Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide

     Is it just me, or were the holidays really sneaky about their arrival this year? I'm blaming my gift-buying procrastination on beginning a new job/recently moving/general lack of motivation. But, the fact is that Christmas is coming, and I have (almost) nothing to show for it. I'm always a huge fan of the gift guides that flood my Blogger dashboard, so I decided to put one together with a few things I've been eyeing for the ones I love. Candles, tea, and coffee mugs are always my go-to gifts for pretty much anyone; they are the perfect back-up for Secret-Santa's and that one family member is forever the hardest to shop for. I'm also loving lotions and lip glosses for stocking-stuffers. Or, ditch the stocking all together and fill a cute (and feminist-friendly) tote with all the goods, like this one form Modern Girl Blitz! Records are always a personal gift, great for a significant other or best friend. The "A Beautiful Mess Planner" topped my own Christmas list this year, as I am hoping to achieve all of my organizational goals in the new year. And, last, but certainly not least, a phone case. Something totally practical that the recipient will use everyday, being reminded of the awesome and definitely not last-minute shopper that you are. Try the one out above from Kidogo Kidogo, and really do something good for the holidays. 
     Kidogo Kidogo, as you may remember from this post, is a one-for-one business that provides cell phones/service to women in Tanzania through your purchase of phone cases. These phones provide means of communication for the woman and their family's, and provide them with things like flashlights, a watch, calculator, a camera, and radio all in one device. The site has now extended their products to cases for iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy, t-shirts, and pouches for your phone; all designed by the same Tanzanian women who your purchase helps.
I hope this provides some relief to all you holiday procrastinators.
Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Windy City

Andy and I are back in Ohio after a  mid-week trip to Chicago. The windy city was everything I thought it would be, busy and full of life, and I am already craving another trip to further explore the area.
We, of course, visited "The Bean"; afterwards, walking all around The Loop. The constant buzz and pulse of Chicago was reminiscent of my year in Cleveland, and immediately made me feel at home.
(Native Foods, Stan's Donuts, and My Pie)
Gratuitous pictures of all the vacation-food goodness. Chicago deep-dish forever and always.
The main reason for the untimely trip was to see my dear Manchester Orchestra perform songs from their recent release, Hope. It was a completely acoustic, striped down set, made even more intimate by the size of the venue. See them if you ever get the chance, you won't be sorry.
Andy and I also made it a point to see Frank Lloyd Wright's home and gallery, opting for the self-guided tours that offers sights of all the homes on his block that he designed. His work is astounding, and timeless; full of details from other cultures, while maintaining functionality for the inhabitants. I fell in love with Wright after seeing the famous Falling Waters property, and I am hoping to explore his work further in other trips to come.
 It's been back to reality for the couple days, getting the apartment back in order and washing endless loads of laundry. I start a new job tomorrow that has me in a silent panic; being back on the bottom of a new totem pole, with no clue on how anything works. It's come a good time, and everyone I've met at the office seems extremely personable. I'm forever worrying over nothing.
Until next time,


Monday, December 1, 2014

Recipe: Roasted Brussel Sprout and Kale Salad

     Obviously, Thanksgiving brings visions of turkey (or in my case, Tofurky), mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie; you know, the classics. These are always staples at my family's holiday dinner, but this year the unexpected star of our tablescape was this roasted brussel sprout and kale salad. 
     I know what you're thinking; a salad? But, this is not your average, boring ice burg and ranch dressing salad. We're talking hearty, crunchy, cheesy deliciousness. This leafy bowl of wonder has the substance and flavor of a side dish. I'm already planning on making it again (and again and again and again). Here's the scoop:
Salad Ingredients:
Leafy Kale
One package of brussel sprouts
Half of a large red onion or a whole small one
Half of a large green apple or a whole small one
A hand full of toasted almonds, chopped
A hand full of feta cheese 
A hand full of dried cranberries

Dressing Ingredients:
 Apple Cider Vinegar
Olive oil
fresh garlic
lemon zest
 lemon juice
all-purpose seasoning (like Mrs. Dash)
     1. Rinse a package of brussel sprouts, and quarter them before placing on a baking sheet with a good amount of olive oil, juice from half a lemon, salt, and pepper. Roast them in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until they begin to char slightly. Once the sprouts are done cooking, leave them to cool completely while you finish the rest of the salad. (You could even roast/cool the brussel sprouts the night before as a time saver!)
2. Chopped your kale, onion, and apple, and add them to a large bowl with your cooled, roasted brussel sprouts.
3. Mix up your dressing, and pour over your salad ingredients. I'll be honest, we didn't measure anything out for the dressing; woops. A general rule is to use a 2:1  oil to vinegar ratio, but just let your taste buds be the judge with the rest! Let your dressing marinade the ingredients in the fridge until your ready to serve.
4. Finish by adding the chopped almonds, feta, and cranberries to the other ingredients, toss until the toppings are evenly distributed, and serve!
     The flavors in this salad complimented all of our Thanksgiving favorites perfectly, but is something that can be made anytime of the year. The leafy kale and brussel sprouts really hold up to the tangy, slightly sweet dressing, giving this salad more flavor the longer it sits; making it perfect as a make-ahead dish that you can munch on all week. Plus, it totally cancels out all of the other buttery, creamy dishes you indulged in because HEALTH. 
Happy cooking!

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