Growing up, I spent $30 of my Christmas money, on a Bonsai. I loved it. It was so cute and it gave my “Asian Themed” bedroom (because I was really into martial arts at the time) the perfect touch. However, in Florida, we have these horrible little creatures called sugar ants that seem to find their way into homes every summer to escape the heat. They don’t sting like fire ants, but they are really annoying and seem to get into everything…which is exactly what they did to my poor Bonsai. Overnight it became infested with these little ants. I was young and didn’t know how else to handle an infestation of this manner except to spray my Bonsai quite heavily with an ant killer and it worked! er…kind of. While the ants did die, my Bonsai died too and that was my first introduction to having an indoor house plant.
Social media (like my Instagram) usually shows beautifully styled homes with lush green houseplants everywhere, but more often than not, I hear people complaining about them online. They die, they turn weird colors, remembering to water them seems to be a constant ongoing war and I’m left with the impression that perhaps a houseplant is something you give to someone like a frenemy. The idea seems nice at first, “Oh look at this cute little plant I got you!” but then GAWD FORBID they kill it, and then they’re “the ones who killed the pretty plant you gave them” and even if you don’t say anything, that plant will be hanging like an albatross from around their neck. Trust me, if I give you a houseplant, chances are I’m openly telling you that I don’t like you and I want to give you a really inconvenient gift that now you are responsible for keeping alive.
Growing up I LOVED Easter! It was so much fun! I remember all the cool candy I’d get in my Easter basket, but one thing I absolutely adored was the food. My mother would make egg sandwiches with the hardboiled eggs my sisters and I dyed and we would have an Easter ham. Now personally, I’m not a fan of having the same protein every day for a week, I remembered discovering how much I didn’t really like Turkey past Thanksgiving (and even then I was never really into poultry). My mother was a leftover mastermind though. She was one of those people who could pull random things out of the fridge and somehow reinvent it and it would 9 out of 10 be amazing. One thing I looked forward to was her split pea soup! Unfortunately, I don’t have the recipe for what she made, BUT I found this recipe which tastes exactly the same AND it’s a crock pot recipes which means you can set it and forget it while you go about your day!
One of my favorite childhood memories was coloring Easter eggs with my sister in the backyard under our maple tree which was much smaller back then. I remember my mother setting up little-colored plastic cups, and filling them with water and vinegar and then we’d watch as the little fizzy color tabs would dye the water. I’d scribble flowers, hearts, and lines on my little egg and then pop it into one of the six colors. Eventually, though, all the eggs seemed to end up the same kind of greenish khaki color from being dipped in too many additional colors. We would then put stickers on them of bunnies, chicks, and flowers and present them proudly to our mother who would say how pretty they are. She would politely ignore multicolor dyed hands of her children in favor of our smiles, and she would dutifully clean up the mess of spilled dye and leftover sticker remnants on the little table outside. As an adult, the smell of vinegar still reminds me of those days.
My husband and I got a book called “The Gourmet Cookbook” by Ruth Reichl. We got it mostly for the really interesting (and expensive) recipes, because, well it’s fun to read about how to cook escargot.
In the pasta section, there was an affordable gem that Amin and I now make regularly. It’s called Penne Alla Vodka and I swear you’ll never go back to eating jarred pasta again once to see how crazy easy it is to make and how absolutely pro chef it tastes. Below, not only will I walk you through it, but I’ll give you a video to watch to see how it’s done first hand!
Let’s be real here. Most holidays in America are celebrated with food, booze or both and St. Patricks Day is no exception. It’s really a big deal here in Boston too with a lot of people heading into the city with their “Kiss Me I’m Irish” shirts and green and gold colors to go pub hopping.
As I’ve said before, I don’t particularly enjoy crowds, especially drunk crazy people crowds so I usually stay home, play some wonderful Celtic music and watch Lord of the Dance or the first “Leprechaun” movie (don’t judge!) while I cook and fill my home with the wonderful smells of food.
Of course, I live on Pinterest, and while there I happened to find this absolutely amazing recipe for Guinness, Whiskey and Irish Cream Cupcakes. First, I have to say that I love cakes in miniature form. I don’t feel bad for eating an entire one, where I might if it was an entire cake. I also loved how it uses all of the Irish trademark alcohol classics. Needless to say, I made these Guinness cupcakes with a Jameson whiskey ganache center and Baileys Irish Cream frosting and gave them to my husband to pass out at work and they were a real success! I also think the addition of a cute little Chocolate coin on top and the green clover sprinkles really takes it to that next level.
Valentines can be tough. There’s a huge focus on Love and being in a relationship. In my personal opinion, if you live in America it’s just another holiday that’s been ruined by companies pressuring you to buy stuff to be happy. I think we’ve really lost sight of love. To be honest, it’s so hard and so “Not Special” going to a restaurant on Valentines, that my husband and I have actually moved the date to the first weekend after.
I was not taught a lot about self-care or self-love…In fact, I’d venture to say that I haven’t really started learning about “myself” until very recently, and learning about yourself is different than loving yourself. You can learn about yourself and hate who you are.
Love is something that is cultivated over time, and I’d like to preface this post with saying that no matter how many bubble baths you take, no matter how many times you do your nails or have facials, it’s not going to matter unless you cultivate a real heart love for yourself and that will take time. That said, as you do these activities, remember to remind yourself over and over that you are deserving of these things, and that you are being kind to yourself because you deserve it!
February may be a cold month (at least for this ex-southerner) but it’s got a heartwarming holiday to look forward to! While a box of chocolates and a rose are great classic ideas, I’ve sifted through the internet to find some really special meals that are a little more out of the box. Hopefully, this inspires you to try something a little different for that special someone! If you do something cool that isn’t listed and you’d like me to check it out, please tell me about it in the comments!
There is nothing wrong with taking your sweetie out for something sweet to eat, but there’s something special about having your S/O cook for you. I usually cook at home, but when Amin cooks for me, especially if it’s something he knew I would like (seafood or pasta instead of chicken) it’s an easy way to make me swoon. I get to chill out and relax or just talk to him and watch him run around the kitchen (extra points if he cleans up the kitchen after). P.S. It doesn’t have to be valentines for this to happen…just sayn’ but if you’re low on ideas, here are some valentines themed recipes that look as good as they taste!
8 years ago my husband and I (with our two cats) all jammed into our car and made the long drive from Tampa Florida to Boston Massachusetts to start a new life. We arrived a week before Christmas and our Christmas tree was one of the first things we unpacked. Several days later we experienced our first Blizzard (the first of four that came by in a row). We were not very well prepared. I can remember shoveling our car in jeans and sneakers. I had grown up in Florida from the age of two and anything under 50 degrees seemed unbearably cold, so that first winter really put the fear of winter in me.
So, how am I doing 8 years later? Better. Much better. Here is what I do to Survive the New England Winters.
My husband and I got married at the age of 22. I know it was young, but honestly, we had been dating for five years at that time and we REALLY just wanted to be married. After the honeymoon when Amin and I were opening our wedding gifts, one of the people I had invited had got me the Betty Crocker “Bridal Edition” Cookbook.
I can honestly say that besides the silverware that someone else got me, it’s been one of the most used gifts. 11 years later, I still pull it out. It taught me everything from how to devein shrimp to how to make chicken broth for chicken soup when Amin had a cold. The recipes were also fairly cheap to make which was a plus since after we returned home from our honeymoon we endured some serious poverty.
While I’ve moved on to some more challenging recipes lately, I usually pull out this book Every November when I’m doing batch freezer meals for the winter. One of our absolute favorite meals is a chili which I throw over pasta and add cheese and sour cream too. It freezes amazingly well and I often cook it in bulk. I can’t tell you how comforting it is after a day of shoveling snow to be able to pull this out and warm it up and dinner is made. It’s also cheap so you have more cash for your holiday shopping!
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So for the last few years I’ve been watching Halloween Wars on the Food Network. It combines two of my favorite hobbies which is cooking and art. One of the things they do that I’ve been wanting to try for years is pumpkin sculpting. Pumpkin sculpting is much different than carving. Pumpkin carving conjures up images of the traditional toothy grinned pumpkins that you would see on anyone’s door stop. Pumpkin sculpting however is a completely different animal. Read more