"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have". - Frederick Koenig

Friday, January 21, 2011

Favorite Five: January

Well, the weekend is here, and just like that bad cold that never seems to go away, so is the winter weather.   It’s usually about this time every year that things seems to slow down to a snail’s pace, keeping spring an inevitable two steps out of reach, and leaving me to hibernate indoors while my skin and my outlook become increasingly tired and dry.  To help cope with this, I've been paying extra attention to the little things that keep me going, and I’ve decided to share some that I’ve found inspiring, and/or recently enjoyable.   They have improved my winter attitude immensely, and will hopefully make your thoughts a little cozier as well.

·       TRUFFLED CAULIFLOWER BISQUE – I am admittedly a soup junkie!  If there is one thing that would make me a tragic bitch in the wintertime, it would be NOT being able to eat soup (though Jay may have some additional thoughts on this).  Since I especially love a pureed veggie-type soup, I was almost ecstatic when I saw Christina Hendricks on ‘The Rachael Ray Show making a Truffled Cauliflower Bisque.  Because I don't really watch the show, it must have been kismet that I happened to catch this particular segment and discover what is easily my favorite new winter soup and salad pairing.

      The soup has a bacon base, to which the veggies, broth and cream are added (though I'd imagine you vegetarians out there could find some sort of salty substitute).  Then, everything is pureed and topped with white truffle oil and bacon crumbles.  I am GOING to find a low(er) fat way to make this so I can eat it all the time.

As an accompaniment to the soup, I highly recommend the Tuscan Kale Salad pairing featured in the same clip.  The heartiness and bite of the kale paired with the homemade pungent Caesar dressing creates a balance in this salad perfect as a compliment to the mild, creamy soup as well as the cold winter weather.

 The recipe for the Cauliflower Bisque can be found here, and the accompanying Tuscan Kale Caesar can be found here.

     BATH & BODY WORKS SUGAR SCRUB - If your skin is starting to feel a little short of reptilian at about this point, this is just the thing to make your dry winter skin do a disappearing act, while indulging a bit in the bath or shower.  I've always used Origins in the past, but have found recently that Bath and Body Works offers an essential oil sugar scrub (in varying scents) that is just as wonderfully moisturizing and pampering as anything else and comes with a lower price point.  I've been using the Lavender Vanilla, which is cozy and warm.  Next up to bat for me is their new fragrance, Vanilla Verbena.

     RUMCHATA - You will want to walk ... no, run to the nearest store to get more of this stuff once you try it.  Caribbean rum blended with cream and cinnamon, and vanilla, this is enough to melt away any winter blahs.  It's what you would drink if it snowed in the Carribean -  kind of like a mini vacation in a glass.  Make sure you check out all of the recipes (drink and otherwise) on the official website.  
·       NEW (to me) MUSIC – For me, some new sounds cycling through the stereo always keeps the indoors from getting stale.  Recently, I’ve found a few new favorites, both by sister duos, that I have been enjoying thanks to a few 'last minute' iTunes gift cards Jay put in my Christmas stocking.  So, I suppose this section is being brought to you by the letter 'J' and the number '1'.  ;)

  • CocoRosie, ‘Grey Oceans’This is the most unclassifiable and beautiful music I’ve come across in a long time.  I love how it somehow manages to simultaneously engage my thoughts, and soothe my nerves.  This is one of my favorite track off the album entitled ‘The Moon Asked the Crow.’  If you like this one, I highly recommend taking a listen to ‘Lemonade’ as well.

  • The Pierces, 'Love You More - EP' - Love The Pierces, love their new EP and can't wait to hear the new album, 'You & I', out on March 14th.

ART - Ok, so this one may seem a little more expansive compared to the rest of my list, but there is something escapist and inspiring about seeing a piece of artwork that really speaks to you.  For me,  a well-done watercolor is usually very soothing; something about the soft edges and color nuances really put me at ease.  When you add in a lion fish as the subject of the watercolor, my so-called 'fish nerd' tendencies can't help but become activated, so when I saw a watercolor that my friend's son was working on, I was hooked.  Not only is Alex super bright, but it appears that he is very artistically talented as well.  Seeing the progression of his piece, and the care that he took to document it really inspired me to want to create something as well; and there is nothing like that spark of inspiration to make the long winter days pass by even quicker.      

I hope you enjoy the progression of the piece as much as I did, and also hope that it instills within you the desire to create something of your own -- we've got nothing but time until spring, right?  Thanks for sharing Alex!

Light pencil sketch

Toning, 50% done

First layer of color

Second layer of color

Third layer of color

Final color layer

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