Soup in the Summer: Spicy Thai Curry

thaicurrysoupI must confess, if I could eat soup everyday for dinner I would. I am pretty sure I ate a bowl of tomato soup with noodles for dinner almost every night in college. The only problem I have with finding recipes is that generally, a lot of soups call for animal stock. I try to maintain a vegetarian diet so this isn’t super ideal, however I have found that curry and coconut milk-based soups often call for veggie stock.

Honestly, I don’t know why I made this…it’s hotter than hell outside, and this soup is spicy…but alas, there are only so many salads you can eat in the summer. It’s a nice change to pace, super hardy, and has a lot of good veggies in it. Bonus points for the fact that you can make it vegan!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 tbs. minced garlic
  • 1 tbs. ginger (chopped fine)
  • 2 tbs red curry paste
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch of baby bok choy
  • 4.5 c. veggie broth (or chicken if you wish)
  • 1 sweet potato (cut into chunks)
  • 1/4 c. shredded carrots
  • 13 oz. can of light coconut milk
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbs fish sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 c. rice noodles
  • 1/4 red onion (optional garnish)
  • 1 lime (optional garnish)
  • sriracha (optional garnish)
  • sprouts (optional garnish)

Directions:

  • In a pan, on medium heat, add the oil, garlic, and red curry and cook for a few minutes until mixed.
  • In a soup pot, mix the veggie stock, ginger, sweet potatoes, carrot, red pepper flakes, and the stalk of the bok choy (chopped up, leaves separated). Add the garlic curry mix and set to boil. Once the mix has boiled for a few minutes, set to simmer until the potatoes are soft. This usually takes about 20 minutes.
  • Add brown sugar, fish sauce (if desired), and coconut milk and stir. Let simmer a few minutes.
  • Add the rice noodles to the simmering pot and allow them to cook until the noodles are soft.
  • Pour soup into a bowl and sprinkle juice from a lime wedge on top. Add sprouts, sriracha, and onion to the top and enjoy.

Here’s A Freebie For Your Monday!

I know it’s not Freebie Friday, but I needed to share this…mostly because everyone needs a pick-me-up on a Monday. The past week has felt kind of like a game of dodgeball, except I am on a team of 2 (my husband is my favorite teammate) vs 10 and the balls are hiccups in plans, passive aggressiveness, and exhausting amounts of work.

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This week, I need to be incredibly focused. I have a potentially life changing opportunity that I have to be fully prepared for and I can do without curve balls, comments from the peanut gallery, and probably just Facebook all together. It gets super negative, super fast, especially if you are reading political articles.

So, as I prepared for this week I decided to create some Monday Motivation after listening to my second favorite JEW album. I mean, if it’s good enough for Taylor Swift, it’s good enough for us all right?

Click here to open and save/print the poster. Hang it next to your vanity because you do everything you can…and don’t you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say. ❤

Click to Download

Prepping Your Veggie Garden This Spring!

SINCE 1972It’s almost spring and the first signs of life are sprouting out of the ground! We always see gorgeous, fragrant hyacinths and tulips in our yard during the spring, then as the summer approaches we get tiger lillies, peonies, and roses. As much as I love flowers (and I plan on adding to my garden this year), I also want to approach the spring with a more utilitarian mentality.

First of all, being a veggie is hard and expensive. In order to get really good, organic produce, without going to 3 or 4 different stores, I end up shelling out at least $20 on produce a week. A few weeks ago I bought 6 bell peppers and it cost me $8, but what else are you going to do in a week where you are having salads, stuffed peppers, and tofu fajitas for dinner?

Now, I’m not going to lie, I don’t have the greenest thumb, but it’s in my blood (my uncle is a farmer), plus I have a friend who happens to work at the local food bank who is also passionate about growing her own food. She’s giving me tips and for every dollar I save on what I would have spent on produce this summer, I plan on donating it to her Foodbank, because they really do amazing things in our community, which unfortunately, is considered a food desert.

I digress, I have committed to growing my own produce this summer and I am super excited about it! I will not only be saving some money and do some good, I will be eating super healthy! I plan on growing hot peppers, sweet peppers, summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, strawberries, herbs, lavender, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, mini tomatoes, and berries. I also plan on adding dahlias, hydrangeas, more peonies and roses, and ranunculus to my existing flower garden.

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Seeds and Herbal Seed Paper

So, I’ve been told the best way to start your veggie garden is with a seed starter kit. I also grabbed some herbal seed paper from work and seed kits for fun. Here is everything you’ll need to start your garden:

  • Seed starter kit
  • Seed paper
  • Seed starter soil
  • Your choice of seeds
  • Water
  • A sunny area

First step is to add your soil. I purchased soil that is specifically used for starting seedlings and I added a healthy amount to each pod. Next, dampen the soil and stick your index finger into each pod creating a two-inch hole. Place the seeds in the hole and recover with soil. Add a bit more water and soil, then cover the seed starting kit with the plastic top and put in a warm, sunny place.

When your seeds start sprouting, you will eventually take the plastic top off and cut down all of the weaker sprouts, leaving the strongest seedling behind. Transfer the entire pod, seed and soil into your garden area, then BOOM—veggie garden—and then you get to eat all the vegetables!

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All the fruits and veggies!

 

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip WalnutI have a confession: I am a banana horder. I buy a bunch every week to put into smoothies, eat in oatmeal, etc. With work being so crazy recently I barely have time to do anything in the morning, so I end up with a bunch of leftover bananas that I intended to eat for breakfast, in some capacity, over the week. (Coffee counts as breakfast, right?)

By the weekend these bananas are brown, which is the perfect time to make banana bread. Naturally, I grabbed some really ripe bananas and went to it!

Ingredients

  • 3 super ripe bananas
  • 1/3 melted butter (I used vegan butter)
  • 3/4 c. sugar (you can use white, I used organic cane)
  • 1 egg (My co-worked gifted me some eggs from her tiny farm)
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbs. vanilla
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 walnuts

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, I recommend coconut oil cooking spray.
  • Mash those bananas until they are no longer chunky, then add the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Stir until all mixed together.
  • Add the flour in to banana mixture a little at a time while stirring and mix completely.
  • Next add in the baking soda and salt, mix completely.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  • Pour mix into loaf pan and bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes.
  • You will know your loaf is finished because it will firm up in the middle and you won’t get any batter on a tooth pick when you poke the middle of the cake.
  • Let cool for 45 minutes and cut.

This is great for bake sales, carry ins, or Sunday breakfast and of course, bananas are good every day!

Mixtape Monday! Home Sweet Home.

Fall is my favorite season, but there’s something really special about the Spring. Seeing little sprouts in the ground, all the kids playing outside, and preparing my house for warmer seasons makes me so happy.

Home

Our home. It’s a work in progress.

This past weekend was all about spring cleaning, especially our yard. It was a resolution of mine to put a ton of effort into our home this year in order to get our house just how we want it—the yard, the rooms, everything. I spend a lot of time wishing there were more minutes in the day to work on all of the projects we have in our house. My friends keep telling me there will always be projects and not to rush, but I can’t help it—I want them done, like yesterday.

I spent a lot of time thinking about exactly why I feel this way and I realized that it is because my parents lost my childhood home. It was truly a magical place to live; hyacinths hugging the wrap around porch in the Spring, pocket walls with vintage glass, 125-year-old hardwood floors, the perfect Christmas tree window. No matter how messy life was at the time, the one consistent was my cozy, magical home. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a place that I knew I was going to spend more than a few years in since I was 19. My husband is really the only constant “home” I’ve had in the last 8 years and yes, home can be places or people, after all. ❤

Now, I am exceedingly proud to be a home owner. As a millennial, statistics show that I am technically supposed to be a renter forever. I mean, I know people who have their parents covering some of their rent or their parents helped them generously with a down payment or partial payment on their house. My husband and I bought our house, we saved to cover a heaping chunk that went into our down payment and we are responsible for *every. single. cent.* of our mortgage. We even moved all by ourselves (big mistake, actually, next time we are hiring movers). A lot of my peers can’t say the same thing, I mean, look at my parents! However, while I am proud that we accomplished this huge thing, we have awhile until this place feels like it’s ours.

mixtape

Click to play.

In the meantime, while I chronicle our projects on Moxie and Spark, you can enjoy this Mix Tape Monday with my favorite songs about home.

  • Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros – “Home”
  • Mr. Twin Sister – “I Want a House”
  • Ben Gibbard – “You Remind Me of Home”
  • Bright Eyes – “First Day of My Life”
  • Death Cab For Cutie – “You are a Tourist”
  • Something Corporate – “Konstantine”
  • Feist – “Musaboom”

Click here to play on Spotify.

 

 

 

Oolala! Lavender Syrup Cocktails & Mocktails

oolalaIt’s been awhile–who knew migrating a website could be so time consuming? Needless to say, with everything going on at work recently, I’ve needed (with what little time I have off) to relax.

I have some friends at work who are into essential oils and told me lavender works wonders for sleep, anxiety, and stress—so the next time I went to my favorite local coffee shop I ordered a Tangerine Lavender Honey Latte and fell in love! Not only does lavender smell wonderful, it’s delicious–very delicate and floral.

Because I rarely drink soda, wine, beer, juice, or dairy this leaves me with a lot of water, coffee, and tea. I discovered that adding lavender simple syrup to cold and hot tea, sparkling water, and coffee is truly amazing. There’s

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Tangering, Lavender, Honey Soy Latte

nothing like throwing some herbs, fruit, and garnish into some sparkling water for a nice mocktail or cocktail if you’re having people over and have some vodka on hand.

Here’s the recipe to make lavender simple syrup and a recipe for my favorite mocktail/cocktail:

Lavender Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup purified water
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 3 tbs lavender
  • purple food coloring (if desired)

Add the water and sugar to a small sauce pan and stir, then add the lavender and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir and bring down to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain our the lavender buds using cheesecloth and store in a mason jar. Your simple syrup will end up a caramel color, but if you want it to look more purple you can add a bit of food coloring (red and blue).

Store in the fridge for up to a week.

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Citrus, Cucumber, Lavender Mocktail

My Favorite Lavender Mocktail

  • La Croix Orange Sparkling Water
  • 2 Crushed Basil Leaves or a Slice of Cucumber if Basil is too strong for you
  • Slice of Lemon
  • Lavender Simple Syrup to taste

My Favorite Lavender Cocktail

  • Large shot of vodka in a cocktail glass
  • Heavy Splash of Grapefruit Juice
  • Soda Water
  • A Few Crushed Mint Leaves
  • Lavender Simple Syrup to taste (I like about a tablespoon)

Pro Tip: If you have a friend who works at a non-profit in a development capacity, recruit them to be a bartender at your wedding/event, hell recruit them to coordinate your entire event/wedding. We have all had to play double duty at fundraising events as a event coordinator/bartender/florist and have learned quite a few tricks! I know more about linens, seating grids, centerpieces, menus, catering, and ordering bistro tables, eight and ten tops than I ever, ever thought I would know.

Lavender may be on the expensive side, HOWEVER, feeling relaxed with a delicious drink is priceless—so tune out all of your work worries, miserable, mean people, loud kids, and have a delicious drink with a few friends!

 

Gift Giving & Get Wells: For Friends Going Through Chemo

I love gift giving. Well, scratch that…I love being thoughtful and making people happy—it’s really not about the gift at all. That being said, I hope no one ever has to give a gift like this, ever.

If you told me that by the time I was 30 I would know 3 people (who are younger than me) who were diagnosed with breast cancer, I would tell you that you were crazy. I guess I’m the crazy one

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Turns out I wasn’t crazy about this, it’s too sweet. Fever Tree is much better!

I just went to grab some bubble tea and chat with one of my friends who has breast cancer. She’s in amazing spirits and keeps close tabs of her journey on Facebook, so I know how she’s doing even though I don’t see her everyday (we used to work together). I snagged some ginger sodas at a local store and immediately thought of my friend and her severe nausea. She was very appreciative for the soda and we got to chatting about how she was feeling. I immediately thought of a couple of nice things that could be made into a gift basket to help with the things she was dealing with. Anything to brighten someone’s day, right?

 

So again, I hope you never, ever have to put something like this together, but if you do…here are some suggestions:

For Your Freinds Going Through Chemo

Ginger Lollipops – This is a great gift that naturally helps alleviate nausea. Quite a few of my friends who have been through chemo say hard candy is a gem. Bonus: these are organic and if you over-purchase they are always handy for a pregnant friend or anyone in your house with a tummy ache. Caramelized Ginger Lollipops via PopOrganic.

Aloe Infused Socks – Hospitals can be drafty and when you are receiving chemo you want to be comfy! Additionally, many rounds of chemo can dry your skin out. Dry, cracking feet sound painful to me—so why not skip it! Winter Aloe Infused socks from Bath and Bodyworks.

Games For Two – Hopefully, whether it’s you, a family member, or a friend, someone is there to hang out during chemo. It’s a long process and passing the time with fun things is better than sitting there. Again, depending on the medications applied in addition to chemo (steroids and allergy meds to name a few), games might be out and restful quiet moments might be in, but it really just depends on the person. Also, who doesn’t love Uno!? Find Uno and more two-person games on Amazon.

Lotion – It’s winter and that means dry skin as it is, but chemo adds to this. When I was at lunch the other day my friend’s hands were so dry and she was wanting some lotion stat! I really recommend Philosophy’s Amazing Grace because it’s mildly fragrant without being overwhelming, strong scents are no good for anyone with a weak stomach. Also, I just love Philosophy’s skin care products. I highly recommend them! Find anything Philosophy at your local Sephora or sephora.com.

Aloe – After a coworker of mine went through chemo and radiation, she told me that her skin actually burned. I usually have lotion with aloe at work, but didn’t this particular time. Needless to say, this is always a good option to throw in there. Try to purchase 100% aloe vera and while you’re out snag some aloe juice. It’s delicious and wonderful for you! You can purchase aloe at any local hodgepodge store. 

Last, but not least and most importantly…

Yourself! – Think about how you would feel if you were faced with a scary diagnosis. Now magnify it by 100, because you really have no idea unless you’ve been through it. I, for one, would totally loose my sh*t. I would need my friends and family to be there to be positive and occupy my time with really happy things, because thinking about the alternative isn’t an option. Don’t be afraid, offer to go to chemo, play games, compliment your friend on the perfect shape of her bald, beautiful head.

Most importantly, don’t make it about yourself and don’t let it scare you away. People feel awkward about emotions and need to talk things out. Understandable, but don’t talk to your friend about how you need to do a better job remembering your monthly breast exam, about how you need to make a gyno appointment immediately, or tell them about the one time you found what you thought was a lump, but it tuned out to be nothing. That is making their diagnosis about YOU…and let’s face it, we live in a world where we’re all a little too focused on ourselves anyways. I know a few people like this, entirely focused on how things effect them and just generally self-important and really good at making everything about them. It’s all I can do to grin and bare being around them without wanting to scream, so imagine how someone who is battling cancer feels! 

So, turn on the cheesiest music you can find and moonwalk past your friend’s office, start a countdown to their last chemo appointment, hide Hershey kisses in their office/room, anything to make someone’s day a little brighter—and yes, I have done all of these things listed above. Worth the embarrassment of everyone in my office seeing my horrible dance moves? Totally. ❤

Also, if your friend is facing a difficult diagnosis, it is always a great idea to learn more about it. This by no means makes you an expert and you should not be giving advice, but just understanding what someone is up against, no matter how scary, is always a good idea!