Friday, June 29, 2012

Recipe//Cucumber Tomato Salad

I love tomatoes.  Love love love them.  I think we go through 5-10 tomatoes per week, depending on what we're eating.  Often I'm eating these tomatoes in a simple salad for lunch time, sticking them on a pizza or garnishing a green salad. 

Here is an original recipe, that actually ended up on my menu planner for the week as "Tomato salad" but I decided I wanted cucumbers with it, too.

2 Tomatoes
1/2 Cucumber
1/2 Sweet Onion

1/8 cup  Plain Yogurt
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tsp Dill Weed
1 Tsp Agave 
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop tomato, cucumber and onion and place in a medium bowl.  Place dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well blended.  Add to vegetables and mix well.  Serve chilled.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What we're eating this week

I have tried meal planning in the past and I just wasn't very successful at it.  Mostly it was because I was dealing with school and work so my time was much more limited than it is now.  Lately I've noticed that the way I used to shop and cook (buy a variety of produce, grains and proteins and figure it out as the week went along) just wasn't working out.  I found a lot of excuses to not cook and sometimes we would be doing things like eating green beans every day for a week.

So this week, there is a little kitchen reform going on.  I'm actually planning it all out.  I don't plan lunches because those always consist of leftovers.

How do you plan your meals?  Do you plan them or just go with it?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Vows as Subway Art

Subway art has caught my attention lately.  I love how words become the artwork, especially since words and I get along so well.

When we planned our wedding, everything that was said was important.  I sought out wedding vows that were significant and "just right."  If they weren't "just right" I fixed them so they were.  Marriage is a big deal, and I wanted it to show.

So here is my first dip in the waters of subway art, creating a piece of wall art from our wedding vows. It's exactly what we promised, 248 days ago.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Best of the best //6//

Another week gone, and now to start with a new one!  Some awesome moments from last week.

(top to bottom, left to right)

1.  I've started using this monstrosity of a textbook to keep the bedroom door open when I've got all the windows in the apartment opened up.  

2.  Mani/pedi time with a friend!  It was my first pedicure and it was heavenly.

3.  I tried this sparkling almond wine.  Yuck.  Apple juice + sparkles + almond extract = not so good.

4.  Look at this cute 90's family!  I've been digitally sharing some old photos lately.  This one (I think) is from when my dad became officially ordained as a Mennonite pastor.  But I could be wrong. 

5.  Went on a short climbing excursion at Makapu'u.  The view was amazing, but the climbing was a little crowded (like everywhere here).

6.  After nails, we had pho!  I've never had it before, one of those foods I just had not gotten around to trying yet.  Yum!

7.  Look at those denim things on the left... you know what those are?  SHORTS!  I think it may have been three years since I've worn (or owned) a pair.  I'm happy :).

8.  One of the joys of living here is the wildlife.  There was a little white gecko hanging out in the house which is fine by me, he eats the bugs.  But the other morning I came out and this big guy was above our sliding glass door--scared the living daylights out of me.  He's in hiding, or back outside, or somewhere..

9.  That moment when you wake up to realize your nose stud escaped in your sleep from all that tossing and turning.  Not anymore!  Now I have a ring so it can't come out from my violent sleeping habits.

10.   Summery lunch time.  Quinoa salad + blueberries = best lunch this week.

11.  Remember the espresso machine?  It's here!  I'm a fan of iced americanos with a tad bit of cream.  

There you have it, a happy week!  Enjoy whatever you have going on for this upcoming one :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Laid back

Top: Ebay
Skirt: Thrifted
Bag: Aeropostale
Shoes: Toms
Sunglasses: F21
Belt: F21

Over the weekends we hang around, eat waffles, do some yard work, visit the beach, read, etc. I love the feeling of chilling out and sometimes I my clothing options need to match that.  Relaxed, but not in sweats, because unless I'm seriously sick or just out the gym, sweats and are not happening--in public, at least ;-).

So here's to hanging out at breweries, kicking back and enjoying the sun.

Have an awesome start to your weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Solstice

Happy Summer Solstice!  

Now it's officially time for lemonade and shades, beaches and road trips.  So why not throw yourself a little party to celebrate?

There is a lot of history behind the solstice, many reasons why people have celebrated over the centuries.  Maybe you're even into the faeries that come out and whatnot.  But for me, I just find that it's a good reason to be happy for the sunshine.  It's a specific day when I can say "Hey, summer--you're awesome."  Even though I live summer all year round, I'll be having a delightful time tonight with a few fizzy drinks, twinkly lights and some grilled veggies.

Try champagne over popsicles!

You'll need a few fun straws for your bubbly drinks

Decorate with flowers and candles--hanging from wherever you can put them!

One should always have a fruit trifle in the summer.

Caprese salad is a perfect addition to any warm weather meal

Mushrooms make an excellent substitute for a meaty burger

Here are a few more helpful bits of info:

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Food Reviews // Kona Brewing Company

My husband is a smart dude.  One day, while we were out, he casually mentioned that I should review restaurants in Hawaii.  While I don't consider myself a food critic, I did realize that sometimes it can be challenging to know where you should go for food that will support your food lifestyle choices, especially in a new or vacationing area.

So I'm starting something new.  About once a week or so, I'll do a review of a restaurant on Oahu in the perspective of a vegetarian.  I'm not a professional, but I'll give you my opinions! 

This week:  Kona Brewing Company
Location:  Koko Marina, Honolulu, HI
Price Range:  Appetizers $6-$12
Sandwiches, Pizza's and Entrees $11-$28

The first thing I want to mention about Kona Brewing Company is that it's a Certified Green Restaurant.  They try to be energy efficient, conserve resources and utilize organic foods.  If you want to learn more about these kinds of restaurants, you can check out this website

When we hit up the restaurant, it was only 3:30pm, but it was Father's Day and we wanted to actually get a seat, as well as hang out.  We had been running errands in the area, and heading home, then coming back, was simply not doable.  So we got an appetizer (of not so appetizer proportions) to start off with.  These nachos are purely vegetarian to start with (not vegan) and pretty darn tasty.  However, they are super huge and very filling, so if you order them and expect to have a drink and dinner, also expect to not really be eating a ton of your entree.


Dinner was a Grilled Portabello Muffuletta and Green Papaya Salad.  Both were excellent!  They also offer a lot of vegetarian pizzas and salads, as well as an Eggplant Lasagna that looks delicious.  The salads were easily vegan friendly, as long as cheese was sure to be left off.  

Overall, I think that Kona Brewing Company is a great place for all vegetarians (and non-vegetarians).  Just about anyone can be happy with the selection.  I did not ask the server what they could do for vegans, but with as catering as they were towards the vegetarian crowd, I hope that they would be able to handle it.  It may be a touristy place, but it's a great spot to grab a good beer and some delicious food.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pizza Friday //3// + Pesto Recipe

Yesterday was pizza night, as you all probably know from here and here.  I've been on the hunt for a really good pizza crust recipe and have had no luck for months--until last night!  After going to CPK, I realized that their pizza crust was what I was looking for.  Something thin, but not like a cracker and also not for a gigantic pizza.  I googled CPK pizza crust recipe and got exactly what I needed.  The end result was perfect.

I also wanted to try my hand at making pesto, since I have that lovely basil plant in the backyard, but didn't have any parmesan.  I did, however, have a ton of feta, so I did a little pesto research and came up with a recipe of my own that I think worked out pretty well.  The end result pizza was pesto, a sprinkle of mozzarella, mushrooms, spinach and avocado--a total success, in my opinion.


Feta Pesto
For approximately one cup pesto


2 1/2 cups rinsed basil, tightly packed
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup feta
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 - 1 tsp sea salt*
1/4 tsp black pepper


Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth.  Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container for one week.

*note: Feta is already quite salty, so take it easy on the salt.  If you are particularly salt sensitive, I suggest you either start with 1/2 teaspoon or none at all and go from there.  Nothing is worse than too much salt ruining a recipe.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer soundtrack

The sun is out, it's Friday, and the possibilities for fun are endless.  Here's my summer mood soundtrack, for laying in the sun drinking a lemonade (or beer, or champagne, or whatever else might tickle your fancy).  

Happy Weekend!

summer. by alex32937 on Grooveshark

Thursday, June 14, 2012

In my kitchen

Banana chocolate chip bread. 

Mushroom soup recipe.

The refrigerator pickles are ready to eat.

California scramble.

After recovering from being sick, I've been getting back into the swing of things around the house, which includes cooking and baking again.  I didn't really cook anything for a week, but instead found whatever might sound good if I just heated it up or didn't eat at all.  Leftover ice cream from Erik's birthday tended to be my food of choice.  

But sometimes I still like an easy food, especially for breakfast.  Here's an original recipe for a delicious, protein-dense morning bite to eat.  Serve with a side of fruit for a well-rounded start to the day.

California Scramble

2 eggs
1/8 of an avocado, chopped
1/2 large tomato, chopped
1/8 cup feta, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat greased skillet on medium heat.  Add eggs and scramble in pan.  When eggs are just about cooked so they still are a little liquidy, add avocado, tomato and feta.  Mix in with the eggs and cook for 30 seconds - 1 minute longer, depending on how cooked you like your scrambled eggs to be.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Yogurt at home

Yogurt is one of those "things," isn't it?  One of those you-should-eat-it-because-it's-amazing-for-you things, right?  It's kind of become "that thing" you should be making yourself, too.  Mostly because it's cheap, but also because it's great for your tummy (part of what makes it amazing for you).

I purchased a really cheap yogurt maker about a year or so ago.  It had four tiny containers and kept a constant temperature so you didn't really have to worry about keeping track of all the temps that are important to a proper yogurt.  But for some reason, I just didn't use it.  And I think when we moved two times ago, several of the little containers got lost and now I've just got one small machine with one small container.  Not very helpful.

But since I'm home all the time and I'm feeling particularly dedicated to the health of myself and my husband, I've been on the look out for a good yogurt recipe.  And I found it! The Simple Dollar offers an awesomely easy recipe for yogurt made in a crock pot--because none of us use that crock pot quite enough, right?  I've made this yogurt a few times already (posted about it here) and it worked out perfectly all but one time (read here for some reasons yogurt might not turn out quite right)  I encourage you to try it out yourself!  

And remember--keep 1/2 - 1 cup of the yogurt at the end to make a new batch.

Have a happy Wednesday!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer looks and prettiness

I try not to double post, but I'm just so excited that I had to share the video below.  Ruche came out with a new lookbook and it's as beautiful as ever, so of course I'm peeing my pants with enthusiasm.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Drug-free colds

You heard me whine about it all last week, and you get it once more.  I got super sick, and it hung around and I was miserable.  But now I'm feeling better!  Hooray!

As part of living simply, I always try (emphasis on try, because sometimes I get annoyed and need the symptoms to go away NOW) to keep away from over the counter cold and flu medicine because letting the illness run its course and not adding all those yuckies the meds seems to be better.  So I've kind of figured out what works for me (until I can't sleep because my lungs decide to stop working--then I give in to the nyquil).  Here are a few homemade cold "medicines" in case you, too, might be interested in a drug-free cold.

Super duper hot toddy
10 oz water
1 Ecchinachea tea bag
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tsp lemon juice
1 Tsp fresh ginger root, chopped
1 oz whiskey
2-3 sprinkles cayenne pepper

Boil water in a kettle with tea bag.  Allow to steep for 10 min.  While steeping, coat mug with honey, then add lemon juice, ginger root and whiskey.  Once tea has steeped, pour into mug and stir.  Add a few sprinkles of cayenne pepper.  Enjoy! (or try to...)

Homemade cough syrup
I found this amazing recipe on youtube while searching for a good cough syrup recipe.  It works very well and doesn't taste quite as terrible as over the counter syrup.

And some links!

7 Homemade Alternatives to Controversial Over-The-Counter Cold Medicine
Homemade cold remedy
Cough and cold remedies

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Best of the best//5//

(Top to bottom, left to right)

1.  I started up an embroidery sampler this week!  I plan to put this one in the living room.  The only thing I'm having a hard time with is dealing with the dumb embroidery floss.  What is it about that stuff that seems to live simply to antagonize you?

2.  It's been decided that I'm a champion dish stacker.  I believe this comes from having hand washed dishes from the time I was 8 years old.

3.  We headed out to CPK last night for a fun Saturday night celebration.  These are crispy mac and cheese nugget things.  It sounds weird, but it was delicious!

4.  On Friday, we headed down to Koko Marina and it was so pretty!

5.  I had never seen "The Terminator"--until Friday!  (photo via Wikipedia)

6.  Hiking at the Ka'ena Point Trail.  Really dry on one side, beautiful ocean on the other.  We left super dusty but it was a great hike.  It was also nice to just get out of the house and do something after being sick for a week.

7.  WE'RE GETTING AN ESPRESSO MACHINE!! (photo via Amazon)

8.  After our hike, we stopped for slurpees.  I can't remember the last time I had one, but it was delicious :).

9.  Along with our mac and cheese bits and a mushroom pizza, we had a beer.  You cannot have pizza without beer.

10.  This was what the coffee table looked like from last Thursday until this Friday--covered in tissue, cough drops, super duper hot toddies (recipe to come), etc.  I'm so glad I could put all that stuff away before the weekend got here.

11.  Euro Cup time!  When the World Cup was going on two years ago, we were spending the summer with Erik's family so he could work an internship and we spent that summer watching a whole lot of soccer--and I discovered that I actually liked watching it!  So it's exciting to have a new tournament to watch.  So far, Germany hasn't let us down :).

I hope you all had as awesome a week as I did!  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Good day, sunshine

Dress: Forever 21
Belt: Forever 21
Necklace: Shy of Perfect

I found this dress over last weekend while we were out and about (when I should have been resting).  It was love at first sight, and then I tried it on and it couldn't have been more perfect.  The back is one of my favorite parts of it, as it provides a little air conditioning and a touch of sexy without going completely overboard.  It's also incredibly comfortable and I've worn it twice this week--something that never happens.  Sundresses are just the best.

My jewelry is a prize from a giveaway!  Shy of Perfect is a delightful Etsy store with a plethora of jewelry in all shapes and colors.  I don't usually wear rings other than my wedding and engagement pieces, but I love this one.  

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Beach time reading

While everyone is compiling their summer reading lists, I feel a like this is a little out of place for me to be doing.  It's always summer here (even if there are some storms and drizzles) and I'm continuing with summer courses, creating a lack of the usual school break.  So I decided I needed a list of beach reads, as those can be classified under any season here on the island, and thought I could share :).  Because maybe you're going to be hanging out a lot on the beach, too!

*summaries and photos taken from*

The heartwarming story of a young French girl, Etoile, who is raised in a world of prejudice and despair who becomes orphaned and is sent to live with her distant cousin, Giselle, and Giselle's partner, Jean. Embraced by Giselle, Jean, and their community of friends, Etoile discovers the true meaning of family, but their strength is put to the test when the state threathens to take her away

“I know. I know. No one says it but I know…” —from Signs of Life
Twenty-four-year-old Natalie Taylor was leading a charmed life. At the age of twenty four, she had a fulfilling job as a high school English teacher, a wonderful husband, a new house and a baby on the way.  Then, while visiting her sister, she gets the news that Josh has died in a freak accident.  Four months before the birth of her son, Natalie is leveled by loss.

What follows is an incredibly powerful emotional journey, as Natalie calls upon resources she didn’t even know she had in order to re-imagine and re-build a life for her and her son. In vivid and immediate detail, Natalie documents her life from the day of Josh’s death through the birth their son, Kai, as she struggles in her role as a new mother where everyone is watching her for signs of impending collapse.  With honesty, raw pain, and most surprising, a wicked sense of humor, Natalie recounts the agonies and unexpected joys of her new life.  There is the frustration of holidays, navigating the relationship with her in-laws, the comfort she finds and unlikely friendship she forges in support groups and the utterly breathtaking, but often overwhelming new motherhood.   When she returns to the classroom, she finds that little is more healing than the honesty and egocentricity of teenagers.

Drawing on lessons from beloved books like The Color Purple and The Catcher in the Rye and the talk shows she suddenly can’t get enough of, from the strength of her family and friends, and from a rich fantasy life—including a saucy fairy godmother who guides her grieving—Natalie embarks on the ultimate journey of self-discovery and realizes you can sometimes find the best in yourself during the worst life has to offer.  And she delivers these lessons, in way that feels like she’s right beside you in her bathrobe and with a glass of wine--the cool, funny girlfriend you love to stay up all night with.

Unforgettable and utterly absorbing, Signs of Life features a powerful, wholly original debut voice that will have you crying and laughing to the very last page.

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.
Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

As Beirut exploded with the bombs and violence of a ruthless civil war in the ’80s, a nine-year-old Salma Abdelnour and her family fled Lebanon to start a new life in the States. Ever since then— even as she built a thriving career as a food and travel writer in New York City—Salma has had a hunch that Beirut was still her home.  She kept dreaming of moving back—and finally decided to do it.

But could she resume her life in Beirut, so many years after her family moved away? Could she, or anyone for that matter, ever really go home again?

Jasmine and Fire is Salma’s poignant and humorous journey of try-ing to resettle in Beirut and fumbling through the new realities of life in one of the world’s most complex, legendary, ever-vibrant, ever- troubled cities. What’s more, in a year of roiling changes around the Middle East and the rise of the Arab Spring, Salma found herself in the midst of the turmoil, experiencing it all up close.

As she comes to grips with all the changes in her life—a love left behind in New York and new relationships blossoming in Beirut—Salma takes comfort in some of Lebanon’s enduring traditions, particularly its extraordinary food culture. Through the sights, sounds, and flavors of a city full of beauty, tragedy, despair, and hope, Salma slowly begins to reconnect with the place she’s longed for her entire life

Is there such thing as a Western Taoist? Benjamin Hoff says there is, and this Taoist's favorite food is honey. Through brilliant and witty dialogue with the beloved Pooh-bear and his companions, the author of this smash bestseller explains with ease and aplomb that rather than being a distant and mysterious concept, Taoism is as near and practical to us as our morning breakfast bowl. Romp through the enchanting world of Winnie-the-Pooh while soaking up invaluable lessons on simplicity and natural living.

A captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922, and the summer that would change them both. Only a few years before becoming a famous actress and an icon for her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita to make it big in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle is a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip. She has no idea what she's in for: Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous blunt bangs and black bob, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will change their lives forever. For Cora, New York holds the promise of discovery that might prove an answer to the question at the center of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in a strange and bustling city, she embarks on her own mission. And while what she finds isn't what she anticipated, it liberates her in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of the summer, Cora's eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.

Winner of the prestigious Whitbread Prize for best first novel and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for best writer under 35, this modern classic has sold 100,000 copies in the United States. The novel chronicles the life of a bright and rebellious orphan who is adopted into an Evangelical household in the dour, industrial Midlands. Her insistence on listening to the truths of her own heart and mind makes for an unforgettable chronicle of an eccentric, moving rite of passage into adulthood.

It is 1904. When Frederick and Jette must flee her disapproving mother, where better to go than America, the land of the new? Originally set to board a boat to New York, at the last minute, they take one destined for New Orleans instead ("What's the difference? They're both new"), and later find themselves, more by chance than by design, in the small town of Beatrice, Missouri. Not speaking a word of English, they embark on their new life together.
Beatrice is populated with unforgettable characters: a jazz trumpeter from the Big Easy who cooks a mean gumbo, a teenage boy trapped in the body of a giant, a pretty schoolteacher who helps the young men in town learn about a lot more than just music, a minister who believes he has witnessed the Second Coming of Christ, and a malevolent, bicycle-riding dwarf.
A Good American is narrated by Frederick and Jette's grandson, James, who, in telling his ancestors' story, comes to realize he doesn't know his own story at all. From bare-knuckle prizefighting and Prohibition to sweet barbershop harmonies, the Kennedy assassination, and beyond, James's family is caught up in the sweep of history. Each new generation discovers afresh what it means to be an American. And, in the process, Frederick and Jette's progeny sometimes discover more about themselves than they had bargained for.
Poignant, funny, and heartbreaking, A Good American is a novel about being an outsider-in your country, in your hometown, and sometimes even in your own family. It is a universal story about our search for home