If you live in New York or come to visit, make sure you stop by Eataly. You're going to want to see the Flatiron Building anyway, so you might as well take a stroll through this amazing Italian marketplace.

It's crowded and the line for gelato is usually really long (we didn't go for the gelato anyway). It was the cheese and bread that caught our attention. And I never thought I'd say this, but the Erbonati di Pecora (directly translated as blue veined sheep) is worth $38 a lb. So amazing.

Balsamic Night!

Looking back, I probably wouldn't do a whole dinner themed around Balsamic vinegar again (heart burn!), but I sure enjoyed it in the moment!
Here's the lunch-time re-run, but with my favorite store-bought salad dressing from Mr. Newman (creamy cesaer). And the watermelon and strawberries ended up in a smoothie with a little orange juice, some soy milk and ice.

Balsamic Chicken & Mushrooms with Balsamic & Thyme Quinoa

(adapted from this recipe at


2 T. olive oil
½ onion, chopped fine
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 c. quinoa
¼ c. apple cider vinegar
¼ c. water
1 ¾ c. chicken broth
¼ c. balsamic vinegar
2 t. chopped fresh thyme
1 T. olive oil
1 (8 ounce) package baby bella/Crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 chicken breasts, cubed
¼ c. balsamic vinegar
3 T. apple cider vinegar
¼ c. chicken broth
2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in quinoa.
  2. Pour in the ¼ c. apple cider vinegar, ¼ c. water, 1 ¾ c. chicken broth, ¼ c. balsamic vinegar, and blend with the quinoa. Add the thyme. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce, cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender and fluffy, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Cook the chicken in another pan in a little olive oil. When it’s almost done, pour in ¼ c. balsamic vinegar, 2 T. apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup chicken stock. Add the mushrooms; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and until chicken finishes cooking, about 5 minutes.
  5. Serve chicken and mushrooms on the quinoa. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
* The original recipe also calls for spinach and crumbled goat cheese, which would probably be welcome additions, had those ingredients been in my fridge)

 Strawberry &Watermelon Salad with Balsamic Reduction


watermelon, cut in cubes strawberries, sliced
1 c. balsamic vinegar
1T. agave (or other sweetener)


In a medium/small saucepan on high heat, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil.
  1. Reduce the heat to medium and add agave. Stir until blended. 
  2. Reduce heat again and simmer uncovered, until about 75% of the vinegar has evaporated. 
  3. Remove from heat and allow it to cool
  4. Place berries and melon on a plate and drizzle with balsamic reduction.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

One of my favorite dressings for a green salad is just a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, some lemon juice, and fresh ground pink Himalayan salt & pepper.

My Juicer Makes Nutbutter

So I made something kind of amazing. Really people. I loved my juicer before, but now I love it even more. And I really want to make these again, like right now.

Nutbutter Cups
(adapted from this recipe from Wellness Mama)

1 bag chocolate chips (I used the same kind she recommends and I loved, gluten-, and dairy-free--so smooth!)
1 c. almond butter (or 2 cups of almonds, soaked over night, rinsed and dried, fed through your choice of grinder)
½ c. cashew butter (or 1 cup of cashews, fed through your grinder)
½ c. unsweetened shredded coconut
3 T coconut oil
2 T agave
pinch of sea salt
1 t. vanilla

  1. Combine your nut butters, coconut, coconut oil, agave, salt, and vanilla and mix until well blended.
  2. Melt down the chocolate chips in a microwave safe ceramic bowl (who has time for a double boiler?) 30 seconds to a minute at a time, stiring between.
  3. Pour enough chocolate into baking cups (I used paper and silicone) to cover the bottom of the cup and stick in freezer for a few minutes to stiffen. It doesn't need to be perfectly hard. 
  4. While the chocolate is setting, shape spoonfuls of the nutbutter filling into flat circles about 3/4 the size of your cups. Remove the chocolate cups from the freezer and place a filling disc into each cup. You can sort of push it into the chocolate, but be sure you don't push it through all the way.
  5. Set in freezer for another couple minutes and remove.
  6. Pour the remainder of the chocolate on top, covering the sides and smoothing over the top to seal around the filling.
  7. Place back in the freezer to harden.
I kept mine in the freezer, uncovered, for a couple weeks and they still tasted great! I think next time I will sprinkle some course sea salt on the top instead of adding the salt to the filling.

A Little Something

Pandora played this one for me on Friday when I desperately needed a soundtrack for my morning commute. My walk through a rainy city was much improved. I hope you enjoy.

July 20, 2012

I met a dear friend for lunch today. I’ll be honest; it’s been a long and emotionally tough week so I wasn’t sure if lunch out would be the greatest idea. My introvert nature usually tells me that I would be better left alone in times of trial and sometimes that inner voice is correct. More often than not, it is wrong and spending an hour with a good friend in good conversation is just what I need. As was the case today.

We parted at the corner of 8th and 55th, knowing that it will probably be another month or two before we find time to meet for lunch again. I walked the last block to my office feeling uplifted and refreshed and a little full with Empanada Mama in my tummy.

I shared with her some hard things that are going on in my family of origin (FOO) right now that I have no control over, yet so much emotion invested. Isn’t that often the story? It is, at least, with me. The former family therapist in me is going NUTS, but I am so out of practice that I feel that I cannot tap into that resource. She acted as the therapist I cannot be for myself. She listened, truly listened, which was so nice. She is the first person I’ve talked to about this particular issue who isn’t also emotionally invested, so I didn’t get bombarded with jagged edged shrapnel directed back at me. She just gently reflected my own emotion.

I have found myself going back repeatedly over the past several weeks to this verse of scripture,
“O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth. But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.”

The Hamptons

It's like a New Yorker's rite of passage--the Summer getaway known as the Hamptons. Our stop was Sagg Harbor and it was a great stop. We were invited, along with the other residents in the Captain's program, by one of his part-time attendings, all local endodontists who volunteers their time to mentor them. This one takes them out to dinner the first Monday of every month do discuss current research.

This quaint cottage tucked away in the woods belongs to our hosts, Dr. and Mrs. Kamen. It's been their summer home for 30 years. 

Make your own picnic lunch. This woman seriously thought of everything. The Captain kept saying, "she's you in 30 years..." Then I saw the sketch she drew of what the lunches would look like all put together stuck to her fridge and I knew he was right.  Yes, that's a bottle opener on the sole of his sandal. Why not? 

It was fun to hang out with some little people. 
The beach was beautiful. I didn't know beaches like this existed north of the Carolinas. 

 And what would a post be without a few Instas? 


We've been back from this vacation way too long to post about it again. But I've had this one in my drafts for, well, three weeks and I'm just going to do it. Because I needed a little photo-vacay this lovely Friday morning.

I yoinked that word from my sister, the same way I yoinked these photos of our trip...I still haven't had time to even see what's on our own camera, but I'm sure there will only be one or two usable images. Thanks to Emily (here, here and here) and Elizabeth (here, here and here) for capturing our vacation so beautifully! Can you believe the talent? I know, it makes me want to cry too.

Microsoft Word Tips

I know this is kind of random for me to post something so technical, but stuff like this is what takes up a large chunk of my work day and every once in awhile, I get excited about it.

While looking for a keyboard short cut to center justify text in Word, I came across this lovely blog. It’s a little outdated with the last posting back in 2010 and all the tips are catered to Word 2003, but many of them translate to newer versions just fine.

Here are a few that I found myself gasping or giggling with delight when I tried them out. I haven't tried them on my Mac at home, but I'll check it out and let you know.

Text justification. First, the reason for my search. Make sure your cursor is somewhere in the line you want to justify and then… CTRL+E to center justify…CTRL+L to left justify…CTRL+R to right justify.

Selecting text. You can select the text of a whole document to or from a certain point without holding down your mouse while scrolling. Just put your cursor where you want the text selection to start or finish. To select the text before your cursor to the beginning of the document CTRL+SHIFT+HOME. To select the text after your cursor to the end of the document CTRL+SHIFT+END.

Selecting a square block of text without having to select the whole line. This is really cool. Just hold down the ALT key while you click and drag your cursor. You can select text in vertical columns without needing to be in a table.

I figured this one out myself, but if you hold SHIFT and press HOME, it will select all the text in the line your cursor is in.

And while we're at it...Using HOME and END keys. HOME takes you to the beginning of the line your cursor is in. END takes your cursor to the end.

Increase or decrease fonts. CTRL+] increases your font by 1 point. CTRL+[[ decreases it by 1 point.

I am learning, maybe a little late in my word processing lifetime, how much more efficient (time and energy saving) it is to keep my hands on the keyboard as much as possible, rather than moving back and forth to the mouse. I'll save my mouse energy for the fun artsy stuff.

What are your favorite keyboard shortcuts?

What does the Dancing Shiva have to do with Freedom?

It's been a long time since I've practiced yoga like I want to practice yoga. It's been one of my great longings living in NYC, because this place is chalk full of incredible studios. Really,  you may think of Southern California when you think of green-smoothie-drinking-hippy-yogis, but New York is pretty much just like Bali, but made of bricks and cement and maybe it gets a little colder in the winter.

Dancing Shiva Hindu god - image credit
The problem is the super skinny debt reduction diet doesn't allow for full membership dues at these places. So, for the last year I've had to be content with the one-and-only quality class at our local NYSC. The instructor is really great and I'll leave it at that, though I'm tempted to go into all the reasons I don't like the other yoga classes they offer (ahem, it has to do with the instructors and maybe you'll say that what I get out of my practice has only to do with what I myself put in...blah blah blah).Yes, I've been meaning to do something about it, cancel my gym membership since I'm basically paying $20 for a Saturday yoga class and then maybe 30 mins on an eliptical traniner a couple times a week, and putting that money towards a more desirable option. But until I can muster up the strength for the fight of getting out of my contract, I have opted for the "daily deal website" avenue. Who knows, considering the myriad yoga studios in the City, I may be able to just live ( out) on a "30-day unlimited pass" at a time basis.

That was a long preface to the real meat of this post. My current 30-day unlimited pass is to Sonic Yoga in Hell's Kitchen (yes, that's the name of a neighborhood, not just a reality show). I can't even tell you how much I have loved my experience so far. I've been to three classes this week and had two different instructors and as luck would have it, the instructor from this morning also subbed the class last night and she pretty much led us through the same series of postures and vinyasas. She started the class by telling us a story. On the 4th, she found herself trying to explain to her 4-year-old the meaning of freedom. "It means having no rules...but there are rules" and such. She realized she wasn't even sure she knew the meaning of freedom. So she did what any normal person would do, right? She turned to Merriam Webster.

1: the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : INDEPENDENCE

 Then she looked up independence. It was Independence Day, afterall.

1 : not dependent: as a (1) : not subject to control by others : self-governing

She then related these concepts to yoga. Yoga is self-governing. There is no one to answer to in your yoga practice other than yourself. Sure, if you're practicing in a class or with others, there is often someone leading you through a sequence, but how deeply you go into the pose or how long you hold it and always your intention is 100% up to you. This is one of the reasons I love yoga. At least, what I would call "good" yoga. The freedom to let my body move the way it wants to move, utlizing the earth's gravity and my own consciousness. I love how a "good" yoga instructor understands these concepts (one of these days I'll do a teacher training course and then maybe I can be a "good" yoga instructor, too).

dancing shiva yoga pose - image credit
The Dancing Shiva, or Nataraj, as this instructor explained, is the Hindu god with four arms dancing in the ring of fire in celebration of the triumph of good over evil. It is a symbol of creation and destruction, birth and death, growth and decay.

So, what does the Dancing Shiva have to do with Freedom? I love this symbolism of the Dancing Shiva. His right foot is crushing the demon of ignorance and sin. One hand is held in a mudra (gesture) that communicates to "be without fear". His four arms point in the four cardinal directions. There is freedom in his movement, but each movement is intentional and purposeful. All encircled by the ring of fire, or samsara. Samsara in Hinduism refers to the phenomenal world or the cyclical world of rebirth.

I believe there are elements of truth in everything and I love looking for it. So, here's my interpretation and explanation of what it all has to do with freedom (I hope this does not offend or seem sacriligious).

I do not believe in reincarnation, but I do believe in rebirth. I believe I am reborn everytime I renew my covenant with God to follow Him and keep His commandements and I believe that we will all be "reborn" sometime after we die, but it will be a traditional birth, but a resurrection. I believe, with our Founding Fathers, that liberty is a God-given right. And because it is given by God, for freedom to truly be freedom it must be used within the bounds God has set. So yes, there are rules, but because we have freedom and independence, we are given the ability to be self-governing.

Some people may think that God's boundaries (ie, commandments) are restricting and that true freedom is the ability to make whatever choice you want, good or bad. I disagree. A choice is good when it opens up more opportunites to make choices--thus affording you true freedom. A choice is bad when it closes doors on opportunities that may have been available to you if you hadn't made that choice.

Like a kite dancing through the sky. It can fly only when it is tethered to the earth.

Hot Dog Hangover

The Fourth of July has long been a favorite day of mine. My mother is a patriotic woman and tried to instill a love of this great nation in all of her children. Being far away from my family is always a little bit harder around this time of year, knowing that they were all watching the Freedom Festival parade together, screaming at the balloon characters to "SPIN, SPIN, SPIN," running out for photo ops with random characters in the infamous "pre-parade", eating ghetto pops and passing around other various treats. Parting in the afternoon to nap and then reconvening to BBQ and watch some and (light a few) fireworks.    

We spent the Fourth a little differently, toting a mini charcoal grill and IKEA bags full of picnic supplies several blocks to the closest park with shade trees. The heat/humidity wiped us all out, so our plans to brave the crowds along the Hudson faded into the background of our dreams during a 3-hour nap, waking up in time to catch the Amazing Spiderman in 3D followed by some local Brooklyn pizza delivered to a perch on our friends' rooftop to watch the spectacular show from afar (and a bit of it on the old tee-vee). Oh, and bookended by a rousing game of Super Mario Bros on their Wii. It turned out to be a very different, though very enjoyable Independence Day.  

Before the long nap, the Captain turned on a History Channel documentary about the Revolutionary War. I'm not much into the details of history, but not because of lack of interest (a girl can only have so many hobbies). I was fascinated to learn the role that our little Manhattan played in the war, that Washington marched his troops up the trail now known as Broadway (which started out as a Native American trail and explains the way it traverses the neat grid of avenues and streets) to escape the British Navy when they docked a fleet of 400+ in Kip's Bay, subsequently massacring the defending "rebels".

Living in NYC has been quite an experience this last year. It didn't take long for my school-girl crush on the city to develop into a respect and admiration. I walk up and down that Native American trail called Broadway awe-struck. In the panaoramic view from my "corner office" at work I can see several buildings topped with the American flag. It reminds me of my experience with 9/11. I was living temporarily in Cananda; it was heartening to hear that stores across our northern neighbor were selling out of our flag.

This is a city with a rich American history, native and neo-native, immigrant and emigrant. It has good reason to be proud. I am proud of it.