Archive for March 2013

Mixology Night // The Pink Lights Martini

To gather, to bring together, and to unite. This is the reason behind Mixology Night. 
Of course we want to master the fine art of mixology, but that is just one of the perks of this monthly gathering with dear friends. To start us off, we learned how to make my tamer rendition of a"Vesper Martini" otherwise known as the drink of choice by James Bond.
This one is for the ladies. 

A Vesper Martini calls for gin, vodka, Lillet, and a slice of lemon. To take it down a notch and give it some color, I switched out the vodka for grenadine. The gin was brought down to two parts and I added just a tad more Lillet to amp up the citrus taste. 

So grab your cocktail shaker and fill it with ice. Add the grenadine, Lillet, and gin to the shaker. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously until it starts to become really cold - about 5 seconds. Strain into a martini glass. Peel a slice of lemon, twisting it so the oils and juices are released into your drink, then drop it in the glass. 

The Pink Lights was definitely easier to drink than the Vesper, but still had a good kick to it, as any good martini should! Do you have a favorite martini or cocktail that you like to make?
If so, please share so I can add them to my list of drinks to make!

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Veggie Saimin Bowl

Let's face it folks, winter is holding fast here in Michigan. With snow continuing to fly and temps dropping, all I have been craving is soup. First it was chili, then black bean soup and most recently, tomato lentil. Can you tell I'm cold!? Spring, come on already! Dreams of warmer weather alway take me back to my trips to Kauai. My first time visiting the small island was during college on a work trip. I remember trying lots of Hawaiian foods and one in particular, the Saimin Soup Bowl, blew my mind. This dish inspired by the many ethnicities on the island is truly a unique collaboration of cuisines. Since becoming a strict vegetarian, I never thought to make a veggie version of this until I saw Aida Mollenkamp's recipe

Here is my simple, vegan version of a Saimin soup bowl adapted from Aida's
Get ready to drool. 

6 cups veggie broth
1/2 cup diced onions
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 oz package of dried shitake mushrooms
1 cup of mushroom water
1 pound of chow mein or udon noodles
1 package of firm tofu, chopped & fried
1/2 bok choy, cut ends
1 bunch broccoli (or broccolini)
handful of chopped green onions

Soak dried shitake mushrooms for about 30 minutes. Drain mushrooms and save 1 cup of the mushroom water for the saimin broth. Slice the mushrooms and set aside. Fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Lightly cook the broccoli and bok choy until bright green. Blanche the vegetables by using a slotted spoon to take the vegetables out and put into a ice water bath. This stops the cooking process and leaves the vegetables with their bright color. Add the noodles and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.  

In a medium pot, saute onions in oil. 
Add veggie broth, soy sauce, and mushroom water to pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer until you are ready to make the saimin bowls. Pour the broth into each bowl, top with mushrooms, noodles, tofu, broccoli, and bok choy. Sprinkle with green onions and serve!

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How To Style Your House Plants

Giving life, personality, and instant beauty in any environment; house plants are the perfect home accessory. But just like any of your other decor piece, they require a bit of styling.
Here are four tips on how to easily style your house plants.

1. Picking Planters - there are a plethora of pots & planters to choose from out there. I highly suggest going with some sort of ceramic planter. Depending on size and medium, these can become quite expensive, but there is no comparison between the look of these, verse plastic pots. A glazed ceramic has a very rich appearance and creates a "decorative" feel to any room.

2. Ground Covering - moss, stones, sand, and shells are just a few types of coverings that dress up potted plants. I like to use sheet moss that can be purchased at Michael's or Hobby Lobby. This creates a "clean" look compared to planters that just showcase dirt and roots! 

3. Placement - try curating plants to create height in any room. On trays, benches, side tables, mantels, bookshelves, or even hanging from the ceiling - the eye will immediately be draw to them! I use two snake plants in these white mod planters to flank our mantel. 

4. Groupings - to create a big impact, try grouping small or big plants together in odd numbers. These "families" create a dramatic effect and are a cost-efficient way to decorate.

Any other suggestions on how to style your house plants?

I just purchased a ficus lyrata tree (fiddle-leaf fig) and am pretty excited about our plant collection. If only we had more natural light, our house would be overloaded with plants!

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Weekend Adventures // Hiking Mt. Sterling

Seeking out the unknown always creates a sense of exhilaration for me. Whether that is the physical limits of my body in an ultramarathon or hiking mysterious trails of a North Carolina mountain - the unknown can definitely be scary. When Zach told me we'd be climbing up to about 6000 ft up Mount Sterling, I knew this wasn't going to be a quick hike. 

At the trail head we loaded up our gear - making sure we had enough water and food for about four hours - and worked our way to Baxter Creek Trail. 

Starting out, the trails had just a slight dusting of snow on them; such a nice change from Michigan's packed iced sidewalks. I immediately noticed how much green was peeking out from the snow in the trees. Tropical looking trees flagged a good portion of the trails at the base of the mountain. After just a few miles of running (or at least trying to run since the ascent was rather rugged) we started dropping layers even though the snow had started to accumulate more and more. Carrying my Fluid 6 Mountain Hardware pack was essential to this hike. Storing my water, food, camera, jacket, and Yaktraxs; I'm not sure what I would have done if I had opted for just a waterbelt.

As we ran further, it was beautiful to watch the "climate" change before our eyes. The trees got thicker and more evergreens seemed to appear. Snow piled up and trees began to look crystalized. 

After 2.5 hours of hiking, the elevation was starting to get to me. 
The climb seemed to get steeper and the six inches of snow wasn't helping...but I kept reminding myself, "I'm climbing a mountain!" Once we reached the summit we saw the 60 foot fire tower that marks the top. Amidst the clouds towered stunning evergreens that seemed to disappear into the sky above. I had hiked my first mountain!!!

Have you ever hiked or ran up a mountain? 
Any recommendations on ones to visit? 

A shout out to Rob for letting me use some of his photos. Can't wait for our next trip! 

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