Meatless Monday with Quinoa Cakes

If you caught my recent 32 in 32 post, the first item on the list was to be Vegetarian. Truth be told, I transitioned to a Vegetarian lifestyle a few weeks ago, but it’s been a struggle. I don’t miss meat, at all. In fact my diet previously was primarily vegetarian, but I apparently psyched myself out. Since saying the words, “I’m Vegetarian”, I’ve gone blank on meal ideas. I’ve been eating lots of homemade Pita chips and hummus…but a girl can’t live on hummus alone (no matter how delicious it is).

Enter Plated…and no, this is not a sponsored post or a referral link. I signed up with Plated months ago and have made a few meals from them, all delicious. So when I needed meal ideas, I ordered a few vegetarian meals from Plated to try out. They send you nearly every items you need to make the meal and the recipe card. The only thing I had to supply was some water, an egg, and some olive oil. I will admit this can be an expensive option which is why I don’t use it regularly, but it was incredibly helpful to have some help when I needed it this week.

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This particular meal was Quinoa Cakes with Pan Roasted Mushrooms. Simple. You can probably find hundreds of similar recipes on Pinterest…in fact, check here, I did a quick search for you.

Plated provided the mushrooms, quinoa, onion, breadcrumbs, pecorino cheese, chives, thyme, and a pad of butter.

While the Quinoa was cooking with the onions, I used the butter to pan roast the mushrooms. Then added some fresh thyme near the end of cooking.

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Once the quinoa was cooked, it was mixed with an egg, garlic, pecorino cheese, chives, and breadcrumbs; then formed into 4 patties (this recipe was service for 2).

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Sautéed in a little oil for about 4 minutes per side. I was worried they would fall apart when flipping, but they stayed together surprisingly well.

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Finished cakes topped with mushrooms, chives and a little sour cream (I added the cream, it was not in the recipe).

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It was delicious and filling. Exactly what I needed to break out of my hummus rut. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow for lunch. I plan on making some more cakes, with my own twist on the recipes which I hope to share on here in the near future.

 

What are some of your favorite vegetarian/vegan meals? Feel free to link your own blog below in the comments if you have Vegetarian/Vegan friendly posts that I can check out! Or share your favorite Vegetarian/Vegan blogs, those would be helpful too.

32 in 32 List

 

A few years back, when I was turning 30, I wrote out a list of things that I wanted to accomplish before I turned 31. I didn’t achieve everything, but I had a good time working on some of those goals. With everything going last year, I never got around to creating a 31 in 31 list; but I think it’s time to bust out the list again and attack it full force. Below I’ve listed out the 32 goals that I’ve picked to complete by 5/6/2015. I’m obviously getting a late start since I only have about 6 months until I turn 33, but I’m inspired to change my life and this is a start.

As motivation to complete the list (and not just the easy stuff), I’ve decided that for every goal missed I will donate $50 to charity. So if I only achieve 25 of the 32 goals, then I’m shelling out $350 to charity. That’s not chump change so I feel sufficiently motivated, and now it’s out there for all to see as well. No hiding now.

Without further ado…

 

It’s good for my soul:

1. Be a Vegetarian

2. Find a Local Yoga Studio that I love

3. Support a different charity every month (can be a donation of $$, time, or things)

4. Start volunteering at my local Animal Shelter

5. Be a Bridesmaid

For my brain:

6. Read 50 books

7. Finish a New York Times Crossword Puzzle in pen

Foodie:

8. Take a cooking class

9. Learn to make homemade pasta

It’s an Adventure:

10. Explore the Oregon Coast

11. Visit Arizona and see Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend

12. Ice Skate at the Beach in San Diego

For the home:

13. Purge my closet and sell or donate excess items

14. Buy or Build a Dining Room Table

15. Have the house painted professionally (for the walls I can’t reach)

For my Health:

16. Meet my weight loss goal

17. Take a Dance or Aerial Silks Class

18. Find a Kind Dentist & Dermatologist

19. Obtain NASM CPT Certification

20. Run 30 minutes straight

21. Do a handstand with no wall support, hold for at least 5 seconds

22. Try SUP or Paddleboard Yoga

Creativity:

23. Successfully complete NaNoWriMo

24. Sign with a Literary Agent

25. Start a side business

26. Move blog to Self-Hosted and Re-Design the layout

27. Take an art or design related class

For the fun of it:

28. Get a Tattoo

29. Wear a Bikini (outside the dressing room)

30. Pay off at least one credit card (or get 2 below a set amount)

31. Become an early riser (6am-ish)

32. Go to a hockey game (preferably a LA Kings game)

Beauty Talk #3 – September Favorites

As cliché as it sounds, I can’t believe this year is flying by so quickly. Wasn’t it just January? I’ve been counting down the days until Fall, the heat this summer has been unbearable. Combine that with the drought we’re experiencing and it’s been pretty miserable. It’s going to be in the 100’s this weekend (in October?!?), and I am dreaming of a cool, damp fall/winter. With the heat, makeup hasn’t made the ‘To Do List’ very often. I’ve been keeping it very simple with a foundation for even skin, and then I used blush and nail polish for pops of beauty color. Here are a few of my beauty favorites from this past month.

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Bite Beauty Lush Lip Tint – Juice [~$24]

I love the Bite brand overall due to it’s focus on using Food Grade Ingredients. I feel safer using the Bite Brand products since we eat so much of the lip products we wear. I’m not very comfortable using bright lipsticks, so I have a special love for the Lush Lip Tints. They are moisturizing and give wash of color that feels comfortably colorful. 

 

Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation – No. 1.0 [~$39]

Earlier this year I splurged on the Urban Decay Foundation when ULTA had a 20% off coupon available. First off, it’s a great color match for my light skin, which is often a challenge to find. The formula is great, light and comfortable even in the hot summer months. It also leaves a very natural finish, not cakey or heavy at all. 

 

Butter London Nail Polish – SNOG [~$15]

I love bright coral-pink-red nail polishes. SNOG is a bright, but dark pink that is an absolute stunner! Easily a one coat polish as well, the formula is fantastic. If you want to try a similar color for less $$, check out an Essie polish in the color Watermelon.That polish is also a favorite of mine. 

 

Maybelline Master Hi-Light Blush – Coral [~$10]

This blush has been a favorite since the day I bought it. It’s better than many of the high end blushes that I have in my collection (yes, I said collection…it’s a problem). It’s the perfect Coral/Peach blush with just enough glow to also double as a highlighter. Excellent color, coverage and price (around $10 and often on sale).

 

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Dabur Vatika Enriched Coconut Hair Oil [~$5]

I still love my regular Coconut oil for so many reasons, but the Vatika Enriched Hair Oil has replaced regular coconut oil for my hair. The first ingredient of The Vatika brand is Coconut Oil, but it also has Neem, Henna, and other herbs/extracts. It has a lemon scent and it does an AMAZING job at moisturizing my hair. My hair is typically very dry and frizzy, but with this stuff, my hair has never been healthier. I use it about once a week, overnight. I haven’t had any problems with it staining my pillows either.

 

Acure Seriously Hydrating Facial Toner for Normal to Dry Skin [~$15]

Since my skin tends to run on the dry side, I use a facial mist morning and night. I’m a fan of the Acure brand and the Seriously Hydrating Facial Toner is excellent as well. It’s a great formula that is incredibly moisturizing, without being sticky. It soaks in quickly, and feels nourishing over or under other beauty products.

 

Egyptian Magic All Purpose Skin Cream [~$30 per 4oz]

Egyptian Magic is not cheap, but it’s so worth it! I picked up the 2oz bottle (shown) and a 4oz tub at Costco for about $40. The texture is more oil/balm than cream and you don’t need much at all. A few times a week, I will wash my face and apply the Acure Toner, then a facial oil, and lastly a very thin layer of Egyptian Magic. It soaks in and leaves the most incredible glow/softness to my skin overnight. 

 

What Beauty products are you loving this month?

 

*Some of the above links are affiliate links.

Office Remodel – Update

I’m going to just jump right back into blogging and hope you don’t realize that I’ve been MIA for about 6 months…sorry. Reality is that I needed a break. I tried to come back earlier this year, and as much as I wanted to blog, I couldn’t get the words out. I started so many posts over the past few months and they sit unfinished. So I figured a break was in order, always knowing that I would be back. So here I am…and I have some exciting projects to share with you. Please bare with me as I get back into my writing groove.

But first…Thank you for all the kind notes that were sent to me over the past few months. So many of you were encouraging me to come back and that meant so much to me. I greatly appreciate every single message/email. THANK YOU!

Two projects that have been a long time coming are a Office Remodel and a Backyard Update. I have a bit of cleanup to do in the yard, so that update will come later this month. Today I’m excited to show you some progress in the office.

Anyone remember this (very messy) room? I can’t recall the last update I provided, so we’ll start here.

Office Remodel_Before1

Office Remodel_Before2

First I had to clean…a lot.

Next I swapped out the broken white wood blinds for bamboo blinds.

Office Remodel_Blinds1

Then I added molding to each window to create the architectural frame. For such a small investment, the effect is amazing in the (nearly) finished room.

 Office Remodel_Blinds2 Office Remodel_Blinds3

Next Up…Paint!

Office Remodel_Paint1

I wanted to pick something neutral for the walls so I could use accessories in different colors. I like to vary my decorations based on seasons and holidays, so a neutral color wall works perfectly. The color is Valspar Hot Stone.

 Office Remodel_Paint2

Depending on the lighting, the color can appear light brown or taupe. I do wish it were a bit lighter, but for now it works really well.

 Office Remodel_Paint3

After moving the desk and filing cabinets back in, I decided to tackle the lighting situation. I also wanted to install a ceiling fan since the summers are scorching hot.

The dreaded boob light…sigh…

Office Remodel_Fan1

…now looks like this! I loved the fan so much, I’ve added 3 more throughout the house.

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I found these beautiful black Allen & Roth fans at Lowes on sale for about $100 each. This model is no longer listed online; however, Harbor Breeze sells a very similar model (HERE).

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Since the picture above was taken, I’ve added a chaise lounge and built an ‘L-shaped’ desk. But those are for another day…

I’ll be back Friday (I promise!), hope you are all having a wonderful week. Happy October!!

6 Random Things…

Spring Colors 

I’m starting to break out the spring inspired nail polishes again. Shade of aqua,  like breezy days relaxing at the beach. When it’s not aqua it’s coral. Speaking of, who’s seen the beautiful colors of the new OPI Brazil collection? I just got my order and am so smitten with the colors and formula.

…and on the Spring theme…

 

Spring Cleaning

I cleaned my entire house this weekend. Top to bottom, front door to attic (just kidding, I don’t go in the attic. Spiders live up there). You get the point. I made a list for each room on Friday night, and plowed through it starting on Saturday and finished the biggest problem areas, like the kitchen, on Sunday. Not the most exciting way to sped a weekend, but it feels amazing to have a clean house. I also took care of a few random house chores, like installing a Carbon Monoxide detector, swapping out a few door bumpers, and replacing a toilet seat (never thought I’d actually have to know how to do that…joys of being a homeowner).

The challenge now is to keep the place looking great all the time instead of having to do this type of cleaning again anytime soon. I put together a schedule to quick hit every room in the house twice a month to keep on top of things. I think I could do a quick 15-20 minute cleanup each day in the scheduled room, and keep on top of things. Quick cleanup would be dust, vacuum, pick up lose items, counters/toilets, fix any small issues.

How do you guys tackle cleaning, do you keep any type of schedule/plan? Or do you do Super Cleaning weekends every few months?

 

The Schedule:

(1st/16th) Foyer/Entry

(2nd/17th) Den/Workout Area

(3rd/18th) Downstairs Bathroom

(4th/19th) Yard/Porch

(5th/20th) Garage

(6th/21st) Dining Room

(7th/22nd) Powder Room

(8th/23rd) Living Room

(9th/24th) Kitchen

(10th/25th) Office

(11th/26th) Spare Bedroom

(12th/27th) Spare Bathroom

(13th/28th) Laundry

(14th/29th) Master Bedroom

(15th/30th) Master Bathroom/Closet

 

Anxiety/Stress

It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve experienced overwhelming anxiety, but much longer that I’ve been drowning in stress. Some days are worse than others, of course. I came across an article on Greatist.com this week and I really enjoyed it, 15 Ways to Beat Anxiety Now. If you deal with anxiety or high stress, you may enjoy this article as well.

 

Natural Beauty

In the past I’ve always been a fan of technologically advanced beauty, but more and more, I’ve transitioning to a more natural beauty regimen. I still use non-natural brands and products, but I strongly believe that when you know better you do better. So I’ve started to embrace brands like Shea Terra, and Stark Skincare.

 

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I’ve also started experimenting with making some at home beauty products. So far my favorite thing is washing my face with honey! Amazing results & easy to make, and customize, at home. I’ll probably do a separate post on this in the future.

 

Recent Reads

I finished the sometimes daughter by Sherri Wood Emmons last week. It’s the story of a girl born at Woodstock and her relationship with her mom and family as she grows into her teens. It’s a fairly simple story of watching a young girl grow up in the 60/70’s and experiencing her personal/family struggles. If you enjoy getting a glimpse into someone else’s family life (we’re all a little voyeuristic, right?), then you’ll probably like this.

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Puppy Love

I’ve been struggling a bit with my pup recently. He’s been having some mobility issues with his back leg. It always seems to be prompted by rough/wild playing, or a long day outdoors so I’m fairly certain it’s muscle strains. However, I think he is also developing some arthritis due to the extra weight he carries around. I’m having to adjust his food and add some supplements in hope of bringing him some natural relief without going to prescription pain killers. He’ll be seen by our vet in a few weeks for a checkup, fingers crossed, I’ve finally found the best nutrition plan for my little one. It’s so hard to see him struggle when I know he really wants to run through a dog park or splash at the dog beach. I hope we can get back to that soon.

If your pup has had similar issues, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Alright, I’m off to collapse onto the couch and relax after all that cleaning. I hope you all had a great weekend!

The Love List

With my little disappearance act from the blog recently, I never did a proper New Year post. Don’t worry, I’m not going to launch into a recap of 2013…no need. It can pretty much be summed up in 4 words…Work, Jury Duty, Vacation. That covers a majority of the yearly highlights, sadly nothing else too extraordinary. I struggled with massive amounts of anxiety & stress last year which was a challenge, but I’m working to turn all that around this year.

 

I have a feeling that 2014 is going to be a good one.

 

Instead of doing New Year’s Resolutions this year, or planning any major goals to overcome, I decided to go a different direction. I created a Love List.

One day, I was feeling particularly burned out and ‘blah’, so I grabbed some paper & pen, and scribble down 25 things that I love. They are very general, and I didn’t mean for it to be too specific. I wanted to create a list of things that I love, thing that brought me joy in life. I’ve posted the list below. You’ll notice that some are incredibly general. I did that purposely so that I could find all the bits of joy within that ‘love’ item.

For example… #23 is Travel. General, right? I could have clarified that I wanted to travel overseas or to a  specific country, and I do. But overall I simply love travelling. I can’t afford to do it often, but I love it. So it’s on the list. The goal will be to find ways to ‘travel’ in my area when I can’t afford to go far.

 

So what’s the point?

 

The point of creating this list was to help me see the beauty around me on the tough days. On those days that seem to break me down, I can grab this list, pick a number and do something I love. Maybe it will be to curl up with a good book, or hop in the car with my pup and go to the beach, or add something new to the garden…hell, sometimes it will simply to be sit down and listen to the sound of the rain (check out Rainymood.com. It’s just the sound of the rain, INCREDIBLE).

I should also say that this is not EVERYTHING that I love. This is the first 25 that popped into my head. I’m sure the list could go on and on…

 

These are in no particular order…

 

The Love List

 

  1. Beauty, Skincare, Makeup, Nails
  2. Baxter, Dogs & Animals, helping animals
  3. Instagram
  4. Photography, Black & White Photos, SLR Cameras
  5. Writing Stories
  6. Blogging
  7. Organization & Planning
  8. Home Decor & Interior Design
  9. DIY, Craft Projects, Building Things
  10. Healthy Living, Detox my Life (in all different ways)
  11. Cooking
  12. Bargain Shopping/Hunting
  13. Dancing
  14. Yoga
  15. The Beach
  16. Meditation & Self Hypnosis
  17. The Sound of the Rain
  18. Green Living, Learning to be Environmentally Conscious
  19. Growing my own food
  20. Reading
  21. Family & Friends
  22. Journaling,Creating Photo Look-books
  23. Travel
  24. Art, String Art, Painting
  25. Learning, Continuing Education, School

 

The Challenge is to pick several of these a week and make sure that I’m spending time doing things that I love. Sometimes with the ‘busy-ness’ that is life, it’s hard to find those happy moments. This is just one way that I’m trying to incorporate more HAPPY into my life this year.

 

What is on your Love List?

Beauty Talk #2

 

My favorite recent beauty tip involves a way to turn a steamy shower into a aromatherapy experience. It’s very simple, and completely customizable to your mood. 

For a spa like shower, mix a few drops of essential oil with water in a spray bottle. Spritz into a steamy shower before you step in, and enjoy the aromatherapy. You can mix a variety of oils to create a scent you love. Citrus & Mint is great for an uplifting morning shower, Eucalyptus if you’re feeling sick, Lavender & Chamomile are excellent for relaxing in the evening. Maybe try a little Neroli or Rose before date night ;) Mix, Spritz, Enjoy!

I created a lovely mix of Peppermint and Vanilla recently. It’s an amazing pick me up in the morning.

 

 

In other beauty news lately…these are a few insta-posts from the last few weeks! You can read the specifics of each picture over at Instagram!

 

 

 

 

   

 

[Soaked] Cinnamon Almonds

I have the most delicious (and nutritious) treat to share with you today, and it’s ridiculously simple to make. I’m constantly on the look out for ways to make everyday foods/meals healthier, and I’m always excited to find quick & healthy snacks

Many already know that Almonds (in moderation) are an nutrient dense food that can greatly benefit a healthy diet. The contain protein, fiber, and omega fatty acids just to name a few of their many nutrition stats. However, something I learned from researching raw food diets, is that you really aren’t getting the most out of your almonds if you eat them dry. Soaking the almonds first (generally overnight) will make them easier to digest, thus allowing the body to better absorb all the nutrients.

The information below is from the Food Matters Website, and was included in an excellent article about The Benefits of Soaking Nuts and Seeds. Be sure to check it out if you want more information, it touches on more than just almonds.

 

Why soak nuts, grains and seeds?

  • 1. To remove or reduce phytic acid.
  • 2. To remove or reduce tannins.
  • 3. To neutralize the enzyme inhibitors.
  • 4. To encourage the production of beneficial enzymes.
  • 5. To increase the amounts of vitamins, especially B vitamins.
  • 6. To break down gluten and make digestion easier.
  • 7. To make the proteins more readily available for absorption.
  • 8. To prevent mineral deficiencies and bone loss.
  • 9. To help neutralize toxins in the colon and keep the colon clean.
  • 10. To prevent many health diseases and conditions.

 

In my opinion, Almonds are much, MUCH tastier this way as well. As an extra health bonus, I dusted them with ground cinnamon which has its own host of health benefits. Notice I said just ground cinnamon, not cinnamon sugar. You could also use raw cacao, a little chipotle, or another spice that you prefer.

Get Creative!

 

 Soaked Cinnamon Almonds_4

 

The visual difference between dry almonds (left) and soaked almonds (right). The soaked almonds will have a softer texture, but will still have a crunch to it. If you avoided almonds in the past because you disliked the ‘jaw breaking crunch’, give them another chance after soaking.

Soaked Cinnamon Almonds_1

The recipe is simple, and there are NO specific measurements needed. Just put a serving of raw (not roasted or seasoned) almonds in a sealable container. A plastic bag will work just fine, but I prefer to use something with a lid. Cover the almonds with water and place in fridge overnight (or for about 12 hours). In the morning, drain and rise the almonds. At this point they are ready to eat, or season them.

 Soaked Cinnamon Almonds_2

Add your spices. I added about 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to 1/2 Cup of almonds.

 Soaked Cinnamon Almonds_3

You can keep uneaten, soaked almonds in the fridge for about 24-48 hours before they will begin to mold. Since they don’t have a long shelf life, you should avoid making large batches unless you know they will be eaten right away. Unfortunately this isn’t something you can make on Sunday, and eat throughout the week.

For those that would like the health benefits of a soaked almond, but prefer the dry texture, you can dry them in a dehydrator for longer term storage.

Enjoy!

 Soaked Cinnamon Almonds_4

I’d love to know if any of you have tried this method, or if you try this recipe. What other seasonings have you used?

 

 

*I have purposely tried to not use the phrase, ‘soak your nuts’ in this post, because…well…I’d like to avoid the pervy Google Spam Bots. But let’s face it, that’s exactly what I want you to do from now on…soak your nuts people!

 

 

**I also apologize for the inconsistent lighting in the photographs. It’s driving me crazy too.