Must See Fall TV Shows

On Sunday nights return two of my favorite mystery shows on ABC, the first episodes aired last Sunday.

I got addicted to the TV show Secrets and Lies during its first season in Spring 2015. They are just now finally airing season two, which is not a continuation of season one. The story line for each season is someone is murdered, and the person who finds the body is considered the main suspect by the Detective played by Juliette Lewis. This season the suspect is the husband played by Michael Ealy. I was impressed that the cast has quite a few people of color. The mystery of who done it will be stretched out over the whole season with each episode pointing the finger at someone else as new details are unraveled about the deceased. It will keep you on the edge of your toes!

Season two of Quantico starts after Alex Parrish cleared her name as a terrorist suspect, yet was fired by the FBI and now joined the ranks of the clandestine CIA. Again the format of the show does lots of flashbacks between time periods so you understand the history between everyone and to help solve the puzzle of who the terrorist is. To give you a little background on the show, check out my previous post on Quantico

I'm also watching the new seasons of Dancing with the Stars and Modern Family. What are you watching this fall?

Fall Weekend in Wine Country

It's not hard to say bye to summer when there are so many fun fall activities. Last weekend I did something quintessentially fall: I went apple picking!  Last weekend a friend and I went to a pick your own apple orchard then visited a couple wineries in VA Wine Country. In fall is when you can find a wider variety of apples available, honeycrisps being my favorite! Here's a link to my healthy apple walnut bread recipe. The orchard also had pumpkins for sale, I love the cinderella type pumpkins! The orchard's store sold pumpkin and apple butter, apple cider and a sweet apple wine. I love all the flavors of fall!

Sunset Sails

I recently did a sunset boat cruise from Georgetown along the Potomac River. I booked with the Pirate Cruise Boat because they had a groupon for $16. I’d say there were about 60 people on the 54 foot boat. After all the humidity was gone, it was a gorgeous day to be out on the water! I don’t know about you, but sunset is my favorite time of day and we had a gorgeous one that night. The boat sailed with nice cool breezes with a backdrop of the monuments. We passed by the Watergate, Kennedy Center, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial – the most spectacular views of Washington. I didn’t get any rum punch from the bar because the boat ride wasn’t the smoothest. But I did dance to the music while enjoying the incredible scenery.

 See the people at the top of the bridge waving at us?

This view reminded me of this painting I painted.

Purple Hair, Don't Care

Back in college I really wanted to dye my hair light pink but never got around to it. After graduating college I took a trip to Ibiza with a friend from college and tried on pink wig which was so fun! Never to wear it again until a girls trip to Vegas a few years ago where we were Jem & the Holograms for Halloween.  Lately, I keep seeing so many people with just pops of bright color sticking out from their hair and I have been itching to try it! Last week I went to a Bloggers and Bubbles party and met so many wonderful bloggers from the area. The party took place at a hair salon in Georgetown and we each got a piece of our hair colored some outrageous color. I went with a vibrant bold purple color that washes out after a few washes. I got what's called under lights, only the bottom layer of my bangs where the color will just peak out. 

Say hello to my purple hair! Have you ever wanted to get a bold hair color? 

Eggplant Pizza

It's eggplant season and I've been shopping at farmers markets lately and ran across white eggplant! I bought one just for the novelty of it. I have a favorite eggplant curry recipe I make, but I wanted to make something that would still show some of its unique color. I searched pinterest for eggplant recipes and everyone was making eggplant pizza! What a great idea! I bought some delicious cheese called Midnight Moon Cypress Grove and resisted the desire to buy bread to pair with it so I thought they would match up perfectly! It's a hard goat cheese from Holland and its flavor is described as "nutty and brown buttery up front with a long caramel finish". You must try this cheese and check out my other favorite cheeses here.

I made the recipe pretty simply based on how it looked but afterward, I felt the eggplant wasn't seasoned right. I did another search and compared all the recipes and discovered that this dish was a Julia Child recipe! I loved the movie about her, but as a vegetarian never tried any of her recipes. Here's her recipe done properly and you can't be lazy, you really need to follow all the steps for a rich flavor.

1 Eggplant
Italian seasoning

1.   Slice the eggplant 1 inch thick and put the slices on a paper towel and sprinkle both sides with salt. Let sit for        20 minutes to draw out the liquid.  Then blot the eggplant to remove the excess water and salt. 
2.   Preheat oven to 375 and grease a baking sheet with olive oil. 
3.   Arrange the eggplant slices on the baking sheet and sprinkle with oil and Italian seasoning.
4.   Roast in the oven for 25 minutes then remove the eggplant and turn the oven to Broil.
5.   Add your favorite toppings: marinara sauce or grape tomatoes, cheese, basil, and or spinach. 
6.   Broil until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.

Great Gatsby Party

This is my 600th blog post! I had a busy weekend! Friday I went to an outdoor happy hour with a friend and we talked for 5 hours. On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a Great Gatsby party at the National Cathedral. After that I visited my mother and we watched the sunset on her rooftop. Then I went to a rooftop bar with a friend. Sunday I went to brunch with another friend and sat outside.

I absolutely love dressing up whether it's for Halloween or Christmas themed events. Based on the book The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, it's the story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his  lavish parties on Long Island at a time when gin was the national drink. In the movie everyone is drinking dirty martinis and mint juleps. It's also a love story that takes place during prohibition and the Jazz Age in the 1920s. I re-watched the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio to get into the mood. It won two Oscars for costumes and set design as they were lavish and amazing. The rest of the movie, well starts off slow and was too artsy for me, almost like a pop video. A lot of people at the party wore the exact same headband as Daisy below.

I studied the costumes to get a feel for what I needed to wear to my event. The idea is fabric that drape effortlessly around your body in a beautiful sparkly dress. I didn't want a traditional beaded black flapper dress as I figured everyone would wear that, I wanted a more art deco look. I had to go all out with gloves, piling on long pearls and a glittering headpiece to pull the 1920s look together. As someone who loves themed parties, and have hosted many myself, I loved Kris Jenner 60th Birthday Party inspired by The Great Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby Party on the grass of the National Cathedral was like stepping back in time returning to the era of flapper dresses and music of the 1920s with the Prosecco flowing. There was a live band, lawn games, and prohibition cocktails. Everyone hit the dance floor and did their best swing dances.

We played a game of croquet which involves hitting wooden balls with a mallet through hoops. In the 1920s croquet was the most popular sport in socialite circles. It's set up on a lawn to enjoy during cocktail hour.


We had a picnic basket filled with cheeses, crackers, grapes, strawberries and chocolate.

Matcha Smoothie

I love anything matcha - ice cream, lattes, and smoothies. Matcha is finely ground green tea leaves that are full of antioxidants (higher than regular green tea) and gives an energy boost. It's popular at Japanese tea ceremonies. You can tell the quality of your matcha by how radiantly emerald green it is. Another ingredient in this smoothie is maca which is an ancient Peruvian superfood that gives you energy and is full of B vitamins. Maca may be helpful to weight loss because it's a strong hormone regulator. Chia seeds have omega-3 fats,  help you feel full longer and sustain your energy levels. I put them on my oatmeal and in every smoothie I make. Pumpkin seeds are full of magnesium, omega-3 fats, and tryptophan that helps with sleep. I put a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds on all my salads.

I revisited this cookbook and found this delicious smoothie recipe that tastes like ice cream. The frozen fruit are the secret ingredients as they make this smoothie extra frothy and sweet. This summer I've been making a habit of freezing watermelon to put in smoothies as it won't water down your drink like regular ice cubes and makes it more frozen and sweeter with added vitamins. So if you have a protein powder you don't like the taste of, add watermelon ice cubes to it! I was worried I wouldn't be able to make this smoothie anymore once watermelon season is over, then learned I could do the same with frozen cantaloupe! The frozen fruit will make this smoothie so creamy!

1 scoop vanilla protein powder
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp maca powder
1 tsp chia seed
1 frozen banana
1.5 cup frozen watermelon
1 tsp raw pumpkin seeds
1 tsp Matcha Tea Powder
spirulina (optional)

Cut up some watermelon and put it in your blender to make a juice. Then pour into your ice cube tray and freeze.  Chop up a banana and freeze, it will be easier for your blender to handle versus an uncut banana.

Mix the almond milk with everything except the fruit. Once combined slowly add the fruit a little at a time. 

Blend and pour into a glass. Top with the pumpkin seeds.

Nutritional Analysis:
1 serving, 358 calories,  22g protein, 10g fiber, 55g carbs, 31g sugar 
The sugar and carbs come from the fruit. Only 15g of the protein come from the protein powder.

Low-Calorie Ice Cream for Chocolate Lovers

I like chocolate but was never really into chocolate ice cream until my co-worker brought in Ben & Jerry's ice cream in Chocolate Therapy and it was love at first taste! It's Chocolate Ice Cream with Chocolate Cookies & Swirls of Chocolate Pudding Ice Cream. A serving is  ½ cup at 250 calories with 130 calories from fat and 23g of sugar. I've talked about Halo low cal ice cream before and decided to try out their chocolate flavor. Now first I should say you're probably thinking, "I've tried Arctic Zero ice cream and hated it." Yes me too. It tastes like a nasty frozen protein shake. Halo top is nothing like Arctic Zero. For one it has a good frozen consistency and actually tastes good! The chocolate flavor is a dead ringer for B&Js ice cream, I'm not kidding! One entire pint of Halo top is  240 calories! But who eats a whole pint at one time? The ½ cup serving size is only 60 calories with 18g from fat and 4g of sugar! I also tried the vanilla flavor and it's just as good as well. So run, don't walk, to your local Whole Foods to pick yourself up a pint of Halo Top!

Protein Bars revisited

I wanted to share some (new to me) protein/snack bars that are different than your usual/traditional protein bars. These all taste delicious and are made from clean ingredients, no splenda/suralose which is a chemical I avoid in all my foods. I've written about splenda before.  I know everyone loves their Quest bars, but take a closer look at their ingredients. It has whey isolate and Isomalto-Oligosaccharides (a fake fiber), I don't like to eat processed food. I still make my peanut butter coconut balls, linked below, every month.

Health Warrior Chia Bar
These 100 calories bars are my favorite low-calorie snack. It's primarily made of chia seeds and coconut but comes in a variety of flavors. My favorite flavors are the regular coconut,  the dark chocolate and acai berry. They often go on sale at Whole Foods or you can buy them online. They have 3g of protein.

RX Bar
They are made up of only four ingredients: egg whites, fruits and nuts. You can find it at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods or online. They are 200 calories and 12g of protein.

Square Bar
These bars are soft chocolate-coated cakes. The first ingredient is coconut nectar so that's what the insides are primarily made of. They are 230 calories and 11g of protein. The only flavor I don't like is Mint, it tastes like a too strong girl scout cookie. You can find it at Whole Foods or online but don't purchase online in the summertime because the chocolate will melt.

Perfect Bar
I got turned on to these at the barre studio I take classes at. This meal bar is 290 calories and my favorite flavor is the Almond Coconut which has cranberries in it. They have 8g of protein. You can find them at Whole Foods, 7/11, Target or online.

Related Posts:
Protein Bars
22 Days Protein Bar
DIY Peanut Butter Coconut Balls

Pantone Dusty Cedar

In addition to releasing a color of the year, Pantone also releases colors for each season that will be in trend. For this fall one of the colors is Dusty Cedar, a pretty dark mauve pink. It's not seeing much of it so far, but will be keeping my eye out for it since it's such a pretty shade of pink! Ann Taylor was having a sale yesterday so I picked up a few things including my first wrap dress.

A Good Mystery Author

I've recently got into reading mystery books  which are psychological thrillers that I can't put down! Right now my favorite author is NY Times best-selling author Mary Kubica who has written three books that I read through so quickly! All her books follow the same formula, each short chapter is told from a different narrator jumping from the past and present. Her next book is already finished and due out next summer. She lives outside of Chicago so she uses Chicago for the background of some of her books. My favorite of the three below is Don't You Cry which was recommended to me by a friend. I found it to be the most page-turning thriller. It was so suspenseful I read in 2 days!

The Light Between Oceans

I read the book The Light Between Oceans a year ago (coincidently every book in that post became a movie, I must have good taste in books lol) and it's still in the top 10 books on Amazon. I watched the movie this weekend and it was fantastic and true to the book, it really did it justice at a 2:13 hr length. It's starting Alicia Vikander, a Swedish actress whom I loved in the movie The Danish Girl. The movie had me in tears. The story takes place after World War I in a remote part of Australia. Tom Sherbourne  takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on the isolated island of Janus Rock. He marries Isabel and she has a number of miscarriages on the island.  Then one day a baby washes ashore on a rowboat and they decide to keep her claiming she is theirs. It's a beautiful period romance full of plot twists. I think this movie has a pretty good chance of winning an Oscar. The two main characters are now dating in real life. Have you seen the movie, what did you think of it?

Speaking of light, this weekend I watched the sunset with my mother and this was the view from her home. As Hurricane Hermine brushed the area, its clouds put on an amazing show in the sky! I've never seen such a gorgeous sunset with clouds like this before!