Color of the Year: Radiant Orchid

Pantone announced the color of the year for 2014: Radiant Orchid!

Though this one is not a personal favorite of mine, I am always inspired by color! This bright and almost neon color does not frequent my wardrobe or even my artwork but these fun photographs which highlight it in the best way are almost convincing me to change my opinion. I can’t help but think about how much this color would fit into the Lisa Frank color palette which is so 1995! I hope you are as inspired as I am! Enjoy!

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*I am having a hard time finding the sources for these images. It seems that they are royalty free…Thank you to all the artists behind them!
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Chase the Sunset

I was cozy in my bedroom with a book and the baby on this lazy Saturday afternoon when I glanced out the window to see the glow of the pink sunset on the snowy roofs of the neighbor’s homes. Inspired, I put the baby in a snowsuit, bundled myself up, grabbed my camera and ran out the door to get my shot!

I got a few right out front of my house but was not done! I packed the baby up to drive down to the bay. We got a few more to satisfy us! So much beauty so close to home!

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Healthier Hot Chocolate, from scratch

downloadIngredients:

  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1.5 tbsp of really good cocoa powder (i like this one)
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of whipped cream or 1/3 cup of mini marshmallows on top (optional, each option are 2 pts+)

Directions:

Put milk and almond milk on the stove and heat until almost boiling. Mix in agave and powder ingredients with a whisk. Pour into a pretty mug and top with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Make your own whipped cream or marshmallows for the most whole product!

Farmer’s markets, specialty stores, and other fun places will sell gourmet cocoa powders or vanilla extracts! These special touches make for an even more fun experience and product! Enjoy!

This is a healthier version of a homemade hot chocolate but it is still a “treat”. The agave will help prevent that sugar crash and the almond milk packs a nice protein punch! And of course, use a really good dark chocolate with antioxidants!

This recipe makes 1 cups of hot chocolate. Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 6 points

An Update…

As if I needed another hat to wear, last week I added a new role to my list, student. I started back at school to get my BSN. I didn’t particularly want to take any more nursing classes but getting my bachelor’s degree is a personal goal. I want to show my daughter that her mom can finish what she starts. It is a financial burden and eats up a lot of precious time but I think it was all be worth it in the end.

My sister moved to North Jersey and I went to visit her new house for the first time yesterday. She is only 21 and she bought her first home on her own, is taking care of her 2 dogs, and working as an accountant! I am so happy for her and proud of her! Her new home is perfect for her at this time of her life and her town is adorable. We had so much fun! We went to a restaurant called Toast, wandered around Whole Foods choosing some really fun chocolate bars, tea, and goodies, and went to a place called Eagle Rock Reservation to see the skyline of NYC. Luciana had a blast visiting her aunt “Mo Mo”.

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Luciana is getting really big and more beautiful every day. She is the best thing that has ever happened to us and we couldn’t be happier. She is a really good baby and is a ton of responsibility but is worth every second of it. It has been awful going back to work because I LOVE being at home but I am doing my part to contribute to my community and make some money to take care of my daughter; my dad takes care of her most days while I work, we are so blessed! She sits up on her own now and plays so nicely on her own with her toys. It is fun to make her different foods. She loves sweet potatoes and pears. I am enjoying every day. Watching her grow is the most bittersweet experience ever; I love that she is healthy and learning new things but seeing her slip away from earlier stages hurts so badly. Here are some of our favorite photos from the last month, playing outside at the beach…

IMG_3023in the snow…IMG_2867in the custom Christmas pajamas I designed and sewed for her with her name in the fabric…IMG_2646and on Christmas Eve with Mommy and Daddy…IMG_2579Stay tuned for more inspiration, recipes, and much more!

Thanks for reading…come back soon!

The Monster

Everyone who reads this blog knows it is about achieving balance in life. Whether it is food, experiences, art, music, stuff, people or feelings, I feel like I need to control it all and keep it balanced.

I wanted to blog about something very real and difficult that I call “the monster”. I have to factor “the monster” coming and going in and out of my day as I try to achieve this balance. “The monster” is the feeling I get when a hormonal wave comes over me. I don’t feel overly sad or overly angry. I would call it a cousin or relative to the emotions: anxious and uneasiness. Some people would say its a type of PMS. Some would say it’s when you cry but don’t know why.

If “the monster” comes over you, especially after your body has just gone through a pregnancy, you are not alone; I am at least one other woman who experiences this.

I usually notice that it will take some kind of trigger to bring it on, it can be as small as spilling a glass of water on the floor or something not going as planned. It feels like a pit in my stomach and sometimes it takes triple the effort to take a deep breath.

Crocheting or reading help. A few tears shed sometimes help. Time and patience help it to go away as well. I beg my husband not to ignore me but to ignore “the monster”.

I want my readers to be reminded that bloggers of happy and inspiring things are also people who have struggles and challenges. I usually share to inspire but today I share to help someone feel less lonely when their monster comes.

Quinoa Lauren

photo-2Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1/2 cup of feta
  • 1 medium zucchini, steamed
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Start by bringing 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil without lid. Once vigorously boiling reduce heat to medium-low and put lid on for 15 minutes. Fluff with fork. While quinoa is cooking, cut up your steamed zucchini (to steam, I use a steamer basket), tomatoes, and basil. Rinse garbanzo beans. Mix them all together along with the other ingredients and enjoy!!

This recipe makes about 6 cups of salad. Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 6 points for each salad!

One cup has 10 grams of protein!  Pair with a fruit salad or yogurt and a piece of dark chocolate for an awesome lunch!

Asparagus and Pesto Salad with Shrimp and Goat Cheese

downloadIngredients:

  • 1 bundle of asparagus (cut bottoms off of each spear)
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes
  • 5 ounce pack of spring mix lettuce
  • Buitoni pesto (will need 1/4 cup for 4 servings)
  • Crumbled Goat Cheese (will need 1/2 cup for 4 servings)
  • 24 Frozen Shrimp
  • Red Wine vinegar (will need 1/4 cup for 4 servings)
  • Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Powder

Directions

First wisk 1/4 cup of pesto into 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar to make your dressing.

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Use steamer basket to steam the asparagus, with a sprinkle of garlic powder on them. In a separate pot, boil 24 shrimp per package directions. You can salt the water or boil them in broth for a little more flavor if you wish.

Pile the spring mix into 4 bowls (divide the 5 oz package into 4 bowls). Top with asparagus, shrimp, tomatoes, and goat cheese (1/8 cup per serving). Pour dressing over the salads, add salt and pepper (as much or as little as you like) and enjoy!

This recipe makes about 4 salads. Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 4 points for each salad!

Each salad has about 21g of protein, healthy fats, and veg! Serve with some fruit or a small yogurt for lunch or have this as an appetizer for dinner! I hope you try it and love it!

Infant Infinity Scarf

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I made this scarf for my daughter last night and am so excited about how it came out! I take so much pride in what I do and I love to share it! I would be thrilled to make one for your child!

I usually use Merino yarn that is hand-dyed by an organization called Manos Del Uraguay. This organization not only provides financial opportunity for woman who would otherwise struggle finding work but they also turn out a quality product. The yarn is incredibly soft, warm, and no skein is exactly the same as another. Read more about the organization here.

I can ship anywhere in the USA. Leave me a comment on this post, contact me via my Etsy page, Heart of Gold by Torro (click this link and then click the button that says “Contact shop owner”), or message me via facebook if you are interested in having one of these made for you!

Banana “Ice Cream” & Granola Mug

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Ingredients:

You are going to need a Yonanas machine (I know some people use blenders or food processors to make these whips but the Yonanas machine is specifically made to make them).

When you have 3 or 4 bananas that are overripe at the end of the week, DO NOT throw them away! Cut them in half and freeze them for this recipe, smoothies, or anything else!

To make the “ice cream”, you simply place your favorite coffee mug under the machine’s spout, put your frozen banana in the top and and use the plunger to push the banana through the machine! They will come out with a very similar consistency to ice cream. You can also visit the Yonanas site to see how it works with photos and videos!

I like mine a few ways: with mini chocolate chips, with sliced almonds and a drizzle of good caramel sauce, or with granola!

This recipe makes one mugful of “ice cream”. With the 1/3 cup of Banana Sunbelt Granola: Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 3 points

I consider this a special weekend treat because you have to have the bananas ready to go, need to wash the machine after you are done (which can take a little extra time than your normal breakfast clean up), and because even though it is only technically 3 points, there are 2 bananas in this which are high in sugar (even though its the best kind of sugar, in its most natural form).

*The machine is dishwasher safe, so you better believe mine is going in there!

Overall this is super healthy and incredibly delicious!! Let me know what you think of it!

Hanging Paper Stars

I have a tall window in my living room with a sill which I love to decorate. For our first year in our home we went “all out” and put garlands and lights and our nativity on the sill but there was some negative space that I wanted to fill. I came of with the idea of floating 3D stars made from Christmas scrapbook paper!

I made 4 and they came out so pretty; they are perfect!

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They are hanging from yarn tied onto command hooks:

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I cut out 16 stars, 4 for each ornament (each about 2 inch). I folded them all in half, good side of paper on the inside of the fold. I put 4 together with scotch tape adhesive dot roller. I left one part detached so I could glue the yarn into it.

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They came out so great! Could use any shape! Gonna try larger hearts for Valentine’s Day too!