I am insanely ticklish behind my ears. Like the earlobe and back of ears area. What a random finding, 23 years down the road. It also may be that I just don’t like people touching my ears–one of those personal spots, you know? And if we’re on a tickle tangent, my brother use to tickle me to such a degree that I think I’m desensitized to it. My arms and feet have been through more tickling than one human being should experience 😉

6. I rarely eat an apple without cinnamon or almonds. It’s an ideal combination, and I have become so use to this paring that the experience is not the same without  the three. I’ve been known to keep a baggy of almonds in my purse. Doesn’t everyone?

7. I’m not a fan of Florida weather. Eeeeeeeeek, I may now be shunned from my home town of Tampa and all my friends. But it truly is tooooo hot. There are maybe 3 months out of the year that are tolerable, and those being the winter months when you shouldn’t be wrapping the Christmas gifts next to a fan, AC unit, and bowl of ice. Growing up in that environment made me awed and moved by the variance of the seasons. It’s really magical to see the pigmentation of the leaves change, experience your first snow in a new city, and witness the blossoming of orange tulip bulbs.

8. I have a slight addiction to cereal and cannot buy it for myself. It will not last in my house and I will devour it all within days. It’s a problem. And I’m seeking help.

9. After hearing from all the wise women of the world, I try to wear sunscreen on my face everyday. Just a little SPF. I know how powerful and destructive those UV rays are regardless of sun or rain. I found a great matted moisturizer SPF so that I don’t feel like I’m putting my makeup onto a greasy sunblock canvas. Sorry boys, that one was for the girls’ ears.

10. My family and I have an odd sequence of birthdays. Me: February SIXTH, my mom: January SEVENTH, my brother: March EIGHTH, and my dad: March twenty NINETH. Okay, that might now blow your mind, but I think it’s kind of neat.

11. I like that blogging is keeping my accountable. Having this outlet forces me to be reflective on my experiences, adventuresome in my activities, and exploratory in my voice and writing direction. Otherwise, it is incredibly challenging to sit yourself down on top of your bustling schedule and obligations, and just write for yourself. So now I’m writing for myself and everyone else.

Your questions:

  1. What is your favorite holiday and why? I’ve always been fond of Thanksgiving. I love the tradition we had with my godparents–switching off hosting every other Thanksgiving between Tampa and West Palm. The food, the smells, the energy, the games are all wonderful memories for me.
  2. Stranded on an island – what 3 things would you want with you? Chapstick, Steinbeck’s East of Eden, and my running shoes.
  3. What are the first 5 things you do when you wake up in the morning? Hit snooze, glance at my emails, take a sip of water, brush my teeth, and take a moment of gratitude.
  4. Favorite meal of the day? BREAKFAST. Endless possibilities.
  5. If you could only do one form of exercise the rest of your life, what would it be? Oh man, I’m in a tough situation. I’d say running because it’s such an emotional release for me. But yoga is doing that for me, as well right now.
  6. Who is your #1 role model? My parents
  7. Who is your celebrity crush? George Clooney. Tall, dark, and handsome.
  8. If you could jump forward 10 years and have any career you want, what would be your dream job? Well, I’m having that crisis already and toying with so many ideas. But either owning my own company/brand, or consulting for a value-aligned health based company. Also being able to travel globally for work.
  9. What is your favorite way to “splurge” and treat yourself with your money? I rarely do it, but a massage. I hold a lot of tension and stress in my shoulders and hips, so I feel like a new woman after a massage.
  10. Are you an animal person? Do you have any pets or want any? Love animals. Not cats, sorry. Slightly allergic and they bore me.
  11. Would you describe yourself as an introvert or extrovert? We just did the Myers Briggs test again during a work retreat. I’m an extrovert in the work field. But socially, an introvert. I’m definitely gregarious but I enjoy my me-time and need to recharge after long days with people.

My questions:

1. Where is your happy place to retreat to?

2. How many siblings do you have?

3. If you could have one superpower?

4. Your top Christmas wish list?

5. If you could be anywhere in the world right now?

6. What did you have for breakfast?

7. Biggest pet peeve?

8. Never have I ever…?

9. Earliest memory?

10. Early bird or night owl?

11. Least favorite food?

The Ladies:

1.Bessbefit

2. Beaniebumbles

3. Sarasmiles

4. Lifeasliv

5. Aftertheivyleague

6. Toldinvain

7. Taylormade

8. Sugarcoatedsisters

9. Fitwanderer

10. Peanutbutterrunner

11. Jessielovestorun

Wanted to nominate everyone, so feel free to leave any answers in the comments below. Enjoy!!

Pizza Kind of Night

There are those nights when you just need a perfect slice of pizza. But you want to be make dinner at home. And you want to try a dozen recipes. And you’re a healthy living blogger. Conflicting interests?

No at all.

Ladies and gentleman, date night does Cauliflower Pizza. And does it well.

I discovered the brilliance and innovation of this recipe on various blogs but in paricular, thank you Laura! To be honest, it sounded a little out there but I always like a challenge. If I live in yoga pants and running shoes, juice to my heart’s content, and frequent farmer’s markets like they’re going out of style, then I should assuredly like cauliflower pizza, right?

There’s nothing like testing out a new degree of healthy yogi with the boyfriend. We made a TJs (Trader Joes) run for all the necessary ingredients, including ready-made pizza dough in case anything went too awry and we were on the verge of starvation. A couple of store samples of ginger bread cookies and dark chocolate peppermints (buy these now) helped to temper the anticipation hunger.

I may have purchased a treat for myself

I may have purchased a treat for myself

 

Settled in at home with my dark chocolates, we got to work. I pulsed a head of cauliflower in the food processor. To that, I added egg whites, nutritional yeast, herbs, and flour. I played around with amounts until the texture and viscosity felt correct.

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As my unphotogenic dough took form, the boyfriend, clearly not having doubts about how substantial this dinner would be, began preparing the pizza dough.

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He has a few tricks up his sleeve. I’m dating him for his cooking skills, clearly

 

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough

Cauliflower Dough

Cauliflower Dough

 

I baked my dough at 425 for 15 minutes then removed it from the oven, and we each topped our pizzas and into the oven they went again.

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And 15-20 minutes later, the Za was in a fine, fine state. My adventuresome dough was topped with tomato sauce, mushrooms, onions, and olives. The boyfriend got innovative with his toppings and used a hodge podge of tomato sauce, onions, olives, prosciutto, and ravioli (Christians Pizza-esque).

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And paired with wine and a salad, dinner was complete. We both agreed that our meal was a huge success. We both tried the cauliflower pizza and though it did taste different, it was actually delicious. It felt hearty and coupled with so many vegetables it had a lot of flavor. I continued to use the leftover dough for lunches and it tasted almost quiche-like; always a good similarity in my book. I didn’t have any of the boyfriend’s meat laden pizza but the actual pizza was the perfect texture and crispness, and he declared it his best yet.

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Bon Appetit!

What new recipe have you tried?