5 Things I Love – May 30

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1. Our Armed Forces

It may come off as sappy to have this on a post entitled ‘5 Things I Love’, but I come from a long line of servicemen and women who sacrificed for or freedom. The purpose of Memorial Day tends to get lost in the celebration of a three day weekend leading into summer that it has become, but we only have that freedom because of those who came before us willing to stand up and fight for that. We’re only keeping it because of those who are still doing that today, so the next time you see one of these men or women – a veteran or someone currently serving – take the opportunity to thank them for the time they have dedicated to protecting and preserving our country and our freedom.

2. Katsushika Hokusai

Outside of a very small number of you, this name probably doesn’t mean much, but I’m pretty sure you’ve seen this Japanese artist’s most famous print at least once in your life. That would be the The Great Wave off Kanagawa or that tidal wave woodblock print that seems to pop up all over the place. If you’ve any fondness this style I would recommend going and checking him out :)

3. Bora Bora Wild Pomegranate Pecan Bars

I realized while researching this that it seems I’ve almost always got some sort of new food I love and this week is not different. All natural, organic, full of flavor and wonderfully moist I could several in one sitting easily. Also, much to my personal happiness, they actually list potassium on the label. Friends will back up that I’ve been on a whole ‘why isn’t potassium ever listed on the label’ kick since I started using Calorie Counter, so this is beautamous (as well as being very, very tasty).

4. Apples to Apples

I was very first introduced to this game at an SAI lock-in in college and to this day it remains a favorite of mine at group gatherings, like the Memorial Day party today. Not only is it fun and good for larger groups of people, but you learn a lot about the other players through their choices as well.

5. Jonah Lehrer’s ‘How We Decide’

I have not yet had the opportunity to read his book, but while studying up on the psychology of decision making for our May design workshop I came across this recording of him speaking to the Commonwealth Club and it’s a great talk. He’s also got an interesting variety of articles on Wired.

Caffeinated Pork & Peaches

I know I already put a recipe up this week, but this one has been waiting to see the light of day and I thought that FaveDiet’s Blog Hop was the perfect excuse to give it that chance. Of course, I only realized after posting the link that the theme is deli salads and I am in non-compliance :\ Die hard hoppers, please forgive this first-timers mistake.

As to the recipe itself, several months ago I saw a sign for coffee encrusted pork (loin I think) and it intrigued me, so here’s my twist on the idea.

Caffeinated Pork & Peaches

3 thinly sliced boneless pork chops
2 tbsp regular coffee grounds
1/2 can peaches in light sauce
1/8 tsp clove
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

Mix together the coffee grounds, clove, cinnamon & salt then spread thinly across a plate or other flat food preparation space. Rinse your pork and lay out over the spices. Press and flip.

Transfer into a glass dish and fill in spaces with pieces of peach. Pour in sauce around the chops.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Makes approximately 3 servings at 195 calories a serving.

Baked Chicken & Veggies

Sometimes simple is the best, especially when it involves fresh vegetables. This is one of those recipes. Nothing spectacular, just a simple, easy meal. All of the main ingredients are either from the Farmer’s Market (zucchini & beans) or could be from the Farmer’s Market given the right time period (chicken & potatoes).

Baked Chicken & Veggies

2 thawed chicken legs
1 1/2 cup green beans
1 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1 medium red potato sliced thinly
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
Fresh ground lemon pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Place thawed and rinsed chicken legs in a baking dish. Snap beans & chop zucchini. Fill in around the chicken. Sprinkle with lemon pepper.

Thinly slice potato and lay out over the other vegetables. Heat butter and oil to a liquid and pour evenly over the potatoes. Sprinkle with lemon pepper.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the chicken and potatoes are nicely browned.

Servings: 2

Fashion Soiree: The Groundwork of a Dress

Every year on the last night of conference lia sophia throws a huge party for all of the attendees. Two years ago we took over the Harley Davidson complex. Last year, they closed down the pier for a massive white party. This year the Fashion Soiree is being held at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Knowing that we would ask, they’ve given us these guidelines for dressing for the evening:

Think New York Fashion Week, a Hollywood movie premiere, or even a summer wedding where stylish, understated elegance makes an impact. This is the time to break out your favorite summery cocktail dress, and don’t forget your dancing shoes!

The moment I saw the announcement I knew exactly which piece of jewelry I wanted to wear:

Having no luck in finding the right combo of color, cut and fit (that still fit my budget), I have decided to make my dress instead which means the possibilities are endless. That is not to say I didn’t have a basic style in mind when I made that decision. I’ve already got a deep sea green material, a midnight blue as well. Now tis the time for figuring out the details.

Here are some of my inspiration styles:

Black Halo - Red Carpet Dress

Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent - Perfect Picturesque Dress

Moschino Cheap and Chic - Perfect Bow Dress

Alice by Temperly - Cobalt Cyclone Dress

Yigal Azrouël - Black Jupiter Dress

I’m sure the final dress will end up pulling inspiration from several of these, but feel free to share your thoughts below :)

5 Things I Love – May 23

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1. Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Ignite the Soul’

I actually saw this video a week or so ago and don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to post it until today. Not only does it appeal to me in the sense that it’s the symphony orchestra and, well, I was a music major at one point in my life; but it also does a great job of bringing context to the video with the various locations that can be seen. It’s not your classic image of a symphony playing in a massive orchestral hall. If it were I would support it out of love for the arts, but it’s highly doubtful I would love it. Also, great tag line.

P.S. They can’t afford to air the video so please share it with your friends if you haven’t already.

2. Spinach Quesadillas at Nuevo Vallerta in Grand Blanc

I had actually been to Nuevo Vallerta on a number of occasions before discovering these. Actually, it was my mom who discovered them an after hearing her rave over them I decided that when we went there this past week I really needed to give them a try. Totally worth it. The steamed spinach meshes wonderfully with white cheese and just a bit of spices folded into a flour tortilla. If you’re a spinach and Mexican fan I’d recommend giving it a try.

3. Angry Nerds

An entertaining spoof on the oh so popular angry birds game with birds from ‘the Hacker’ to ‘the Agilista’. Should they ever decide to move beyond spoofing I think there could be a definite market for their deck chair propelled fowl.

4. Stella McCartney’s Fall 2011 Mosaic Clutch

I spotted this in my June 2011 issue of Marie Claire and love the almost tribal look that the mosaic gives as well as the interest of being a square clutch. There’s a second clutch of a similar nature that looks like it features inlaid abalone and is gorgeous as well. I’m sure they’re beyond my price range, but it doesn’t stop me from drooling over them ;)

5. Fat Belly Handymen

So, I haven’t actually had any handyman work done by these gents, but they were my vendor neighbors at the 2nd Annual Baker Auto Show yesterday and proved to be the type of neighbors who are both entertaining and helpful. Of course, the sense of humor should be obvious considering their name, but they also helped me attempt to wrangle an octopus-like canopy (even if we did eventually give up in defeat) and chase items that the wind decided didn’t belong on my table anymore. Being a renter, it’s unlikely that I’ll need handyman help anytime soon, but if I did they’d definitely be on my to call list.

Rhubarb Sauce

This past week has been a bit, well, crazy. Really it will be until at least Tuesday of this coming week, so when in the latter evening hours of last Wednesday I stole some time to cook up my latest Farmer’s Market purchases including some lovely rhubarb. Apparently the variety I bought is finer and less bitter than other potential varieties. Seeing as I hadn’t had rhubarb before I really couldn’t say.

Rhubarb Sauce

2 stalks of rhubarb chopped (approx 1 3/4 cups)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 cup dried blueberries
Dash each of clove & ginger

Rinse & chop your rhubarb then simmer in a covered pot with water & blueberries for 15 minutes or until soft.

Mash rhubarb with potato masher and add vanilla, agave & spices. Simmer for another 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. I chose to use mine as a frozen yogurt topping but it would also do well with pork or chicken.

5 Things I Love – May 16

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1. Fenton Winery & Brewery

I had never even heard of this place until my friend Natalie suggested that we meet up there to catch up and transact some lia sophia business over wine while enjoying the musical talent of her fiance Mike Vial. It’s not an overly large venue, settled unobtrusively in a strip mall, but it has a great vibe to it. They also won my tastebuds over with their Autumn Breeze Pomegranate Riesling and warm brie with green apple and water crackers. It definitely proved itself worthy of a second trip despite being a bit of a drive away.

2. Jensen’s Orchard Spinach & Artichoke Chips

I have utterly failed to find a link to the site of the actual producers of these very tasty chips. Nevermind, it was on the bag. Sure chips aren’t the healthiest of snacks, but at least these have spinach as the third ingredient on the list (potatoes are first followed by vegetable oil). They’ve also got a lower calorie and carb count per serving than your average bag of chips. I may just have to stop back in at Big Lots and get a second bag this week.

3. Jon Kolko’s Thoughts on Interaction Design

Reading is one of those things that, if you’re like me, you always want to do more of than you have time for, but if you have any interest in Interaction Design this book is well worth carving out the time. There is so much that can be pulled from it that I’m planning to read it twice – the first time to just absorb and then again to actually take notes on it for work.

4. Orange Roses

This past Friday I received a lovely bouquet and thank you note from the Kiams for the lia sophia spot Mom and I did on Fox 2 Detroit week before last and it reminded me how much I love orange roses. Actually, I love any flowers in that particular vibrant orange darkening to almost red at the tips color. Poppies. Tiger Lilies. Orange Roses. Also, a little tidbit for those interested in the meaning imbibed into certain flowers, orange roses stand for enthusiasm, desire and fascination.

5. Photowalks Detroit

This is one of those awesome groups whose events I wish I could make it to more often, like their upcoming DIA photowalk on June 4th. I’m already booked that day or I would definitely put myself on the wait list to take part. It was a blast shooting with them when I went last summer. You can find them online on Facebook and flickr.

Kale & Egg Bake

While the particular bit of kale that I made this recipe with was actually bought at the supermarket, this is the first of the Farmer’s Market Foods posts.

Kale and I got to know each other when I first was introduced to the idea of green smoothies. Largely this was because this leafy green is incredibly healthy, not too bitter and reasonably priced at the supermarket or farmer’s market.

One day I realized that I had bought some kale and *gasp* forgotten it in the veggie drawer. Not wanting to waste this greenery and being short on time the kale & egg bake was born.

Kale & Egg Bake

4 cups kale rinsed & shredded
1 cup milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
4 slices of bacon, cooked & shredded
3 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/3 cup panko crumbs

Steam your kale until it is a nice dark green and cook your bacon.

Pour kale straight into a baking dish. I chose to use a loaf pan. Shred your bacon and add it to the kale along with the cheddar, milk and eggs. Mix well and smooth top. Make sure that your egg and milk mixture is enough to be at least partially covering all of the kale.

Mix together flaxseed and panko. Pour them over the top and smooth.

Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or until browned.

Makes approximately 4 servings at 268 calories a serving.

Superhero Friday

Last night I was going to work on my backlog of blog posts needing to go up. Instead, distracted blogger that I am, I made a made a cape and utility belt and dyed a t-shirt and gloves. Why? Because today was Superhero Friday in our office and we were not only invited to come in dressed up, but there was a costume contest as well. How could I not participate in an excuse to wear superhero attire to work?

I’ll admit it, the hardest part was finding a superheroine whose attire is workplace appropriate. We’re pretty flexible in our office I think spandex may have a special addendum specifically denoting it’s evils. Considering that most superheroines are generally recognized in attire that is either spandex, reveals more than it covers or is some combination of both this was a more difficult feat than one might think.

Don’t believe me? Google at your own risk or check out these two illustrations – Women of Marvel and Women of DC.

After much research and contemplation of my wardrobe I settled on Misfit. Not only are all the necessary body parts covered, but her style isn’t that far off from my own AND it gave me an excuse to make and rock a cape at work today. One must keep their priorities in order on these matters.

Of course, I made this decision at about 5:30 pm yesterday, so my next course of action, obviously, was to stop at Salvation Army and I hit gold. Being in a bit of a hurry I didn’t think to take pictures until I was already mid-project, but here’s a break-down of the articles of superheroine attire that were aquired last night:

Cape: made from a full black skirt with two panels removed and scrap yellow lining, both purchased at Salvation Army. Total Price – $2.75.

Utility Belt: made from scraps of the yellow fabric. No additional cost.

Bat Tee: dyed tee with bat emblem drawn in sharpie. Total for tee, dye & sharpie – $3.16

Mask: white jersey scrap dyed in same dye bath as tee and tied with ribbon. No additional cost.

Gloves: I could not find black gloves, so I tried to dye a pair of white ones with some black RIT. They came out gray. I wore them anyway. Total cost – $1.

Denim Mini: Salvation Army find. Total cost – $1.50.

The leggings, chucks and jewelry I already owned, though the chucks should actually be black instead of teal.

Total Project Cost: $8.41

The best part is that all of the items I made can be used again and I do plan to beef up my utility belt with some better made pouches. Being a rush job they aren’t as well put together as I would like.

I was not alone in the costume craziness, though only a few of my co-workers wore theirs all day.

While the costume contest wasn’t really my focus, I actually did come away with an iTunes giftcard & Hershey’s bar making it a win kind of day. Especially since I came away with a pic of the awesome look one of our managers came in with. Yes, that is a he.

5 Things I Love – May 9

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1. Spring

Spring has finally arrived! Ok, so really Spring arrived with the rain storms and the mud and all of that, but by Spring I mean that the sun has actually been shining during the day and the temperature has been in the 60s. It’s glorious. Of course, the one negative side effect is that in terms of in-office seasons we have entered into the season of sub-arctic air conditioning. The budding trees and balmy afternoons are worth it.

2. Water Crackers

I don’t recall now which came first, my visits to the UK or my love of water crackers, but the first surely cemented the second. Water crackers with jam. Water crackers with Nutella. Water crackers with cucumber as they were presented at the Mother’s Day tea my mom and I attended this past weekend. I love them all.

3. Gypsy Cold Care

Rumor has hit our office of the zombie virus of 2011 coming our way (ones of the banes of the open office space), which has reminded me of my love of Traditional Medicinals Gypsy Cold Care tea. While peppermint and cinnamon may sound like an odd combination, it actually has a good flavor and helps fight off congestion. Perhaps now is the time for a preventative stock up…

4. Kermit’s Bein’ Green

Somehow a co-worker and I got into a discussion of our love for this song this past week so I thought I’d share the love beyond our office. It’s definitely one of my favorite Muppet songs. There is also an entertaining variation of the song via Oscar the Grouch’s interpretation of being green that I came across while link searching. Thank you, YouTube suggestions bar for this discovery.

5. Farmer’s Market

I have written before of my love for farmer’s markets and ours opened this past Saturday which has me pretty stoked. In fact, I’m planning on doing a recipe series based on using farmer’s market foods like kale, swiss chard and whatever else appears as the crops roll in.

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