Friday Faves: Miraval Edition

photo 1

 early morning desert hike

Last week my mom, sister, sister-in-law, and I had the incredibly good fortune to hop a plane to sunny Arizona and spend a few days at Miraval, an amazing resort and spa outside of Tucson that I’ve been referring to as “Oprah’s Spa” (Oprah and Gayle went a number of years ago, and then Oprah sent an entire audience full of groups of girlfriends during her final season – if you were wondering).  Our days went a little something like this: breakfast, fitness class/hike/yoga, coffee/juice/smoothie bar break, classes or lectures (fitness, nutrition, cooking, mental health, photography, you name it), lunch, spa treatment, more classes or lectures, maybe some pool time, happy hour, dinner, bed.   Needless to say, our trip wasn’t nearly long enough and I can’t wait to get back.  A few highlights:

photo 5

life in balance spa – my new happy place

photo-4

hummingbird mama and her babies in their nest in the courtyard (in a kumquat tree!)

IMG_2966

pool time (not pictured: my prickly pear iced tea, so delicious!)

photo 3.PNG

desert sunset

photo 2

cooking demo with the pastry chef – lemon raspberry cookies and arugula salad with honey dijon vinaigrette (recipes coming next week, get excited!)

photo-3

downtime at the villa

Advertisements

Friday Faves, New Year’s Edition

image

My Christmas cards ran into a few obstacles this year, but I love these backup “happy new year” cards from Minted.

Happy first Friday of 2014!  I kind of fell off the blogging wagon (again) towards the end of the year (I’m blaming it on the holidays), but being better about blogging is one of my (many) resolutions for the new year.  I have lots of healthy recipes on my “to make” list for the month, and Santa brought me a new MacBook Air (!!!!!), so hopefully this is a resolution I’ll actually keep.  Others include:

image

Eating More Fruits and Veggies – easy to do when it’s satsuma season!

image

Reading MoreMindy’s book is a re-read, but so much funnier than I remembered. And so nice to read an actual book rather than a screen for a change (don’t worry, I have some more substantial reading on my list as well).

image

Trying New Places – in this case, delicious cocktails at the hip new(ish) Capitol Hill bar Witness.

image

OK, this isn’t a resolution, I just really love the new SmartWool socks my mom put in my stocking for Christmas (yes, I still have a stocking!).  I’m generally not a sock person (I could wear flip flops almost year-round), but these keep my feet so warm and toasty, it’s impossible not to become addicted.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and that the new year is off to a great start.  I’m looking forward to de-cluttering my apartment, hitting the gym with renewed vigor (despite the January crowds), and taking advantage of all the new beginnings this year has in store for me (I could definitely use a few).  Here’s to a happy and healthy 2014 for all of us!  If you have any book recommendations, recipe recommendations, or resolutions to share, I would love to hear them in the comments!

Friday Faves

Happy Friday, y’all! (Sorry, I’m watching last night’s Nashville finale as I type this). This week was pretty blah, due in large part to this nasty weather we’ve been having, along with all my shows ending.  But in an effort to get back into my blogging routine, I tried to scrounge up a few highlights:

Even though it was falling out by the end of the night, I’m still pretty proud of the self-styled bun I wore to my very dear friend Alison’s engagement soiree last weekend. Sadly this “selfie” is my only pic from the night – I left my phone in my clutch for the entire party, which is tragic because her mom and sis are my entertaining gurus and there were so many B&B-worthy photo ops that I missed! Luckily we’re only four months into what’s looking like a sixteen month engagement, so hopefully there will be plenty more opportunities.

I got take-out Thai for my grandparents the other day and these giant animal cookies were on display at the restaurant – it took a pretty huge amount of willpower not to buy one (or all four).   I’m not usually all that nostalgic, but frosted animal cookies remind me of my childhood (remember these?) – and these appear to be an even-more-delicious version.  I’m not sure the photo does them justice, but for purposes of scale please note they’re displayed on a very large cake platter.  YUM.

I had the good fortune to score a last-minute invite to a Husky event down in Portland on Tuesday night (thanks Krista!). There are few things I love more than a room full of purple and gold, with an open bar no less. I made some new Husky friends, listened as the coaches got us all pumped up for the coming season (100 days!!!), and even took a picture with Sark (which would have been cuter had we both not been looking at separate camera phones).  Can’t wait for August 31st!

I realize I might find this more exciting than the average person, but bulk herbs? OMG. I’m obsessed with the bulk foods aisle at my Met Market in Seattle, but New Seasons down in Portland really has some things figured out.  I cannot tell you how many half-used little bundles of herbs are sitting in my freezer right now, never to be used again (but I couldn’t bear to throw them away).  I needed six sprigs of thyme for a halibut recipe the other day, and what do you know – I only needed to buy six sprigs.  Also I think they cost like 25 cents.  It’s the little things, you know?

Maybe one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken – my adorable cousin/nephew (what does one call their cousin’s kids?) Oliver, and my grandpa waiting for breakfast the other morning.  Could they be any cuter?

So, that’s the best I could do – thanks to everyone who has been bugging me to get back into blogging.  It’s sad how easy it is to get out of a habit (the blog, the gym, drinking water, etc – ughhhhhhh good habits are so hard!!) but hopefully I’m now back on track.  I still have at least three more posts I need to get out – including halibut with six thyme sprigs:) And then we’ll be into June and hopefully I can stop complaining about the weather!  I hope everyone has a fabulous Memorial Day weekend planned – fingers crossed for sun!!

Friday Faves

TGIFF – thank goodness it’s finally Friday! I hope everyone’s April is off to a lovely start. This week started out gorgeous and sunny in Seattle, but the last few days have been pretty grey and blah. In spite of that, I did my best to come up with a few highlights – and I can’t complain too much about the weather, because I’m heading to Hawaii in two weeks! The forecast for Kailua is low 80s and sunny, which makes the current Seattle rain just a teensy bit more bearable. As will the spray tan I’m going to get at lunch today!

I had a really sad day on Monday, for reasons I won’t go into. After work I dragged myself to a spin class, even though I would have much preferred happy hour. During the instructor’s inspirational rant towards the end of class, she yelled out “take whatever it is that ruined your day today and work it out this way, rather than at the bar.” I was feeling so proud of myself for doing just that…until after class when I promptly ordered a drink at dinner. This “cucumber mint agave” cocktail was so delicious though, I didn’t even feel guilty. It’s my new drink for summer: vodka muddled with cucumber and mint and then mixed with lime juice and a little agave nectar. Paired with a good workout and great friends, it was the perfect cure for a bad day.

photo2

My friend Katie and I went on an online shopping spree last summer, when a slow work day happened to coincide with the Kate Spade sale – a dangerous combination. When this bag first arrived in the mail, I was afraid it was a little too bright and didn’t really use it at all. However, I recently rediscovered it in the back of my closet and for some reason this year I feel like the color is perfect – and I’ve gotten so many compliments on it that I know it’s not just me. If you’re in the market for a fun spring handbag, here are a few that I love:

  • Tory Burch Robinson Spectator Double Zip Tote – I love anything from the Robinson line, but I especially love this in the white, and with the laser-cut detailing (here)
  • Kate Spade Grove Court Maise in Maraschino – love the pink and orange combo, and the polka dot lining (here)
  • Rebecca Minkoff “M.A.B” Leather Tote in Sea Green – perfect for a fun summer work bag (here)

I’ve turned 29 my past few birthdays, so all of the sudden I find myself buying more skincare products than I used to. I know this is an issue for most of my friends as well, so whenever I find an amazing new product I have to share. I’m still waiting for my friend Yoona to do another skincare post, but in the meantime, this is my new moisturizer obsession. It’s light and non-greasy, which are my two main criteria for a moisturizer, but it’s also super hydrating, anti-aging, smoothing, calming, etc. Basically a lot of things that my skin needs. And it smells good. If anyone else has a product they want to share, I would love to hear about it in the comments!

One of my favorite parts about having my blog is that people will discuss things with me that they wouldn’t necessarily have discussed before. A friend at work the other day gave me a list of his favorite cookbooks, so of course I immediately went back to my desk and ordered them all. He gave me three suggestions – one is backordered, but the other two arrived this week (in a HEAVY box, they’re both HUGE)and I’m having so much fun starting to go through them. If anyone has any favorite recipes from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking or Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table , I would love to hear them! I have a feeling they’re both going to force me to up my game!

My grandma is famous for a lot of her recipes, but one of the top five family favorites is her lemon poppyseed cake (which – shhhh!!! – is just a slightly doctored up cake mix). I made it on my own for the first time this past weekend, and it was a big hit at my cousin’s baby shower. Even Grandma gave it the thumbs up, although she was quick to add that hers is “lighter.” Also you’ll notice the crack at the bottom of mine from when I flipped it – heartbreaking.

Grandma’s Lemon Poppyseed Cake:

2 boxes lemon cake mix (“lemon supreme” if you can find it, I used plain lemon because I couldn’t)
2 small boxes instant lemon pudding (if you can find it, I used vanilla because I couldn’t find lemon)
Lemon juice (fresh squeezed, or from concentrate, as you’ll need 1-2 cups)
Eggs
Oil
1 large jar poppyseeds
1 cup powdered sugar (approx.), for glaze
4 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (or juice of one lemon, approx.), for glaze

Prepare cake mix according to package directions, only substitute lemon juice for the water. You can do just one cake mix (and one box of pudding, and one small or half one large jar poppyseeds), but for a tall cake you should use two and double the recipe.

Spray a bundt cake pan with “pam for baking” (or butter and flour the pan) and cook according to package directions (if you use two boxes of cake mix it will take anywhere from 15-30 minutes longer to bake).

To make the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar and 4 teaspoons lemon juice together until smooth (mine turned out a little too thin, which is why you can barely tell it’s even on there – too much lemon juice!).

Allow cake to cool for 20-30 minutes, then invert pan onto platter and drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake. Serve with fresh berries.

cake

I hope everyone has fun weekend plans, sunshine or not! I’ll be rooting for Wichita State tomorrow (I can’t believe I just said that!). xoxo

Friday Faves

Ughhhhhhhh

Ughhhhhhhh

Somehow it feels like it’s been the longest week ever, even though Monday was a holiday (I worked, but I went into the office in a sweatshirt and yoga pants, so it still felt kind of like a holiday). The past few days of rain and 37 degree temperatures have me SO excited for my trip to Scottsdale tomorrow – despite the fact that I have to leave for the airport at 5 am. I can’t wait to park myself in a chaise lounge and soak up some much needed Vitamin D. But in the meantime, some highlights from the week:

We all know the right jewelry can add interest or personality to an outfit, especially when your wardrobe mainly consists of black, like mine does. I’ve never been much of an accessorizer, but lately I’ve been trying to be better about it. As a general rule, I don’t like to pay full price at J. Crew, but three of these bracelets were on final sale (40% off the already-reduced sale price), and the fourth was on “promotion” – somehow different than “sale,” a J. Crew “promotion” means an item is 25% off, yet still returnable. Woop! I wore these to work the day after I bought them and, even though I had to take them off in order to actually do any work (who can wear a bracelet and type?), I like to think that for the 10 minutes they were actually on my wrist, I looked like a whole new person.

Flywheel is a hip new(ish) spin/barre studio in Seattle, and on top of the great classes and free towels/lockers/hair powder, one of the things I love about it is that so many of my friends work out there. As much as I don’t love getting out of bed early on the weekends, it’s much easier to do so when you’ve made plans to meet your girlfriends for a class and then get breakfast afterwards. I had a fun barre-and-croissant date with my friends Lindsay and Meredith this past Saturday, and Meredith made Lindsay and me homemade hairbands and headbands for the occasion. You know the super cute colorful elastics that don’t tear your hair? I’ve been paying $5 for a pack of three – Mer is so crafty and economical, she orders the elastic online and makes her own (check out her blog here and you’ll see she’s a serious DIY-er). And if you ever want to get really crafty, I stumbled upon this blog when I was google-searching how to buy the elastic to do it myself – if only I owned a “silhouette machine” I would totally do this.

A month or so ago an old trainer of mine posted a blog link on facebook, with the caption that the blog listed a few “small changes” people could make to improve their overall health and fitness. Always looking for self improvement tips, I clicked onto the link and discovered Sarah Adler’s blog Simply Real Health, which I would encourage anyone to read if they’re interested (healthy recipes, etc). The “small” changes, however, seemed pretty big to me – but one was “drink more green tea than coffee.” Seeing as how two of my goals were already “drink green tea” and “spend less money at Starbucks,” I’ve been attempting to do this over the past few weeks. While it hasn’t been easy – old habits die hard, especially when you have a boring job and there’s a Starbucks in your building – this TAZO tea is really helping me stay on track. I think the orange-y flavor (remember the original Starbucks flavor “wild sweet orange” that they don’t have any more?) makes it taste less “green” and bitter. And it has jasmine in it too, yum. Just one cup of this in the morning and I feel like I’m totally sticking to my New Years Resolutions, even if I did eat an entire basket of chips and have two cocktails at Cactus last night.

My friend Courteney is in town from Boston this week, and she brought her adorable two month old baby Charlie with her. Her sister (and also my friend) Kyle is hosting all of Court’s Seattle girlfriends at her house tonight so that we can all see Court and meet Charlie. Kyle pretty much has the whole entertaining thing down these days so she doesn’t need my help at all, but obviously I can’t show up empty handed. As these girls both have better taste in wine than I do, I thought it would be fun to bring a sweet treat instead. I saw these on one of my favorite blogs earlier in the week and decided this would be the perfect excuse to try them. I couldn’t find black sprinkles, so Court is such a colorful person that I decided to use multicolored sprinkles instead. Good friends, a sweet new baby to cuddle, wine, and a sweet and salty treat – perfect Friday night!

I really love both the Sprouted Kitchen blog and cookbook – it’s so much more fun to cook and eat healthy with fun new recipes, rather than just eating green salads with grilled chicken ad nauseam. The following kale “chopped” salad is from the cookbook, and it’s my new go-to for packing lunches on the weekdays. Kale (especially Tuscan kale) is perfect for packing lunches because you can toss the leaves with the dressing, and they don’t wilt – and for anyone who isn’t sold on raw kale yet, the dressing almost serves as a marinade to soften it up and take some of the bitterness away. On weeks when I really have my act together, I’ll buy a couple bunches of kale on Sunday, and then prep it (wash, cut out center rib, chop into bite sized pieces) when I get home. Then each morning before work (or night before, even) I’ll do one tupperware with kale and dressing, and another with the remainder of the salad ingredients (I don’t like them to get soggy in the dressing) and I have a delicious lunch to bring into work. Also worth noting: I am typically a salad-dressing-hater, but this vinaigrette recipe is delicious – I suspect it has something to do with the cheese.

Tuscan Kale Chopped Salad (from the Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook, by Sara Forte)

Serves 4

Parmesan Vinaigrette
1 small shallot, chopped (I roast mine first)
Juice of 1 meyer lemon (or regular lemon if you can’t find meyer)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Salad
2 slices rustic whole-grain bread, torn into bite size pieces (I usually omit this)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
1 bunch lacinato (Tuscan) kale
1 apple, such as Braeburn, Gala, or Pink Lady (I’ve been using Honeycrisp, yummm)
1 cup cooked chickpeas, chopped
1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped

To make the vinaigrette, combine the shallot, lemon juice, parmesan, and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth, then add a pinch of salt and pepper and give one last pulse. Set aside.

Toss the bread with the olive oil and salt. Toast in a toaster oven or in a sauté pan over medium heat until the exterior of the bread is crispy, about 10 minutes.

To assemble the salad, cut the tough stems out of the kale and finally chop the leaves. Put the chopped kale in a large bowl. Core and dice the apple and add to the kale along with the chickpeas, pecans and cherries. Add half of the dressing and toss to combine. Taste and add more dressing if you like. Divide among four salad plates and garnish each serving with crispy croutons immediately before serving.

Happy Friday, everyone! Did I mention I’m off to Scottsdale tomorrow? The forecast isn’t quite what I’d hoped for (high 70s), but at least it’s going to be sunny. Hopefully I’ll have some fun pics and stories to share when I get back! XOXO