date night.

friday.  a day of work, a run and drinks with great friends.  i'm ending the evening with some alone time with roku.  i'm excited for all the adventures & stories he'll share with me tonight.  it will be a great opportunity for me to curl up with a blanket, turn on the fire & enjoy some hot tea.  ah friday* and roku.  how i love thee.
*better enjoy it now.  tomorrow i'll be dusting.  obviously.


jet lag.

it's always nice to be home.  actually, i got home yesterday, but between work and a mandatory date night with the girls, i'm finally able to reflect on my trip home.  i had a really hard time this weekend & it was amazing to be surrounded by family & friends and the support i received was unreal.  while the war may be controversial, the support for the troops is amazing.  as it should be.  

i didn't have time to eat mexican. or eat in-n-out or go to the beach or trader joes.  it was a whirlwind.  but it kept me and my mind busy.  and at times like these, busy is good.

my mother made an amazing soup recipe she picked up during her trip to italy...she cooked a lot this trip!  i forgot to take a picture of it & i don't remember the name, but it was awesome.  if you swing back soon, i'll be sure to share.  but for now i'm in my home away from home, keeping busy & catching up.  while there is a lot to do, it sure is great to be back.


happy happy monday.

i spent the weekend (and will spend some of this week) in san diego visiting with family and celebrating a wedding.  it's been wonderful to be around family during this time.  generally, i prefer to cope with things solo and then surround myself with family & friends, but this was really good for me.  also, i dove head first into a wedding and made sure my bridesmaid duties were taken seriously.

as of now, my mom made me one of my favorite meals (stuffed shells).  i celebrated my nephews 2nd birthday, ate lots of cake, enjoyed a wonderful rehearsal dinner.  spent a day with the bridesmaids pampering ourselves before the big day, walked down the aisle for a wonderful friend and danced the night away.

it's monday, it's raining & it's perfect.  monday will bring more time to spend with the family before i venture home.  i'm thinking a trip to trader joes, lunch with my mom & another family game night might be in the forecast.


and so it begins.

life without a.

but we have to make the best of it.  and we will.  it's still going to be hard, no matter how i try to break it down.  365 days to go.


three things.

3 names i go by:  jess, j & j-russ
3 places i have traveled:  maine, south africa & thailand
3 of my favorite thirst quenchers:  iced tea (unsweetened), water & mojitos
3 jobs i've had:  lifeguard, pottery painter (at a make-&-take pottery place) & camp counselor
3 shows i watch:  glee, the office & modern family
3 places i'd love to see:  napa valley, patagonia & new zealand
3 food i can't get enough of:  thai, indian & mexican
3 places i have lived:  san diego, ca., enterprise, al. & syracuse, ny.
3 things i'm looking forward to:  a.'s return home, thanksgiving with my family & australia

it's always fun to complete lists like this and look back years from now to see how much you've changed or see what has remained classic in your eyes.  & now you also know a little bit more about me!



sometimes i don't make the bed.  or do the dishes right after dinner.  i get lazy and reschedule my trips to the gym.  i eat too much chocolate and stay up too late.  days go by when i refuse to fold the laundry.  i spend time on facebook & other entertaining websites at work.  i'm terrible at returning phone calls.  

lo and behold...i'm not perfect.  it's silly to think how much time i spent trying to be.  but i love who i am today.  sure, i have a lot to improve & i have many quirks.  but since i've learned to embrace myself & make the changes i think will benefit me, i've found happiness.  true, unrefined happiness.  and really, how is that not 100 times better than perfection?

*want to join the perfect protest?  check out brene's blog and start a revolution!


friends, festivities, fritters & fall.

and that is basically a recap of an insanely amazing weekend!  seriously, amazing.  i was afraid it was going to be rough, with lots of tears & while there were some, i must give a shout out to our stellar friends.  after a lazy saturday afternoon, a. & i went to a friend’s house for our monthly game night (we’re game board enthusiasts…specifically hoopla!).  & when we arrived there was a note on the front door that said this:
we were both really confused and when we opened the door, our dear, dear friends decorated the entire house for the holidays.  & when i say holidays, i mean holidays.  we had halloween & thanksgiving, christmas & new years.  valentine’s day & st. pattys, birthdays, easter, cinco de mayo & the 4th of july were all represented.  we ate pumpkin pie, drank margaritas, colored easter eggs, blew out birthday candles, listened to christmas carols and so much more.  their love & thoughtfulness blew us away.  they took time out of their busy and precious weekend to make sure we were able to spend “the holidays” together.  & it felt pretty authentic considering i colored eggs with the ladies while a. chatted with the guys on the couch.  i’m showcasing some of my friends photographs since my pictures were blurry due to shaking hands & unstoppable tears.  here are a few of the highlights:
our Sunday was pretty outrageous  too.  we attempted to go apple picking.  it was so crowded so we picked some apple fritters  & hot cider to enjoy instead.  we ventured to a pumpkin patch/dairy farm and checked out the makings of byrne dairy and our boys had their first encounter with cows.  overall, an a+ kinda weekend.


stopping time.

i’m really looking forward to the weekend.  i’m sure you can agree that this week has dragged by, regardless of the holiday (for those of you lucky enough to get it off).  why is that?  why do short weeks always feel years longer?  a huge part of me wants the weekend to be here, but there is an even bigger part of me that’s wishing it was still tuesday. 

as the one i love packs his bags to head out to afghanistan for a year, i’m doing everything in my power (& if you’ve ever tried to stop time, you’ll know how silly this sounds) to keep these last few days lingering.  i’m staying up way past my bedtime & waking up earlier than any normal person should.  to be honest, my body hates me.  it wants to sleep.  it wants the gym.  it wants a home cooked meal.  as we decided to spend these last few weeks wining & dining, spending hours twisted on the couch watching our favorite television shows, playing games and snuggling, life- normal life, has been pushed aside.  just for now anyway.  the irony behind our absence of normal life is...that’s all we want.  but we also want the “life” so, we’re doing the things we won’t be able to do together for the next 365 days.  and loving every second of it.

be sure to enjoy this weekend and surround yourself with the ones you love.  trust me, it’s always worth it.


my daily allotment of mu mu.

mu mu muesli that is.  it's my favorite way to start the day.  and in my humble opinion, it's one of the best products out there for a yummy breakfast.  muesli, for those of you who have yet to discover this awesome breakfast, is a breakfast cereal traditionally made with uncooked oats, nuts and fruit.  I prefer mu mu muesli because it's a local ny product and it's all natural (no marketing gimicks here).  i'm hoping i will attempt to make my own version in the future, but for the time being, i will enjoy mu mu regularly.
{image and product information found here}
i generally purchace mu mu at the farmer's market but last weekend when a. and i spent some time in ithaca, i found the co-op carries it in bulk.  yep, bulk!  so needless to say, i stocked up for the winter...well, at least the fall.  and i'm enjoying it daily.  some like their mu mu with milk, others with yogurt.  i'm finding as the days are getting cooler, i prefer mine like oatmeal, with hot, hot water and a handful of fresh (or frozen) berries paired with a cup of tea.


an overflowing weekend.

everything seemed to overflow this weekend.  we enjoyed days of endless color, hours upon hours of relaxation and pampering, and an over indulgence of all things yummy...food, beer, and wine.  it's true what they say, when life is good your cup will overflow.  and ours did.  generously.


extended weekend.

a. and i will be spending columbus day wine tasting along the finger lakes.  afterwards, we're figuring an evening of sushi and a movie will be in store.  we've heard really good reviews about the social network.  don't know what else is playing so i may have to do a bit of research before we commit.  "wine and dine" is the theme of the next few weeks.  i'll be sure to have a few pictures from our amazing weekend for your viewing pleasure.


my food hero.

meet michael pollan.  an amazing writer.  seriously.  i like to try and grow as a human, woman, wife, friend, worker-bee, etc. but sometimes books on growth aren't nearly as exciting (and in turn attention keeping) as per say, jodi picoult. 

along came michael.  his conversational writing style and gripping topics keep me enthralled for days.  in fact, in april i made a solo road trip to nebraska to visit my little sis for her birthday.  on the way, i picked up omnivore's dilemma and listened to the entire book during the trip.  not only were the topics blaringly obvious as i drove through the farmlands of iowa, but i felt like my understanding of food was so trivial until he broke it down.  and i'm a bit of a foodie...in the sense that i like to eat really good food and want to know the impact the food i eat has on the environment.
image found here
his writings have inspired me to take a long, hard look at the way a. and i eat.  i don't like to consider myself an organic snob, but the more i can purchase at farmer's markets, locally, and preferably organic, the happier i generally am with those purchases.  it's gratifying to know that i'm not (or try really hard not to) contributing to the over-production of corn, high-fructose corn syrup, or meat.  once you learn the huge impact these few products have on the environment, the more i would hope you too would want to understand the things you can do to help reverse the cycle.

if you haven't already, i highly recommend going out and picking up one of mr. pollan's books.  you can't go wrong.  his ideas will impact you.  they will explain how our relationship with food, our culture and so many other variables (that in hindsight now seem like commonsense) play into how you eat.  his books aren't about dieting.  just understanding the most simple notion out there...eating. 

a., his parents and i are going to see my food hero talk in person tonight (a.'s parents have never heard of michael so it should be a pleasant surprise).  im so excited and my expectations are high.  if he speaks anything like he writes, then i know my expectations are bound to be exceeded. 


boo to the hoo.

i love halloween.  it's the next best thing to christmas.  a & i spent some of the weekend decorating the house for halloween (actually, a. helped me run errands to find the things i needed, while i decorated... notice a pattern here? :) ).  most of our seasonal decorations are halloween-specific, but if i find anything that can double as a fall decoration, i'll try to pick it up.  i guess that's why i love white pumpkins!

i try to only buy halloween decorations after the season is over...i love a good sale!  this year, i had a few ideas & had to break down to get some things, but please note, nothing we bought was halloween-specific. we picked up some black tulle, white candles, a few black frames and candy corn (okay, maybe that is halloween candy).  everything else i had laying around the house.  here is what we came up with.
we found some pictures online that i printed and framed.  talk about a cheap way to decorate.  the spider webs were a last-season martha stewart craft project (the glitterati is in the house!) and the flowers are in an old juice bottle with red lentils.  we used some old books, urns, candle holders, vases and corks.  with very (and i mean very) little money, we were able to put this together!  

what do you think?  how do you decorate for the halloween season?


csa's coming to an end

our csa has been a godsend this year.  it was our first time giving it a try.  after a lot of research and scouting local farms in the area, we decided to go with a small, organic (but non-certified) farm.  we chose to pay an up-front cost instead of a working share, but as the summer comes to an end, and my garden flounders, i've decided that i really want to do a working share next time.  there is something so cool about the idea of working on a farm!  so back to the roots.  this farm delivers to our city each week and picking it up is always a surprise...and a joy.  this was our surprise this week.  isn't it beautiful?

we've (i guess i should say, i) found it to be a challenge coming up with recipes each week, but it certainly kept me on my toes.  i found many amazing recipes online that i modified to fit the box, and i found that while we also saved a lot of money this summer on food, we also ate so much better.  as a vegetarian, i find the new veggies to be enjoyable.  a. a dedicated meat eater, doesn't find all the recipes great, but he is a good sport.  and always tells me my cooking is phenomenal.  have i mentioned how much i love him?

food is a passion of mine.  good. healthy. food.  non-processed and local.  i try to cook as often as possible.  sometimes life gets in the way but i do what i can to make it work.  i'll be the first to admit that i love a digiorno after a long day (don't we all?) but more often that not, home cooked is always better!  so now i have a weeks worth of veggies to enjoy.  any suggestions?