4.27.2011

cy twombly

Cy Twombly isn't new to the art scene, but this is for those who don't know who he is. His pieces are typically on large, neutral-covered surfaces with scribbles and abstract images. He is very well known for incorporating messy calligraphy. I do admit that some of his pieces look as though a preschooler was learning to write, but here are some of my favorites. The small proportions of these pieces don't do the actual grand-scale pieces any justice. Imagine full walls of messy words and drippy paint splatters.

 





Here is the little guy at one of his exhibits in Houston back in 2005.

what i'm lovin' wedenesday

1. Deborah Lippmann
I wrote a bit about the new yellow color I added to my crowded polish collection in my "follow the yellow brick road" post, but I didn't want to leave out the other two colors I purchased today. They sparkle a little bit more, but there's nothing wrong with a little sparkle in life. The sky blue is perfect for the Spring season and the gold would work perfectly for a night out.
Glitter in the Air and Boom Boom Pow

2. Cards
I think cards are sentimental ways to remind someone you're thinking of them, which is why I was delighted to see one in my mailbox. My sister sent me sweetest one! I hung it up on my wall as a reminder to pursue my career/dreams/plans. The bonus was a picture of my baby nephew tucked inside.

 3. Greek grub
I love the tastes and smells of this Mediterranean cuisine. It's hard not to when it's filled with olives, gyro meat, and tzaziki sauce. I definitely indulged for dinner this week and I enjoyed every single bite. I need to get to the country right away.

4.26.2011

sweet tooth

I tend to get cravings for a little sugar in my tummy, but why does that one sliver of cake, bite of a cookie, or scoop of ice cream have to contain so many calories? If only the things I really enjoyed were healthy. I can either keep dreaming of the day sweets won't go directly to my thighs, or I can learn how to make my favorite treats on the lighter side. Luckily, Cooking Light is the perfect teacher.

Here are some I just have to try. The best part about it is that I can indulge guilt free!


Ingredients for cake:
  • 10 1/10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Cooking spray
 Ingredients for frosting:
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ounce fromage blanc
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare cake, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add 2 cups grated carrot, tossing to combine.
3. Place granulated sugar, brown sugar, and 6 tablespoons butter in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spread batter into a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.
4. To prepare frosting, place softened cream cheese and next 4 ingredients (through 1/8 teaspoon salt) in a medium bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at medium speed until combined (don't overbeat). Spread frosting evenly over top of cake. Sprinkle evenly with toasted pecans.
Calories? 284 calories per slice



Ingredients for Ricotta:
  • Ricotta:
  • 1 gallon 1% low-fat milk
  • 4 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces fromage blanc   
Ingredients for shells:
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 (18 x 14–inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Remaining ingredients:
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar 
Preparation:

1. To prepare ricotta, line a large colander or sieve with 3 layers of dampened cheesecloth, allowing cheesecloth to extend over outside edges of colander, and place colander in a large bowl.
2. Combine milk and buttermilk in a large, heavy stockpot. Cook over medium heat until a candy thermometer reaches 170°, gently stirring constantly. As soon as the milk mixture reaches 170°, stop stirring (whey and curds will separate at this point). Continue to cook, without stirring, until the thermometer reaches 190°. (Be sure not to stir, or curds that have formed will break apart.) Immediately remove pan from heat. (Bottom of pan may be slightly scorched.) Pour milk mixture into cheesecloth-lined colander. Drain over bowl for 5 minutes, and discard liquid (whey). Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Hang cheesecloth bundle from kitchen faucet, and drain 12 minutes or just until whey stops dripping. Scrape ricotta into a medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt, and toss gently with a fork to combine. Cool to room temperature.
3. Add 2/3 cup of granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and fromage blanc to ricotta; beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined. Cover mixture, and refrigerate.
4. To prepare shells, preheat oven to 375°.
5. Cut out 12 (12 x 4–inch) pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Using your index fingers as a guide, loosely roll up each foil piece jelly-roll fashion to form a cylinder with a 1-inch opening. Lightly coat outside of each cylinder with cooking spray. Combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small bowl.
6. Place 1 phyllo sheet on a large cutting board or work surface (cover the remaining dough to prevent drying); lightly brush with butter. Sprinkle evenly with 2 teaspoons sugar mixture. Repeat layers once. Cut phyllo stack lengthwise into 4 equal strips. Place a foil cylinder at bottom of 1 phyllo strip; roll up jelly-roll fashion around cylinder. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Place on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Repeat procedure with the remaining phyllo, butter, sugar mixture, and foil cylinders. Bake at 375° for 12 minutes or until lightly browned; cool completely on a wire rack. Carefully remove foil cylinders from phyllo shells by twisting ends of foil in opposite directions and gently pulling foil from shells.
7. Finely chop 1 1/2 ounces chocolate. Combine ricotta mixture and chopped chocolate in a bowl. Transfer mixture to a large zip-top plastic bag; snip off 1/2-inch of 1 corner of bag. Pipe ricotta mixture evenly into each of 12 prepared shells (about 1/3 cup). Grate remaining 1/2 ounce chocolate. Dust cannoli evenly with powdered sugar and grated chocolate; serve immediately.

Calories? 340 calories per cannoli. 


Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate minichips
 Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Place butter, bittersweet chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until chocolate is almost melted. Stir until smooth. Combine coffee granules and 1 tablespoon hot water, stirring until granules dissolve. Stir coffee and vanilla into chocolate mixture.
3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Combine sugar, egg substitute, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed 6 minutes or until thick and pale. Gently stir 1/4 of egg mixture into chocolate mixture; stir chocolate mixture into remaining egg mixture. Stir in flour mixture, nuts, and chocolate chips.
4. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets; with moist hands, gently press dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
Note: When the cookies are done, they'll be cracked on top and still moist in the center.

Calories? 142 calories per cookie.


Ingredients:
  • 1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted 
 Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under; flute. Line dough with foil; arrange pie weights or dried beans on foil. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes; remove weights and foil, and bake an additional 10 minutes or until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.
3. Combine milk and half-and-half in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 cups coconut. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; stir seeds and pod into milk mixture. Bring milk mixture to a simmer; immediately remove from heat. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl. Gather edges of cheesecloth; squeeze over bowl to release moisture. Discard solids.
4. Combine 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add milk mixture to egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Return milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter; whisk until smooth. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 6 minutes, stirring to cool. Pour into prepared crust. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
5. Place 3 egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 250°. Pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over egg whites, beating at high speed until thick. Spread meringue over pie. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Top with toasted coconut before serving.

Calories? 266 calories per slice.

follow the yellow brick road

I ventured to Barneys New York today to pick some new hues by the nail guru, Deborah Lippman. There in the middle of the little rack of colorful glass bottles sat the perfect pop of yellow. I knew exactly what it was...Yellow Brick Road. My nails screamed out, "Paint me! Paint me!" all the way home, and I granted their wish.


I love the lemony shade and the polish's ode to the classic film, The Wizard of Oz. Here are some other ways to add little bits of this classic movie into everyday life...


1. So Chaud by Mac. Paint those lips ruby red.
2. Straw Hat by H&M. Wear this cute hat, rather than tote around a basket.
3. Moonlight Ice Ring by David Yurman. Have a mini Emerald City on hand.
4. Sheer Yoke Floral Skort by Free People . Don't fall asleep while wearing these Spring shorts.

lolla-puhlease?-a

I would like a plane ticket to Chicago and tickets to this.

 

Lykke Li, Portugal the Man, and Young the Giant?...and that's just to name a few. Eeps! Heavenly. Obviously the line-up had to be of epic proportions due to the festival's 20th anniversary. Now, it come down to getting there...

4.24.2011

sunday spark

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"Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it."
-Greg Anderson

4.22.2011

jealous of jillian

I was eagerly waiting for SHAPE Magazine to arrive. Knowing that my inspiration, Jillian Michaels graced the cover was reason enough to continue peering in an empty mailbox around three times a day. Finally yesterday, there she was looking amazing in a white two-piece. That tummy is to die for. 

I've watched her train on The Biggest Loser and absolutely loved her series, Losing It, which I raved about in my "i used to be fat" post. If you ever need motivation to get your bum to the gym, just click on one of those shows. That does the trick for me, especially with such an amazing and dedicated trainer leading me through diets and workouts. I honestly can't thank her enough for inspiring me to drop my weight.


It was nice to hear that Jillian doesn't like to spend a lot of her time working out. Thank goodness, she's actually human. Even better, she shares a quick twenty minute workout that tones your whole body. My friend tried it and challenged me to try. So last night I did. It's tough, but you can definitely feel your muscles working. Add a little cardio and you're set for the day. It always helps having a friend to text when you accomplished some time at the gym or a new work out. Thanks, J.

So here is the workout...


How it works:

Do 1 set of each move back-to-back without resting. Complete the entire circuit five times.


You'll need:
A pair of 5- to 10-pound dumbbells. 


Single-Leg Squat with Corkscrew Curl 
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A
Hold a dumbbell in each hand at sides, palms facing behind you, and stand with weight on left foot, right foot raised. Squat on left leg as you extend arms down.

B
Rise up as you curl weights toward your shoulders, palms facing up. Return to the starting position and repeat for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.

 

Dancing Crab

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A
Sit on the ground with knees bent and hands on the ground behind you, fingers pointing toward your butt. Straighten arms and raise hips so they're slightly below shoulder and knee height (your body is not in a straight line).

B
Lift left leg and right arm, reaching right hand toward left shin. Return to the starting position and repeat, reaching left hand toward right knee. Repeat for 30 seconds, alternating sides and keeping your hips raised the entire time.


Stork Stance Reverse Fly
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A
Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended in front of hips and palms facing each other. Bend forward from hips until torso is parallel to ground as you lift right leg to hip height behind you.

B
Balance here and raise arms out to sides to shoulder height. Lower arms and repeat for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.

Plank Mogul  
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A
Get in plank position with hands aligned under shoulders and abs tight, body straight from head to heels.

B
Bend knees and jump feet up slightly and about a foot to the right. Jump feet back to the starting position and repeat to the left. Repeat, alternating sides, for 30 seconds.

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As if the cover shot wasn't motivating enough...

be happy

Oddly enough, it's weird for me to grasp the concept of happiness, and this is coming from a girl who almost always has a smile on her face. Happiness can be overwhelming or sometimes fleeting. It's nothing you can grab onto and hold onto for dear life. It's a thought, a feeling, an emotion. I think this poem describes it perfectly, whatever it is. Strive for it.

So Much Happiness
By Naomi Shihab Nye

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
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Marshmallows=happiness.
Especially when they're smiling.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records…
Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

lovin' lauren

It's always a treat to see your favorite celebs grace the cover of a magazine. So I snatched up this month's Allure and bee-lined to the check out line when I saw Lauren Conrad's pretty face on the front. I know I blog about her often, but I've been smitten with her since Laguna Beach. It's the easy way I can relate to her and her fashion sense doesn't hurt one bit.

I love the naturalness of the photo shoot and the 1960's theme behind it. She looks absolutely beautiful with wild hair, which I actually like better without her usual extensions. The clothes are simple, and the setting is very laid back. It's the perfect cover shoot to capture her girl-next-door personality.

Besides a great article on everything from reality television to flip-flops to her authenticity as an author, there is a fun montage of memorable moments from over the years. She has been one to watch, and will continue to be one to watch.


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4.21.2011

femme de cirque

I have been having so much fun with nail polish this past week. I went from turquoise, to yellow, to hot pink. I've been all over the color spectrum. Vibrant colors are fun, but sometimes it's nice to have your fall-back neutrals. That's why OPI's collection, Femme de Cirque is right on time to tame my colorful tips.

Filled with pretty pinks, whites, and grays, it's the ultimate girly collection. I especially love the color I Juggle Men. No, not just because of the name, but because the light gray color really pops.

OPI never fails to impress me with the names of their different shades. I've loved the little innuendos and catchy phrases since I was little and I got to dabble in my mom's nail polish collection. Speaking of my mother and the circus...my first time under the big top consisted of an elephant sneezing, spewing massive boogers all over my mom. I will never ever forget that moment. I know I will be getting a call after she reads this post, but it's too funny not to share. Sorry, mama.

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Step Right Up, In the Spotlight Pink, So Many Clowns So Little Time, I Juggle Men

4.20.2011

what i'm lovin' wednesday

1. Sushi
 I can't seem to get enough of this yummy treat. I typically stick to the rolls because sashimi gives me the heebie jeebies, but squid salad and edamame are fair game.
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2. Making amends
Holding grudges is incredibly draining. Life is much too short for that. It is far better to let go of the past and see someone for who they really are. It may turn out, you were missing out on a really great friend.
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3. The Beauty Department
As if I wasn't already obsessed with Miss Conrad, now she has to go launch a beauty site. While there isn't much posted on the site just yet, I am pretty giddy with excitement for beauty tips from such a pretty lady, and the women who get her so glam. Her makeup artist, Amy Nadine and hairstylist, Kristin Ess are also contributors. Perf!
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4.19.2011

getting back on track

I'm a little ashamed to admit I went a little off track the usual diet and exercise routine. A girl has got to take a break sometimes, but the slacking off and eating yummy, high-cal meals has taken it's toll on my body. It's definitely time to get back into the swing of healthy living. Farewell to eating out at restaurants and happy hour with the girls. Hello to calorie counting and exercise. I don't mind the lifestyle change because I definitely feel healthier and happier when I'm doing/consuming things that are good for my body and mind.

To jump-start my health kick, I checked out the Eating Well website. It's full of tasty recipes that have good nutritional values, which are aiding in inspiring me to eat better. Here are a few I will be testing out this week.

Spicy Beef with Shrimp & Bok Choy
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Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup Shao Hsing rice wine, (see Ingredient note)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oyster-flavored sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 3/4 pound sirloin steak, trimmed of fat, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 10 raw shrimp, (21-25 per pound), peeled, deveined and chopped
  • 1 pound bok choy, preferably baby bok choy, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch pieces
Directions:
  1. Whisk rice wine, oyster sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl until the cornstarch is dissolved.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add beef and crushed red pepper to taste; cook, stirring, until the beef begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add shrimp and continue to cook, stirring, until the shrimp is opaque and pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the beef, shrimp and any juices to a plate.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat in the same pan. Add bok choy and cook, stirring, until it begins to wilt, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture. Return the beef-shrimp mixture to the pan and cook, stirring, until heated through and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 1 minute. (Serves 4, about 1 cup each)
Nutrition:
Per serving: 204 calories; 8 g fat ( 2 g sat , 4 g mono ); 54 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 22 g protein; 1 g fiber; 384 mg sodium; 660 mg potassium.


Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Chickpeas
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Ingredients:
  • 4 ounces whole-wheat orecchiette, or chiocciole (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 bunch broccoli rabe, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup vegetarian chicken-flavored broth, (see Note)
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, or 1/8 teaspoon dried
  • 1 8-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Directions:
  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cook pasta for 6 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the pasta and broccoli rabe are just tender, about 3 minutes more. Drain. Rinse and dry the pot.
  2. Whisk broth and flour in a small bowl. Heat oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in the broth mixture. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, until it thickens. Add chickpeas, vinegar, salt, pepper and the pasta mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until heated through and coated with the sauce, about 2 minutes. (Serves 2, about 2 cups each)
Nutrition:
Per serving: 413 calories; 9 g fat ( 1 g sat , 6 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 74 g carbohydrates; 22 g protein; 14 g fiber; 655 mg sodium; 448 mg potassium. 
 
 Rice Pilaf with Shrimp
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Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped prosciutto (about 2 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup fine egg noodles, broken up into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup instant brown rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup frozen baby lima beans or edamame
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp (31-40 count; see Note)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and prosciutto and cook, stirring often, until the shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add noodles and rice and cook, stirring often, until the noodles begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until it has evaporated, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add lima beans (or edamame) and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer; cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, toss shrimp with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a medium bowl. Add lemon juice and toss to coat.
  3. Scatter the shrimp in an even layer over the pilaf; drizzle any remaining lemon juice over the shrimp. Cover and continue cooking until the shrimp are pink and firm, about 5 minutes more.
  4. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon dill and season with pepper. Garnish with more dill, if desired. (Serves 4, about 1 1/4 cups each)
Nutrition:
Per serving: 353 calories; 9 g fat ( 2 g sat , 4 g mono ); 189 mg cholesterol; 30 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 34 g protein; 3 g fiber; 774 mg sodium; 543 mg potassium

perks of puppies

It comes as no shock that I am an absolute dog lover. The word "lover" really doesn't even cut it when it comes to my obsession with the furry little critters. I've been laughed at numerous times by my friends as I carry on little conversations with Charlie, while cradling her like a baby. I have no shame whatsoever about it.

I had to smile when I stumbled upon an article on the ways dogs improve your life. Thank you, SHAPE Magazine for justifying my silly actions with my pup. It turns out, Charlie not only makes me happy, but also improves my health and my body.

Here are a few pictures of how much happiness my little Chars has brought to my life...


And here are a few of the reasons you should let a furball into your life...

They keep you in shape! A March 2011 study published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health found that dog owners are more likely to reach their fitness goals than those without canine companions. Researchers at Michigan State University found that dog owners are 34 percent more likely to fit in 150 minutes of walking per week than non-dog owners....

They help your social skills. Researchers at Central Michigan University found that when a dog is present in a collaborative group setting, group members rank their teammates higher in terms of trust, team cohesion, and intimacy.

They help you make friends...or snag a date. It may seem counterintuitive, but being close with your pooch helps develop human relationships. Studies find that owning a dog, and particularly walking your dog, increases social interaction. 

They lower your risk for diabetes. Dog owners who walk their dogs regularly have one-third the risk of diabetes than those who don't own and walk a dog, according to exercise scientist Cindy Lentino.

They warm your heart, while keeping it healthy. Sure, being more active will obviously lead to improved blood pressure, but studies have found that the mere act of petting your puppy will decrease your blood pressure.

They teach us how to love. Child psychologist Robert Bierer of Albuquerque found that children who had experience caring for a dog had higher levels of empathy and self-esteem than children without pet dogs.

There! Now you have no excuse not to get a pup. 
While I didn't adopt Charlie, she was on sale at an unfit pet store, so I feel like I kind of saved her. I will definitely be adopting my next little addition to our family. I highly suggest you look into adoption. There are so many little guys that need a home and plenty of love.

s.o.m.l.

Sometimes I want to give a card to a friend, but Hallmark really just doesn't get it. I don't necessarily want to be sappy all the time, but would rather have a little sarcasm bring a smile to my friend's face. I'm not exactly keen on scanning the aisles of glittery cards with cursive scrawl, while covering my ears as little kids open and close the musical cards. Thankfully, two lovely friends of mine created the perfect cards that allow me to avoid that dreaded aisle.

Story of My Life Cards has the perfect cards for all occasions, and not just holidays. If you need a card to reminisce on a wild night, they have it. If you need a card for a break up, they have it. If you need a card that's a little naughty, they have it. The photos are hilarious, and the captions make them even better. 

Amanda & Annie.
Could there be a cuter pair of friends?
The two girls behind the company, Amanda and Annie, have wanted to start this forever. I remember listening to them chit-chat about their ideas as business women and as best friends, so it's wonderful to see it come to life.  Congrats, ladies.

Oh, and besides having the funniest of cards, they also have a blog that will make you giggle. With posts on comparing men to shoes to nights that got a little out of hand. I read every post and find myself thinking, "Seriously, this is the story of my life."




Here are a few of my favorites (click on the photos to get to ordering)...


Honestly, these cards celebrate the crazy bits of life that there should be cards for. 

festival fashion

Coachella came and went. While I've never attended, I always check out the lineup every year. In my opinion, this year's lineup wasn't exactly mind blowing, or one that I'd have to see. I don't doubt it was an amazing weekend, but I think I have a hard time believing any lineup will ever compete with 2007's. Hello? Rage Against the Machine, Bjork, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. 'Nuff said. If I could have ever gone and danced/sang/partied at Coachella, it would have been that year. A big regret of mine.

While this year's popular festival may not have lived up to my expectations, there is never a disappointment in fashion. The grounds are always filled with lovely ladies strolling around in effortless, heat-friendly, chic clothes. They definitely give some inspiration for a gal living in the heat of Arizona.

Here are a few festival faves I found while scoping Harper's Bazaar...

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It looks as though I need some ankle boots, denim shorts, some detailed leather belts, and some killer shades. Thank you, music lovers for supplying endless inspiration year after year.
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