Tuesday, August 31, 2010

September Creative Challenge

While at a recent Paper Source workshop, where the inspiration and creativity flowed much like the wine, I was invited to participate in a challenge. Not just any ol' challenge, but a creative challenge. Inspired by the PS motto, Debbie challenged me do something creative everyday the month of September and share it on my blog; meanwhile she'll do the same. I love a good challenge, so I quickly accepted. 

Since that evening my thinking cap has remained on, holding in ideas and a plan of action. I am not an everyday blogger (although I'd love to be) so it's going to take work. I am looking forward to pushing myself more creatively and blogging regularly. I know there are some days when I won't have time to create something from scratch, so those days I will share something from my portfolio (if you will)
I hope you'll follow along with me here and Debbie on her blog all this month as we share our creations!

Vegas Vacation

Over the weekend I met Chelsea in Vegas for a girls weekend. On the agenda were a few simple items: pool time, shopping, eat good food, workout and go dancing. 
Although we were in Las Vegas, our weekend was anything but typical Vegas vacation. Take for example the night we opted for workout clothes as we walked the strip...
Stretch break at the Bellagio
Elvis says viva las lunges!
B is for bulging biceps
Running the stairs
Wall sits as we take in the view of the strip
Toe touch
Casino style bicep curl
Cart wheels
Although we never made it dancing, I'd say we successfully accomplished our agenda! Most of all it was so fun to be away from everyday life and have some quality friend time.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cricut Love

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to try Debbie's Cricut. I think we only hit the tip of the iceberg and I am already so in love with it. The possibilites for pretty much anything crafty are endless with this sucker. 

I wanted to share a few of the items I cut. Stay tuned for what I create with these. 

Also wanted to throw it out to the universe/whoever reads this: I want one! :) 
mountains, houses, grass, flowers
city skyline

Quite a sight

Last Friday I was offered a last minute (free!) ticket to the John Mayer concert. It was my fifth time seeing Johnny and, as with every other time, I was extremely pleased. He is an amazing musician. I'm always reminded of this when he jams (for lack of a better word) in between songs or covers a song from another artist. My favorite this time was Otis Redding's Sitting on the Dock of the Bay (very fitting for a concert in the 'frisco bay!) 

As I was enjoying JM from afar, I was also enjoying the almost full moon. As the evening played on, we also got to watch the fog roll in. When you're sitting in the cheap seats, it's hard to get a good picture of the performer. I am pleased with this shot: Mayer, moon and fog. Happy I was able to capture the sights to remember such a fun night! 

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to make quinoa

Once upon a time my friend Stephanie and I attended an all day women’s health event. At the silent auction, we bid-on and won sessions with a nutritionist. The package was intended for an individual, however we convinced her to see both of us for fewer sessions.

Each session was 2 hours and we met at different natural and main stream grocery stores. After our lessons on whole foods (as in not processed, not the actual store), she would take us on a grocery store tour. I think I can speak for both of us when I say we learned a lot. One of the many new foods we learned about was quinoa. We learned about it's protein-packing nutritional benefits and then tried it mixed in a healthy salad. It was delicious, yet we both got the impression it was hard to make and never did…until now.

When I lived on Cragmont Ave, Rachel whipped up some quinoa in her rice cooker. I was blown away at how easy it was and quickly began incorporating it into a lot of meals. I think it makes a side dish, or can be made into a meal of its own.

In case you were in the dark on quinoa like me, here’s how to cook it: 
Rice cooker (my preference):
Simply treat the quinoa like rice. Add 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa. Stir, cover and cook. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Stove top:
Rinse 1 part quinoa in clean water.
Meanwhile, bring 1 1/2 parts of water to a boil in a sauce pan.
Turn heat to low and add the quinoa. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Do not remove the lid while the quinoa is cooking.
Quinoa is done when all liquid is absorbed. Allow pot to stand for 5 minutes.
Fluff with a fork and serve.

For added flavor, substitute all or part of the water for vegetable or chicken broth.

Since my quinoa revelation I’ve been seeking out more recipes that include it. This is one of my new favorite from the dish on delish. I’ve made a few minor tweaks to the recipe (adding less onion and black beans) and agree with her suggestion to serve it with zucchini quesadillas!

Black Bean and Corn Quinoa Salad
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
1 cup frozen sweet white corn
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and garlic and sauté until lightly browned.

Add quinoa and cover with broth. Stir in cumin, cayenne pepper and season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes (or until all the liquid is absorbed).

Stir in frozen corn and black beans until heated through. Remove from heat and add chopped cilantro. Serve warm, room temperature or cold. 

We top our salad and quesadilla with guacamole and fresh salsa – yum!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Only Prettier

Last month I flew to Denver for the weekend to attend my 10 year high school reunion. While I was sans B,  I was plus 5 of my very best friends (and one boyfriend, Dave!). We rented hotel rooms downtown and arrived early to snack, chat and finish getting ready together. We also took turns flipping through the yearbook and my senior year scrapbook. Here are a few gems from back then...

Senior trip - Cancun
Post-college, Corona Street roomies
While I was excited to see quite a few people from our class, to me the real reunion was with these ladies. They are what made my high school experience so memorable. Although we've all spread our wings and taken different paths, it's nice to know when we are together, we all pick right back-up where we left off. I'd say we're all exactly the same, only prettier.

Here are my favorite pictures from the reunion...


Kick your smoothie up a notch

I was recently inspired by this blogger to try adding spinach to my smoothie. You see, I love a good smoothie (thanks largely in part to my Magic Bullet that makes a single serving smoothie so easily). I also love spinach. Not necessarily for the taste, but for the nutritional punch it packs in every bite. In salads, sauted or mixed into meals, I'm a fan.
Not a super fan, gaah gaahh gaaahh gaahh gaahhh, but a fan enough to give it a whirl in my smoothie. I am officially hooked. I can't even taste the spinach (although B said he could), but love knowing it's in there.

Spinach Smoothie 
serves 1

Handful spinach
1 banana, broken into pieces
Splash of juice (I used mango puree and filled to the top of spinach)
1 scoop protein powder
Frozen berries, fill to top of cup
Water, fill to almost top of cup (or you could also use more juice)


And ENJOY knowing you are kicking your smoothie up a few notches! 

If you try it, will you let me know what you think? I bet you'll be delightfully surprised! 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ryan & Kara's Wedding

In June we traveled to Sioux Falls, South Dakota (through Denver and Omaha...there are no direct flights) to attend Ryan and Kara's special day. Brian was a groomsman in the wedding. He and Ryan worked together in Des Moines when they were both fresh out of college. I can see why they're friends, both great mid-western, Iowa Hawkeye loving guys with a good sense of humor. 
Ryan and Kara came to visit us in California in the spring of 2009. They spent a few days in SF, Napa, Tahoe and Sacramento. We knew Ryan was going to propose and kept secretly wondering if he'd do it on their trip. No such luck, but we did pull the secret engagement plans out of him. A few short months later Ryan surprised Kara with an engagement in Las Vegas. On a private viewing deck of the Bellagio, during a fountain show he'd chosen the song for, he proposed. 

The Horn's ~ June 19

Venue: Sioux Falls Convention Center
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
The couple: Kara & Ryan
Colors: Black, Silver and sparkle!
- The ceremony was in the afternoon at the church Kara's family attends. It was beautifully short and sweet. After the ceremony all the guests went outside and were given noise makers and ribbon wands. After a few pictures in the church, the new Mr and Mrs Horn ran out to their party bus through the cheering and ribbons.

- The wedding party and their dates took a party bus from the ceremony to the reception. On the way we made a pit stop to get a few pictures and have a quick drink in downtown Sioux Falls. My favorite part of this detail was that Kara made sure all the 'dates' were part of the group on the party bus. She had a shuttle pick us up from the hotel and take us to the ceremony so no cars would be left. That little extra coordination meant a lot to this date :) 
Celebrating on the party bus - CHEERS!
We were all given relationship/marriage themed koozies. Mine says "I'm not stubborn, my way is just better"
The wedding party
Groomsmen leap!

As we walked into the large reception room, we were greeted by these two ice sculptures. One of the things Kara and Ryan agree-to-disagree on is their college football loyalties. Kara (and her entire family) are Iowa State fans. Ryan is an Iowa fan. There were a lot of jokes on this subject throughout the weekend.
Cy the Cyclone (Iowa State)
Herky the  Hawkeye (Iowa)

Their wedding cake (not pictured) was very unique! They had a beautiful 4 tiered cake, that was decorated styrofoam. The very top layer was real cake for the purpose of "cutting the cake". Guests were served cake slices from the catering staff. Great way to have an elegant looking cake for less money (and way faster for the catering staff to serve!). 

Kara and Ryan hired a DJ/piano player who they knew from a Des Moines piano bar. He was a great pianist, entertainer and emcee. He played a great mix of dance music, piano/sing-along-songs, some strictly piano, and even took requests

Ryan, groomsmen and friends serenading Kara

My very favorite detail were the gifts for the attendants. Each groomsman received a bottle of their favorite liquor, with an engraved thank you as well as an engraved glass. Brian got Maker's Mark with a high ball glass. 

The bridesmaids received their favorite liquor and 2 corresponding Tiffany's glasses. 
Classy and useful gift!

Thank you to Kara and Ryan for inviting us to your special day - we had a blast!!

Completely unrelated to the wedding, but worth posting is this picture. A horse and wagon we passed on the road near Kara and Ryan's house! 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Looking fashionable in the fridge

Within the last week my snacks and lunches have been upgraded. Not so much the actual food, but the containers that I put them in. 

Exhibit A: SnakSaks
 courtesy of this sweet friend

Exhibit B: M lunch size bag
courtesy of this sweet friend 

My friends know me well - I bring my lunch and snacks to work, I like cute things and I love cute things that are reusable/cut down on waste!

Inside this cute lunch sack today is this:
Couscous Salad with Mint, Raisins & Almonds

1/2 cup whole-grain couscous
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 (15 ounce) can chickpeas 
1/2 cucumber, cubed
1/4 cup (small handful) fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sliced almonds
2 tablespoons dressing  my choice: Trader Joe's Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette 

I typically make two salads at one time, to make the most of the ingredients. 


*Recipe from Bikini Boot Camp