Dreaming of Sunnier Days While Cabin Fevered up in the “North Pole” aka Boston

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So as a lot of you know, New England has had some intense unrelenting snow fall this winter, I have been cooped up with crazy CABIN FEVER to the extreme!  Out of shear madness, I needed things to occupy my time so I went through some old photos on my computer and I came across these photos from when some friends came to visit us this past Fall. I swear I think these humans look like they came out of an Abercrombie and Fitch add! And yes, they are all beautiful creatures but beautiful in the way in which each one radiates kindness, love, and creativity into the world. Each one follows strong values and morals and that to me is what beauty represents. A persons heart can radiate this beauty on the outside.

I have also come to the conclusion that Boston has some beautiful weather, especially in the summer, and that the worst weather always comes in the months of February and March. I am not a winter/snow person at all, but I figure if we have three more years before relocating, instead of looking at it as three more crazy winters, its more like 6 more months of cold, bitter, snowiness. I can handle that; two months each year sounds better than three more years of Boston winters. So Yeehaw, I will survive!

I wanted to share our Fall Frolic by the Charles River and weekend outfits! I love Fall colors and you can certainly bring Fall colors and style into the winter months. This is Zina below. She is a warrior princess who lives in a castle on the rocks. She enjoys rock climbing, writing, and swinging on branches in the jungles of Costa Rica. Her favorite past time is motorcycling around the world with her boyfriend Chris, (shown in the other photos). Her style advice would be to layer, layer, layer and wear jewelry that you love!

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That large chunky scarf Zina has on in the above and below pictures is exactly something I am looking for to add to my wardrobe now!

Her outfit: Shoes are Vans; Jeans from Madewell; Long sleeve shirt from Forever 21; Sweater from American Apparel; Scarf from H&M

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Below is Chris, one of my husband’s best friends from collage and Zina’s boyfriend. He is a doctor of all trades and can be found traveling the globe bringing his skills to third world nations. He lives in the castle with Zina and they spend their nights cuddling by a fire place. IMG_4187IMG_4186

Zina’s outfit below can all be found at American Apparel! She a frequent shopper there:) IMG_4197

Below is my hubby, Brady. He enjoys a fine whiskey, Central American rum, or anything of that sort…He spends his days saving lives in the hospitals of Boston and spends his nights playing poker or enjoying my nightly home cooked meals, in which he devours quinoa, vegetables, tofu, beans and lentils. His secret talent is using his toes as a weapon to pinch innocent citizens!

Jacket is from AllSaintsIMG_4188IMG_4105

I was having a particularly good hair day that night! And was excited to wear for the first time my new leopard print heels from, believe it or not, Marshells!!!!! The grey tshirt is from Zara and my jeans are Carmar highwaisted (purchased them at LF on sale!) LF has amazing sales a few times a years and the biggest selection of Carmar jeans, my absolute favorite jeans I own! The leather jacket and purse I picked up on a trip to Florence, Italy with the hubby! Word of advice: when you go to Italy bring an empty carry-on…you will not regret it. I call the picture below, my “half-eyed laugh”.
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These boys are college besties who also played Water Polo together! What an interesting little bunch they are!

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This Man and his Dog hanging out on a bridge, entertaining the world. What cuties!
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That’s one of my hubby’s besties, Sean. His girlfriend, Caralin, was pictured above. They had just moved to Boston this past winter because she got a job with the Boston Ballet!!!!!! Sean and Caralin take long walks on the beach while he serenades her with lullabies. Pretty romantic I must say.  IMG_4271

Wild Rice Pilaf with Dried Cranberries and Pecans

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This is a perfect side dish to pair with any meal, lunch or dinner! I am not gonna lie, I ate this by itself for breakfast a few times because it’s just that good! The flavors are perfect for a Fall and Winter pallet, especially if you need a side dish for a Holiday dinner! This is super quick and easy and you can see below that I paired it with my Oven Baked Pecan-Crusted Dijon Chicken for a delightful dinner! This rice pilaf dish as yummy dried cranberries in it, and I am a big supporter of dried fruit in anything and everything, so any chance I get to add some, I will!

IMG_5076 Ingredients
* 4 cups chicken or veggie stock
* 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or vegan butter
* 1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
* 23 large shallots, minced
* 2 cups wild rice or 2 cups short-grain brown rice and wild rice mixture (I use Lundberg Wild Blend Rice, picture below)
* 1/2 cup cranberries
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 fresh thyme sprigs or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon pepper

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Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Add the stock to a pot and simmer over medium-low heat.
3. In an over safe casserole or dutch oven melt the butter with the oil. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent about 2-3 minutes.
4. Then, stir in the stock, dried cranberries, bay leaf, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.
5. Bring to a simmer, stir and cover.
6. Next, transfer the casserole or dutch oven to the oven and bake until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender about 40-45 minutes.
7. Make sure to remove the bay leaf and thyme springs, if used, when the dish has finished cooking and prior to eating.
8. stir in the pecans and serve!

Original Recipe from Williams-Sonoma.com

Oven Baked Pecan-Crusted Dijon Chicken

Oven Baked Pecan-Crusted Dijon Chicken

This chicken dish it the ULTIMATE, MOST AMAZING chicken you will ever eat in your life!!!!! I made this pretty much every day for a week straight and then I shared the recipe with all of my friends. It is also a great dish if you are hosting a dinner party or having a friend or two over for dinner! I have also chopped up the chicken and put it on top of salad for a delicious chicken salad lunch recipe.

The dijon mustard keeps the chicken moist and adds delectable flavor, while the pecans and bread crumbs create a crispy crunch. Sometimes I feel like I am eating a healthier version of chicken fingers!  I paired this with my Wild Rice Pilaf With Dried Cranberries and Pecans which I will be posting next!

Oven Baked Pecan-Crusted Dijon Chicken

Ingredients
* 1 cup pecans, toasted
* 1/2 cup bread crumbs (make your own or purchase already made. I used gluten-free crumbs)
* 1 teaspoon dried basil
* 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts or one pack (if the chicken breasts are large, I like to cut them in half to create a cutlet)
* 1/4 cup honey mustard
* 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
* salt and pepper to taste

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Love & A Dog

Love & a Dog

 

Happy Friday quote! Reach out to the ones who you love today and who truly love you. And most importantly, don’t forget to feed yourself with self love, compassion, and kindness. All those curve balls and lemons that hit you over the head are just fluff, and fluff is fluffy. Unconditional love is such a glorious thing. That love from the ones who TRULY know and love you and that unconditional love from a dog (any pet really) sure are what can pull you through anything and just make your world a better place!

This past year I have had one of those interesting times in  life when it turns upside down and what you thought you knew and was real, is in fact all types of confusing. I have been grounding myself and focusing on my morals and values and what truly matters in life. Giving positive energy to what gives positive energy back to me, and practicing self love and kindness. You are with yourself the rest of your life, which means you can love and be there for yourself always! But others will do what they will do.

Recently, I learned that I have a choice in my decisions about what I do in my life when lemons are thrown, because I can control myself, my thoughts, and my actions. Others may try to bring you down or disappoint, but this choice that we have is a powerful one, and we can choose who to be around! All I need is my self love and of course my adorable dog who fills me up with beaming lights of love and happiness!

I choose my self love today and I choose my morals and values of kindness, giving back to others, compassion, and love, as a focus of my day. No one can take those values and morals from me, and I can find others who live in a similar way and who fill me with love as much as I put love out to the world!

Love & a Dog

Love & a Dog

 

P.S. Here is a link for some Self Love tips I came across!

Hats Hats Hats

Fall Hat Obsession  at Speckledyellow.com

speckledyellow.com

I have an obsession with hats. Like a true obsession, it could possibly be considered hoarding at this point in time. I loveee them! I have all sorts, but right now I am particularly excited that I can wear these Fall hats like the ones shown above! I am one of those people who gets really sad when summer is over, but thinking about these hats makes it all okay. If I had to chose one accessory to wear at all times it would definitely be a hat. Not only are these hats comfy and stylish, but they also protect your face from those harmful UV rays!  Yes Please and Thank You!

Below you can find the name, brand, and price of each hat. Click to go to the webpage:

I am loving these neutral colors which go great with any hair, eye color, or makeup pallet you have. These hats can also take a simple outfit of jeans and a sweater up a notch and make it stylish, chic, and fun!

I had a little too fun much below wearing the Alexa Panama Hat from Urban Outfitters. Urban Outfitters so far has been my fav spot to find the perfect shape hats with a great fit and certainly more than fair pricing.

Fall Hat Obsession at speckledyellow.com

speckledyellow.com

Fall Hat Obsession at speckledyellow.com

speckledyellow.com

Cozy Layers and Cashmere in Beacon Hill

IMG_4430 IMG_4419Charles Street in Beacon Hill, Boston, is one of the most charming streets in all of the city! It is filled with quaint shops, restaurants, boutiques, and antique stores. Strolling along this street, I can’t help but feel I am walking along a cobblestone path in Europe, with a cappuccino in one hand and a baguette in the other.

Well, I headed over to my favorite boutique in Beacon Hill; Wish. This lovely women’s contemporary boutique is where my dear friend Samantha, the store manager, spends a lot of her time making women feel fabulous and dressed to the nines.

I stepped into this gorgeous store and was greeted by some lovely ladies with smiles for miles including my dear friend Samantha. What a welcoming store with pastel colored walls and a comfortable place to sit and read a magazine, if ya know…you’re waiting for someone to shop (hehe). I asked Samantha to help me find some cozy layers and a cashmere sweater-’cause let’s face it- that’s what Fall and Winter season 2014 is all about with that polar vortex visiting us soon:(  And of course, I was shown some of the coziest, warmest cashmere sweaters and layering pieces. I also spotted casual wear like designer jeans and everything in-between; including some super cute dresses! Check out their website HERE to see a list of the designers they sell as well as their very own blog!

Click  below to see some fashion shots and find out my must have pieces for FALL/WINTER 2014! Sneak peek….

Cozy Layers and Cashmere in Beacon Hill/speckledyellow.com Continue reading

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Healthy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup!

This soup is like a yummy sip of fresh Autumn air. It has a sweet buttery taste and is oh so fun to make! The buttery scent of the roasting butternut squash filled my kitchen with a lovely aroma. It was almost like I purchased a butternut squash Fall scented candle, but nope, just roasting one up in the oven! The mix of squash, green apple, and sage is just perfection, and the pumpkin seeds on top add a delectable crunch. Usually, you find these soups to have heavy cream, but the almond milk definitely did the trick and no cream was harmed in the making of this soup.

I have been eating this soup for practically the past two weeks. The first time I made it I wanted to drink it like a smoothie, and this week ,I have been dancing around the kitchen as I eat if for lunch everyday! It’s literally THAT GOOD! The husband seriously, seriously….seriously approves! At first he asked for just a little bit but I poured him a large bowl and he was convinced he wouldn’t finish it all. Well folks…he licked the bowl clean!!!!!!!!!

Healthy Butternut Squash Soup!

Ingredients

* 4 pound whole butternut squash
* 2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Vegan Butter (or regular butter if you prefer)
* 1 medium Granny Smith apple
* 8 fresh sage leaves
* 2 large garlic cloves (instead you can use 1/2 medium yellow onion if so desire)
* 2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth
* 2 1/2 cups water
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1/3 cup almond milk (option: you can use heavy cream instead)
* 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (toasted or not toasted)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Grab the butternut squash. Heat it in the microwave for 2 minutes to make it soft. Chop off both ends then peel the butternut squash. Cut the squash lengthwise in half and scoop out the seeds.

3. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Heat 1 Tablespoon of the Earth Balance butter up so it’s melted. Place the squash onto the baking sheet cut-side up and brush the butter onto the squash coating all sides and in the center. Roast until knife tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.

5. Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut the apple into medium diced pieces. Get the garlic ready, or if you do not have a garlic press, chop it up into fine pieces. Melt the remaining tablespoon of Earth Balance butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apple, garlic (either the tiny chopped pieces, or use a garlic press), and sage, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

6. When the squash is ready, take it out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes. After it has cooled, dice it into 1-2 inch pieces and place into the saucepan with the sautéed apples and garlic. Stir gently, breaking up some of the butternut squash pieces.

7. Add the broth, water, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a medium simmer, stirring occasionally about every 15 minutes, and breaking up any large pieces of the squash. Next, remove from the heat and stir in the almond milk.

8. Finally, pour the ingredients into a blender until smooth. You may have to do this in batches if it does not all fit. (quick trick just in case: Remove the small cap (the pour lid) from the blender lid and cover the space with a kitchen towel to allow steam to escape and prevent the blender lid from popping off). Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed and enjoy with some pumpkin seeds on top to add a flavorful crunch!

Healthy Butternut Squash Soup!Healthy Butternut Squash Soup!Healthy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup!

 

Recipe adapted from HERE

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