"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

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Sound Sampler

Clockwise from top left: Austra, Theophilus London, Marissa Nadler and Alex Winston
Photo: Courtesy of Austra, Jonathan Mannion, Marissa Nadler and Alex Winston

Who doesn't love a new tune ... and just in time for the Memorial Day Weekend?  If you're looking for a new summer playlist, or at least a few fresh sounds to slip into your favorite rotation of oldies but goodies, Vogue has come through again with some pretty nifty tunes that scream summer.  Tracks from The Givers, Fleet Foxes, and The Black Keys start off the mix and it just keeps on going.  Check it out with the link below, and let me know what your favorite is.  Happy listening!

Sharing from Vogue.com

Friday, May 20, 2011

Drink of the Moment: Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur

I had been eyeing the Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur in the isle now for quite some time.  Sitting there with it's chic iced glass bottle with curves like bamboo and dramatic black label contrasted against the warm amber color of the liquid, I was sure it would taste as elegant and sophisticated as it looked.  Every time up until now though I had always walked out of the store with a different bottle of inspiration. I knew I was missing out on something, and in this case, good things do come to those who wait.  I am glad to say that I am no longer missing out.

Not that waiting really had anything to do with it at all, but this stuff is amazing.  The color, the scent, and most importantly the flavor is absolutely alluring.  I usually try to taste things in their purest form prior to mixing them in a drink if I can.  Sometimes, that rule of thumb leads to a bit of regret that later becomes way more pleasant when mixed properly, but this dear friends can be enjoyed all by its lonesome - maybe with a little ice if you like.  Of course, not being one to champion lack of experimentation I had to do a little mixing to find a yummy concoction that would highlight my fabulous new find.

After some trial and error, this emerged as my favorite Domaine de Canton cocktail so far.


RASPBERRIES (to taste)

Muddle raspberries and rosemary with simple syrup. Build in all other ingredients. Shake and strain.  Garnish with a sprig of rosemary or lime zest. 

Not a huge fan of super sweet drinks, I was a little hesitant at first, but this little cocktail wrapped a whole bunch of flavors into one little glass.  The bright ginger, lime, and raspberry flavors are wonderfully complimented by the almost smokey sweet flavor of the dark rum, and the savory flavor of the rosemary.  Also nice is the idea that you can sweeten it with a little more syrup if you do prefer a more sugary beverage.  I would imagine you could also top with some prosecco or champagne if you want to add some fun fizz.

If the rum doesn't set that well with your tastes, you might also try some Absolut Wild Tea in it's place.  This takes away some of the depth of flavor that the rum adds, and instead keeps it altogether light with a hint of elderflower.  Both are yummy in my opinion, and ask to be sipped on more than once!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Making it to the End Game

I don't know why, but even if I have a good idea that something will turn out alright, I typically have a problem outwardly living that reality on a day-to-day basis.  I know this is due to a total disconnect between my flucuating emotional microscope, and the reality of it all, but that really doesn't make things any easier to grapple with.  Sometimes I feel like a heavy rollercoaster that tries to make it over that last big hill in order to get the momentum to spin through the fun loop-de-loops, but instead of a steady and positive movement forward, I seem to stall out somewhere in-between, and those loops seem so much farther away than they really are.

The other day, while feeling like I was in the middle of a pretty big 'life stall', I was searching for an image to accommodate last week's PhotoHunt (which had a topic of 'Digital' - not sure what I was supposed to do with that one), and instead found this.  

This shot was taken almost exactly two years ago today, and is the only photo that exists from that time period as far as I know.  It was taken while on a frantic quest for a 2nd home/apartment in the DC area to accommodate a job shift ... and then what turned out to be two job shifts, a move, a financial crisis, and a total personal meltdown.  In that one frozen instant above though, you would have never known that anything was even amiss.  I look happy, relaxed, and optimistic.  Though I remember feeling the overwhelming stress anyone would feel from any type of sudden life change, I also remember being kind of excited about it.  Things were moving so fast, and held so much possibility (even in the face of a challenge) that I had no way of knowing that I was standing at the starting line of a difficult long distance marathon instead of a short sprint.  I was nowhere even close to even seeing the end game. 

Initially, this mental stroll down memory lane churned up a lot of ugly memories, but the funny & more unexpected thing that it did was to inspire me to remember where it was that I thought I was headed at that time.  Seeing that image of myself, I can recall the ways in which I had been looking at the bigger picture, and trying to put the pieces together in the best way possible to get through to the end game. Though the costs of getting there were sorely underestimated at that time (financial, physical, and emotional), it was exciting, surprising, frantic, and everything that goes with that.  It was also necessary I suppose.

It's actually taken me a lot to rebound from the past two years, and I still feel like I'm cleaning up some loose ends from the fallout.  If someone had told me a year ago that things wouldn't be 'better' by this point I think I may have actually imploded.  Now though, I'm fortunately still in one piece, and coping with everything as it comes along - trying not to let the big things overwhelm (thank you Xanax), and taking time out to enjoy the little things.  At this point, I can actually take a look back at that photo above and begin to see the bigger picture again.  I can feel a little bit of what I was feeling there two years ago - anticipation for the next step, and excitement for the final outcome of this long journey.  I now know that the 'next step' might be more uncomfortable than I would like, and that there may be more hurdles before the final outcome.  I also know more about myself and in that, am (fingers crossed) better equipped to respond to whatever may come my way.  

I think sometimes in order to keep going forward without stalling out, you sometimes have to look back to see where you've been and how you got to where you are now.  In my case, an unexpected look back to two years ago has helped me to remember just where it was I was originally headed, and why I was (and should still be) excited about it.  For me, it seems to be exactly what I needed in order to to keep moving forward.  Given everything that has brought me to where I am now, I can only know that everything really will turn out alright.  I think I knew that in that photo two years ago, though at some point lost sight of the bigger picture in the midst of all the change.  I'm sure there will be more hills to climb and hurdles to jump regardless of time or place, and I'm sure they won't be easy or infrequent. I just hope that with practice I'll eventually continue to get better at responding to them all and keep up the momentum needed to make it to the end game.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Exclusive Vogue Network Sneak Peak - Brahmin's Anytime Tote, Find Your Favorite!

They've done it again!  This June Brahmin's new campaign (seen exclusively in Vogue) is featuring the 'Anytime Tote', and it's cute mini counterpart.  Simple, practical, chic, and perfect anytime; it's a classic wardrobe staple that is sure to be your favorite go-to bag for years to come.  I truly love the luxe croc-embossed finish, and look at all of these amazing color options!

Brahmin Anytime Tote in Birch

Brahmin Anytime Tote in Jade

Brahmin Anytime Tote in Canary

Brahmin Anytime Tote in Light Pink

Brahmin Anytime Tote in Clay

Brahmin Anytime Tote in Oyster

Brahmin Anytime Tote in Pistachio

I can think of about a million ways that this tote would work for just about anything, but maybe you're looking for something a little smaller?  Or maybe a travel companion to tuck into your larger tote and then pull out to effortlessly streamline into a chic evening clutch?  Then look no more and check out the cute 'Anytime Mini'.

Brahmin Anytime Mini in Light Pink

Brahmin Anytime Mini in Clay

Amazing size, amazingly chic, and amazingly coordinating.  Who said you can't have everything?

Have you found your favorite yet?  Which one is screaming your name?    Want to see more, or are you ready to secure one of your own?  Then check out the entire 'Anytime Collection' (including an 'Anytime Bag' as well as some additional color options), pick out the one you want delivered to your front door, or find a retailer near you by simply clicking right here.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Drink of the Moment: Cinco de Mayo Margaritas (& more)!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  I couldn't think of a better drink for Cinco de Mayo (& the rest of the Mother's Day weekend for those of us that need to take that extra edge off) than a good strong Margarita.  This may be cheating a bit, since I posted this same Drink of the Moment for my Superbowl Weekend post as well, but it really is just THAT good, and technically it is much more appropriate this time, right?   Also, because it uses real fruit juice there's no reason to be concerned with feeling like you're stomach has been hit with a small army of jumping beans like it tends to do with a lot of the nasty sugary mixes out there.  As an 'added bonus' for  my seeming lack of cocktail creativity this week, I've also included something great to fix with your margarita, just so you don't feel like it's still Superbowl Sunday instead of Cinco de Mayo.  Now let's get on with this fiesta!

Serves: 4

2  Strips of lime zest
2  Strips of orange zest
6  Ounces (3/4 cup) good tequila
1/3  Cup Cointreau (or other orange liquer)       
1/2  Cup fresh lime juice
2  Tablespoons of water
2 Tablespoons of sugar5  Fresh lime wedges
Kosher salt or course sea salt (optional)
4  Cups of ice

Using a mortar and pestle, or drink muddler , pound the sugar, lime zest, and orange zest until fragrant.  Transfer the muddled mixture into a pitcher and stir in the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and water.  At this point, the mixture can be allowed to sit in the refrigerator while the flavors mingle, unless you have a room full of thirsty people.  (Jay usually includes an extra slice or two of orange or lime at this point to float in the liquid to amp up the flavor if we don't have time to wait -- and it makes for great presentation).  At the very minimum, you can allow the mixture to 'rest' while you ready your margarita glasses; using a lime to coat each rim and then dipping in salt if you'd like.

Just before pouring your margaritas, add the ice to the pitcher and stir (or shake) well for about 2 minutes.  Garnish each glass with an orange or lime wedge, and enjoy!

Because there should always be good food where there is good drink, I quite recommend fixing homemade burrito bowls with guacamole (if you don't mind sounding a little 'not-so-bright', don't pronounce the 'e' on the end so it rhymes).  It also works to remind any thirsty amigos around that they are not, in fact, headed out to defeat a French army after excessive tequila consumption.

It all starts with some white rice cooked in chicken broth, then tossed with olive oil, lime juice, and cilantro.

Carnitas start with chunks being braised in the oven at 350 degrees for three and a half hours with some cinnamon, garlic, oregano, chili powder, and cumin.

Once the pork is done, it then comes out and is shredded, while the pan is deglazed.  Then it all gets tossed back together and goes back in the oven on high heat until it gets a little crispy. 

Not only do you get to smell this wonderful aroma for three hours, the final product is divine.  Once it comes out of the oven, it's ready to top your rice!

Functioning as the 'cherry on top' is my homemade guacamole.    I use fresh avocado, lime juice, jalapeno, cilantro, onion, and occasionally some diced tomato mixed with some garlic powder and adobo - all to taste based on the amount of avocado used and my mood.

Then mush it all together in the molcajete, which is also works great for serving alongside chips.

Of course, shredded quesadilla cheese, salsa, and any other accoutrements of your choosing, can and should be included in your Cinco de Mayo mountain of food as well.  Once you've conquered your gooey mound of burrito bowl with guacamole, you should be feeling pretty festive.  Of course, there is always room for a dessert margarita to continue the celebration, that is, if you can overcome the impending threat of a fiercely invading nap on the couch- after all, this holiday is all about commemorating a victory!  Salud!