this past month, i signed up for those daily quotes that are e-mailed to your inbox everyday and inevitably turn into spam.  i've always been a quotes girl, and while i have the hardest time remembering most of them, there are a select few that stick with me always.  yesterday i opened my inbox to find a slue of quotes on success.  i'm certain the universe is telling me something.

for the last month i've struggled with my own definition of success.  i've spent plenty of days and sleepless nights trying to define what success means to me & have discovered a lot of my passions in the process.  it's going to be a long road, but to me success is way more than the amount of money deposited into your bank account.  it's about community and relationships and creativity and problem-solving.  it's about happiness and making a difference and enthusiasm.  that to me, is success.  

currently, these three quotes are my compass.  as i continue to search for my own definition of success, i have to stop and ask myself: will this improve me as a person?  encourage me to be the best form of myself, build community and foster joy?  am i excited to make changes, make a difference and bring new, creative ideas to the table?  if i can honestly answer yes, i'm on the right path.  if these elements are missing within my life and career or in any future endeavors- it's time to reassess and walk the other direction.  because that's the path that won't bring me personal success.  and i have to have faith in myself to know which is which.

as january wraps up, i'm taking these guidelines with me as i focus on my goals in february.  unlike january, i have a plan for success this month.  and while february will be the start of the implementation process, january forced me to step back, look deep within, assess and rediscover who i am and want to be.  and while my definition of success will undoubtedly change, at least i now know the best path for finding my true north.  change is coming.  and i'm so excited to know success.


stay motivated.

right now i'm trying very hard to stay motivated.  the weekend wasn't as productive as i'd hoped, but none-the-less, i have a good feeling for the week ahead.  since a. and i committed to turn off the television during the week, we've been so much more productive.  incredibly so.  and that my friends, is insanely motivating. 

here are a few things we've added to our daily lives to keep us on track throughout the week.

right now we're planning our weeks worth of meals on sundays using martha stewart's dry erase calendar. this is helping us make the most of our groceries, eat healthy and only go out to restaurants a couple times a week.

right now i'm looking into a few local and out-of-state races in the up coming year.  by committing to these races i'm eager to move more & push my limits.  and this running plan is one of the best out there.  

right now i'm trying to find ways to move more at work.  i read a great article on how sitting all day is damaging for your body, and i'm determined to not let my desk job get the best of me.

stay motivated!

*this was intended to go out this morning, i didn't change the time when scheduling- hence the late post.  i will get back on track.  i will! :)


diy//shadow box

sorry for the late post friends.  my life somehow went from blah to holy hell!  i love the busy-ness but it tears me out of my routine- and as i'm sure you can deduce, this blog.

anyway, wanted to share with you a diy i pulled together over the weekend.  a while back, i found a shadow box on a really good sale at michaels (and with the 40% coupon, it was practically free!).  the box isn't anything special (white frame, black background) and it fit perfectly among the many frames on our main entry wall- so surprise, surprise, i bought it!

then, our local joann's was having a moving sale and i found some sample fabric swatches for $0.50 each!  another practically free score.  in hind sight, i really wish i picked up more, but the plans i have for the other swatches are exciting...so stay tuned!

this is a simple, easy project that would take you less time that complete than it does to cook a pot of rice (as long as it's not minute rice).  i cropped the fabric to fit the frame backing and using hot glue, secured the fabric to the back.  once the glue was mostly dry, i went around again, looking for loose edges or pockets or fabric.  when completely dry, i added my little wooden men and a comb to the box (compliments of my travels overseas) with pins.
once i was happy with the placement and pinning of everything (this was actually the hardest part since the men kept falling off when i secured the glass frame to the backing), i hung it on the wall.  seriously, simple. 

this is the first time i've really worked with shadow boxes so i can see why it's better to buy the boxes with hinged glass, but all in all, i love how it turned out.  and i love the splash of color it adds to the wall.


a weekend bridal show.

over the past few months, on top of my job as a sales person (yep, that's what i do for a living), i've been assisting a local wedding designer with weddings and other events.  i absolutely love it.  this side gig is a great way for me to venture out of the corporate realm of things and get my creative juices flowing.  

over the weekend, we worked a bridal show together.  it was magnificent and so much fun.  she worked with local vendors in the syracuse area and designed a beautiful table.  i found so much inspiration in this room of creative rockstars that not only had an eye for beautiful things, but the innate capability of bringing everything together flawlessly.  basically it made me: a.) want to get married all over again & b.) throw a killer party.

here are a few of my favorite design elements from the wellwed show.  enjoy & get inspired!  there's always a reason to make beautiful things.


the never-ending bathroom project//phase one.

a few months ago, a. and i noticed some striations in the master bathroom, above the shower.  as we hemmed and hawed over whether these were drips from our original paint job or a bigger issue, the"drips" kept getting bigger...and bigger.  fearing the worst, we high-tailed it to lowe's for some kilz paint- hoping that this would be the solution to our little bathroom dilemma.  

well, i don't know about you, but one project inevitably turns into many.  & this was the case in our little master bath.  since we were re-painting, i wanted to change the entire look of this space.  originally, we had a sand and coral pallet, but it never really did it for us.  we were craving a serene space to start our day & since i've been on a gray and white kick (it's classic, calming, and perfect for our little space) we figured we'd give it a try.  so, we grabbed some gray paint (no test can for this risky couple) and went to town.
we instantly fell in love.  the gray is very, very cool- and not too dark, which was one of our fears considering we chose the darkest gray on the paint card.  wanting the space to be different, a. and i decided to paint stripes on the largest wall of the room.  we figured it would add some personality and class to this otherwise boring bathroom.  

measuring the entire wall and dividing into the final number as evenly as possible, we figured on one-foot stripes.  a. used a level and pencil to initially draw the lines and i followed him with the painters tape, carefully taping along the penciled line.  the whole process couldn't have been easier and only took about 45 minutes between the two of us.
once the stripes were taped, i began painting.  i painted each stripe, let it dry and painted a second layer to make sure they were fully covered.  to give you an idea of the size of this bathroom, we only purchased a quart of gray paint.  between the solid and striped walls, and two coats of paint, we still have about 1/2 a cup of gray paint left.  which is perfect should we find spots that require a touch-up.
while it's far from finished, we're already in love.  i walk into the bathroom as often as possible to stare at the walls and take in the progress.  we still have to paint the white stripes and i'm working on a new mirror, shelves and towel bars.  but after that, it'll be done and probably, our favorite space in the entire house.


start now.

it happens.  life gets in the way and things get pushed off to another date.  life takes over and then, when you look back on everything you had wished you had accomplished, you'll inevitably wonder, "why didn't i just start?"

i hear ya.  i have many, many things in my life that i want to accomplish- most of those have been on the agenda for years.  and well, today is a new day.  today is the day to start fresh,  press the restart button and dive in.  

for me, i'm finding motivation while helping a friend make a mini book for her sister's engagement.  it's inspired me to jump in, get my hands dirty and to spend at least 30 minutes a day lost in the creative process of making something.  i'm also motivated by a messy bathroom project that's taking way too long to finish.  so by the end of this week we're going to finish building the shelves and painting so we can finally enjoy the new space and live in it once again.  

it isn't much, but it's something.  and once i've created mounds of beautiful things for friends and our home, i'll be thankful i started.  and every morning, when i begin my day in the perfect, tranquil space we created today, i'll be so thankful we didn't wait.  procrastination is over-rated.  don't ya think?

so just start.  you won't regret it.


roasted red pepper soup.

in case you haven't noticed, roasted red pepper is all the rage.  it's on sandwiches, tarts, and soups.  the other week, every single one of the downtown restaurants served roasted red pepper soup on their menus. it was ridiculous.  and oh so delicious.  one restaurant in particular made the best roasted red pepper soup i have ever had.  it wasn't cream based and it had a very subtle kick.  outstanding.

i decided i needed to replicate the recipe; that i couldn't possibly live without this soup in my recipe box.  so i did a bit of hunting and adapted the below recipe using a few variations i found on the internet: like this & this.

(serves 6)
8-10 red bell peppers, halved and cleaned
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups onions, chopped
2 tbs. olive oil
1/4 tsp fresh thyme, leaves chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tbs. hot sauce (i prefer sriracha)
salt & pepper to taste

half the peppers, clean and remove all seeds.  using your hand, press them flat and lay on a greased cookie sheet.  set pan in the oven on broil for about 30-40 minutes or until pepper skins are charred.  remove the peppers from oven, cover with aluminum foil (to capture steam) and let cool (about 10 minutes).

in the meantime, preheat olive oil in large pot.  add garlic and onion and saute until the onion is translucent.  then add thyme, bay leaves, hot sauce and vegetable broth to the pot.  cover & bring to a boil.  reduce to a simmer.

peel charred skin off the peppers and place peeled peppers in the pot.  remove bay leaves from broth and cook for another 20 minutes, or until peppers are soft.  then, using a hand-held immersion blender or standard blender*, blend until soup is smooth.

add salt and pepper to taste.  serve hot with a dollop of greek yogurt if you would like the soup a bit creamier.

*if using a standard blender, please note the soup will be very hot.  blend in batches only filling up the blender half way.  also, be sure that the plug on the lid isn't secure- if it is, and there's no ventilation, the blender lid will pop off and make a mess.  trust me.


first snow of 2012.

it's hard to believe, but here in new york we received our first substantial snowfall last weekend.  mid january.  that's seriously unheard of.  a., radley & i took full advantage of the situation and put our new snow shoes to the test (thank you black friday!).  here are some photos from our excursion i thought you might enjoy.
happy wintering!


homemade amaretto.

over the holidays, my sister-in-law gifted homemade amaretto.  that's right, i said it...homemade.  i was in such awe and so impressed by this homemade concoction that i knew i had to try it for myself.  up until that moment, i had no idea it was even possible to make your own liqueur.  & now that i do, the possibilities are endless!  

with the exception of the almond extract, i had everything i needed at home.  yep.  i have that much vodka on hand at all times.  because, you just never know.
i found and used this recipe from shutterbean.  i only made a single batch- though if i had to do it again, i would most certainly double it, .  it's not that we're big drinkers, but after bringing it to parties and serving it at an impromptu get-together, the amaretto was gone in a second.  another modification i made was not staining the liquid through a coffee filter.  instead, i cooked the sugar and water a bit longer than the recipe called for to help eliminate any residual sugar.
after the liquid cooled, i poured the amaretto into two salad dressing bottles we saved and waited about a week before consuming.  i stored them in a cool, dark place before and after opening.  for the next batch, i have every intention of using these labels before gifting.  enjoy!  


fit printable.

happy monday!  i hope each of you had an exceptional week.  here in central new york, life is good.  we finally had our first snowfall and this weekend we played and played in the wintery whiteness.  it was fabulous.

i want to share with you a few words that inspired me throughout the week.  for me, these words were consistently motivating on days when i just couldn't find my own self discipline (it happens more than i care to admit), or felt like i was losing momentum.  so, i took some time over the weekend to create the above image to share with you.  i made this print so you could post this in your car, office, bathroom, wherever.  & if you want to, frame it and give it to a friend who needs these words as well.  

i also wanted to share this printable with you as a thank you.  thank you for reading this little space and for keeping me motivated day after day.  thanks to you, i'm learning to find motivation in the everyday- and hope between these motivational mondays and the printable, that you are too.

since this is my first attempt linking to my jpegs, please let me know if you run into any technical difficulties.  i designed this in coral, light blue and gray & would love to know your favorite.  

i hope this week brings you tons and tons of motivation to continue with your goals and inspiration to start those you've been dreaming to accomplish.  it's going to be a great week.  go!


diy inspiration//pinwheel canvas

i actually found this image on pinterest a while back.  pinned it, loved it, & couldn't wait to make it.

i'm really trying to bring art into our home, both handmade and purchased.  so far, this is my first actual painting.  i love the way it turned out, and learned a lot about painting in the process.  i learned that acrylic paints may not have been the best paint to use, that i probably should have primed the canvas first and painters tape peels dried paint and paint bleeds through it.  all said and done, it was a frustrating project, since crisp lines apparently weren't in the cards for me- but in the same breath, i also found mixing paints and actually painting something, therapeutic.

here is my completely unscientific process to get you started on your very own pinwheel art!

as mentioned above, i'd advise priming the canvas first so your paint doesn't seep under the tape and ruin your lines.  using a meter stick, i started making lines a few lines from the top to bottom of the canvas to indicate the center.  once center was found, i continued making lines, paying no attention to size or width, until i was satisfied.
then i began mixing colors.  i didn't have anything particular in mind, and i'm glad it came together organically.  we have a lot of teal accents throughout our house, so that ended up becoming one of the dominant colors in this pallet.
between each color selection and painting, i let the paint dry.  this was the longest process.  & overall, i think it took me a week from start to finish to complete the canvas.  but like i said before and i'll say again, i love it!  so much.  it's a nice, modern addition to our home.  


tv update.

for those of you joining me on this tv challenge, i thought i would give you a quick update of our progress.  the good news: we haven't watched tv this week.  not once.  instead, we've been sitting down at the kitchen table to eat dinner and talking.  like real, involved conversations.  and that's been amazing.
"back in the day" (aka. 3 days ago), our daily recaps happened on the couch, in front of the tv.  most of our conversations revolved around commercials, and stopped as abruptly as the program started.  some quality time.  this week, we really realized how much of our thoughts and conversations have been lost around the tv.  it's embarrassing actually.  yet, i'm so glad we figured this out when we did & i'm happy to announce that tv has been banned from our sit-down dinners. 

on the flip side, i miss it.  i know that' my addiction talking, but i do.  i have found myself wishing for 30 minutes of alone time so i could sneak on the tv and catch up on the shows i so greatly miss.  it's ridiculous, and at the same time okay.  we use tv to decompress.  it helps us step away from the stresses in our lives, if only for an hour and just enjoy being.  or at least enjoy being brain dead.  i've mentioned this to a. and luckily  he feels the same way.  

that said, it's highly unlikely that we'll remove tv from our lives forever, but we do need to engage in some self-control.  for the moment, we're going to keep this up.  maybe until next week.  but eventually, tv will creep back into our lives.  and when it does, it'll be like we're living at home with the 'rents.  one hour of tv a day.  and it will be up to us how we use it.

how are things going for you?


vegetarian black bean chili

three reasons i love chili:
1.  it's a hearty, healthy & substantial vegetarian meal.  sometimes being a vegetarian means substituting texture...and if you do that too often you'll find yourself craving a hamburger.
2.  a pot of chili lasts forever.  you can eat it for weeks or freeze some for a later date.
3.  it's a one-pot meal that takes minutes to throw together after a long day of work.  and this time of year, it's a great way to keep warm.

while this was an experiment, i'm very, very pleased with the way it turned out.  please note, i didn't measure anything, so use your best judgement and season per your tastes.
vegetarian black bean chili
serves an army

1 yellow onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
2 red peppers, chopped
2 zucchini, quartered and chopped
2-3 cups of butternut squash, seeded, peeled and diced
2 cans of black beans, drained
2 cans diced tomatoes, drained
2-3 cups of vegetable broth
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tbs emeril's essence
salt and pepper to taste
avocado, shredded cheese, non-fat yogurt for garnish (all optional)

warm 1 tbs olive oil in a large pot.  add onion & garlic and heat until translucent.  add red peppers and cook 3-5 minutes longer.  add zucchini and butternut squash and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring carefully.  season vegetables with cumin, chili powder and emeril's essence.  add beans, tomatoes and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  once at a boil, reduce heat and return to a simmer.  let cook 30-40 minutes or until the butternut squash is cooked (but not mushy).  serve hot and garnish with avocado, shredded cheese and a dollop of non-fat yogurt.

easy, peasy.


weekending // instagram style.

so, i'm obsessed with instagram.  i love it.  i love capturing images with the fancy filters and while i'm not the biggest fan of sharing every.single.upload, nothing prevents me from inundating my friends with an over abundance of memories.  

originally, i was on a mission to capture my week via instagram only to realize a desk job isn't that exciting.  there's only so many pictures of tea cups and computer screens and phones you would care to look at.  so instead, i compiled some of my faves from over the weekend to give you this very fancy instagram collage!  
our weekend in pictures: getting ready for brunch with the girls, finishing a project i can't wait to share, first run since our trip to san diego, breakfast at starbucks, hanging with the pup, dreaming of enough snow to play in.

it wasn't much of a weekend as it seemed to fly by, but i guess it's true what they say: time really does fly by when you're having fun!   


30 minutes a day // motivational monday.

"walking is man's best medicine" -hippocrates

i found this lecture on debbie's blog and couldn't resist sharing on today's motivational monday.  because, if this isn't motivation, than what is?

here's the reason i like this video: it's true!  and so simple!  yet, when in a routine (or rut), the simple act of moving more can seem so incredibly daunting.  however, as the video stated and we all know is fact: being sedentary is bad for your health.  to be honest, a. & i watch way too much tv.  we probably fall into that 5 hours a day category.  & between 9 hours of work, commutes, and tv, it's no surprise we can't find time to move.  

ever since we won the new screen, tv has somehow taken over our lives.  but that's changing this week.  in an effort to save our lives, live a bit longer & get healthy, we're turning off the television this week.  

for us that means, no television while eating dinner and no tv to decompress after a long day's work.  this will also mean more projects will be completed, we'll find time to exercise after work, a. can study for his exams and i can finally finish the wall!  

i'm interested to see what kind of week this turns into and should you follow suite and omit television from your week as well, let me know how it goes.  i'm sure i'll be updating our withdrawals daily!  go!


a wonderfully perfect sunday morning.

sundays in my opinion, are the best way to end a week & the perfect way to start one.  i love the unassuming nature of sundays.  there's never any pressure to be productive and yet you have an entire day to do things.  make things.  go out and play.  there's a reason it's referred to as sunday, fun-day.

we're starting our sunday off with snow flurries, a playful puppy, hot chocolate and waffles.  it screams perfection...on all accounts.
lately, we've been using this chocolate with milk to make the most decadent hot cocoa i've ever had.  luckily for me, there's no better time to become a hot chocolate addict than in the winter.
as for the waffles, i settled on this recipe- and man am i glad i did.  it's terrific!  i added about 2 tsps of vanilla to the batter for a bit more flavor.  overall, the recipe made about 5 waffles.  we ate two and froze the rest for another perfect, lazy sunday morning.  enjoy!


it's winter...now what?

brrrr, it's cold outside.  and despite my best attempts to bundle up and hit the pavement, i've been a chicken.  severely lacking on the movement front.  because i'm cold.  and boy oh boy, do i hate being cold.  yet, i love the winter (kinda ironic, isn't it?).  

so i put together a list of activities to help me beat the winter blues and embrace this beautiful, frost-bitten world.  i figured, i couldn't be the only one needing a winter to-do list, so like the kind samaritan i am, i'll share!
i'm planning to accomplish most of this list over the winter in addition to another crazy polar bear plunge.  i hope you'll join me in making the most of this winter wonderland!  have fun!


spicy pickled carrots.

spicy carrots, a san diego classic.  & i'm obsessed with them.  anytime a. and i go home, we gorge ourselves on mexican food. me, fish tacos or bean and rice burritos and a. carne asada burritos.  in addition to the food, we also stock up on the spicy carrots.  the legit "-ertos" have carrots in the salsa bar & when we order, we also ask for baggies to fill up with these spicy little devils.  

still craving them when we got home, i decided to try my hand at making the carrots over the weekend. i used this recipe which was actually very easy and surprisingly, thanks to our recent juicing habit, we had plenty of carrots in the house.  the most time-consuming part of the recipe was chopping the carrots at an angle.
after prepping and cooking and letting the carrots cool completely, i poured the batch into two empty pickle jars.  the carrots are now sitting in our fridge pickling.  we haven't been able to enjoy them yet, but the time will come.  in about two weeks we're planning to pop them open, eat them and enjoy every. single. minute. of it.  
you know, we actually drool every time we open the fridge.  this could be a long two weeks.


san diego in review.

a. and i spent 11 days soaking up the san diego sun.  as always, it was awesome.  here's a quick review of our holiday & our time with the fam.
farmers market//christmas lights//long, relaxing runs//pipes//california mexican//perfect winter days
candle light service//fondue//goofy girls//stockings//opening presents//hopple popple, kielbasa, stollen
christmas dinner//swamis//stone beer tasting//breakfast tacos//sunset beach walk//first class


motivational monday.

i heard this from a friend a while back.  mondays, that's where it's at.  so with a new year and new vows, comes motivational mondays.  a day to reflect on what's motivating me, what i've used for inspiration during an otherwise un-motivational week, and a place to reflect on anything motivational i've come across.  

i hope this weekly bit of motivation inspires you to keep with your goals, projects and anything else you're committing to in 2012!



2012: new adventures & a new me.

i heard this quote on the flight home from san diego.  it was so appropriate considering we were on the cusp of 2012 and already discussing what this new year means for us.

i know 2012 is going to be amazing.  don't ask me how, but i do.  i know there are big things in store for us and lots and lots of happiness and adventures.  with happiness comes sorrow and a slue of other emotions- and as 2012 embraces us with all it's challenges, we will embrace each day as the gifts they are.

while reflecting on 2011, i wasn't sure how i would approach 2012 and all the many things i hope to accomplish.  i thought better of making a list of things to do this year (there will still be a list but probably in a different capacity) and decided on one little word.  one word that will be my compass.  one word that will guide me as i make decisions- big & small.  one word that will improve me as a person, wife, friend, co-worker.  one word i can reflect upon when everything falls into place or the goings get tough.


i've been chewing on this word for a while now & am excited to make it my own.  that's the thing about words- everyone interprets them differently.  and my interpretation is definitely going to be different than yours.  & that's what makes this project so cool.  as of today, here is what commitment means to me:

- committing only to things i have the time & resources for
- committing to optimism, joy & health
- following through on my commitments to myself and others
- commit to building the best life for my family

i'm not quite sure how i'll recap this word throughout my posts- but i will keep you updated this year.  i'm excited to see how this word evolves for me and the endless benefits it will bring.  do you have a word that will represent 2012 for you?  if so, please share.  i'd love to hear what the new year means to you.  

happy, happy 2012!