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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer Delights

Hopefully everyone is enjoying the beginnings of summer… I certainly am!  For some reason I really enjoy the heat and humidity that comes this time of year.  It reminds me of the unbelievable fun during my childhood summers; walking down to the lake, swimming, enjoying ice cream, wearing shorts and sandals, and of course, family vacations to Disney World! 

Well I wanted to share some delicious finds with you to enhance your summer delights!



During a routine grocery trip to Trader Joes, I was intrigued by this little hidden gem.   Coconut water is a favorite of mine, it is so refreshing and tropical!  The package didn’t show you what a “Coconut Water Fruit Floe” really was but did offer this description: "Coconut water is so refreshing to drink that we've made it into a frozen bar that will really cool you off!  Not too sweet and loaded with flakes of coconut, we can't think of a more tasty way to refresh."


After opening the package I was happy to find a creamy looking treat in the shape of a popsicle.   It was an unusually hot day for May and I was excited to enjoy a frosty snack.  The taste is much creamier and sweeter than plain coconut water which I liked.  There are even coconut shavings dispersed throughout the “floe” which added great texture.  Even Brent, who HATES coconut water, enjoyed these little frozen delights!

Here's what it looks like after a few licks... you can see the coconut flakes

So overall I am very happy with this Trader Joe’s find, I believe it is even vegan.  The dessert is somewhat good for you and made from only a few ingredients.  Unlike most creamy coconut treats, this one is relatively low in fat (only 3.5g for one serving). 

Also deserving a mention are these:
Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burgers.... YUM!  When it comes to frozen veggie patties, I prefer the ones that are actually made from veggies instead of the ones that are meant to taste like a "hamburger".   These are actually green when you take them out of the package... I have only tried them microwaved (sad I know but I eat them for lunch at work) but they would surely be even better if grilled.  These contain lots of veggies like carrots, string beans, soybeans, zucchini, peas, broccoli, corn, spinach and red pepper.  The patties are great on top of a salad and would be a delicious summer treat as a veggie burger with all the fixin's for a grill-out.  (This was also found at Trader Joes')

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Island in the Sun: Tropical Smoothie

Happy Saturday!  I'm very excited for a special weekend... my wonderful sister has set up a bachelorette party for this evening.  Don't worry, we will keep it classy:)


The sunshine has been plentiful this week in Cincinnati and I can’t help but look forward to the warm summer months ahead.  I have adapted my smoothie with the season and added a tropical twist!  It’s much like my banana-berry fruit smoothie with a few changes.  Sure it would be ideal to drink a tropical treat in a lush tropical place but it can be just as fun to enjoy one of these smoothies at home for a taste of the islands.  Imagine whipping one of these up on a hot and humid afternoon and drinking it out on your favorite lawn chair in the shade.  Bring your sunglasses with a good book or a fun magazine and you’re on a little mini-vacation!



Here's the very simple recipe.  I can drink one of these by myself but it's somewhat of a meal replacement.  You could easily split this with someone else for just a snack.  I don't really measure when I add the ingredients so these are just approximations.  Feel free to play around with the amounts to make it to your liking!
  • 2-3 large ice cubes
  • Roughly ½ cup frozen fruit (chunks of mango, pineapple and strawberry)
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla yogurt (I prefer low-fat)
  • ½ banana (I usually use fresh banana but you can use frozen sliced banana; though you may need to adjust  your ice and milk levels)
  • Roughly 3/4 cup of milk (I prefer non-fat)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom for a little kick!
Blend until smooth; you can adjust the consistency by adding more ice if too watery or more milk if too thick.  Top with your favorite tropical garnish and enjoy!  Now… a shot of rum would not be bad in this either… I’m just saying. 

My next smoothie venture will need to involve coconut but it can be tricky.  Coconut milk is delicious and thick but also high in fat and calorie content.  I have mixed in a bit of dry coconut cream pie pudding mix to a smoothie before and that is good but I prefer healthier options.  What have you been enjoying lately?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

This past weekend was one of the very best of my life for so many reasons. First and foremost, so many people that I love were in the same spot at once and that meant so much to me. Well let me get to the events! First of all… it was my bridal shower… my bridal shower, seems so wild.

My fiancé also had a semi-bachelor party this weekend so we both drove up to Cleveland on Friday afternoon for the festivities. My parents flew in from New Mexico, my sister flew in from Chicago, and some of my absolutely wonderful friends drove in from Cincinnati and Columbus as well. There was so much going on that this is just a brief overview but trust me, it was all a blast!

Brent and his buddies stayed at a resource cabin available from the Lake Metroparks. His father was gracious enough to arrange this for us. His parents were even nice enough to stock the fridge with all sorts of yummy food, coffee, beer and wine. The cabin itself was a treat as well with 8 beds, a large living room and full kitchen, and a fire pit with benches and a grill in the back yard.

My family and I stayed at this adorable little bed and breakfast called His Majesty’s, right on the square in Madison, OH. This place was antique and fine China heaven. You felt like you were INSIDE of a teacup when you entered the bedroom where my sister and I slept! The owner was delightful as well and she can really make a delicious breakfast!


Here I am wearing a teacup-like print shirt while inside the teacup room



On Saturday morning I woke up to a delightful cup of coffee and sat down for a scrumptious breakfast with my family. Everything was made from ingredients that were either from the owner’s garden (pictures later on) or local vendors. First up was the fruitini with fresh strawberries, mint leaves and real violets with a vanilla syrup. I believe this is the first time I had ever eaten a violet and they were so yummy! Next up was some sort of an egg and cheese soufflĂ© with spinach. Oh wow… this was light and fluffy and just right for me.

After breakfast I got ready for the shower and had enough time to take a stroll around the gardens in the back of the B and B:



Finally we made our way to the shower at Ferrante’s Winery. Let me just say that I knew this gathering would be special but when I got there and saw everyone setting up decorations and how much they had worked… well I was so touched I couldn’t help but start crying! I get teary eyed just thinking about it… how special!

You can see on the table that the favors for the guests were these little hatboxes with the date of the wedding and our names, what an amazing idea!

Inside of each adorable hatbox were little chocolate hats, teapots and shoes... made my the wonderful mother in law to be, Tammy!  By the way these were SOOO good.


Here are some of the ladies before the festivities began (from left to right: My mother, myself, Stasha (Brent's sister), Brent's Grandmother, Kelly (my sister) and Tammy (Brent's Mother).


I was given this vintage apron with lots of little cooking things attached… I wore it for the first ½ hour or so while guests were arriving and later they had to recall the items as part of a game. How cute!


Lunch was divine… fresh salad and vegetable lasagna but the piece de resistance was clearly this:
A hat-box shaped cake made and decorated by my mother-in-law-to-be! WOW! If you haven’t heard me rave about this cake yet, it’s honestly the best cake I have EVER had. Seriously. All of my favorite dessert flavors are combined into a luscious and moist dark chocolate layer cake with hazelnut and coconut. OH my.


Maria, who also helped immensely with the shower planning and the wedding, had just returned from a trip to Walt Disney World and brought back these very special Minnie ears:

I wore them throughout the gift opening – how very sweet! And goodness… so many wonderful and thoughtful presents!


Later that evening, everyone – including the boys – met up and went winery hopping. Debonne was pleasant as always; we got a nice gazebo and picnic table out in the sunshine. Even the poodles came out to play! Then off to South River winery… in an old church! Our drinks and snacks were accompanied by a brief history of the church-turned-winery by one of the employees. I could not have asked for a better day!

This is a great shot of everyone chatting and enjoying the atmosphere of the South River winery


Well It's going to be a gorgeous weekend in Cincinnati.  I plan to catch up on some wedding things as well as take some time to rest and relax.  This morning I was able to sleep in and the leisurely prepared a sikly smooth cup of coffee via my new french press.  What are you doing to enjoy yourself this weekend?








Thursday, May 3, 2012

Oldies

Well the upcoming wedding has given me a great excuse to get in contact with a lot of my friends from Hawaii.  Since we are pretty much scattered throughout the globe, it is rare that we all get to see each other anymore.  I am so very excited that a good chunk of people are making the effort to come out for my special day. 

Here we are on graduation day.  The girls and I all shared a house and the fella is our buddy.


I really do miss Honolulu and a good portion of my heart is still there.  I've never before felt so "home" in a city.  Here are just a few of my wonderful memories and favorites from my time in the islands:


Lanikai was always my favorite beach.  The huge waves on Northshore were fun and all... but you could always count on crystal clear calm waters at Lanikai.  It was also pretty out of the way, causing you to find little side paths that lead up to the water which meant it was usually less crowded.  The sand felt like talcum powder... so very soft!  I have a wonderful memory of the girls (and John!) piling into a car, stopping at a local grocery for fresh bread, cheese, and cold beers and then having a glorious beach picnic.

My good buddy John and I relaxing in the shade at the beach... can't
remember where exactly but I believe Makapu'u perhaps.



I never had a car during my years in HI which was beyond wonderful.  For my first year and a half, I had a little blue and white beach cruiser bike but living in a valley meant LOTS of hills, no matter where you were going!  During the remainder of my time there I had two Abruzzi scooters that looked much like the one above (one yellow, one blue).  I loved those things! 



And this is where Lindsay really fell in love with vintage; Catherine's Closet Vintage Boutique in Manoa Valley.  I worked here part time during my college days and treasured every minute of it.  The majority of my tasks were going through gigantic bins of gorgeous old garments, hats, jewelry, housewares, trinkets, and just about everything else.  One of my favorite things to do was make arrangements and displays.  We also hosted a few vintage parties for ladies that rented out the shop.  These were a ball.  I remember one party with a sangria station where you could choose between 3 different frozen fruits to mix with your champagne.  It was like playing dress up all the time. 



Not having a car, I made frequent trips to our closest beach, Waikiki.  Sure it was touristy.  Sure it was crowded.  But I never let myself take it for granted.  I would wake up, zip on my moped to the nearest 7/11 and pick up a UCC Coffee (see below) then head to the beach.  In less than ten minutes I would be near the tatue of Duke Kahanamoku.  I believe just to the left of this was a large tree with a bike rack that was never full... perfect place to chain up my scooter.  Then I was off to sit in the shade, do some homework or reading and take a dip in the water.  Ahhh... I miss those days!


As mentioned above, one of my favorite treats were the iced UCC coffee drinks.  They came in about 4 or 5 different varieties but I usually preferred the coffee with milk.  They were such a delicious treat on a hot day.  I've seen these at Jungle Jim's but they're quite pricey here so I do miss them.

Oh and Andy's Sandwiches and Smoothies.  This place had the best sandwiches I have ever tasted.   They made their own poppyseed dressing which was used on each sandwich.  And they always had lots of sprouts and veggies.  There was some mushroom and cheese sammy that just cannot be topped. 

Another 7/11 favorite were the hand rolls.  They came in a variety of different kinds such as vegetarian (fotumaki), tuna salad, crab, salmon salad, etc.  You would actually take them out of the plastic wrap and the seawood rectangle was in a separate compartment.  So you would roll the rice part onto the seaweed sheet which meant your seaweed was still crunchy when you ate the roll!  Oh my goodness I must have eaten 200 of these!


And last but certainly not least... here I am dancing for the University of Hawaii's dance program.  I was very close to getting a double major in dance performance but in the end, decided to settle for a minor.  However, the dance department was my second home during my college days.  I was lucky enough to perform in several of their shows and the one pictured above was my favorite.  The show was student choreographed and I was in a quartet piece of my good friend Mayuko's.  She is a gorgeous dancer and I was honored that she asked me to do this.  The piece was very dramatic and fun to perform!  Keeping up with my ballet technique classes is something that means a lot to me and I took at least one every semester.

The warm and humid air in Cincinnati these past few days has been feeling a bit tropical as well!  I do love the summer.  And this weekend should be a blast, we are driving up to Cleveland for my bridal shower!  This evening was filled with lots of cleaning, packing, and a bath for the pups.