It's my birthday today!
And my friends/coworkers surprised me with the most adorable spread of goodies at lunch. How awesome is the ghost cake they made me? Of course, I can't take a serious picture, but I think you get an idea of how happy I was. I love them all so much. Best friends ever. =)
photos by Julia
Every year, without fail, I carve a Halloween pumpkin. Last year I wanted to switch it up with painting, but I never got around to it. This year I wasn't going to let it happen again and I was determined to paint one - or two. In looking for tattoo inspiration I came across some pretty amazing henna, and I decided that the designs would double up as a great painted pumpkin. The design is free-handed so if you're not the best painter, I suggest you go with the second striped pattern. It's ridiculously easy, but nonetheless, extremely cute.
acrylic paint (gold, blue, red, and white for the henna; red, white, and blue for the stripe)
medium sized paint brush
small detail pint brush
something to put/mix your paint in
a cup of water
paper towel to pat your brush off
Directions (henna design):
1. The first thing you'll want to do for either design is to paint the pumpkin white. First paint the top half with two coats and let it dry. Afterward, paint the bottom half with two coats and let that dry as well.
2. Next you'll want to paint the stem gold. Then, using a medium sized brush, paint three large paisley shapes, giving everything two coats.
3. Taking a small brush, paint in the small gold detail lines.
4. Still using your small brush go in with your accent colors, blue and red, to outline chosen sections.
Directions (simple stripe design):
1. Load up a medium sized brush with bright red paint. Using a white pumpkin, paint from the stem to about halfway down the pumpkin. Do two coats and let dry.
2. Mix a blue that you like, and then brush the second middle stripe onto your pumpkin. There's no need to be exact, part of the character in this design is that you can see the brush strokes, giving it something of a dip-dye look.
For the most part, human beings are roamers. Each day, over 4.3 billion people ride the subway in NYC alone. We travel from place to place driven by, what I believe, to be the same force as life itself. We're always on the move - but, where are we going? Do we even know?
I love riding the subway with this question in mind, and trying to figure out who people are. So much of a human's identity is built into the movements that they make, from gesture, to travel, to experience. We are all in motion, living out a life that no one else has. Our movements make us unique.
It gets you to thinking about your own: the things you do, the places you go, and the people you interact with. Together, they all form you and your life. There are so many possible scenarios for that life, and it comes down to choice. Options may be tough to see, but the fact is that they are there. You can choose your movements consciously, and this realization gives a new-found inner strength to accomplish dreams and goals.
As you question where other people are going, try to have a firm understanding of where your headed yourself. Move with care whether to figure out what you want, or whether to move towards what you already know you want.
Pizza is one of America's favorite foods, but often the ingredients are sugary, processed, canned, or from halfway around the world; however, it doesn't have to be that way. All toppings for the pizza above (cheese, tomatoes, rainbow chard, arugula, and garlic) were picked up at the local farmer's market and laid over a fresh whole wheat crust. It's guilt free and a great weekend dinner. Take the leftovers with you to lunch or make it for friends.
1/4 large heirloom tomato
2 stalks of rainbow chard
1 cup shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup crumbled Hillacres Pride Arcadia cheese (raw cow's milk cheese with earthy flavors and nutty undertones)
1 3/4 cups packed arugula
2 large garlic cloves
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp herb salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Blend all arugula pesto ingredients together in a food processor.
3. Grease pan slightly, and roll out pizza dough. Place the dough in the pan and stretch it to fit precisely.
4. Spread arugula pesto, sprinkle cheese, and distribute chard and tomatoes evenly.
5. Cook pizza for 20-25 minutes until crust begins to brown.
I kind of love that it's taken me so long to get through these photos. Three weeks later I can be reminded of our morning climb through the fog to Florence's outlaying village, Fiesole. I get to relive the cappucinos and beautiful views at every turn. I miss days spent entirely on foot exploring and experiencing life outside of the norm. Florence was surely full of fun beyond our adventures in the kitchen. Going through these photos was the perfect "hump day" therapy that I needed.
Ladies and gentleman, it's fall! I'm addicted to the way that the light shines through the red of leaves, and I stand strong that there is no more beautiful time of year. All I yearn to do is walk around city streets from farmers market to flea. I've been getting my healthy dose of both - bringing home decor items and recipe ingredients in bounds. As a result, rearranging and concocting have filled up my indoor hours. It's a time of adventure, both at home and on the road. A little weekend trip up to NYC/Brooklyn put me in a great way, and I couldn't be sadder the for the weekend to end. Fall, never go away, ok?
1. I couldn't not
2. Enjoying the beautiful weather on our lunch break
3. Desk space
4. Fresh picked flowers at the farmer's market
5. The beautiful Ariane
6. I fell in love
7. Salmon Benedict at Cafe Lafayette - eat it.
As the weather cools, I usually go into soup mode. I love pairing a hot bowl with corn bread to give you the right mix of liquid and solid. In this instance, I added seasalt to the top of the muffins to balance out the sweetness of my squash soup. Traditionally, corn bread isn't the best for you, but there is a surprisingly easy way to cut a lot of the fattiness out. Simply substitute non-fat Greek yogurt for most of the butter. You still have a moist and delicious bread, just without all of that lard. I also like to use all natural sweetener, palm sugar, instead of white sugar because of it's brown sugary taste.
Ingredients (makes 8 muffins):
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
3 tbs. palm sugar
3 tbs. melted butter
seasalt to sprinkle ontop
1. Preheat oven to 350F and line your muffin tins
2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl
3. Mix wet ingredients together in a small bowl
4. Using a wooden spoon, slowly introduce the wet mixture into the dry, working the dough as little as possible.
5. Spoon mixture out into your muffin tin, and sprinkle seasalt ontop
6. Bake for 20 minutes, let cool slightly, and serve
Second Stop: Florence, Italy
The way that meals are prepared in Italy is something I've always tried to replicate here in the states. It starts with gathering the ingredients - not a simple run to the grocery store. You first stop at the latteria, followed by the macelleria, and so on, picking up item by item. You buy freshly baked breads and hand-rolled gnocci, sample cheeses and talk with shop owners.
Once everything is home it's a long evening spent in the kitchen. You're preparing a gala of at least three courses rather than just one dish. Foods spend hours in the oven, and finally at around 8:30 pm you all sit down to enjoy the feast. Those who weren't in the kitchen, probably sat and munched on appetizers of parmigiana and salami, just waiting to eat.
I don't know if my family wanted to break him in, or they were seriously interested to taste his cooking, but on our visit, Adam was put up to the challenge of creating a full Italian meal. A simple request to cook dinner turned into a meal for twelve. To prepare, I took him to the center market and all of the little shops to get ingredients. We planned as we went, and I sheepishly told him how it was going to go.
Back in the kitchen, we took our usual teamwork to the big leagues. I played sous chef, chopping and slicing, while he worked his magic: gnocci in a spinach & tomato cream sauce, swordfish with a lemon butter reduction, and a beautiful fall vegetable mash up.
For me, the whole evening recalled memories of my childhood. I remember looking up at my grandmother, she in her fur coat and me holding my her hand, as the butcher fawned over me and how much I had grown. But this time I was holding his hand instead, and I guess you could say I was little more secure in my size. I remember asking my grandmother, who I adored, what I could help with next as she worked on dinner. Sometimes I was set to grinding the parmigiana and other times I would layer tiramisu. Maybe I got a knife this time, but I fit right back into my old role as the little helper, Adam taking the lead.
Being in that kitchen, bringing him into that world, was something else. Not only do I love that kitchen and the Italian culture surrounding food, but it's also a big part of me. I was letting him into a magical world. One that before had been my own little secret.