27 February 2012

Farewell Dear Friends

Hello Friends,

So, you might have noticed that over the last couple months my posts have become less and less frequent and if you ask me, they also lack the pizazz of earlier times. The truth is, I'm just burned out on it. And life seems to be taking a different shape, one that doesn't accomodate for my writing here.

After much careful deliberation (and a few sleepless nights) I have decided to say goodbye to my space here and to all of you. I want to clear out some time and mental energy to use my gift of writing and social networking elsewhere- most likely partnering with my husband John in marketing The Edge summer mission program and perhaps starting on a little blog project for them as well. Only time will tell how extensive it will be, and I want to be available and ready to take on the next opportunity.

I have been so blessed by all of you and the ways you have spoken into my life, the ways you have given and encouraged me with written word and beautiful photos. I really will miss the community here and am so thankful for the hole it filled when I lacked community in my day to day life this past year. Praise God for finally plugging me in here in Orlando!

I'm also thankful for all that I have learned. The ways I have grown in my writing, my thinking, my ability to network and market and use social media outlets. It's all been great experience and skills I can use in the future.

Thank you for reading! It's been a pleasure!


Culture Connoisseur

17 February 2012

Strong O-Pen-ions

So, it dawned on me yesterday that I'm a little bit of a nerd. You guys might have already picked up on that, but I was completely unaware! I noticed that as soon as I got in the office I started to anticipate the delivery of my office supply order from the day before. Why? These guys....

That's right. The Pilot G-2 gel pen! Previously we had always ordered the Uni-ball Signo RTs, but I really got fed up with the scratchiness of the ink (never comes out right and leaves blank spot on your words) and the fine point of them. I just can't write well with them.

These work much better, the gel is much more thick and you get a nice thick line. Perfection!

The only thing better would be these..

Oh baby! The Paper-mate Profile Ball-point! I'm not sure it gets much better. The great thing about this pen is the ball-point. Gel is always needing time to dry and increases the smear factor. Me no likey.

I realize that to some of you, a post about pens may seem absurd. But to the rest of you...it's genius!

I know you have a favorite pen too....what's it like? Gel pen, ball-point, fine-tipped sharpie pens (also a favorite!), fine point? You tell me. Are you loyal to a certain pen brand or even ink color?

15 February 2012

Hearty Steel Cut Oats

Have you ever had steel cut oats? I tried them for the first time about a month ago. If you're one of those folks that doesn't really enjoy the texture of oatmeal, this might be the fix for you. The steel cut oats are much thicker and more chewy and hearty....so the final product isn't goopy like regular instant oats.

Steel cut oats may seem healthier, but I'm pretty sure that there's not a huge difference when compared to regular oats, the only difference is the way the grain is cut. But any kind of oatmeal is a great choice for breakfast...as long as you cook it yourself!

Hearty Steel Cut Oats
Serves 2-3

2 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup steel cut oats
2 tbsps natural maple syrup (none of that glorified high fructose corn syrup nonsense!)
1 dash of nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
(brown sugar or raw if this is not sweet enough for you...or you can sweeten with a bit of almond milk)
Top with fruit, nuts, etc.

Bring water and salt to a boil. Add oats, and reduce heat to simmer, stirring often. Can take up to 20-30 minutes to absorb the water and be cooked. But remember, the oats will always be chewy.

This is a great breakfast to make double of and reheat throughout the week. Just add some almond milk and heat up in the microwave! :)

Question of the Day:
What do you usually eat for breakfast?

13 February 2012

Wine, Dinner, and DANCING!

Last week my husband John was out of town with work. He was in a location where we couldn't call each other, skype, or email like we usually do when he travels. It was pretty much the worst five days in a while. He got back on Friday morning and we went out for a special date night Friday night. We had plenty of things to celebrate...

Me and my beloved sangria at Mi Tomatinas Paella Bar, Winter Park, FL.

We were celebrating his getting back from his trip.

We were celebrating the anniversary of when he proposed to me back in 2010.

We were celebrating an early Valentine's.

And the vastness of our love for one another. :)

We started out at the Wine Room in Winter Park. It's a huge wine cellar where you get money loaded onto a card and then go around spending it on tastes of tons of different wine selections on the walls. We left feeling flushed, joyful, and if I may say so, a little frisky. :)

Our next stop was dinner at our favorite restaurant- Mi Tomatinas Paella Bar. Best food in town! We started off with some sangria, bread and a tomato gazpacho dip, and then moved on to a dinner of assorted tapas while we listened to live flamenco music.

We sat outside under the awning and it poured rain. The mixture of the wine and the food, being with my favorite person in the world, and people dancing and laughing over boisterous spanish guitar made for a  euphoric experience. And it only got better from there...

When we got to the house he had me close my eyes and having looked forward to a surprise all week it was all I could do not to peek. While we were at dinner he had some of his buddies come set up a romantic dance space at home. He walked me down the aisle there and we danced. ANd can I just say, my husband has some killer moves!

Best. Night. Ever.

Here's the pathway up to the room, were, as they say on MTV cribs, "all the magic happened." But you know what I think? I think those homies on MTV cribs don't have squat on what happened that night.

It goes down in the Malone history books as one of the most romantic and playful nights we've had.

We'll tell the kids about it one day, and they will plug their ears and say "ewwwww!"

Question of the Day:
What are you doing for Valentine's?

09 February 2012

Ginger-Lime Kale and Sweet Potatoes

This is my new favorite dish. I've prepared it twice in two weeks. The flavors in this recipe are very good and eat ingredient really stands on its own but they come together quite nicely. I also love it because of how good it makes me feel. It's very good for the digestive system and for the skin. It's no secret that hearty greens can give you a glow.

This recipe is based on one from Clean Eating Magazine. I found it while scouting around for cooking inspiration. I made a few changes and this version is not only cheaper, but includes more of my favorite ingredients!

Ginger-Lime Kale and Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4-5

2 cups sweet potatoes, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp ginger, chopped finely (or grated)
8 cups kale, washed and chopped
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 handful dried cranberries
Juice of one lime
Season with salt


1. Preheat the oven to 400. Chop your sweet potatoes and toss them in 1 tbsp olive oil. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.

2. While your taters are baking, heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in a dutch oven over med-high heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another 30 seconds (turn down the heat a bit).

3. Add kale and cover. Stir once it starts to wilt, turn temperature down to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stiring once or twice.

4. Add chickpeas and dried cranberries and cook until heated through. Now throw in your cooked sweet potatoes.

5. Stir together with the salt and lime juice and make sure everything is heated through. Now serve it up in huge mounds and consume! :)

Question of the Day:
Have you ever tried kale? Do you like greens?

07 February 2012

The Superbowl and How We Roll

If you've gotten to know me any kind of well in your time following my blog you know that one of the things I value most in life is simplicity. I love cutting down on the clutter, cutting down on spending, and making do with the little things. It is foundational in our marriage and I think that's one of the reasons we are so happy.

One of the ways we cut down is by saying no to cable. Why spend the money on it these days when you can get instant streaming on Netflix?

The only time this gets to be a problem is superbowl time. Here was our set-up last Sunday....

Yup, we watched the game on a little computer screen situated on top of our Moroccan pouf. I thought it was splendid, and it was nice and low key. I also got to learn how to be a commentator, because when John would run to the kitchen there was no big screen to keep in on the action, so I did my best to bring him back in...

"Ok, they are all lining up."

"Someone just jumped on someone else."

"There's 1 down and 10 of something...."

The only snack I made was this bean dip. I have to say that this picture isn't very appetizing, but as I find most game foods absolutely disgusting, it fits.

This dip is NOT disgusting, though. It's delicious, and even though it's not as healthy as a carrot, it isn't as bad as a steaming pot of queso either...

Mexican Black Bean Dip

1 can black beans, rinsed and mashed
3/4 to 1 cup salsa
1/3 cup mexican-blend cheese
2 tbsp cream cheese
salt and pepper
dash of garlic powder
more cheese for topping

Mix the first 6 ingredients in a bowl and microwave until melted (stirring every 30-45 seconds.)

Turn on your oven broiler to high and put the dip into a serving dish and cover with cheese. Broil for 3-4 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Question of the Day?
What's your favorite superbowl food?

03 February 2012

My Favorite Foodie Sites

In response to Wednesday's post I received the following comment:

"I’ve been dying to hear about your progress! I have been
curious about cutting meat out for a while now but I have to do it subtly as my
guy would NEVER go for it. The benefits sound amazing – too good not to try!
Where do you go for recipe inspiration?"

Great question Meghan! And one I'm delighted to answer. Here are the sites I go to most frequently for recipe inspiration, and they never let me down.

OhSheGlows.com - Vegan Recipes by Angela Liddon

DailyGarnish.com- Vegan/Vegetarian Recipes by Emily Malone

EatingBirdFood.com - Healthy Recipes by Brittany Mullins

NeverHomeMaker.com- Healthy recipes by  Ashley
The Whole Foods Recipe Page

The Engine 2 Diet Recipe Page

That's just to name a few. I also find a lot of great recipes and inspiration on Pinterest. I have an entire board full of healthy veggie recipes! Check it out here

Hope this helps you find some great ideas for the kitchen and inspires you to up your veggie intake! Happy eating!

Question of the Day:
Do you have a favorite veggie site that I didn't mention? Share it!

01 February 2012

The Healing Power of Vegetables

                                                                           Source: health-heaven.tumblr.com via Hannah on Pinterest

Remember this post back in September? I know! I had forgotten about it, too. It's been months and I haven't updated you on how it's going and the changes we're seeing.

For all who are new to my blog, in September John and I tried a little experiement. John had chronic heartburn and we started to wonder if cutting out meat, dairy, and processed foods could heal him. We started out on a vegan diet, and instantly saw his daily heartburn pain subside. 

After a few months we found what worked for us. We didn't like a completely vegan diet. Though about 50% of our weekly intake of food is still vegan, our day in and day out diet fits a little more comfortably into the "vegetarian" team. When people ask, though, I usually say "plant-based" since there are times when we are served meat or make it on rare occasion and will eat it...which people are very quick to jump on us for, but c'est la vie, right? You have to be happy and comfortable with what you do, and no one else's opinion matters.

                                                                                Source: thinisalwaysbetter.tumblr.com via Hannah on Pinterest

I had read about and heard personal accounts of how a plant-based diet could cure you of things, but wasn't sure I really believed it until I saw for myself.  Here's some changes we've noticed in the last 5 months of plant-based eating and picking up a routine of exercise. The changes I found in myself were completely unexpected!

No more heartburn!
Lost weight
Teeth and gums are much healthier
No more afternoon fatigue
Major decrease in back pain

The heart palpitations I dealt with on a daily basis? GONE.
The wart I had had under my thumbnail since elementary school? GONE
No more afternoon fatigue
Teeth and gums are much healthier
No more constipation (which was an issue at times before)
Healtier and faster growing nails
Little to no back pain
I've only thrown out my neck once (and it healed in a day instead of being down for a week like usual)

It has seriously been a life-changer. And there's no turning back, not when we see so many results! To think, I used to take heart medication for years to help regulate my heartbeat, and all I really needed were some vegetables! If I would have known that, I would have done this years ago. And now John no longer takes Prilosec every single day, instead he starts off his day with a smoothie! :)

Coming up soon: How veggies changed my parent's health. This story will BLOW YOU AWAY!