Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan

If you've read Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, then you'll also enjoy The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan. Pretty much similar context, they both spend a year being more grateful and dedicated each month to a different thing. Her ideas fit in nicely with The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up  which encouraged me to take a lot at how much shopping I do. She uses the examples of people lining up to buy new iphones because they think it will make them happy. One she did was stop complaining about the weather as it didn't change her day, but it changed how she experienced it. She even uses gratitude as a tool to lose weight! Favorite quotes from the book include the following.

"Grateful to learn that I don't need "stuff" to make me happy."

"Lucky to jump off the wanting-more treadmill."

 "Material possessions are never quite as satisfying as we think they'll be. People get more lasting joy from experiences (such as vacations) than from objects."

"Enjoying an activity (such as dining out) that made you grateful also makes you less materialistic. So if you're trying to increase your gratitude, tilt toward experiential consumption."

"Materialism has been consistently related to lower levels of life satisfaction. The idea that stuff, stuff, and more stuff won't make us happy seems to be catching on."

"Gratitude to have enough. Not want 10% more (salary or closet space)."

"Spending on others makes you more satisfied than spending on yourself."

"If through gratitude, you create a positive mood, you reinforce the brain pathways that will then generate more positive feelings."

"You can never be happy if you waste time frustrated by circumstance you can't change."

"When we appreciate what we have, we are more likely to be satisfied and less likely to be unhappy."

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."

"Look for a positive in every event, you can decide to feel joy.You're grateful for how you remember an experience rather than what actually happened."

"Any job has its good points and bad, but focusing on the negatives promises only a sour experience. Making an effort to zero in on the pleasures (however hard to find) can make most jobs tolerably sweet."

'Gratitude keeps us well because it is an antidote to stress. When you are grateful, all the signposts of stress, like anger anxiety, and worry, diminish. Gratitude lowers stress."

"As with your career, gratitude can motivate you in your weight and fitness. You can lose it easily. You've been that weight before, so you know you can do it."

"Dedicate five minutes of your day to believing you can lose weight and being thankful you can. Eliminate negative self-talk."

"Be grateful that you're strong, grateful that you can buy healthy food, grateful that it's gorgeous weather and you can take a walk."

"Taking a picture of your food to post on Instagram or Facebook makes you look at food as something special, that you are grateful with what you plan to eat."

"Often when think we want food, we're really hungry for friendship, love, compassion, and gratitude."

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Chloe's Vegan kitchen

I first heard about Chloe when I heard all the buzz around her new vegan restaurant in NYC that just opened this summer.  The menu is pretty small and consists of salads, burgers, two pastas and dairy free ice cream. I looked her up to see what her story was and she attended the Natural Gourmet Institute of Health and Culinary Arts school in NYC. Also completed Cornell University’s plant-based nutrition program, and she was an intern/worked at my favorite San Francisco vegan restaurant, Millennium (now closed). She was on the TV show Cupcake Wars and was the first vegan baker to win. She has several cookbooks and included the winning cupcake recipe in this one. The Ginger Nutmeg Spice Cupcakes look delicious but unfortunately with one cup of sugar I won't be making these myself. 

I have only tried a few of recipes so far, but everything has turned out absolutely amazing! The color photos alone are drool worthy. My favorite was the Peanutty Perfection Noodles which is simple to make and was so tasty that I will be putting in my regular rotation. I think this cookbook will convince you that vegan cooking can really be delicious.

My favorite recipes from the book are:
Curried Lentil, Squash and Apple Stew
Minted Couscous with Arugula, Butternut Squash, and Currants (made this my lunch for a week)
Coconut Mashed Yams with Currants
Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter
Peanutty Perfection Noodles
Pineapple Not-So-Fried Rice

For another vegan cookbook I enjoyed check out this post.
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

5 Reasons to Be Excited For Fall


It's officially fall, I can't believe summer went by so fast! Every year I pull out my Fall Bucket List and look forward to all the fun activities this season brings!  Last year I joined a Fall Fashion Challenge which made fall a fun season to get dressed in for me! Here are my top 5 reasons when you should be excited for fall!
  1. Fall Fashion : I'm layering with cozy cardigans, wearing plaid, infinity scarves, riding boots, puffer vests, corduroys, military jackets, leggings and booties. Here are some of my looks from last fall:
2. Pumpkin Flavored Everything
Check out my recipes for Pumpkin SoupPumpkin CurrySugar Free Pumpkin BreadPumpkin Baked Oatmeal, and Overnight Pumpkin Oatmeal. My favorite pumpkin products from Trader Joe's. My favorite pumpkin yogurt. And a DIY Pumpkin Mask.

3. Changing color of the leaves - crisp fall air and chilly weather = making s'mores. See pictures from my trip to the Arboretum last fall when the leaves had turned pretty colors!
4. Fall Activities - corn mazes, apple picking, pumpkin carving, haunted houses, hay rides, and bonfires with friends.

5. Halloween - my favorite holiday! What should I be this year??? Got a few ideas up my sleeve!


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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mystery Books You Can't Put Down

After reading Dark Places and Girl on the Train I decided to read more thrillers and suspense books. Here are some books I've recently read and recommend.

Dear Daughter  by Elizabeth Little, 364 pages, 2014
Ignore the cheesy cover art, it was a really good mystery book! Jane Jenkins was convicted of murdering her mother but through a technicality, she was freed from prison after 10 years. Now she is on a mission to find her mothers' killer. She's determined to unravel the mystery of her mother's last words, words that send her to a tiny town while the media stays on her tail, convinced she's got away with murder so she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent.

Jane is snarky yet funny on the sarcastic side. She’s clever, manipulative, blunt, and witty. That’s what makes the book so interesting, her personality! There were so many other characters you really need to write down a chart of who everyone is because their characters aren't developed so it's hard to keep track of who is who. You’ll also need to keep a dictionary handy while reading this book.  I didn't see the end coming.


The Whites by Harry Brandt (aka Richard Price)352 pages, 2015 

The electrifying tale of a New York City police detective under siege-by an unsolved murder, by his own dark past, and by a violent stalker seeking revenge. It's a well-written police procedural with compelling characters and a brilliant narrative. There’s  backstories for every character, subtle relationships of trust and connection. The plotting is so intense and detailed I needed a name map because there were so many characters. The Whites refers to the white whales, suspects who got away: “those who had committed criminal obscenities…and then walked away untouched by justice…” Every cop has his or her own personal “white.”  The book is a gritty, dark intense read  by one of the writers on the show The Wire.  

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, 352 pages, 2014

One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.

 When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems. I finished the book in less than a week because it was such a page turner! The story is told from 3 narrators jumping from the past and present. Each chapter is very short so the book moves along very fast

Second Life by S.J. Watson, 402 pages, 2015
A psychological thriller from a bestselling author. When Julia hears of her sisters death in Paris, she feels a mixture of relief and loss. Julia had adopted Kates son when it became obvious her sister could not provide the stable environment he needed. But lately Kate had been demanding to return of her teenage son. The bittersweet relief of her sisters death is only momentary, and Julia begins to doubt that the death was an accident. Gaining access to Kates online activity, she stumbles across the world of online dating and the ability to lead a second life. Soon she is hooked. The excitement of secret online liaisons becomes addictive and common sense is thrown out the window. But how long can one maintain a double life before someone gets hurt?

The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango, 241 pages, 2015
On the surface, Henry Hayden seems like someone you could like, or even admire. A famous bestselling author who appears a modest every man. A loving, devoted husband even though he could have any woman he desires. A generous friend and coworker. But Henry Hayden is a construction, a mask. His past is a secret, his methods more so. No one besides him and his wife know that she is the actual writer of the novels that made him famous.

For most of Henry’s life, it hasn’t been a problem. But when his hidden-in-plain-sight mistress becomes pregnant and his carefully constructed facade is about to crumble, he tries to find a permanent solution, only to make a terrible mistake.

Now not only are the police after Henry, but his past—which he has painstakingly kept hidden—threatens to catch up with him as well. Henry is an ingenious man and he works out an ingenious plan. He weaves lies, truths, and half-truths into a story that might help him survive. But bit by bit the noose still tightens.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty, 396 pages, 2013

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive.

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

The Secret in Their Eyes by Eduardo Sacheri 
This is coming out as a movie this fall starring Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman.

BenjamĂ­n Chaparro is a retired detective still obsessed by the brutal, decades-old rape and murder of a young married woman in her own bedroom. While attempting to write a book about the case, he revisits the details of the investigation. As he reaches into the past, Chaparro also recalls the beginning of his long, unrequited love for Irene Hornos, then just an intern, now a respected judge. Set in the Buenos Aires of the 1970s, Sacheri’s tale reveals the underpinnings of Argentina’s Dirty War and takes on the question of justice—what it really means and in whose hands it belongs.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll, 352 pages, 2015
NY Times Best Seller. As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancĂ©, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve. But Ani has a secret. There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

Check out the books I was reading during the summer and last fall.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Fall Looks by H&M


I stopped by H&M and they had lots of clothing in beautiful orange tones. That orange dress I bought a few years ago in grey, great cut and style. Last fall I was eyeing this beige handbag from Michael Kors but wasn't going to spend $400 on it. Well what do you know, this fall H&M made a bag the same shape and texture that is unique to MK bags. I normally only wear bags that are of rainbow colors, no black/grey/beige, but I thought I'd try something new. It's super huge and can combine my gym clothes, work lunch and purse items all in one!

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Healthy Apple Walnut Bread

A spend a rainy Saturday visiting a couple wineries and went apple picking. The trees were full of apples and we were the only ones there due to the weather. On the trees were McIntosh and in the bins were some Honeycrsip they had left over, the two sweetest apples. This summer I've also gone strawberry picking and peach picking.

I bought some sugar free apple butter from the orchard store that tastes just as good as regular apple butter! I also got some local raw honey. The store smelled so good with all the apple pies and various baked goods, I wanted to come home and make something healthy with my apples. This recipe has no white flour, white sugar or oil and still tastes sweet and moist.

  • 1 3/4 cups Spelt flour 
  • ¼ cup Oat Flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼  cup Truvia Baking blend
  • ¼  cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 TB liquid egg whites
  • ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • ½ cup of Fage 0% plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 apple grated
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • ½ tsp nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 325F.  Spray a loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (flour, powders, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar,  and walnuts).

3. In another large bowl, combine the wet ingredients (egg whites, shredded apple, and yogurt).

4. Add wet ingredients to dry slowly and stir until mixed. Be careful not to overmix the batter as spelt flour is delicate.

5. Spoon the batter into prepared loaf pan and spread out evenly. Bake for 60 minutes at 325F or until a knife comes out clean.

Makes 9, 1-inch thick slices

For another healthy bread recipe check out my Oil-free Zucchini walnut bread.
Also see my Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Fall Fashion Colors

I know fall doesn't officially start until Sept 23, but you can start your fall clothing shopping now! The Pantone Color Institute announced the shades that will make up this season's color wheel. Marsala is the color of the year, it's a warm wine red/brown rich color that I'm finally starting to see in stores. Other colors I will be wearing are Cashmere Rose which is a soft pink hue and Oak Buff which is a pretty golden yellow. Dried Herb and Desert Sage are such pretty muted colors, I can't wait to pick up some pieces in that shade!

I stopped by the LOFT which I hadn't shopped at in quite a few months bit I'm finally seeing a collection with lots of pieces I like! If you're looking for some flowy tunics and dolman style tops, the LOFT has you covered! Click on the links below to go straight to my picks.

ps I was looking through my blog history and last summer I had 3x as many posts, but it was also fun to see that this time last year I was in New York City!

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