Music Monday: Edelweiss

Last weekend, we lost my Grandma Sugarplum.  She was 93 and one of the best people I’ve ever known.  She was kind to everyone, loved her family with all her heart, had an inquiring mind and a love for tv game shows, baked the best brownies in the world, had the biggest sweet tooth, and was eternally grateful for everyone from a cup of Lemon Zinger to a warm hand to hold.

This was one of her absolute favorite songs – when I used to bring my guitar to her house. she would sit through the John Mayer and cowboy songs then would request this one which we would sing together.  It will always make me think of her, and remember this amazing woman who has left the world, but will stay in my heart forever.


Any excuse to wear sequins

Proof that just because you're coworkers doesn't mean you can't be wild and crazy friends, too!

Proof that just because you’re coworkers doesn’t mean you can’t be wild and crazy friends, too!

Yesterday, I attended the 2013 Yelpies, the annual awards celebration for fellow Yelpers at Abby Lane in downtown Boston.  I’ve been an elite since 2010 when a friend of a friend took me behind the curtain to see the great community and free parties that come with joining this club.  (You can check out my many reviews here!)

This year, the party took on a renewed purpose – it finally gave me an outlet for the super sequined dress that I bought for New Year’s Eve but never got a chance to wear.  I will toot my own horn and say I rocked this $80-turned-$18 steal – feeling like a bombshell made up for the fact that the drinks came a bit slowly and my heels were not quite as comfortable as the last time I put them on (about a year ago), and I didn’t even care when a few threads got caught or when my lipstick rubbed off because I was so confident in my new sequined skin.  Lesson learned: dress like a star (literally, sparkle away!) and the feeling will follow.  Surrounding yourself with free booze, tasty food, and amazing friends doesn’t hurt either!

Super thanks to Jill (of Jill’s Closet) for her fashion advice/pushing me to find a place to wear this, and Grandma Boo Boo for her enthusiastic response when I showed her this dress for the first time (and for passing on her love of all things glittery).

Coworkers who are friends who are foodies make my life complete

Coworkers who are friends who are foodies make my life complete

Letting my sparkle shine through - this dress was too much for NYE, but it was perfect for the swanky, celebratory Yelpie awards.

Letting my sparkle shine through – this dress was too much for NYE, but it was perfect for the swanky, celebratory Yelpie awards.

Silver sequins for the win!

Silver sequins for the win!

Kitchen Adventures: Crockpot style

Things I love: coming home to the smell of something cooking.
Things I hate: anything that could feasibly burn my house down.

I have a bit of a complicated relationship with the idea of crockpots.  I just don’t trust them.  I know that they work for tons of people, but I just can’t wrap my head around intentionally leaving something cooking in my kitchen when I’m so far away.  So in my quest to get over this, I decided to take on a classic crockpot recipe today – with a twist – while I was out and about in the neighborhood.

The results were confidence inspiring and actually amazingly delicious – more so than anything I’ve made this way before.  The recipe is modified from a “Crockpot: the original slow cooker” cookbook I nabbed for $5 outside of Borders once upon a time.

Other than the delicious taste, this recipe wins because it just involves chopping some things up (no braising the meat, etc.), cooks at one temp the whole time, and doesn’t require you to buy tons of things you’ll never use in another recipe.  It’s also adaptable to almost any veggie – you can just use this as a starting point.  Definitely recommend for anyone who’s looking to spice up the old classic this winter!

Beef stew

Asian Beef Stew – Crockpot Style

  • 1 onion, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 1/2 pounds round steak, cut up – I got mine pre-cut into stew meat sized chunks at the deli
  • 1 head of celery, sliced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced – make your slices pretty thin, my carrots still had some crunch to them!
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced (really, can use as little as 1 cup or as much as you want)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup beef broth (look for low sodium and low fat versions)
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce – the one weird ingredient!
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Combine onion, beef, celery, carrots, and mushrooms in a large crockpot (the book recommends the 5-quart version, as though you have multiple sizes just filling your cupboards).
  2. Combine orange juice, beef broth, hoisin sauce, cornstarch, and curry powder in a small bowl – whisk together until cornstarch is dissolved.
  3. Pour into crockpot and give it a good stir – cover and cook on high for 5 hours or until the beef is tender.  When the beef is almost done (go ahead, peek!), stir in a cup of frozen peas and cook for a final 20 minutes or so.

Serve over rice, share, freeze, and enjoy!

This is definitely going in my list of easy favorites.  It has a great warmth to it, between the spiciness of the sauce and the curry.  The beef was so tender and tasty – I’m really looking forward to eating this all week.  Seriously!

What’s your favorite crockpot creation?  Had any major flops you learned along the way?

2013 Check-in

How’s 2013 going so far?  From my point of view, it’s:

  1. exciting
  2. athletic
  3. optimistic
  4. more than a little wacky

For proof on point #4, I point you to this NY Times quiz of lunacy in this year so far – as little of it as we’ve seen, it’s all rather ridiculous.  I actually only got 3/8 – after I started thinking about Joe Biden’s tomfoolery, I lost my ability to focus.

How did you do?

(Thanks Dad, for sending me this!)

Lucky 13

Hey there 2013 – I’m glad you made it!

I am a big goal-setter, in case you’ve never met me or made it past the front page of this blog to see my Five Year Plan.  So when a new year starts and the calendar flips, I love to take a look at what’s ahead of me for the next twelve months, and set some lofty expectations.  Here’s what I expect in the coming year:

  • More celebrations in the form of friend weddings, friend engagements (you know who you are), and more dinner parties all around
  • Running my first half marathon – tons more on this later, but the registration is in, it’s happening this year and I’m going to need your help!
  • More fun with my family, especially now that Grandma BooBoo lives so close
  • More challenges at work, and more making great things happen for deserving non-profits
  • Continuing my weight-loss/ get-fit challenge of moving more, eating well, and trying to center myself
  • New opportunities to learn – whether through guitar lessons at long last or a bread-making class at the Harvard Extension School, I’m ready to try something new!
  • Travel adventures – from Big Sur with Kat later this spring to maybe some international trip in the fall, I’m ready to spread my wings
  • Watch more Dr. Who (yeah, it’s finally time to get addicted)

What’s on your plate for 2013?

Goodbye, 2012

2012 brought lots of laugh, heartache, delicious food, new challenges, and adventures.  And really, if that isn’t the stuff of life… what is?  In the past year, I:

  • Got a promotion
  • Lost 10 pounds (more to go!)
  • Spent an awesome amount of time with my Grandma BooBoo who moved to New England from Florida at long last
  • Got to celebrate my sister’s engagement to Wes
  • Rode in a tiny plane for the first time
  • Visited Chicago for the first time (with hopefully many more trips ahead)
  • Saw my first Great Lake (ahoy, Michigan!)
  • Sat in the exit row of a plane (YES REALLY AND IT WAS SO SWANKY)
  • Spent evenings out, morning at yard sales, and days of adventure with my awesome Boston friends
  • Became a Massachusetts voter
  • Helped elect a great woman to serve as MA’s first female Senator – soon to be the senior Senator from Massachusetts.  Go Elizabeth Warren!
  • Made and ate some amazing food
  • Visited the White House and the West Wing for the first time
  • Attended the weddings of my awesome MoHo friends Jill and Isabel
  • Celebrated the engagements of Katey, Ashley, and Pem
  • Graduated from Boston’s New Leaders Council Institute
  • Ran 2 races with my favorite running partner – my mom

All that, and more made up my 2012.  Now I’ve got even bigger plans for the year ahead – stay tuned, more on that tomorrow!