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Archive for April, 2012

Salad…it’s what’s for dinner.

I love salads!

We eat them a lot. In our old house with a brilliant garden we mostly inherited from the previous owners, we grew lettuce and would often dazzle our guests and ourselves by picking fresh greens right as we were about to serve the main meal to add a little simple salad on the side. What is more impressive than that?! I mean, really. (Disclaimer: okay, I get that not everyone is as in love with gardening, or organic living, or food like I am. But to me, there is nothing better or more dazzling.)

This is not my garden, although its lovely, no?

The funny thing though is that sometimes I forget about salads and take an unintentional hiatus from preparing salads. Then I see a great salad recipe or a picture of one on a magazine or see a fabulous salad at a restaurant and it reignites my love and obsession with salads. A simple or complex food. Add what you want. Its different every time. Fresh. Healthful. Interesting and colorful. A blank canvas to create what you will depending on what’s in season, what you have on hand, what your mood inspires, who and how many you are looking to feed. Main dish or side. Sweet or savory. Its a perfectly permeable concept food.

In Phoenix, my hometown and a general fabulous desert dwelling, has many delicious restaurants, albeit many chains. One of the more fantastic ones’ is a newer addition to the Biltmore Fashion Park outdoor mall, True Food Kitchen, by the amazing Dr. Weil. This restaurant is amazing for a numer of reason, least of which is that its an open concept kitchen where you are looking at the ingredients in your fresh meal and watching them being prepared. Brilliantly stimulating of all the senses! Anyway, the last time we were there, my husband and I dined for one of our first and one of few date nights since our Sofie was born. We shared several appetizers-which is one of our favorite ways to dine out as it allows us to taste several things, to share and to minimize costs and overeating (quadruple score!)- and one of them was the Tuscan Kale Salad. Folks, it was divine. I mean, D-IVINE!

True Food Kitchen

Kale is one of those elusive vegetables. Many of us know its a superfood and that we SHOULD eat it more often. But like most “should’s” in our lives, we just end up “shoulding” all over ourselves and doing quite little about it. This salad will help you “should” no more. Its’ light, its fresh, its hearty, and its a whole lot of super, as in super food.

While indulging in some Pinterest time (click here for a guide to Pinterest that I wrote, “Pinterest Explained: 5 Step Guide), I saw someone post another recipe from Dr. Weil and I remembered this salad and decided to go cyber hunting to see if I could find the recipe to make my own Tuscan Kale Salad. (Also, check out my “Devour” board on Pinterest for other yummy recipes I have tried or that I want to try!)

Tuscan Kale Salad

Zoo-ta-looo! I have found it! (Said in the voice of the cook from The Little Mermaid (at 1:03 seconds). While, as an adult passionate about Social Justice, I am appalled by this movie’s messaging for our children about gender roles and “voice”, I still have that little girl in me that watched it so many times I broke the VHS tape and I still quote it and remember every word to every song. Please forgive both of us!)

So, here goes, the recipe from the good Doctor:

Description
True Food Kitchen restaurant exclusive! This traditional Tuscan salad is made with strips of Italian black kale, fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, grated pecorino Tuscano cheese and bread crumbs. These bright, refreshing flavors combine to bring the sunny taste of Italy to your table.Watch a video of Dr. Weil and chef Michael Stebner preparing this delicious salad: How to Make Tuscan Kale SaladFood as Medicine
Kale is among the most nutrient-dense commonly eaten vegetables. One cup provides 1,327 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, 192 percent of DV for vitamin A, and 88 percent for vitamin C.
Ingredients
4-6 cups kale, loosely packed, sliced leaves of Italian black (Lacinato, “dinosaur,” cavolo nero) midribs removed
juice of 1 lemon
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, mashed
salt & pepper, to taste
hot red pepper flakes, to taste
2/3 cup grated Pecorino Toscano cheese (Rosselino variety if you can find it) or other flavorful grating cheese such as Asiago or Parmesan
1/2 cup freshly made bread crumbs from lightly toasted bread
Instructions
    1. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a generous pinch (or more to taste) of hot red pepper flakes.
    2. Pour over kale in serving bowl and toss well.
    3. Add 2/3 of the cheese and toss again.
    4. Let kale sit for at least 5 minutes. Add bread crumbs, toss again, and top with remaining cheese.

Please make this salad and dazzle yourself with its simplicity, freshness and superfood-ness! And then let me know what you think…

I am rich.

Anyone who didn’t have enough at some point in their lives (real or perceived) might be able to relate to holding on a little to tight to something (real or not) at some point in your life.

I hold on to clothes and shoes. For ever.

I am going through my clothes and shoes that I store, box, move, restore, re-box and re-move over and over in my life. Now that I have a daughter, I have already started to save everything she ever touched. Or not. Or was given to us. New or not. Every thing.

I realize I could be creating a problem for myself and our little family and our very real lack of storage.

So, here I go, trying to remove before I re-move all this same stuff. Spring is here and a cleaning I will do. I have a “Donation” box ready to go and fill.

The box is a quarter full. I started to take things out of the box to put back in the closet. So, I had to stop to process what its like to let go. Its not about the stuff. Its about feeling like I might not get more stuff when I need it. So I hold on. In case I need it. In case I can’t get what I need when I need it.

So, I journaled for a minute. A mid-cleaning out catharsis and thought I would share. Here goes:

I live a life of abundance. I have plenty. My cup is full. My closet is full. I have everything I need and more. I am beyond blessed. I have so much, in fact, that I give freely. I share. I have enough for me, my family, and extended family. I give and share and the more I give and share the more that comes into my life. And the more that comes into my life the fuller, more swollen with happiness, gratitude and humility I am. I am happy. I am grateful. I am humbly aware of my continual blessings. I am rich beyond comprehension. 

I am rich.

I am rich.

I live a life of abundance.

 

Happy Spring cleaning folks!

 

Pinterest Explained: 5 Step Guide

Hi. My name is Mia. And I am a Pinterest-aholic. (I mean no disrespect to the 12 step communities here. Just my attempt at a laugh or smile or community around a shared vice. Anyway…)

I find myself talking about Pinterest more and more these days. It’s seeping into my spare time, my party planning, visioning, projects, reference items, wish lists and casual conversation.

Several months back, I declared on Facebook, in one of the only status updates I’ve offered since having a baby, “Dear Facebook, I am cheating on you with Pinterest“. It was met with “lols” and “likes” for those in the know (read: fellow addicts) and lots of questions and even hurt from Pinterest virgins (read: not in the know). And it was true. I nearly never logged in to Facebook anymore, which used to be a constant fixture on my quick links or one of my Perma Tabs (back in my Firefox days) and instead now spend almost all my social media time on Pinterest.

So, to the point at hand, I thought I would share a few quick things to explain this tool I have fallen head over heals in love with and often can’t pull myself away from. Here goes…

What is Pinterest?

  • Its another social media tool, like Facebook or twitter
  • Its a visual wonderland
  • Its a really simple tool
  • Its a place to capture images (This is called “pinning”-more on that later)
  • Its also a place to capture video (although not used as often)
  • Its a place to organize what you capture onto customizable boards, topic specific (when you create an account, there are a few pre-set options to get you started)
  • Its a place to interact (hence, the social in social media)
Pinner

The language of Pinterest

  • Pin or pinning: capturing and saving images
  • Repin: pinning someone else’s pin to your own board
  • Pinner: (Rhymes with Sinner) A member of the Pinterest community, one who actively pins
  • Board: a topic specific placeholder for you to collect, again topic specific images

What is “Pinning” exactly?

Think of it in the physical world. Imagine reading a magazine and seeing the perfect dining room table for your new house. You want to save this picture so that you can start finding paint colors, chairs, chandelier, a centerpeice and all the other needed items to decorate your dining room. So, you tear or cut that picture out of the magazine. You decide to start collecting ideas into a folder where you put this picture and any other ideas to help you design and decorate this room. This folder or holding place in Pinterest is called a “board” and you can name it whatever you want. In this case, “Dining Room” might be a good name for your board.

Here is one of my current projects, “Sofie’s Room”, that I have created a board for and am gathering ideas. I am planning out Sofie’s room redesign, now that she is moving into toddlerhood. Feel free to repin something that might help your own project, “like” or comment on any of the items I have pinned.

Pinterest App on the iPhone

How do I pin?

  1. You can download the site’s browser bookmarklet, a button that says “Pin It” onto your bookmark bar
  2. You can upload images from your iPhone on the Pinterest iPhone app
  3. You can upload images directly on the Pinterest.com website with the Add+ button in the toolbar on the top right of the site

Where do I get these images to “pin”?

  • From other Pinners on Pinterest.com (This is where I spend a lot of my Pinterest time…directly on the site, binging on others pins.)
  • From anywhere on the internet, vendors where you shop (e.g. Target), blogs you read, periodicals (e.g. NYT.com)
  • From photos that you take (often a great way to use the iPhone app)
So, wait, how does it work exactly ? Here’s a 5 Step Guide, Step by Step…
Step 1: Let’s say you are on favorite site, say Annie’s Eats (yummy blog)
Step 2: You come across a great recipe on homemade bagels and you think, “I want to make those bagels!” But, not right this minute. I need to hold on to that recipe.
Step 3: Aha! You are now a savvy pinner and decide to use your new favorite social media to hold on to that little recipe. And you’ve already downloaded the bookmarklet onto your Bookmark Toolbar, so you hit “Pin It” and this shows up-all the images on the current page for you to choose from:
Step 4: Then, you select the image you want and hit the “Pin This” button over the image. The second image looks the most decadent and will be a great visual reminder of the yummy bagels I want to make from this awesome recipe, compliments of Annie’s Eats.
Step 5: Then you get a screen pops up that asks you which board you want to pin this image to with a drop down menu (first picture below), then you have the option to add a description (second picture below). I would suggest adding something here that helps you remember what this pin is, exactly. For example “a recipe” or a DIY guide or tutorial. This way you will know if its just a picture of something you made vs. a recipe to help you make something in the future. Once you have added a description, you hit “Pin it”. Lastly, you get the option to “See your Pin” on your board, Tweet it or share on Facebook (third picture below). Or you can just close this box and get back to internet surfing or pinning.
Waalaaa! You are now a successful Pinner!
What makes it social in the social media world?
  • You can repin, comment and “like” other pins from other pinners
  • You can follow any other pinner-either all their boards or select any of their boards to follow
  • Other pinners are able to follow your boards
  • You can collaborate with other pinners on the same board (Planning a bridal shower? You and your fellow ladies in waiting can share a board and each add inspirations, ideas, details of the food, decorations, invitations, you name it.) To be more clear, collaborating on a board means that all parties or pinners can pin images to the same board.
A few tips and points of ettiquette…
  • You can add videos…not often used, but also a great option for your pinning pleasures
  • If you add an item onto a wish list board for example, you can add the amount is costs using a $ sign (for us US currency folks) and it will appear on the image in a banner on the left of the image. Great for a budget bound project, like a birthday party or to capture items I want for my birthday…ahemmm, hubby, if you are reading, this is hint-worthy information, an Easter egg (in Lost language) for you to make your gift giving easier for said wife
  • Use a 5 to 1 ratio…for every 5 repins, pin 1 novel image. This keeps things interesting or pinteresting, as the case may be. (Chuckle, snort, chuckle.)

And lastly, here are a bunch of great articles that my brilliant and way more in the know husband has sent me about Pinterest. He has not created an account for himself yet, but in the language of Strengths, a few of his top strengths are Learner, Input and Context…AND he is a GTD guru, so when it comes to all things social media, education, business, or just plain brilliant,  he is my supplier (read this with a Chicagoan, Italian mob gangster accent replacing the -ier with an- a. It makes it way more fun!) When he saw how excited I was at my new social media obsession, he started researching. So, I will share some of them with you here:

Check out my Pinterest page and see all my boards!

This is my first tutorial, how did I do? If you are new to Pinterest, did this help? If you are familiar with Pinterest, was this informative and hit the basics?

Thanks for reading and happy pinning!

A Dr. Suess-tastic Birthday Soiree

Sofie turned one on March 2, 2012. And Dr. Seuss would have been 108 on this blessed day. It seemed only fitting that we honor two of the finest people to walk the earth. (I am a mother and I am allowed to think, say and blog that if I want to!) So, we did what anyone would do, we threw a Wubbulous birthday party! Of course. To start, I gathered a whole lot of Dr. Seuss inspiration from all over the place (really, I just googled ‘Dr. Seuss party’ and started pinning with verve). Check out my Sofie’s 1st Birthday board on Pinterest! Let me just take a moment to say… there are some over-the-top brilliantly creative people out there…a lot of mom’s with blogs doing fantastic arts and crafts wizardry to dazzle their Seuss loving children. Wow! I mean, woooow. I poured over the details and possibilities of how to dazzle and delight my sweet daughter with colors and yummy things to eat and how to engage her and her best friends who were all turning one around the same time.I decided it would be at a park that she likes with a great playground, picnic tables and a grassy area and a body of water with ducks, geese and birds that make her squeal and laugh as they fly and dive for stale bread. Perfect! I imagined the whimsy of having a colorful explosion of Suesstatical details in the beauty and inviting playfulness of an outdoor backdrop. The juxtaposition struck my fancy.From there adding Seuss themed details was a bottomless barrel of fun! Here is how it all turned out: Invitations:I made the invitations using word, which was both easy and hair-pullingly frustrating (I make up words a lot, but something about Dr. Seuss gives me even more license to indulge this habit) and in the end there were imperfections that made me loose a little sleep. I try to play it off that I am way more calm, cool, and collected than my perfectionistic, neurotic inner self wants you to believe. Anyway, I think they turned out well and are super cute and got the theme across quite well, which was a red and aqua Dr. Seuss soiree. Clearly.

The Invitation

We ended up having to move the party indoors due to a rainy, chilly day and my cute husband sent an email to let our guests know with the quote, “The storm stars when the drops start dropping. When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping” by Dr. Seuss. Bonus points, hubs. Party Dress:The guest of honor’s outfit was what I spent much time dreaming up and and pouring over. I wanted to make her a dress and the original plan was for it to be red and white polka dot with an aqua feather boa sewed to the hem. How fabulous is that!?!? Then (several weeks into the planning) I realized that I have a one year old. A one year old that puts everything in her mouth. I started picturing her sitting at her party in her party dressed obsessively plucking her at her dress feathers and eating them. I did not want to turn the birthday girl into a molting sneetch!

Double Layered Pillow Case Dress with white ribbon ties and ric rac detail

So, this is what I came up with, after a few rounds of sewing and resewing. Sewing always makes me think of my nana’s talent as a seamstress and how much love she showed through making clothes to dazzle her kids, as told through my mom and aunt. She would stay up all night making a dress for them and when my mom or aunt woke up in the morning, it would be hanging perfectly made, pressed and ready to wear. Dazzling love. I pretend I am nana every time I sew and when I made my girl her birthday dress, I channeled my nana’s love to share with another generation.) Daddy’s Cat in the Hat Debut: My husband is notoriously not a fan of costumes. I have been trying to get him to dress up for Halloween for years. I have been building a pirate get-for him for as long as I can remember being an item. The first year it was a pirate hat that we got in Disneyland together. The next, I added a sword. The next, I added an eye patch, which I never actually saw him put on. The next I got a Johnny Depp-esque, Jack Sparrow dreadlock beads to clip in his hair. And on and on. This last year, we dressed up as pumpkins with Sofie. Kids change things. So much so that my husband, the notoriously anti-costume guy, enthusiastically wore this Cat in the Hat get up. Yeah, kids definitely change things.

Daddy as the Cat in the Hat

The Food: This was by far the most fun part of a Seuss themed party for me. Seuss themed food…oh my, the possibilities are endless. And back to the brilliantly creative moms who blog, they had done so much of the work for me, there were slews of options to choose from and all I had to do was customize a little.

    Fox in Sox Noodle Eating Poodle Pasta Salad

The Cake and Cupcakes: My dear friend, a lawyer turned cupcake goddess amongst countless other talents and vocations of hers, made the cupcakes. Her cupcakes are what I like to refer to as sinfully divine and they are known across the land for their lightness, decadence and irresistible appeal. And she made little Sofie 50 chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting to share with her family and friends!

“Thing 1″ CupCake Tower

I made her SMASH cake for her and I went a little over the top. Three tiered chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and sliced strawberries in between each layer and then to decorate the outside in an effort to emulate the red stripes of the Cat in the Hat’s red striped hat. Partly for decor, but mostly because Sofie Doodle LOVES strawberries and I knew she would want to eat them (and it minimized the frosting that she might actually eat–sugar scares me a bit!-and while I want her to indulge in this time-honored first birthday tradition of one’s first cake, I also was horrified at introducing sugar, chocolate and butter to her in such quantities! Yikes!)

Here is the cake:

The Smash Cake – Chocolate 3 layered cake with vanilla frosting & strawberry details

Party Favors: Homemade

Fabric for dress: JoAnne’s

Cat in the Hat costume: Amazon

Decorations: Party City, Target and Amazon

Invitations, Signs and other Print Outs: Fed Ex and Homemade

Inspirations: Brilliant blogging Dr Seuss loving mamas