Friday, September 30, 2011

Princess House & Salsa

Hello world, I am back & I promise I am over 13. Geez. For those of you who don't follow my Twitter account (PStringandGBean), Google put a lock on my account until I provided proof of age. I thought it was a scam and searched google (and everywhere else) and ask around and finally let them charge $0.30 to my credit card to prove that I was indeed over 13. I have had my account for at least 5 years to I suppose I would have been 8? Anyways I am back and came to a scary realization that life without gmail, google docs, google reader, picasa, and blogger is a scary unproductive place. Take away my Facebook but leave me google.

Anyways, last night my lovely friend H hosted a Princess House party. Basically a modern day, updated Tupperware party transformed into a girls night with wine and food. Sounded good to me.

She lives about 45 minutes from me and I had never been to her and her BF's house and it is adorable & stocked with wine glasses :)

M, Me & the hostess. (My dress Nordstroms last year)
The night began with the brand rep ( I can't recall her actual title) using a dish they call the "miracle dish" that has the ability to cook rice and a whole chicken in the microwave. Not that I have any desire to cook a chicken in the microwave, it was impressive. Holly's BF had to make a quick target run to get a microwave large enough to hold the dish. The fact that H uses a microwave so rarely that they keep it in the bottom of the pantry makes me love her even more.

Trivia questions about food, BPAs, carcinogens, and cooking processes were thrown around the room with the correct answers winning play money. Then the catalogs and order sheets were passed out.

The brand rep puts a lot of pressure on everyone to BUY, BUY, BUY & I am not a fan of that. She also kept bringing up how the products help you loose weight but I was the lucky winner of the recipe pamphlet and the use of butter alone proved otherwise.  I did buy one glass storage container with a silicon lid. With my wedding coming up and a shower in only a few weeks (so excited), we really aren't in need of much. It was such a fun night with the girls. My soon to be sister in law and M are hosting a party next week (on my birthday FYI & I wont be attending because I have a date) so if anyone wants to go let me know!

The food spread was very party appropriate with fruit, veggies, cheese, crackers, chips and dips. Black bean salsas are a staple in my life thanks to Momma Pink String a few years ago. The standard recipe that MPS uses and a similar one that I use have a long list of ingredients and a lot of chopping. H's recipe has 3 ingredients and zero chopping. Perfect for a last minute party dish.

H's Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Can of Black Beans, drained & rinsed
Can of Corn, drained (or frozen defrosted)
Jar of your favorite salsa

Now combine & eat with chips. How easy is that?! 

I have such a full weekend ahead and I am looking forward to it :)

Hope you have a full but fun weekend!

.live creatively well.

On the training:
Tuesday: ran 3 miles & elliptical to warm up before an ab workout
Wednesday: recovered
Thursday: ran 3 miles & elliptical to warm up before ab & hamstring workout
Friday: 6:30 am boot camp (warm up, 400 m run + 50 squats x 4, 25 push ups, 25 shoulder presses & 25 triceps)

I bought a yoga mat yesterday to hopefully use for more abs & stretching at home. Tonight I plan on practicing with my new pedals and then going for a long ride in the morning. We shall see....

Monday, September 26, 2011

House Warming

This weekend Geoff & I had our housewarming party. I know we have been living in our house for a few months but we finally felt comfortable allowing our friends to come see our progress. I find it funny that I have zero hesitation sharing our progress here but in person nothing is hidden (especially since we are lacking interior doors). We invited a little over 20 of our friends over for a fun night of food, drink, and a little bit of football. I seemed to have enjoyed myself a little too much and forgot to take pictures. Go figure.....

For appetizers I served my Lemon Basil Hummus, a black bean salsa, cheese balls (totally not vegan) and a variety of nuts with a variety of dippers (celery, carrots, pretzels, crackers, chips, & pita). My soon to be sister in law brought un-fried artichoke hearts and egg plant sticks. She even made me my own gluten free version. Love her. For dinner & not pictured, Geoff grilled a variety of pizzas. I bought pizza dough, sauce, and cheese from Whole Foods and topped the pizzas three different ways: broccoli & cheese, sausage & peppers, and cherry tomato & red onion. The pizzas on the grill were a huge hit. For dessert I baked whole foods cookie dough, gluten free berry bars (recipe hopefully coming soon !) and dough balls. I actually forgot to take the dough balls out of the freezer.... I have been enjoying dough balls for ever meal since :)

Before the party I told myself that I am going to limit the drinking because I had a lot of training to do in the next 6 weeks. Well my friends had different opinions of this and brought me many bottles of amazing wine. Oh well. It is the thought that counts.

My friend D painted these frames for me! They are a light blue with a gold rub that makes them looked aged. I LOVE THEM. They will definitely be making an appearance at my wedding. I have started collecting frames & these are perfect. My favorite gifts are those that are home made. I want her to teach me how she made them so that I can share. How perfect is the quote?

" May your house always be too small to fit all of your friends."

I love my small house and I loved having it filled with my new Florida friends (and one of my bridesmaids from school!). I feel so blessed.

While my house was clean I managed to take "Where We Are Now" pictures of our main bedroom. Those coming soon!

.live creatively well.

PS. To keep myself on schedule I will be posting my last 6 weeks of training....
9/26- swam .5 miles & cardio/strength class

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Berry Crumb Tarts

One of my favorite things in the world are overheard compliments. I was at the doctor this week for a routine check up and I over heard the nurses that were in the back reviewing my file. The nurse stated that she wished she had my medical history because my only surgery had been my wisdom teeth, my only prescription was birth control (sorry mom) and I had no existing medical conditions.

Yes I am only 24 and most people are relatively healthy at age 24 but I do pride myself on taking care of myself. I feel that eating right, working out, sleeping enough, and enjoying life are big parts of your overall health.

I also feel that you can take care of yourself & still have dessert :)

Berry Crumb Tarts

1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup pistachios (or any combination of nuts that equals 1.5 cups) 
1/2 cup brown rice flour (or whole wheat)
1/3 cup oats (gluten free or regular)
3 tablespoons maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or canola)

Berry Filling
2 tablespoons apple juice
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup strawberries, chopped
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/4 teaspoon agar powder (or flakes)

Combine nuts and oats in a food processor and process until a crumb has formed. Add flour, sweetener, and oil and process until dough has moistened and begins to hold together. 

Fill 6 muffin tins with crumb mixture. Make sure to press crumb mixture up the sides of the muffin tins to create a cup. Leave a few tablespoons of the mixture for topping. 

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until crusts begin to brown and become fragrant. 

While crusts are cooling prepare filling. 

In a pan just large enough to hold the fruit, bring apple juice to a slight simmer. Whisk in maple syrup until incorporated and then add the arrowroot and agar and stir until mixture begins to thicken. 

Add blueberries and strawberries to the thickened mixture. Continue to cook until berries begin to break down, about 3 minutes. 

Allow berry mixture to cool slightly and then fill the crusts with the mixture. 

Top the berry mixture with the remaining crumb mixture. 

Bake at 350 degrees until the crumb topping begins to brown and the fruit has been warmed, about 15 minutes. 

Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes (this will help the crumbles not crumble).


I love desserts that come in a single serve size "cup" instead of a "cut your own serving size" bar. I seem to be able to be satisfied with less. Geoff not so much, he ate two. For dinner I made him grilled polenta and mushroom ragout out of Terry Walters Clean Food cookbook. I absolutely love this cookbook. The recipes are vegan but nothing about the book is in your face vegan. I don't think the word vegan is actually mentioned and there are recipes for sauces and such that say to pair with vegetables, chicken or fish. But back to Geoff & dinner, I find that when I cook him a vegan (but still filling) dish that is followed by dessert, I hardly get any sort of complaint. Its amazing what a berry crumb tart is capable of...

We had our housewarming party last night (it was SO MUCH FUN!) but now it is time to clean up our house and get life back together for yet another work week. 

.live creatively well.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pesto Qunioa Salad

Yesterday I mentioned that it was raining, well the rest of the weekend was beautiful. It was hot but I can handle that. Geoff worked Saturday but got home early enough for us to have a productive Saturday together. We started with some early birthday shopping for me. My birthday isn't until October but I have been in need of these beauties for a while...

Tri shoes (and pedals)! I have my Miami Man in November and need some time getting used to them. We went to Road and Trail Bicycles & they were very helpful. They recommended that I got mountain biking shoes for triathlons since they are easier to run through transition, which I totally understand, but I went with the tri shoes. The mountain shoes were very bulky and thick. Think hiking tennis shoes with cleats on the toes. Easier to run in yes but I know I will be spending more time riding for training or fun compared to races so that wasn't a huge issue. I did go with the mountain pedals though. Apparently they are the same as the ones at spin class and I wanted to use my shoes for both. It rains a lot after work and  I would rather not have another reason to bail on a workout.

I haven't tried them yet but expect to see pictures of wipe outs. Road & Trail has a bike group that rides on Saturday mornings that I can't wait to join. Other purchases included a new seat for Geoff's bike and a cage for his water bottle. I also grabbed a pack of Nuun. I hate sport drinks, mostly because of their high sugar content and extra ingredients but this product claims to be different and contains no sugar or fake sugar. We shall see....

When we got home Geoff finally got around to bottling his beer. I think it needs to sit for another week or so before we can try it. Its an IPA so the chance of me liking it is pretty slim. I prefer my select 55 :)

While Geoff was hard at work I threw dinner together and made a tragic discovery are down to our last avocado! This is tragic but our basil plants are growing out of control and I knew that one last avocado + basil = pesto.
I am predictable. I then went to grab a bag of pasta and there was none and I was not about to go back out to the store. I had a few jars of quinoa from the bulk bin and knew that would be even better. 

Pesto Quinoa Salad

1/2 cup quinoa, cooked to package directions
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 avocado
2 Tablespoons pepitas, toasted 
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon EVOO, optional
red pepper flakes, optional 
s&p to taste
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 head of broccoli, chopped 
1 cup of cherry tomatoes 

Combine basil, avocado, pepitas, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor. Blend until desired consistency is reached and taste. Add desired red pepper flakes and s&p.

Spray grill pan (or saute pan) with olive oil and grill over medium high heat until vegetables are tender and starting to brown. Season lightly with s&p.

Combine quinoa, grilled vegetables and desired amount of pest in a large bowl and stir to combine. I used about 3 tablespoons of the pesto. There will be left over pesto. Last night I stirred the left over pesto into a bowl of tomato soup and slathered some on a panini for Geoff.

The salad was a perfect tribute to summer. I know a lot of people are transitioning into fall and even though we aren't (what is fall anyway?) summer produce is slowly leaving the produce section.

I sauteed kale with garlic to have on the side. It was my first time using fresh kale. Normally I use frozen kale from Whole Foods and it turns out perfect ever time (ok twice but still) and this did not turn out perfect. It was very bitter. I think I may have over cooked it... I may stick with the frozen for a few reasons: cheaper, faster, and takes up less space.

I will be buying fresh kale to make kale chips soon though. I sucked it up and bought a bag at WF last week (nacho cheese flavor I believe). It was AMAZING. Reminded me of my high school days of Dorito boats minus the 1,000 calories and fake cheese.

Here is the perfect ending to a Saturday....

.live creatively well.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Black Bean Spread

I really enjoy Sunday afternoon rain showers... 

I also really enjoy super simple recipes that I can use for a variety of dishes. The black bean "spread" I made a few days ago is exactly that. I made it with the intention of it being a dip that I could sub for hummus for a few days. Don't worry I am still in love with hummus, I just thought I could mix it up. 

It is a great dip for veggies and chips but it is also great heated up and enjoyed as "refried" beans, spread onto a tortilla, or stirred into soup. I may have tried each the past few days...

Black Bean Spread

1 can black beans, drain & rinsed
1/2 cup fired roasted tomatos, drained
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 garlic clove, chopped 
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional but I love it)
1 tablespoon cumin
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in the food processor and blend until desired consistency is reached. 

I added red pepper flakes after tasting because I wanted a little heat. Hot sauce would work too. 

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator & enjoy as desired :) 

.live creatively well.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tangerine Black Bean Quinoa Salad

This past Saturday we went to one of Geoff's best childhood friend's wedding. It was located about an hour away. I only knew a few people but for Geoff it was a high school reunion. Most of his friends moved away for school and well never came back. I was happy he got to see everyone and we had a great time. Its always nice to dress up :)

Banana Republic dress thanks to Momma Green Bean for Christmas last year.
For other wedding news, this time ours, my shoes arrived...

One of the many reasons I LOVE Zappos is their super fast & free shipping. Return shipping is even free. Thank goodness....

I love the idea of the shoes, I even loved how they fit but their was one huge issue. I don't want to show a picture in case they do have another pair (online said sold out) but they have flowers on the toes and the two flowers were completely different. The sizes of the flowers were inches different and one was starting to fray and for shoes at that price point (Thanks Momma Green Bean), I wasn't ok with that.

I shipped them back today and now the search continues....

This week has been crazy. I have had after work functions ever single night but still needed to come home and make dinner a few times. I made this quinoa salad earlier in the week and used it to top salads the rest of the week. I love when I make enough to make my life easier for a few days. Too bad I finished it last night.....

Tangerine Black Bean Quinoa Salad

1/2 cup quinoa cooked to package directions
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed (or home cooked!)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 jalapeno, seeds & ribs removed & diced
1/2 cup jicima (totally optional, I don't know if I would use it again)
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons tangerine juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 cup mixed seeds, toasted (I used pepitas & sun flower)
s & p to taste

One the quinoa has cooled, combine all ingredients, except the seeds,  in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Once plated, top with seeds, & avocado if you have some :)

Speaking of avocado, I read an article today in Ag News magazine that discussed head injuries from people walking under avocado trees and being hit by falling fruit. 

Another piece of interesting information was that the average Hass avocado (the dark, bumpy skin that is most popular) weighs 173 grams and has 306 calories while the Florida avocado (the variety we have) weighs 304 grams and has 339 calories. Makes me feel a little bit better :)

I have never had jicima before and had seen a few salad recipes with the ingredient so I thought I would give it a try. I am not a huge fan & I found myself picking out the pieces when I was eating the left overs. I highly recommend trying new ingredients, some you may love & some not so much but at least you tried.

This weekends goal is to finish what I started last weekend and finally finish painting the door jams at our house. One more coat of paint & then touching up where I didn't tape off .... Wish me luck! 

.live creatively well.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Where We Are Today: Living Room

As promised (& only a few days later), today I will share our living room update!

To begin:

Welcome to the standard color choices for the house: pink & blue. I love pink & I love blue (remember the blue dresser?) but not here people. If you look close enough you can tell exactly where the wall decorations hung since the war of 1812. Ok that was a joke, the house was built in the 40's but still.... 

Welcome to my worst enemy thus far: THE BOOKSHELVES. Those bookshelves nearly took all of me but I do love them now (months & months later and they still aren't done but close)...

The first thing we did was tear up the carpet & carpet pad. I can assure you that masks, goggles & hazmat suits were worn. I would guess that it had been there since the 70's & you could tell. There was at least an inch of dirt & grime under the carpet pad. You can also tell that there was a rug at some point prior to the carpet. 

I really wish I had known I was going to blog about all of this and taken more pictures because the process was intense. I know I have more pictures somewhere so I will have to post once they are found.

I still want to go ahead with Where We Are Today though...

Welcome to our TV room. 

The walls are Martha Stewart Bedford Gray. The floors have been refinished to a color called American and finished with a satin sheen. I was told this would hide dog hair and scratches. If they only knew how much our dog sheds...

Here is what I call our sitting room. Our TV room is on the other side of the front door on the left of the picture. It really is just one large room and you can still see the TV but we decided to break it into two separate areas.  

Notice something missing behind the TV? The window is gone! Removing the window took a lot of effort on my part for Geoff to be ok with it. Well really, I just said "The view is the garage  & where can you put your over sized TV?" Sold. The view really is the garage and there wasn't a single spot for the TV.  Oh and notice that there isn't a wall on the left anymore? Minor details :) The kitchen is over there and is open to the TV room now but I will get to that when we do our kitchen update. 

See that cute little creature below? That is our housewarming gift from Momma Pink String. It was actually the first thing bought for our house almost a year before we moved in. Its from Anthropology and I am completely obsessed with it. I must find a way to keep the dog off of it. 

Ah the bookshelves. Way to many hours by Geoff (demo), my dad (trim & bead board) and myself stripping, sanding & painting. We have ordered cabinet fronts for the bottom and they should arrive in the next few weeks. I originally was going to DIY a few faces but after the hours put in I was ready to hand it over to a pro. I will admit that all of the books on this shelf are cookbooks. I may have an obsession :) 

We still can't part with our books from college. At least we got rid of most of the duplicates. 

The lighting fixtures we bought for this house were a huge stress factor/I was not going to compromise on what I wanted. The fixtures we had before were brass and glass and had a brass chain that plugged them into the wall. Real classy. I found fans that looked just like this at Ballard Design and they would have cost in the 4 figures  for two of them. Not happening... well they almost did happen. It was Christmas and I got the go ahead from Geoff (possibly after a few coctails) and then he saw how much they would be to ship. A lot. This is when he stepped in and found the same exact fans made by Hunter for 1/2 the price. Score. I believe the shipping was free as well. Score again. 

The couch was my couch from my last year of college. It is from rooms to go and serves its purpose. I don't love it but it is comfortable to relax on. The pillows on the couch I got from Anthropology a few weeks ago for about 70% off. They are brighter than most of our colors but they make me like the couch more.  The two chairs are from Bungalow in Atlanta's West Provisions District. If I could furnish my house from any store this would be it. I lucked out because they originally resided in the model unit that the developer I worked for built and when the model unit was downsized there was no longer room for them. None of the guys wanted these petite chairs and I had always loved them. Needless to say I got them for a VERY discounted, couldn't have bought them cheaper at Ikea price. Oh and the pillows are from there too. The little green basket is Argos's basket and I bought that at Home Goods a few years ago in college. It stores all of his toys. It is the perfect hight for him to retrieve his toys and I can wash the liner. 

One thing that did stay, besides the walls (well most of them) was the blinds. Totally random but they work for now. We plan on replacing these windows within a year and I figured at that point I could find window treatments. The window casings are also temporary. Geoff just threw them up there so that it would at least look finished but up close you can see that it isn't good wood and we didn't putty the holes. 

The couch was passed down to Geoff & I from Momma Pink String when they bought a new furniture set. Its only a love seat but it works for now. Somehow, Geoff, Argos & I can all sit on it and watch TV. I would really like some sort of clean, lined sectional but that is down the road. The pillows are the pillows that came with the other couch. I bought fabric to make new cases for them but I need to learn how. 

Big change right? There is still a lot to do but for now we can live comfortably.

What we have done:
  • Tore up carpet
  • Filled in the window
  • Partially demoed the bookshelves, stripped them, added trim, & painted
  • Painted walls & ceiling
  • Stripped and painted the front door
  • Knocked down a few walls
  • Started the baseboards
  • New fans
  • Rewired 
  • Tore off the old window casing and added new temporary
  • Refinished the floors
  • Added furniture 

Now for the check list of what needs to get done:
  • Finish the bookshelves with doors and hardware
  • Finish the baseboards
  • Touch up paint
  • A stand for the TV
  • An ottoman for the TV room
  • A rug for the TV room
  • Artwork on the walls
  • Window treatments 
  • Shave dog. I kid.
I hope you enjoy it & I will be back in the next day or two with a quinoa recipe! 

.live creatively well.