Archives for September 2015

September 25, 2015

Autumn Dreams + GIVEAWAY

It’s officially autumn, which just happens to be my absolutely favorite season! It’s funny. For over two decades, winter was my favorite season. But after leaving California and living on the East Coast, I got to truly experience autumn and discover the many beauties of this season (Southern California doesn’t really get a real autumn experience). The colors, the smells, the sights, the tastes, the activities. Oh yes. Autumn has definitely replaced winter as my favorite, though to be honest, there isn’t a season that I dislike.

hi pumpkins leaves on fire

To celebrate this new autumn in our new place (both in life and in home), my roommate Rachel and I decided to come up with an Autumn Bucket List for the two of us to try and knock out together. Even if we don’t manage to hit all the goals, we’ll have a ton of fun trying!

  1. Go to a corn maze.
  2. Carve pumpkins.
  3. Decorate for Halloween.
  4. Make a Halloween cake!
  5. Jump in a huge pile of leaves.
  6. Make candles.
  7. Have a campfire.
  8. Go on a ghost tour.
  9. Go to a haunted house.
  10. Make mushroom prints.
  11. Paint ceramics in autumn colors.
  12. Sip apple cider.
  13. Go apple picking.
  14. Tell scary stories by the fire.
  15. Go to a Halloween party.
  16. Donate to our food bank.
  17. Start a new Thanksgiving tradition.
  18. Go for a hike and collect leaves.
  19. Make a Halloween themed playlist.
  20.  Have a scary movie marathon w/ a hot chocolate bar.
  21. Listen to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – Autumn.
  22. Bake lots and lots of autumn goodies.

I actually have a whole autumn baked goods bucket list of things I’d love to bake this year that focus on autumn flavors OTHER than pumpkin spice. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin and I think the craze is … well, crazy.

What activities do you want to attempt to complete this autumn? Tell me all about it in a comment and I’d love to see your bucket list if you have one!

And now, on to the Giveaway!

Since autumn is my favorite season, I figured it would be the perfect time to do a giveaway! It’s been a long time since I’ve hosted one and have wanted to do so for awhile. So, after some thought I decided to create a “It’s a PNW Autumn!” giveaway.

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Enter today to win! Prizes are: Two cozy mysteries by Maia Chance (Fairy Tale Fatal Mysteries) the 2nd of which released this month, one travel size marshmallow pumpkin latte lotion and body spray, one Dead Sea Salt milk chocolate truffle bar (with sea salt & toffee) from Seattle Chocolates and one vanilla spiced chai & double hot chocolate from McSteven’s!

Contest runs until 10/19 (12am pst) and is open to the US/CAN only. You must be at least 18 to enter. It is a rafflecopter giveaway, which means that the winner is chosen by random. I have nothing to do with the choosing. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Linking up with Katie Elizabeth and Pinky!

September 19, 2015

35 before 35

Tomorrow, I turn a whopping 35! Normally I have mixed feelings about birthdays (I don’t hate them but at the same time I often feel … down because I’m unmarried and have no children, though I want both – and wanted both by the time I was 25 – oops) but this year, I’m not only happy, but excited about my birthday! I’m throwing myself a themed birthday dinner party, tonight! The theme is “All That Jazz” and my color scheme is black, gold & white, I’m cooking a full dinner with desserts for 14 people and the playlist is jazz classics, swing, electroswing and modern jazzified songs. Which is all why I’m so excited!

In the meantime (in between bouts of cleaning and food prep) I thought it would be fund to share 35 random facts about me, before my birthday tomorrow. Kay has a great post from her 30th birthday, and she encouraged me to post mine (thinking of you and your family Kay! Hope all is well)

35 before 35

  1. My family is Jewish. While I actually refer to myself as Pagan, I’m still Jewish by birth and blood. There’s no changing that. I observe several of the holidays even now. One of which is Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. Traditionally, special memorial candles (called Yahrzeit candles) are burned on this day to memorialize those who have passed. Since I actually have to work on Yom Kippur, I purchased two Yahrzeit candles (for my mother and grandmother) to burn tonight at my party, as they will be with me in spirit.
  2. I was actually born on Yom Kippur, back in 1980. The rabbi declared that I was doubly blessed because of that. I’m still waiting for that whole doubly blessed thing to kick in ;)
  3. I have enjoyed my “dirty thirties” far more than I ever enjoyed my twenties. In fact, I’d pretty much like to forget ever being in my twenties. The whole decade was a series of crappy events.
  4. I often get mistaken for being 26-28. I’m good with that ;) It’s always a great feeling to have to prove that, no, I am indeed in my mid-thirties.
  5. I have two fairly disruptive disorders: I have Tourette’s Syndrome (constant and mostly uncontrollable tic(s)) – my tic is hiccups – and I have Alport’s Syndrome (genetic disorder that affects kidneys, hearing and vision). Tourette’s while annoying, is acceptable. Alport’s however can be life threatening, and even fatal because if it hits the kidneys, acute renal failure is pretty much a given there. There is no cure. I’m actually in the beginning stages of kidney failure, but under the care of a great nephrologist :)
  6. I attended culinary school and graduated in the honor roll and was part of the peer mentor program (helped those who didn’t quite grasp it). My goal is to open my own cafe/restaurant/bakery – haven’t decided which.
  7. Of all the things that I know how to cook, my favorite is always pasta-dishes. After all, I bleed marinara.
  8. My favorite alcoholic drink is whiskey. Straight, on the rocks, sours, with coke, it has never mattered.
  9. However, I’m no longer allowed to drink whiskey. Or coffee. (see #5)
  10. I’m a sucker for teal and for zebra print. Yes. Even mixed together. I don’t care.
  11. I’m half-Italian and half-Polish. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to visit both Italy and Poland.
  12. If I ever won the lottery, I’d spend a year just travelling, living out of a suitcase. Everything would go into storage so I could do so.
  13. After I came back from my holiday abroad, I would take more of my winnings and start a scholarship for single parents who want to go back to school, in my mother’s name. Single parents are no joke and they don’t get nearly the respect that they deserve.
  14. Halloween is my favorite “holiday” and autumn has actually become my favorite season.
  15. Despite loving halloween, I’m not a huge fan of scary movies. I can watch them. But I much prefer slasher flicks like Scream of Halloween. I hate the ultra-violent ones. I call them torture-porn.
  16. I’ll watch movies about demons and ghosts. But they actually freak me out the most.
  17. I’m originally from the Mojave Desert in Southern California – located about 90 miles north of Los Angeles. I lived there until I was 29 and moved to New Jersey. Then Pennsylvania. I now live in Washington State. I have been back to California one time since leaving in October 2009.
  18. Despite growing up in Southern California, I’ve been to Disneyland exactly 3 times. The last time I was 26.
  19. My music taste is eclectic and wide-varying. The only things I’m not a big fan of are most rap, country, and gospel. My playlists include hard rock, classic rock, pop, lots of alternative rock, oldies, heavy metal, industrial, jazz, swing, blues, greek music, classical, gypsy rock, etc. An example, my itunes has Madonna, Nine Inch Nails, Mozart, Dean Martin, Depeche Mode and Edith Piaf right after one another when I just hit shuffle. I wasn’t kidding when I said eclectic.
  20. I have a huge case of wanderlust. I live to travel. Nothing gives me a rush as much as travelling does. However, I’ve not had the money to do as much as I would like. It’s now my goal to go on one big trip once a year.
  21. I am a self-proclaimed eyeshadow whore and my collection rivals most department stores. I’ve been cutting it down a lot and give a lot of it to friends and my cousin.
  22. I am currently teaching myself Italian. Duolingo is a great app for anyone who is interested in learning a new language. They are limited in what languages they have to offer, but it’s a great (and free!) alternative if you want to learn a fairly common/popular language.
  23. My favorite body part would be my eyes. A) They are normally a bright green with a brown corona. B) They freaking change colors, whether I wear makeup or not. In high school, they called them my mood eyes. If I have gray eyes, stay away ;)
  24. I’m short. I have a big personality so people I meet online always assume I’m tall (I dunno why, but that’s the answer I’ve gotten). In reality, I’m 5’3. I’m half an inch shorter than even my mom, thus making me the smallest woman in our family. My grandmother was 5’3 and 1/4.
  25. I have two piercings in each ear (though I rarely wear earrings), a nose stud and a lipstud. I’d like to get another piercing but haven’t decided what it should/could be. I don’t want my eyebrow pierced.
  26. I currently have two tattoos – the cancer constellation on my right forearm (in honor of my mom) and a wanderlust tattoo (complete with paper airplane) on my left wrist. I have plans for some major tattoos. Including a Star Wars half sleeve.
  27. Yes, I am obsessed with Star Wars. I refer to Darth Vader as my husband.
  28. I also have a stuffed Wampa with removable arm. When you pinch his arm, he makes bone crunching noises. It’s the best thing ever.
  29. I hate spiders. I don’t care how good they are for the world, I freaking hate them.
  30. I’m also claustrophobic and afraid of the dark. Both fears stem from childhood.
  31. It is a goal of mine to be able to volunteer at a rape crisis center. I will make this happen. Hopefully within the next year.
  32. I’m not a huge fan of sports. Despite living in Washington, I don’t give a crap about the Seahawks. I watch soccer and baseball. I’m a HUGE Dodgers fan. GO LOS ANGELES!
  33. I’ve never met my father. Nor have I ever talked to him.
  34. But I talk to my two half-brothers from him, on an almost daily basis. (I’ve met one in person – I didn’t even know they existed until I was 14).
  35. My mother passed in February of 2008. She was my mother and my best friend (sometimes my worst enemy lol). I miss her every, damn, day. And I always will.

I promise I won’t be sad if you didn’t read all of these. Heck. I’d be surprised if you did. But I’d love to hear what you found the most interesting and I’d love to get to know you back, so leave me a fact about you in the comments! And come back for the birthday party post/pic spam :)

September 14, 2015

Foodgasms: Skinny Crustless Spinach Quiche

Wow, It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a recipe on this blog. Well, all that’s about to change.

I am a sucker for spinach. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold, baked or salad, boiled or creamed. I freaking love spinach. And I’m a huge sucker for spinach quiche or souffle. BUT. I’ve been on a diet for the last few weeks (which was temporarily interrupted by the bronchial infection I came down with that also caused me to gain all 5 pounds that I had lost – damn antibiotics) and quiches and souffles aren’t exactly good for that. But I desperately wanted a delicious hot spinach dish when the weather turned crazy cold a couple weeks ago and so the idea of a skinny version was born.

What, you may ask, is the difference between a crustless quiche and a souffle? Not too much. However, a souffle requires milk or cream in it’s base to make it light and fluffy. A quiche generally does not. And cream isn’t exactly “skinny.” So a crustless quiche it was! And I have to say, I was surprised. It was a delicious, hot, filling and LIGHT meal. Not just in calories, but the quiche pretty much melts in your mouth. My roommate and I both had seconds that night.

I apologize for the not so great photo – it didn’t survive long enough for a better photo op…

At a whopping 243 calories per slice (may vary depending on the cheeses that you choose to use) you can indulge in this dish and not feel bad. We had it with a side salad with light Italian dressing and we were completely full. And yes, you can change the cheeses to whatever you want. Just keep it at a total of three cups and keep an eye on the calories. The cottage cheese is great for keeping it light and tastes just like ricotta.

Skinny Crustless Spinach Quiche:
Adapted from Allrecipes.com Crustless Spinach Quiche
Serves: 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, chopped
16 ounces of fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) spinach
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup reduced fat mozzarella
2 cups fat free cottage cheese
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
a pinch of nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon
salt
a pinch of white pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease a 9″ pie plate (I couldn’t find mine, which is why I didn’t use one)
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add shallots, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft. Stir in your spinach and continue cooking until any excess moisture has evaporated.
3. In a large bowl, beat your eggs, salt and pepper together. Add the cheeses and stir. Add your spinach mixture and stir until completely blended. Pour into your pie plate.
4. Bake until eggs have set. Check after 30 minutes, but you may need 40 total. Let stand to cool for about 5 minutes and cut into six slices before serving.

I hope you like this recipe! What is your favorite “skinny” recipe? Let me know in the comments!