Saturday, January 31, 2015

Inspiration: Mastering Your Mind

I had been in a negative mind funk lately and couldn't seem to get out of it.  While on a long walk recently I was listening to what has become one of my favorite podcasts and was inspired.  The podcast is the called The Simple Sophisticate and can be found at the iTunes store by clicking HERE.

The host also happens to write for one of my favorite blogs called The Simply Luxurious Life in which her outlook on how to live ones life is highly in tune with my own outlook.

Anyway, here were her ten tips to Mastering Your Mind.  I encourage your to listen to the podcast as well as read the show notes HERE.

How To Master Your Mind according to Shannon Ables

1. Examine your core beliefs
2. Don't give up after the first attempt
3. Exhibit more gratitude
4. Use brain energy productively
5. Practice regularly
6. Think rationally and realistically
7. Don't surpress emotion
8. Be patient, delay gratification
9. Practice becoming more comfortable with discomfort
10. Become self-compassionate

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

February Goals

I know it has been a while since I have posted regarding my monthly or yearly goals.  Truth is I have not been setting them.  I have been in a funk lately and am just now getting back on track.

With that being said, I am trying out a new way of organizing my thoughts, schedule, and goals and have since come up with some goals I am setting for myself for February.

1. Log 60+ miles on Nike+ I am currently in a distance challenge and it is coming to an end.  I have about 120 miles to go and wanted to set a realistic number of miles to complete in February.  This monthly goal will be encompassed into my weekly goals making sure that approximately 15 miles a week are logged.  I say "logged" as opposed to "run" because I do not run.

I jog and walk.  That is the best you are going to get out of me.  I hate running so why do something I hate?

2. Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred 3x a week.  I am not going to lie, I am dreading this commitment because I know it is going to hurt.  I have not done weights for a while and Jillian makes you work for it.  But as the saying goes, "Misery loves company" I am going to try to sucker neighbors and friends into committing the February Shred as well. I am pretty sure when the 30 days are over we will all be glad we actually did it.

3. Find a better way to organize and display my jewelry.  I don't wear much jewelry but I do like when I do wear it as I feel like my outfit is completed.  A problem I have is that my jewelry is hidden and so therefore "Out of sight out of mind".  I want to find a way to organize and display my jewelry in a way that it inspires me to wear it more and showcases the pieces I do have. This may actually be harder to do than The Shred.

4. Finish the current book I am reading. "How to be Parisian Wherever You Are".  Check it out HERE.

5. Start and finish the book I just purchased from the Friends of the Library. "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress" by Rhoda Janzen.  Check it out HERE.

6. Set time aside and have a personal spa day.  Whether that means a long soak in a bubble bath, deep conditioning my hair, getting my nails down, etc. I want to do something that is relaxing and takes care of my physical being.  This is going to be a new thing for me as I never really even moisturize but am working on it!

7. Cook either a Donna Hay or a French-inspired meal and take pictures.  Yep, I am back to meal planning which includes one fun meal night a week and I want to get back to what makes me happy and that is cooking fun new meals for family and friends.

 Image Source {12, 3, 4, 5, 6}

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Inspiration: back to the basics quiche

Lox and Cream Cheese Quiche
Have you ever stopped and reflected on where you are in life and have noticed you have gotten off track?  Well I have been going on long walk lately and have been able to get my mind back into line with my life goals.  One of the paths I have decided to get back onto was my meal planning.  I reflected that when I was at my healthiest I have a ritual where every Sunday I would make a quiche for the week to take for lunch alongside a simple salad.

The other day I was watching a fun YouTube channel called SORTED Food in which the chef Ben made a fast yet delicious quiche.  Here is the video that inspired me.

I immediately put down my iPad and stomped downstairs into the kitchen to make a quiche for the week.  After prodding from my sister I have decided to write down the recipe as well I can (I never measure ingredients with a quiche).  Here is the recipe for my SORTED Food inspired Lox and Cream Cheese Quiche

Lox and Cream Cheese Quiche

Lox and Cream Cheese Quiche
Serves 8

2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter, cold
1/4 cup plus 1-3 tablespoons ice water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon herbs de Provence

5 large eggs
1/2 milk (I used 2%)
1 medium size yellow onion, roughly diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
2 scallions, greens and white, thinly sliced
6 oz canned salmon
3 oz cream cheese
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

To make the crust: In a large mixing bowl combined flour and butter with hands until butter is the size of peas.  Add salt, herbs de Provence, and 1/4 cup cold water.  Use hands to combine until a cohesive ball is formed.  If the mixture is not coming together add 1 tablespoon of cold water at a time until combined.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, roll out dough and place in 9" tart pan.  Cover with parchment paper and pie weights and blind bake at 350 degrees to 12 minutes.  Remove parchment paper and weights and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

For the filling: In skillet add about 1 tablespoon olive oil, yellow onions, and garlic.  Cook until onions are translucent then turn off the heat and set aside.  In a separate bowl combine eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence.  Set aside.  After tart crust has cooked, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.  In tart crust layer the yellow onions and garlic followed by the chunks of salmon, then the green onions.  Slowly pour over the egg and milk mixture.  Lastly, dollop tablespoon-size chunks of the cream cheese.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until quiche does not giggle.  Let cool for 10-15 minutes and then serve immediately.

Lox and Cream Cheese Quiche

Friday, January 23, 2015

London High Tea at The Orangery

Me having tea at The Orangery, Kensington Palace, London, UK

My London visit was a bit of a whirlwind and there was very little time to do much of the touristy things, but one must do for me was to have high tea.  I convinced my compatriots to join me which was not hard to do. 

One thing about London which is similar to Southern California is that you need to make reservations well in advance.  This also includes dinner plans with friends and even dinner at a pub.  The first night we were in London we went to get dinner at a lovely gastropub called The Pig's Ear.  We were able to walk there from our hotel and upon entering the pub were asked if we had reservations.  Looking around, every table and spot at the bar was taken.  We were lucky that they had one table open up and could accommodate us.  I of course ordered the fish and chips as that is what one must do when visiting London.  Despite not liking fried food nor fish, it was actually really good and I finished my portion.

All this being said, every place I tried for tea reservations had been booked months in advance.  I had heard upon good authority that I should try The Orangery at the Kensington Palace which was more laxed on their dress code and might have an opening.  I tried making reservations on their website but they too appeared to be completely booked for the one afternoon we had free.  I bit the bullet and purchased some minutes on my Skype app and called to see if perhaps there was a cancellation and they could squeeze us in.  Eureka!  There had been a party of 4 that had to cancel and I scooped up their table!

The Orangery menu at the Kensington Palace
Walking through the park at the Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

Gardens at the Kensington Palace

The Orangery
Table setting for tea at The Orangery

(all photos taken by my lovely iPhone 6 camera)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I am in London

Me overlooking Tower Bridge
Big Ben
First cup of tea in London
Me at Buckingham Palace!
I have made it to London! I was so excited to finally be able to take the EuroStar to London and go under the English channel. Yada yada yada....I slept through the whole thing. My fun and sleepless week in Paris finally caught up with me and I was overcome with sleep. I am a little sad that I did not get to fully experience the ride but that only means I will have to come back.

The weather was overcast and cool, warmer than Paris although. As soon as we arrived at St. Pancras station we boarded a "coach" and were given a three hour tour of London. We are only going to have one free day in London and possibly a few nights so I was glad for the tour and I could see things during the day that I would not otherwise be able to.

Our first photo op was was overlooking the Tower Bridge.

Last night in Paris

Menu at La Cave Bourgogne
First bite of escargot!
Duck confit at La Cave Bourgogne
Dessert menu at La Cave Bourgogne
Tarte Tartin
Creme Brulee

Tuesday was our last day and night in Paris. The day turned out to be a long one. We were up early and off to tour our last few companies in Paris for our class. Each tour ended up going over the time allotment.

As it was going to be our last day we had planned on going to the Musee d'Orsay before it closed at 6PM. After we left our last company the four of us who have been hanging out slit off from the group and sprinted towards the museum. I had wanted to spend more time there and eat their amazing Le Restaurant but alas, you can only control your own actions. We made it to the museum before 5PM and were able to see Rodin, Monet, Renoir and several more great artists that truly make the d'Orsay spectacular. The restaurant was not open for dinner that evening and so we adjusted our schedule accordingly. We headed over to the Lourve to see the pyramid and the gardens before walking to Angelina's for dinner.

Apparently Angelina's stops serving dinner at 6PM so we opted to share a few desserts instead with the idea of eating dinner later. When in pastries.

After Angelina's we headed back to the hotel to drop off Angela as she was going to the Moulin Rougue with he rest of our group. Monica, Rosanna, and I had independently not signed up to go as we had been to Paris before. It was after 9:30PM when the group left and we doodled around before making a dinner decision. I had checked TripAdvisor and Yelp for restaurants in our area and was not too impressed by the reviews. Not wanting to have a mediocre meal on my last night in Paris, we were scratching our heads on where to go. The group had been turing to me for decisions after I had shared with them some Paris favorites of mine. I asked if they trusted me and they said yes and that was all I needed to make my final decision.

You see, the last time I was in Paris the sisters and I discovered an amazing restaurant feet from our apartment only the last few days we were in town. My oldest sister had ordered the escargot and I never had and slightly regretted that decision. I knew this was my only chance to make up for that so we were off to Rue Moffetard once more.

Once again magic was in the air. Cave La Bourgogne was open and we cruised in. Our waiter, Girad, who spoke not a lick of English, was charming and a delight. we managed to communicate with the little French we knew as well as a little Spanish and Italian.

I have to say, this meal is now going on the list for top meals of my life. I insinuated to Girard I was thinking about getting the snail and he said it was a must. I asked the other two ladies if they would try some and they couldn't quite commit. I ordered them anyway not wanting to regret this opportunity once more. When the escargot/snail dish came I was speechless. There is not possible way to describe how insanely good this dish was. Monica and Rosanna ended up trying the snails as well as by the end there was not one morsel left in the dish. The sauce the snails were in had such a depth of flavor and yet the flavors that made the sauce could not be pinpointed out as they were perfectly combined in this harmonious dish.

After the appetizer came the mains. I had ordered the rabbit, or the "Cuisee de Lapin" but was informed that they had run out. The waiter then suggested the duck or "Confit de Canard". Monica had the "Cote de bouef" and Rosanna the white fish in a white sauce or the "Filet de lieu noir". Oh my word. We all flipped our lids. How could these dishes be just as spectacular as the snails? This course took us forever to eat (I could not quite finish truth be told) and the owner and waiter kept trying to take away our dishes and we refused as we were still trying to finish as it was just too good.

Once we had finally given up on finishing the plate we of course ordered dessert. I had to have the tarte tartin as again, this was something I wanted last time I was in Paris but it was not in season. Monica had the creme brulee, as is her standby, and Rosanna the Charlotte Poire. Again, speechless at how another course was just as spectacular. I finished my dessert and so did the other ladies.

After Monica had her coffee we checked the time and were astonished at how late it was. We said our farewells to Girard and literally ran to the Metro. As it were, we only were able to make it one Metro stop before the Metro closed down. (It was after 1:30AM). I took out my phone and looked at the map in the Metro station before we decided that walking back was our best option and plus, walking back would help deal with the copious amounts of food our bodies were now going to try to digest. We made it back to the hotel and off to bed. Sleep would have to wait for another day.

I am so glad we took the chance and had a great last meal before said au revoir.

We will miss you Paris, but thank you for the memories!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Paris when it's cold

Me eating truffle rigatoni at Le Cafe du Marche
Eiffel Tower when its foggy
As I write this blog, my fingers are still thawing from the frigged air. Paris had a high of 40F degrees today and boy did I feel it. I am certainly glad that I packed my gloves and warm socks. Despite the sub-California temperatures I made sure i was out and about pounding the pavement at any free moment.

After our classes this morning we arrived back at hotel around 1:30PM and headed straight away to Le Cafe du Marche which had been a favorite of mine from my first trip to Paris. I our course ordered the Truffle Rigatoni, a bottle of wine, share dessert, and a cafe to finish. we had a lovely time eating and then walking the street and searching the markets on Rue Cler. Angela in our group had never had a french macaron and wanted to buy some from one of the three chocolate shops we passed in a matter of five minutes. we shuffled into Francois Pralus on Rue Cler, thankful to have a reprieve from cold breeze. I was not anticipating buying anything but had a sample of the brioche with pink sugar rocks and was captivated. I happily paid the €6 for the small loaf to be enjoyed later with a nice bottle of wine. The store owner told me the bread would last about 5 days. Not enough time to take home with me so it would have to be consumed while abroad. Oh darn!

From Rue Cler we walked over to see the Eiffel Tower during the daylight of which we had about 5 minutes left before the early sunset. As the lights lit up on the tower and the fog settled in you could feel magic in the air. We strolled around under the tower running into other people who were also on our trip. Taking some last snap shots of the tower we headed off for a cafe to warm our once again cold bones. Once again we walked, talked, laughed, snap pictures, and lost track of time. Tomorrow is another full day and are hoping to make it to the Musee d'Orsay before it closes as tomorrow is our last day in Paris. Is it sad that I miss it already?

Enjoy some photos, wish I had taken more.

Another day in Paris

Me having a gooey crepe on my birthday!
Overlooking the Seine
(The last photo is for my sisters. They know why.)