Breath of Spring

    Bulbs with marbles

I found the coolest trick ever. You have to try this. It’s fabulous. I am so ready for spring… ready for the warmth of the sun, little green buds on the trees and the blooms of daffodils, tulips and crocus.

Somehow, time got past me and the bag of tulips that I intended to plant last fall, sat in my cold garage all winter long. Lucky me. Why, you ask? Because, as it turns out, if your tulips have been in a cool place for 11 or more weeks, you can force them to bloom in a vase. I love that.

Here’s what you need:

  • A wide mouthed straight or slightly curved glass vase
  • Glass marbles or a plastic footed grid from a florist.
  • Bulbs that have been in a refrigerator or cold garage for 11 or more weeks.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Simply layer the bottom of the vase with an inch or two of marbles or plastic grid.
  2. Add water to just BELOW the top of the highest layer of marbles.
  3. Set a layer of bulbs with the wides part of the bulb resting on top the marbles. Bulbs can be touching but do not sit them on top of each other… 

bulbs in water

4. Make sure vase always has water, but do not let the bottom of the bulbs touch the water – the roots will grow to the water.

That’s it. Now sit back and watch nature do the rest. Within a day or two, little roots will sprout and make their way to the water…

bulbs three days later

The little green stems will grow each day and in 10 days or so, you’ll have a vase full of gorgeous flowers…

bulbs bloom

Here’s some I saw at the store the other day…

bulbs store bought

Mine were a fraction of the cost and I can have them year round. Don’t you love them? Stock up on some spring bulbs before they’re gone :) xo Amy

 PS> If your garage has already warmed up, it won’t work… put the bulbs in the warmest sport of your refrigerator and try them in 8-16 weeks. I’m going to buy some bulbs to keep in the refrigerator for a breath of spring throughout the year. xo Amy

How to Have a Lovely Day

I just love this…

lovelyDay

Photo Credit

 Having a lovely day is really about being present don’t you think? Taking time to smile as you pass someone along the way…stopping to breath when life gets overwhelming. I think it’s about gratitude and kindness – to both ourselves and others. Stopping to truly “see” all that is around us…taking the time to listen to someone’s story and perhaps sharing your own. It about laughing and smiling and wishing that others have a day as lovely as yours.

I hope you have a lovely day. Amy xo

 

 

Want to Join me in a Juice Fast?

fruits and vegetables

Have you made and already broken your 2014 New Year Resolution to work out, eat healthy and lose weight? I didn’t even bother to make a resolution, more less break one – but now that January is almost over, I’m feeling the need to officially kick off what I expect to be a fabulous year and the best way I know to do this is with a juice fast. 

Yes, I know. A juice fast is hard and a bit of work, but trust me in that you will feel amazing after the first three days. Yes, that means the first days will leave you feeling tired and with a slight, possibly huge headache. Yes, for three days you’ll be lethargic and foggy – you’ll probably want to quit or smack me or do both. But, if you hang in there, on day four, the feel fabulous part of it will kick in and you’ll love me again :) 

Note: Not familiar with a juice fast? Click here to read everything I know about juicing and then some!

Today, let’s focus on those first three days… the ones where you’ll feel miserable. The degree of miserableness will depend on how awful you are eating for the 5 days leading up to it your juice fast. Stick to eating processed food, sugar, flour, caffeine, dairy and meat for those 5 days and you probably will feel pretty miserable on days one, two and three, BUT… if you start today to prepare your body for the awesomeness that you’ll feel after day 3, you’ll only feel slightly miserable with a light edge of a headache as your body detoxes. I’m choosing to be prepared, since I’m not a huge fan of self-inflicted pain.

Getting prepared is simple – start 5 days prior to beginning your fast.

  1. Start drinking one or two juices daily for a meal or snack. I’ll do carrot or green juices.
  2. If you drink soda or coffee, start eliminating the amount you consume each day so that by the time the day before your fast begins, you are down to one serving of a any decaffeinated beverages.
  3. Start eliminating sugar, flour, meat and dairy from your diet. I eliminate one group a day, but you could do each group gradually.
  4. By Sunday (or the day before the fast begins) you should only be eating vegetable soup, beans (I add beans to my soup), and a handful of nuts. I adapted this from some things I found over at Join the Reboot.

Remember, this is only 10 days out of our lives. I’m pretty sure we’ll survive and actually feel better because of it! xo Amy

Inspiration: Let Food Be Thy Medicine

Let food be they medicine

If there is one thing I’ve learned along the journey to a healthy me, it’s that food is medicine. Actually, it’s better than medicine. When we choose to eat clean – good old fashioned fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, fish, lean meats and poultry, our bodies reap the benefits. 

Eating clean clears out our foggy brains and energizes our body in a way that a Grande Latte from Starbucks never can. Suddenly, our puffy eyes are no more, clothes become a bit looser and we realize just how bad we felt when we ate junk. 

It’s a challenge to break our addictions to sugar, white flour and processed foods, but I think we’re worth it. xo Amy

PS. I’m getting ready to do a 10 day juice fast starting on Monday, January 3rd. Do you want to join me? Details coming! 

Easy Oven Fresh Hot Salted Pretzels

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What’s a girl to do when it’s a midwest cold, windy, sub-zero winter night? Make some yummy hot pretzels from scratch of course! As we settled in for the night, I realized there wasn’t much to eat, so I googled recipes for hot pretzels and whipped some up. I settled on this recipe (minus the praline – although how delicious would a praline topping be?) and since I avoid kneading dough at any cost, I tossed the ingredients in my kitchen maid mixer with my whisk and dough hook and made some pretzel nuggets. You really ought to try it. Here’s what you’ll need…

Pretzel Dough

  • 1 packet quick yeast (1 packet = 2 and 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast)
  • 1 and ½ cups warm water 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon white sugar
  • 4 – 4.25 cups all-purpose flour (I ended up only using 3)
  • 1/4 stick of melted butter
  • Chunky salt

Optional Pre-Bake Boil (Don’t skip this – I think this is what made them so good!)

  • 9 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda

Note: You can do everything by hand, but I used my kitchen aid mixer – first with the whisk and then the dough hook.

Pre-Heat oven to 425 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. 

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yeast and warm water for a minute or until yeast is mostly dissolved. 
  2. Whisk in salt and sugar
  3. By hand or with mixer + dough hook, add in 1 cup of flour at a time until dough is not sticky and bounced back when pushed. If doing by hand, then need for 3 or 4 minutes. If doing in mixer, knead a few times and you’re done.
  4. In a large pot, bring 9 cups of water and 2/3 cup of baking soda to a boil
  5. While water is heating up, form dough into 1-1/2″ balls. 
  6. Drop 1/2 the balls into boiling water and remove after 30 seconds with slotted spoon or spatula. Note: Balls will float and water will foam. A metal slotted spoon helps control the foaming water from boiling over. Place the boiled dough on paper towel till all are removed (foam will disappear) and then place them on baking sheet. Repeat with remainder of dough.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven, lightly brush tops with butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 2-5 more minutes making sure they don’t get too brown.

You can serve with mustard, melted cheese or salsa, but just as yummy plain. Enjoy! Amy xo

Inspiration: Heartfelt Happiness

Snowflake Quote

On Black Friday, we walked the streets of NYC… sirens were blaring, taxis were blowing their horns, vendors were peddling hotdogs and scarves on every street corner – people were busy going uptown, downtown and across town. I love that city.

In the morning we took the train uptown and headed over to central park…

Central Park  

For about a second I thought about suggesting a carriage ride…

Carriage Ride

 Until I saw the $3.00 a minute price tag…

The main goal as we walked across Central Park was to get to the east side and Dylan’s Candy Bar – the most important destination of the day according to Ashley…

Dylans

 After visiting Dylan’s, we passed the famous Bergdorf Goodman Christmas windows… 

Bergdorf Goodman

Oh, how I would have loved to tour the holiday windows of New York City, but my scrooge family out voted me. Next year, I swear, I’m leaving them behind.

As we headed down to Times Square, the sidewalks started filling up with holiday shoppers, tourists and NYC workers. When walking below the canopy of Radio City Music Hall, home of the Famous Rockettes, I reminded my family that in case they happened to forget, I graduated from FIT on that stage. They rolled their eyes…

Radio City Music Hall

 Times Square was a mess, with construction and traffic. I don’t think this block ever sleeps…

Tines Square

Apparently, I was the only one who appreciated this building, host of one of my favorite TV Shows – Project Runway…

Project Runway

I love Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum, who doesn’t?

This street sign makes my heart pitter patter…

Fashion Avenue

We crossed Macy’s Herald Square – think Miracle on 34th St, and as I was crossing the street to catch the Path Train to head back to Hoboken, the bustle of the city suddenly wrapped itself around me. I took this photo while walking – there’s no stopping here…

NYC Streets

And on that corner, as I crossed the street, it occurred to me how much I heart this city. Yes, partly because of the things I saw throughout the day, but mostly because of the energy, the sounds, the memories.

Black Friday is typically a day about shopping and deals, but this year it was a reminder that…

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. Wishing you happiness.”      - Helen Keller

 

Happy Monday! xo Amy

 

Happy Cyber Monday – My Favorite Bag is on Sale!

Common Threads Bag and Tote

In the spirit of Cyber Monday, I thought I’d share a sale that includes my favorite bag with the beautiful Common Threads woven heart logo. I carry it almost every day to work, when traveling or meeting with clients. It’s  a great bag for school, work, shopping or travel – a perfect gift for the holidays. I really do love it.

The best part is you have options…

Mix and Match Holiday 2013 - 2

  1. The bag alone is fabulous, with a choice of the Common Threads Heart Logo or the original “assistant” logo. Designed with a sheer top and faux leather bottom, it features two pockets, a place for a pen, pencil and a clip for keys
  2. Combine the bag with the desktop file holder and the set stands upright to hold files, books and more.
  3. Add in the project files to organize tasks such as a decorating project, paying bills, planning a wedding or event, scrapbooking, etc.

Bonus: A percentage of sales goes to The Common Threads Foundation – a non-profit organization committed to teaching children across the country how to cook wholesome, healthy meals. 

You’ll find it all over at Decorate Fabulously and Pretty Sensible Solutions where we’re kicking of the Holiday Season with a 25% off sale + $10.00 standard shipping. Components can be purchased individually or as a kit. Click here to see the entire line of products. Have a great week! xo Amy

A Thankful Heart

photo copy 3

We’re in Hoboken, across the river from NYC, with part of our family visiting our youngest son. It’s been a rainy, windy, chilly trip – but it’s good to be back in the Big Apple and especially good to see Tyler.

Tuesday afternoon, Ashley and I went to see a taping of the Bethenny show. Bethenny is even more adorable in person – we had a great time! Kellie Pickler was a guest for the full hour and we also saw a segment taped with Fitness Guru Tracy Anderson. Here’s a photo of the set before taping started…

photo copy

Later that day, we all had Sushi down the street from Tyler’s apartment. Well, to be specific, they had sushi… I had rice and vegetables. Here’s a photo of Ashley and Tyler a dinner…

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Yesterday, we ventured back out to the city. The first stop was Ground Zero – the new skyscraper there (pictured below) is impressive, but it makes me so sad to not see those two beautiful World Trade Center towers…

photo copy 6

Next, we headed to China Town – we lasted there for about five seconds, until we ran into Little Italy and splashed through puddles for a slice of pizza, a walk down Mulberry St., and cannoli’s at Ferrara’s. I heart Cannoli’s – and have a particular weakness for cannoli’s dipped in chocolate…

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 Our means of transportation all day was the path train (Hoboken to the City) and the subway (uptown, downtown and across manhattan). It’s such a great way to get around. New Yorkers are lucky to have such an awesome transit system…

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You never know what you’re going to see. There was a fabulous violin player at the 34th street station. One of these days I’ll figure out how to post a video. Until then, you can see him here. 

Typically, for Thanksgiving, I’ll make my own pies, but Tyler’s girlfriend, Jaimie, ordered us a fresh pumpkin pie from the famous Hoboken bakery – Carlo’s Bake Shop. We picked it up before we headed to the city…

photo copy 2

I can’t wait to taste it. If you ever get to visit The Cake Shop, you have ask for Alex. He was the cutest, nicest, sweetest guy ever. Of course I forgot to snap a photo of him, but I did find a link about him here. Adorable kid. 

Today, I’m cooking up our traditional Thanksgiving meal with a fresh turkey, grandma’s stuffing with raisins, mashed potatoes, gravy from scratch, sweet potatoes, green beans with ham and Oyster Soup. Usually we have cornbread, but this year I picked up a loaf of challaha.

“Today I wish for you a joyful table with good food, laughter, friends, family, love and a thankful heart.”

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Have a blessed and wonderful day wherever you are, wherever you go. xo Amy

Guilt

Guilt

Guilt is an invisible weight that pulls us down… it keeps us from smiling, growing, loving… it prevents us from living a joyful life. Sometimes guilt is a badge we’ve earned, but many times it’s a self-imposed sentence that we don’t deserve. A conversation the other day reminded me of this.

Guilt isn’t always a rational thing, Clio realized. Guilt is a weight that will crush you whether you deserve it or not.” 
― Maureen JohnsonGirl at Sea

May I suggest that if your guilt is something you’ve earned, that you acknowledge it… learn from it and move on. The guilt isn’t doing you or anyone else any good. Make something good come from it. Forgive yourself. Grow. Teach someone else to learn from your mistakes.

If your guilt sounds something like this… “I wish I would have…”, “I wish I could have” or “If only I would have”… I offer that you forgive yourself. Breath. Love yourself and know that you might not ever know the reason of why “it” happened… never even understand it.

What you do have is today and today is a gift to enjoy. A day to embrace. There are people in your life that need you… the happy you, the joyful you.  The you that somewhere along the line got wrapped up in the heaviness of a guilt that is way beyond your control. A guilt that isn’t rational. A guilt you don’t deserve. Remember yesterday. It will always be a part of who you are, but then breath and embrace today. You deserve it. xo Amy

5 Minute Sugar Scrub Recipe

sugar scrub 2

It’s that time of year again. Leaves are falling, it’s getting dark earlier – our skin is drying, flaking and basically making us crazy. The first clue that the change of seasons is taking a toll on my face, is makeup just doesn’t go on like it used to… my skin just doesn’t feel right. Rather than run out to purchase an overpriced, chemical based solution to re-hydrate my face, I head to the kitchen to create a naturally better solution –  my favorite sunflower sugar scrub recipe. 

Yesterday morning I wanted to give a small gift to a friend for her birthday and thought a container of my favorite facial body scrub would be perfect for her. It’s easy to whip up and has quickly become a favorite of mine and anyone I’ve shared it with. Use it every morning, once a week or whenever you need a boost. I love it as a full body scrub too, but be careful… the floor of the shower or tub can get quite slippery.

Simply dampen your face, add a small teaspoon sized portion to the palm of your hand and gently rub into your face for a minute or so. Rinse off with a warm wash cloth. I should add that it has never caused my face to break out. The recipe comes from my friend Katie – a Licensed Esthetician in Florida. She uses it every day. 

Here’s what you’ll need…

sugar scrub ingredients

Facial/Body Sugar Scrub
A super easy scrub for face and/or body to exfoliate and hydrate skin. Use daily, weekly or whenever you find you need a boost to dull skin
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups of granulated sugar
  2. 5 ounces of sunflower oil (a little less than 2/3 of a cup)
  3. 3-4 drops of essence oil. (I usually use peppermint or lavender)
Instructions
  1. Mix ingredients and store in an air tight jar.
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 I hope you enjoy it! xo Amy