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Archive for the ‘holiday’ Category

One morning while walking back from brunch, we noticed how chilly it had become over the previous week. I then thought that I should put out extra feed for the birds to enjoy; I did after all have to winterize the porch. And then the idea of a vegan alternative to suet came to mind.

While understanding that most birds in the ‘hood are indeed omnivores, I’d prefer not to purchase any products made of animals and bring them into our living environment. I quickly turned to the Internet for a recipe and took to the kitchen early yesterday morning. It was the chilliest day yet!

Veggie “Suet” Blocks Makes four blocks

  • 2 cups of veggie shortening
  • just over a cup of bird seed
  • about half a cup of peanut butter (it’s all I had in the cupboard)

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Melt the veggie shortening over a low heat to prevent it from burning. Once completely melted, turn off the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Then stir in the seeds. Pour into a mold (I used an aluminum pan) and cool until solid- I put the pan out on the back porch and it only took about thirty minutes to harden. Cut and put into feeder; I had a leftover suet cage from last winter. Hang and watch the birds gobble it up!

Oh, and you can keep the leftovers in the freezer until the next time you need to refill.

This was a softer recipe and next time I think I’ll try adding a little chickpea flour to firm it up more- but it did hold it’s shape well. I love having birds around and jump out of bed in the morning when I hear them in the (glass) feeder. I’ve only seen one blue jay this year and he was gorgeous! Don’t get me wrong, the little chickadees are darling but I’d love to have mister blue come to visit again this winter. Here’s to lending a helping hand and enjoying every bit of nature, even while living in the city.

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For the second year in a row, the beau and I headed down to NYC to celebrate the 4th. Time to spend alone together, in a city with tons of strangers. Don’t get me wrong, we are both head over heels in love with Troy, but there’s something about being in a place where no one knows your name. We could eat a meal in silence, we could sing along in the 7th inning stretch, we could make out on the train ride home- with no interruptions. Just kidding, we didn’t make out on the train ride home. We both were exhausted and couldn’t keep our eyes open for more than fifteen minutes. But it did cross my mind.

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We had breakfast at this great place called Peacefood Cafe in Lower Manhattan. The decor was simple and clean, and the tofu scrambles were just the same. I also had a veggie biscuit which was by far one of the best biscuits I’ve ever had.

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Because I’m not that into baseball like the beau, I just insisted that we sit in the shade. I’m not that dedicated, yet. We splurged (we only go once a year) and bought tickets in the Promenade Club which was well worth the few extra bucks. There was no wait at the bar, the bathrooms were SUPER clean and no lines to the fries.

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The veggie dog at Citi Field is vegan! But I don’t recommend it unless you love to slather on the mustard and sauerkraut. It was kind of gross and didn’t fulfill my craving for a good, grilled dog.

We left after the thirteenth inning (yes, thirteen!) in fear that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy dinner comfortably without having to rush to get to the train. Well, they lost after fifteen innings and I’m glad I wasn’t there to witness it. Instead, we were walking to Beyond Sushi in Union Square. It’s a small little place with the best sushi I’ve ever had. Yes, I said it.

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It is all completely vegan and the black rice blend that they use is gluten-free. All of the fruits and veggies pair so well together that we barely dipped the pieces into soy sauce; unheard of for us at a typical sushi joint. The service was quick and before I knew it, I was sitting there with an empty plate wishing I hadn’t had the fries and dog for lunch. Damn veggie hot dog.

With plenty of time before our train, we strolled back to the station and decided to order some delicious girly drinks at the TGIFridays… and of course, couldn’t resist more fries. I know, we have an addiction. No photographs here- we just sat and listened to some locals, chatted with the bartender and waited until we could rest our eyes.

It was a wonderful Independence Day in the city with my love and I’m pretty thankful for the rights and liberties that I’m able to exercise each and every day as a member of this nation. Cheers to our freedoms and the people who have fought for them!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the following photograph pop up last week.

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This was the magic suitcase that I made for the beau’s niece for her 2nd birthday!

What may you ask is a magic suitcase? It’s a suitcase filled with dress-up clothes, of course! Any day of the week she can dive in and pretend to be whoever she’d like to be.

Wanna make your own magic suitcase for someone special in your life? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a vintage suitcase with a hard, paintable surface (I used one of my dad’s old suitcases)
  • chalk
  • chalkboard paint
  • acrylic paint
  • paint brushes
  • acrylic spray

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Step One: Clean the suitcase surface that you’ll be painting. If the inside smells a little musty, add in a candle or scent satchel for the time being.

Step Two: I knew I wanted to use chalkboard paint as my background color, so that his niece could change the cover up as her day changes. I taped off a section and applied one coat and let it dry completely overnight before removing the tape.

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Step Three: Using chalk, sketch out what you’d like to paint on. I painted everything by hand- if you aren’t as confident, you could always use a stencil or mod-podge some print outs.

Step Four: Once everything is painted on, apply one good coat of acrylic spray. This will help set the design and prevent it from chipping off.

Step Five: Fill the suitcase with dress-up clothes! I found a really cute pair of fairy wings, a tiara and a pack of stick-on mustaches at the dollar store. The rest of the items I found at a great consignment shop in Ballston Spa; Pixi’s Closet. Throw in some items from your personal closet or jewelry box that you no longer wear (make sure they aren’t choking hazards depending on the child you are giving it to) and hit up your local Salvation Army.

This is a super fun gift to work on and give! Best part of all, we can all give her different items to fill the suitcase with at upcoming holidays and occasions. When I was with the kiddos, I use to love the afternoons that we’d all dress up and dance around the house or put on a show. I can’t wait to see her imagination race and in a couple of years, see her interact with her new baby brother.

(Inspiration came from this original post)

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This weekend was spent in Burlington, Vermont with the beau and although it was a short stay, we had an amazing time. Here are a few of the photographs taken and some random facts that made it so special.

mile three

mile eight

peony

linz and I

belaire

key

horseshoe

veggie burger

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308.4 miles driven- some in the dark, some in the rain, and half of them in the glorious sunshine with the windows rolled down.

3– the number of times that I listened to the entire new Vampire Weekend album during the car ride. Also the number of hash browns I ate at McDonald’s (not as good as the fries, however, apparently they don’t fry them up at 5:30am).

1 old college friend aka partner in crime that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Things always seem to pick up where we left off and we can easily make conversation. We promised not to let it go another year again.

26.2 miles ran, in the rain nonetheless, by this amazing partner in crime. She PR’d by like twenty minutes and I’m pretty sure a couple tears ran down my face as she crossed the finish line. I bellied up to the fencing and got the perfect video of her doing so. I loved watching her run by, so strongly, at three different sections of the course; if you are a friend of mine, I will surely be your biggest fan. She was the person that I “ran” with throughout college and the person that I still look forward to running this race with one day, when I’m finally ready.

15 was our room number at the Bel-Aire Motel; the only family-owned motel in Burlington. It was cozy, warm, and quiet- and very close to downtown. I would definitely recommend this place for a short visit.

4 delicious meals: 1 being at a certified green restaurant, 1 at a vegan cafe, a tavern of which I’m very appreciative of their sweet potato fries and the accommodation made by the chef for my mushroom Philly, and a lunch at a place that only uses local produce, cheeses and meats. Our bellies are full.

2 screenshops visited while walking around town. We got to see what other people were doing- both of them with their own line/brand of clothing but with two different means. Business connections are great to have, no matter how far the distance in between shops.

41 dollars spent on a second-hand Boden dress that I cannot wait to wear tomorrow.

A million little kisses on the top of one kitty’s head because for the first time ever, I came home to an apartment sans vomit and poop outside of the litter box after leaving him home for more than twelve hours unattended. I was seriously beyond thrilled; my weekend was officially complete.

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Last year the beau and I got all dolled up for a fancy dinner out… this year we got all dolled up and I cooked for him in our tiny kitchen.

cutie pie

falafel pie

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And because this holiday is for lovers, and my lover loves pie, I made him two! A falafel pie and well, a cutie pie! Fellas, be jealous.

The falafel pie idea came months back, probably as we were filling our bellies with falafel wraps and I knew that this was the perfect holiday to implement. Super easy. Super good. Super important to partake in any romantic activities prior to devouring the pie because of the high garlic factor. But hell, after a favorite bottle of red wine, anything goes. Right?

Oh, it is love.

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And no holiday would be complete without a visit to the Wine Bar. And a vegan brownie. And a spontaneous purchase of the flowers on our table. I’m officially hooked on this local gal and her flowers. I’ve promised to buy at least one bouquet at week from her. I am going to try my hardest to honor that promise.

It’s the simplest things in life that make me happy. And filled with love.

 

Zee Falafel Pie makes one pie

Crust:

  • 10-15 falafels (we got our’s homemade with love from Beirut)

Filling:

  • 2 cans chickpeas (Goya is cheap and delicious)
  • juice of one lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • tablespoon of tahini
  • dash of smoked paprika
  • garlic clove

Toppings:

  • sliced cucumbers
  • slice tomatoes
  • sliced kalamata olives
  • tahini sauce (tahini, lemon juice, splash of water, pinch of salt)

To make the crust: smoosh the falafels into your pie pan to form a crust (might be easier if you pop them into the food processor), and bake at 350 for about ten minutes to get it nice and a little crispy.

To make the filling: in a food processor, blend all of the ingredients until silky smooth. Some people take off “skins” of each chickpea, I prefer to leave the added fiber on. You can add more garlic if you wish, some roasted red peppers, a splash of hot sauce- any flavor combination that you love to typically find in the market.

To make the toppings: use a mandolin or steady hand to slice your veggies. Arrange and have fun! As for the tahini sauce, just whisk the ingredients together and drizzle on top.

You’re welcome.

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simple Christmas.

chalkboard

fireplace

giving tree

kitty gift

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It’s almost embarrassing to admit that these are the only photographs that I have of the holiday in my apartment and at my parents’ place. But in my defense I can say that I wasn’t glued to my cell phone the entire day- just for about five minutes to wish some of my closest friends a Merry Christmas.

The beau and I drove up on Christmas Eve to spend the night at my parents; my sister and her boyfriend drove up later that night to join us. It was great waking up and rolling out of bed like we use to. As a family we decided to keep our holiday very simple, each of us received three gifts total. One gift from each family member. I can tell you this- I prefer it! Shopping was easy and there was no pressure. We bought items that we absolutely, positively knew that person wanted or needed, or surprised them with something we knew they’d love.

To follow along the lines of keeping things simple, the beau and I agreed on getting each other three gifts within a specific budget. A want, a need and a surprise. We only exchanged our want gifts in front of my family and then waited until the evening to open the rest- and I’m glad we did! It kept things low-key and I could really appreciate what was given to me, rather than be distracted by others in the room. I loved it and fell asleep with a smile on my face.

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This morning was easy not having to scramble to find room for all my gifts; everything already fits right in! I did venture out onto the fire escape to hang kitty’s bird feeder that Santa left him and now we’re both laying here patiently waiting. I’ve managed to give away all of my shifts this vacation despite needing the cash to have a real vacation from all work- completely forgetting about tonight’s random Wednesday shift that I never have. Hopefully someone will pick it up for me so that I can have dinner and open my stocking with the beau’s family.

And then be snowed in! I love a good, heavy snowfall and would be over the moon if I woke up with shoveling to attend to. Can you tell I’m loving my vacation? I’d shovel, come in to warm up and cook with my fresh veggies! Oh do I have a story to share about my vegetarian Christmas! I’d also write that while watching the snow fall. But for now, I’m off to the bank and the hair salon to chop off the length that I’ve managed to accumulate over the past year. ‘Tis the season!

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What the Troy Music Academy has to offer downtown Troy and your gift recipients this holiday season is one of a kind.

And it’s not just because of what they offer, it’s also because who’s offering the services. When I first met Lori Friday and Kenny Hohman a year ago, I thought it was too good to be true. You’ve probably met people along the way and think, “can they really be that nice, provide great services and be genuine while doing so?” These two really are all of the above. When they stop to chat with you, whether it be on the street or in shop, they both listen to you; which is what I think threw me off in the beginning because it can be hard to find people who listen to every word you share. They are great!

Now take that wonderful image and imagine learning to play that musical instrument you’ve always wanted to learn. Or being greeted by them when dropping off your son or daughter for their lesson. You name it and the Troy Music Academy has someone on staff to teach it. Guitar, bass, drums, piano, voice, ukulele, woodwinds, banjo, mandolin, and strings lessons are offered along with some group lessons that are switched up every couple of months. This past fall was beginner vocals and rock and funk drums; doesn’t that sound like a great evening out each week with your friend/lover?!

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I personally have never taken lessons at the Troy Music Academy but have thought about taking piano lessons… I just don’t have enough cash to buy a piano or rent a keyboard… but the day will come! The beau’s niece took the Kindermusik class with Casey and is just the cutest little thing tapping along to the songs she still remembers. These classes are great because not only does it introduce the kiddos to new music and sometimes little instruments, it gets them socializing with new kids and creates a sense of community- not only for the kids but the parents. Can you tell I attended Kindermusik classes with the kiddos when they were young? We all loved it!

What’s wonderful about it is that there is no commitment to fear; you can sign up for individual classes and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. You aren’t forced to continue lessons or to buy a whole month’s worth- which is great for parents if the kids loose interest. But I doubt that would happen with these guys; they are very in tune with each person that walks in and realize that everyone learns at a different pace, sometimes in a different way. Each Troy Night Out the Academy gives the students the opportunity to show others what they’ve learned during a little show right there in the studio; let’s just say there are smiles all around!

You can learn about each instructor’s history and experience here (there’s a lot of credit to be given!) and I ask this: did you know that February 25th has been declared Super400 Day in Troy, NY??? Well, it is- because of this duo (and their drummer of course)! Stop in at 9 Third Street to see the studio and the lesson rooms or check out their website here. Their services would be a gift that keeps on giving and is a wonderful experience rather than an item that might be overlooked a month from now. You’re very welcome.

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