Monthly Archives: October 2011

Lululemon and Black Bean Soup

34 degrees and sleety/rainy/snowy? Really? It’s not even Halloween yet!!
I am not a morning person and it was so tough to get out of my cuddly bed this morning, but I am so glad I did. As Julie says, “You never regret a workout!”
I took a two hour mash-up of BodyCombat, BodyPump, and conditioning, and it was killer!! Seriously. I am gonna huuurt tomorrow (actually, I’m a little sore already!). I also took my first Zumba class last night since my yoga studio just started offering it on Friday nights. I always thought it would be kind of corny, but oh man! I was dripping sweat, and loved the instructor! We had a lot of fun, and it felt great to be dancing (read: shakin’ it) again.
Then I braved the rain and sleet in just my Lulu jacket and stopped at the grocery on the way home to snag some strawberries for a smoothie and luckily they had a huge stash of avocados on sale for $1 each…score! Guacamole will be in my near future.
PS, if you are looking for a super comfy, lightweight, and very flattering jacket (with a hood! And thumb holes!) to wear during warmups, on runs/dogwalks in slightly chilly weather, or to throw on before and after the gym/studio, get this jacket!!! So worth the money, as are all Lululemon products. I’m addicted….Cool Racerbacks and Wunder Unders are my other go-tos. They are worth saving up for! They fit perfectly and last forever.
Get the Dance Studio Jacket here. It looks like they are low on options right now, but they often restock. I also like their Scuba Hoodies and want the Live Simply jacket.
Deepest pockets ever! Love.
Finally got my big bag of SunWarrior Warrior Blend protein yesterday, so I was excited to make a smoothie (…now if only I also had a Vitamix….). Four fresh strawberries, a small banana, a splash of skim milk, scoop of the vanilla SunWarrior, a couple handfuls of spinach (you can’t taste it! Promise), and some ice was all I needed. The texture of SunWarrior protein is different than others I’ve tried, but I really like it.
Check it out here.
I am heading up to Philly in a bit, but before I head out, I have to share this with you. What is perfect for a day like today? This super easy Black Bean Soup!!! I made it earlier this week since I haven’t been able to find a canned variety that I loved.
Black Bean Soup

1 TB oil (I usually use Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 small onion, diced, divided in two
2 large cloves of garlic, roughly minced
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Adobo with Cumin seasoning
Cayenne Pepper
2 cups of water
1/2 TB chicken stock (I use Minor’s)
1 cup of corn (I used corn cut off the cob that was frozen)
2/3 cup of jarred salsa
1 TB lime juice
Shredded cheese (optional)
Plain Greek yogurt (optional)
Cilantro (optional)
Warm oil in a pot and add half of the diced onion. Saute until the onions begin to turn transluscent. 
In a blender, add one can of the drained black beans and the other half of the onion, as well as the garlic cloves. Pulse a few times.
Put the other can of black beans into the pot and then add the blender-pulsed mixture. Stir in two cups of water and the chicken stock (to make a sort of chicken broth), and season with the Adobo and cayenne to taste.
Add in the corn and salsa and continue to stir.
Stir for a few minutes, and when your soup is hot enough, turn off the heat and add the lime juice.
Pour into bowls and top with shredded cheese, plain yogurt (as a sour cream sub!), and cilantro, if you choose.

Make this soup! Even my picky little sister loved it. Full of fiber, protein, and deliciousness. Koda wanted a taste as well.

I am ready for a bite now.

Oh yes, and I did decide to buy the new Coldplay album….glad I did, it is beautiful and is a nice change of pace for me in regards to the other types of music I listen to. The songs are all so atmospheric and gorgeous and just have so much sound, and each song flows well into the other when listened to in order. Fan!

Off to Philly after having a bowl of soup. Have a wonderful weekend!



That is exactly how things have been around here lately…crazy work, gym, yoga studio, illustration commissions, family get-togethers and minor crisises, shows in the city, trying new recipes….I’ve been all over the place! This post will pretty much mimic that.
You are right, Miss J. I will try.
(ANTM fans out there?)
Little photo recap of my past week:
Birthday Pup!!! No party hats were to be found, so I bought his collar a ribbon. That’ll do.

Kissing his birthday bat.

^…those still exist? And Poppy’s 84th birthday (with birthday ice creammmm)

Get it, Office fans? Three Hole Punch Jim and Black Cat Pam:
I made us Dunder Mifflin ID tags to make it a little more authentic….aaand so that people didn’t just think I was a bad version of a black cat. C’mon, I am a little more creative than THAT.
(Pre-Pam Halpert….and that’s the date that Halloween episode aired.)
It’s FRIDAY again, and you know what that means!!!
The Friday Five
1.) What I’m Reading:

Still the same ol’  LARGE PRINT from last week. I remember the days when it would just take me a couple days to read a book…now it takes weeks! I just juggle so many things at this point that reading has taken a bit of a backseat for me lately. But don’t get me wrong…still love it!
2.) What I’m Listening To:

The new Coldplay album that was just released…Alt Nation on SiriusXM has been doing a fab job of playing many songs from the CD and I think I am going to buy it on iTunes later tonight. I’m diggin’. The new Black Keys album sounds like it will be awesome as well.

3.) What I’m Watching:

Been waiting for this for a loooong time. And was as impressed as I could’ve hoped. Same amazing humor and animation laced with current icons like Twilight, Jersey Shore, MGMT, and Skrillex? Perfect storm. That Mike Judge…he’s pure fabulousity.
Um…Chopped??? Where have I been? OBSESSED! For some reason I had not seen this show before, but had heard of it. Now I have been watching marathons and DVRing old and new eps this past week. Love!!! Also Restaurant: Impossible

Really into food shows lately. 

4.) What I’m Eating:

Comin’ at ya: Black Bean soup recipe that I made for lunch earlier this week. I wish I had taken pictures, but I will definitely be recreating this soon.
Wawa turkey and veggie hoagie today…heavy on the veg. And their slammin’ chicken noodle soup. The noodles are so doughy and delish. Get ready for a recycled pic…
Oh…and these freakin’ peanut butter filled pretzels. Addicting.
^who gets to wear Lululemon jackets to work? Me. Half because I’m the only female and I don’t always have to look like a fashion plate, whew, and half ‘cuz my boys keep it ARCTIC up in here.
5.) What I’m Pinning:
Some swoonworthy shtuff I am lusting over:

Vitamix! Nikon1! And that workspace! Oh my!
And in addition to holiday decorating ideas, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for DIY Christmas gifts. I’m going home with Coop for Christmas this year and meeting most of his family for the first time, and I do not plan on going empty handed! Plus, I love all-things-festive. It’ll be fun to create a mixture of homemade and baked little gifts, and decorate them to make them very “me.”
(All sources and links can be found via my Pinterest.)
On tap for this weekend:
  • My first Zumba experience tonight. Eek!
  • A two hour mash-up of BodyCombat and BodyPump tomorrow morning. My thighs are hurting just typing that!!!
  • A night in Philly for one of Coop’s shows and possibly another Halloween party after if we can make it.
  • Make more Black Bean Soup and post the recipe….omigosh I’m in love.
  • Catch up on Breaking Bad, How to Make It in America, and a new episode of Dexter on Sunday!
Have a good one!

Beginning to Look A Lot Like…Christmas?

….As you know, I equate cold and snow with being about as desirable as smacking your forehead on an open cabinet, resulting in a bleeding head wound (not that I did that at lunchtime yesterday, or anything…).

However, there is an exception to that. A BIG one!!! I. Love. The holidays. And everything that comes with them (although once New Year’s passes, I start an agonizing countdown to Memorial Day Weekend).

In an artist’s world, we have to plan ahead when it comes to getting “holiday stuff” out on time. We were working on holiday displays at my design job months ago, as the seemingly endless web of production takes quite a bit of time. And as I have been thinking about my own holiday card set to sell/send out this year, I have gotten a few requests from clients for commissioned Christmas cards of their own.

This week, I brought this commission from last year:

To this:

I actually like this one better! Details like a background and some accessories make it more interesting.

The Charlie Brown tree was my client’s idea, and I LOVE it! So clever. I have a version of the tree with the traditional ornament, and I definitely can put that to use. Clearly, I love all things Peanuts.

It’s Friday, and you know what that means!!!

The Friday Five
1.) What I’m Reading:

My mom had just finished this book about the persecution of Japanese Americans during WWII and she decided that I must read it.

Here is a review from Garth Stein, author of one of my very favorite books, The Art of Racing in the Rain (if you haven’t read it, and especially if you are a dog lover, get on it):

“Jamie Ford has written a tender and satisfying novel that is tucked into a part of Seattle history we would rather not face.  Set in a time and a place lost forever, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet gives us a glimpse of the damage that is caused by war–not the sweeping damage of the battlefield, but the cold, cruel damage to the hearts and humanity of individual people.  Especially relevant in today’s world, this is a beautifully written book that will make you think.  But, more importantly, it will make you feel.” 

– Garth Stein, NY Times bestselling author of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

My mom would have accidentally ordered “large print” from the library. At least my eyes don’t have to work overly hard after staring at a computer screen all day. Oh, Kim.

In case you wanted to read an excerpt, Large Print to the rescue.

Yes. My bookmark is a Flying Dog label. Don’t judge. All hail Ralph Steadman.

2.) What I’m Listening To:

Somehow, I knew the song, but this video slipped through the cracks. Thanks, baby sister, AKA my video vixen and music finder, for showing me this fabulous video. Love Temper Trap.

3.) What I’m Watching:

How to Make It in America


Excited to get caught up on it this weekend. I’ve already seen the first episode of the new season, but have waited for the rest. We have to rewatch the finale from the first season and then the first three or four episodes from this season to catch Coop up to speed. Love this show! It’s an easy watch….reminds me of Entourage’s early (read: good) days. Doesn’t send me into an emotional rollercoaster (cough cough new fave Breaking Bad cough). Plus amazing camera work. 

And I still love Kid Cudi (Scott Mescudi…he plays Domingo on the show)…even though when I saw him in concert I was about one of 12 in the place that was old enough to have a wristband for beer. Who knew?

(Sorry for dragging you to Tween Central, Coop. I see the pain in your face.)

I will drink my large beer and you will like it, Teenyboppers. And no, you can’t pay me thirteen dollars to buy you a(n underage) Bud Light.

4.) What I’m Eating:

In keeping with the holiday theme…

I was so excited to receive a package from CLIF Bar in the mail yesterday! They had a Twitter giveaway a few weeks ago…they were giving away free samples to try their new Peppermint Stick bar.  

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but oh my goodness. Peppermint in an energy bar with oats and soybeans sounded a little peculiar, but I really loved this. The way that mint chocolate chip just works, so does this bar. Low in fat, and high in fiber and protein, it was great fuel before my BodyCombat class yesterday. I loved the flavor as it didn’t taste “chalky” like some energy bars tend to do, and I would definitely get it again. On top of that, 1% of sales of CLIF seasonal bars will be donated to the Winter Wildlands Alliance…”With this, we hope to protect the outdoor places we play for countless seasons to come.” How cool!

5.) What I’m Pinning:

I wish I could come up with costumes this cool.
Um, can you imagine having ever been small enough to fit into a pot (although…I can fit into a suitcase…#shortgirlproblems)?!

Also, these cupcakes (!!!!):

(Hey, Arizona!)

And this pink grapefruit margarita:

 I don’t like overly sweet alcoholic drinks; a margarita is about as sweet as I can handle, and I am a huge fan of them (I think it runs in my blood…thanks Mom and G-Mom). Bet these add even more sour to the mix and I think I’d love ’em!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend! 


Oh yeah….and Happy 1st Birthday to this cute little critter:

My little life-changer. He will get a nice walk, lots of extra peanut butter and a new bat toy today!! 🙂
(And I won’t make him try on his halloween costume…which his LEAST favorite part is 100% the whipped cream and cherry hat.

My little banana split.

Heh heh….I am evil.

Feels Like Home

Hello! Hope you all had an incredible weekend!

I had a really intense and totally necessary conversation this weekend dealing with me being so emo about having had to move back home, on the coast I said I’d never return to, with its crappy weather, to the town I said I would never again live in….and yet came to the realization that…you know what?

……it ain’t so bad here!

Jersey/Philly really is my home, where my sports teams are, where my pride is, where there is phenomenal food, where most of my (very close) family is, and even though most of my friends do not live here anymore, a few my closest ones live a heck of a lot closer now than a plane ride away (like they did before). Within just a few driving hours in either direction, we have Delaware, we have New York, we have the beaches, we have DC, we have Baltimore, we have Boston (where I am going for the first time in a few weeks!!).

I’ll be going to New Hampshire for the first time ever this Christmas, and after quite a few totally-not-traditional holiday seasons out West, I am definitely going to enjoy the “Christmas-y-ness” of East Coast holidays again (um, and freeze my tuchus off). I am not one to complain about a lack of snow and cold, but during fall and the holidays, I always got a little homesick. Pumpkin picking and white Christmases just feel so right. And who knows, maybe one day I will wrap multi-colored lights around a palm tree again, but until then, I’m going to immerse myself in all of the East Coast “holiday-ness”.


Oh yeah….and not to mention, I’m totally falling back in love with Philly.

This weekend was nearly perfect. 

Friday night consisted of an awesome dinner date at Kokopelli, a Southwestern/American fusion type restaurant in the Rittenhouse Square area of Philadelphia.



Coop and I love the same types of food (we typically accidentally order the same entrees on a menu and he digs my cookin’), so we agreed on sharing a bunch of appetizers, tapas style. We agreed on:

  • Ahi Tuna Crudo on Crisp Tortilla, Roasted Garlic Avocado Crema
  • Blue Corn Fried Calamari and Rock Shrimp
  • Green Chili Stewed Chicken and (what I think was a Jalapeno) Cornbread Muffin
  • Shrimp Tamale in a Garlic Cream Sauce (because they were out of the crab dip we ordered)
  • Six house margaritas 😉  < They weren’t very big! But tastyyy

Forgot I had a camera until we were heading out the door!

I had a Groupon, and it ended up being….get this….free. The waitress got a well-deserved tip, and the manager even stopped by to chat to us about the restaurant and its recent overhaul. After reading a few so-so reviews online, I am glad I didn’t let that stop me. Great food, great atmosphere, great service.

We closed out the restaurant, as per usual. We then headed out to Public House, where a friend was bartending….and we ran into some of our Avalon favorites! All in all, an awesome night in the city.

Oh, and ultimate creeper in the back.

Saturday night, we went out to a favorite pub by my parents’ house in Jersey. Our dates? My BFFs Christine (lovingly referred to as Biggie), Mary, and Mary’s fiance were all in town!

What to do when we are “on our bad sides?”
Why, turn the opposite way into a “dancer pose,” obviously.

Dinner was interesting this night as well…Bigs’ “Calamari” was surprisingly supplemented with fried hot peppers and pickles in the assortment.

This would be why her calamari was spicy….

Snooki would have approved on the pickle front.


Fruit flies were abundant (whyyy are they everywhere right now?), so Mary made sure to thwart them away from her Sam Adams.

People watching was prime Saturday night. We saw lots of other friends while we were out, and my parents even stopped by for an Oktoberfest beer on the way home from the Flyers game before we headed home (responsibly! My Designated Driver Dad piled us all in).

And as for my perfect Sunday?
Homemade Cinnamon Pumpkin Waffles started off the morning. These seriously tasted like French toast! May have to post the recipe.

A husky walk later and I was on my way back to Philly. I brought Black Bean Dip and some chips, and Coop had bought a six-pack of one of my favorite Oktoberfest beers.


The rest of the day consisted of football all day (both of our teams won!! YEAH, Eagles and Pats!) and not leaving the house except to walk to get our weekly veggie pizza in the crisp fall air. We also caught up on The Office.

Speaking of, I think we figured out our costumes for Halloween this year. Oh, hellooo….

And as if my Sunday couldn’t get any better, I found myself gravitating toward the ice cream isle in the grocery Sunday morning. I should’ve known I’d find this there, calling my name. We absolutely broke this out during Dexter.

(Best SNL skit ever.)

Also got some drawing done in there. New illustrations posted this week!

When it comes down to it, I still need to get my stuff out of Arizona (sorry, Joe and Kristin!!! Soon!!!), I miss having a place to decorate and call my own, and I totally miss my friends and the weather out West….and the palm trees. But that being said, I’ve found some pretty great stuff to call my own back here. Looks like I’ll be staying for a little while. 🙂

Maybe things really do happen for a reason.

Avocado, Shrimp, & Black Bean Quesadilla with Cilantro Chipotle "Sour Cream"

After finding this pretty little picture on Pinterest a few weeks ago, I ran home at lunch time to create my own inspired version of an avocado quesadilla.


My (scrumptious!) creation includes foods I eat almost everyday and do not ever get sick of, avocados, cheese, black beans, and scrimps (add spinach, peanut butter, and chocolate to the list, and you’ve nailed my regular eats).

And for a little somethin’ somethin’ extra, I decided to whip up a flavored sour cream dipping sauce. Lately, I have been subbing plain Greek yog in lieu of sour cream to up the nutrition factor and cut back on calories (you won’t notice the difference…promise!). Hence, Cilantro Chiptole “Sour Cream”!

Here is what I did:

Avocado, Shrimp, & Black Bean Quesadilla 
with Cilantro Chipotle “Sour Cream”


For the Quesadilla:

1 avocado (you only need half per quesadilla)
Lime juice (to taste)
Cracked Sea Salt (to taste)
Cayenne Pepper (to taste)
Cumin (to taste)
1 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for sauteing)
1/2 small red onion (diced)
6-10 peeled, de-veined, de-tailed shrimp
Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce*
1/3 can of black beans (rinsed)
Smart Balance or butter (for greasing pan)
1 whole wheat tortilla
Shredded Taco Cheese

For the “Sour Cream”:

Fage 0% Greek Yogurt
Lime juice
Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce*
Fresh cilantro


For the Quesadilla:

Cut avocado in half, and mash half in a bowl (wrap the other half tight in tin foil and put in fridge for later use, you only need half of the insides unless you are making two quesadillas).

Add lime juice, cracked sea salt, cayenne pepper, and cumin. Mash into the avocado. Cover and set aside.

With a little EVOO, saute diced onion and shrimp. Season with about half a teaspoon or less of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce* (a little goes a long way) and (my favorite) Goya Adobo seasoning, to taste. Once onions are translucent and shrimp is opaque throughout, add in rinsed black beans. Season with a bit more Adobo seasoning and cook just until beans are hot. Remove from heat.

Melt a little Smart Balance (or butter) in a frying pan. Place the tortilla flat on the pan, and sprinkle shredded cheese over the tortilla. Cook until cheese is melting; the other side of the tortilla will be slightly crunchy.

Remove tortilla from pan, and put the avocado mix on half of the tortilla. Next add the shrimp/onion/bean mix. Fold over, and cut into thirds with a pizza cutter.

For the “Sour Cream” Sauce:

Put a spoonful of greek yogurt in a bowl (however much you would like to use as a dipping sauce!). Add in a squeeze of lime juice, about 1/4 teaspoon of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce*, and a sprinkle of freshly chopped cilantro, all to taste. Mix together, and serve as a dipping sauce on the side.

*When I refer to the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, I mean this:

Since you only use a little at a time, I use what I need the first time and then freeze the rest in a little container and then just “scrape” off what I need. A “couple of scrapes” is usually all you need in a recipe; I am a diehard all-things-spicy lover, and this stuff really is hot. It has a really tasty smoky flavor, and a lot of bite. Of course, if you don’t overdo it, it is not overly spicy at all.

Frozen Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

“Sour Cream” before its all mixed up

Make this. Today.

I also use this “sour cream” with other dishes. It works great with taco salad.

Artistic Inspiration

On the drawing front, as I am still battling my psycho severe allergies (I had to get a steroid shot yesterday morning to try to control them and the inflammation in my sinuses! And then proceeded to sleep all day in between coughing fits), I am just starting to fall back into my drawing routine. I have quite a to-do list piling up (drawing as a gift for a friend; logo for a benefit; a couple other logos; my three new Christmas cards that I have to send to print; a Christmas card commission [with more doggies…yessss]; some new prints and products for my soon-to-be-launched Etsy store).

^That gives me a headache. But tonight I am moving up a new commission to the top of my list, since I think it will be good for easing me back into the art thang.

I am reworking this commission from last year:

into a little winter wonderland for a client’s Christmas card. Adding some fun details like snow, santa hats, holly, a Charlie Brown tree, and glitter (!!!) will make this festive and fun, and the additions should only take me a few hours to do since the bulk of the image is already done. Thank goodness for Photoshop! I’ll be sure to post here when it is finished. Also going to try to work on my jungle animal drawings (the gift) over the next few days.

When I get overwhelmed, it helps to remember a myriad of things like this:

(That’s my life!) 

And yet:

This is where I supplement my artistic lifestyle with the other things that make me happy; finding new workouts and making fitness a top priority in my life, cooking, reading, blogging, spending time with my dog, family, and friends, trying new restaurants, playing…I may not be as focused as strictly on art as many of my other artist friends, which makes me feel a little guilty sometimes, but I really have other passions beyond art. Art’s my life….but it’s not the only ingredient in it. And it is important for me to do great work, to push myself, to really do something (as my one amazing artist friend says, “MAKE shit!”), all the while staying happy, and being as well-rounded as possible. Make sense?
And then I remember one of my favorite quotes:
“I once told my daughter I was busy working and she said ‘You’re not working, you’re drawing.’ I try to remember that every day.” – Edel Rodriguez, Dec ’09 Communication Arts
Like….really? My jobs are pretty sweet.
Gotta bang ’em out, one at a time. This can be done. Somehow, I always hit deadlines when they are in place. I seem to be more prolific and am better at time-management when I have a lot going on. Lez do this.
(All inspirational type posters and their sources can be found via my Pinterest.)