Archive for April, 2014

iPhone Dependence

April 30, 2014

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For the last few months, I have been traveling non-stop for work. I run a business off of my iPhone. For me, that little rectangular screen is my link to the world. I have multiple email accounts, a phone, my calendar, an address book of contacts, a clock, the weather and even access to my gym and more, all in this handheld device.
On Saturday, I tossed it in my bag, tucked the bag under my arm and 15 minutes later, when I reached for my phone (to get loyalty points at the fish market, no less), it was gone. I turned the house upside down, although I knew I had just unplugged it from the charger before I left. Clearly, I was pick pocketed. I called it, and tried the “find my phone” app, but it was turned off.Game over.

Being just weeks away from upgrade eligibility, and not wanting to spend hundreds of dollars extra for the same item, I called AT&T for help. While they graciously agreed to let me purchase the phone for $199, vs. the $649 charged at the store if you are not in the upgrade window, I had to agree to wait for them to ship the phone to me. I embarked on a business trip, sans phone and proceeded to function as best I could, without the benefit of technology.

Without the easy access to check the weather, I left the house dressed for the temperatures in New York. While the sun was shining and it was projected to be sunny and in the low 60’s there, in Boston, it is damp, grey and freaking cold! My train was delayed and I could not call the car service to let them know I would be late.

When I arrived, I quickly logged in and out of multiple email accounts. I recreated my calendar on paper to account for the next few days of meetings. I emailed people to let them know I would not be easily accessible for the next few days. I even asked one of my contacts  to email me the day before our appointment as a reminder, since I didn’t have a calendar to put them in.

I hope I wake up in the morning, without my alarm to help me along. I am not sure I will be able to workout, without music to facilitate my run on the treadmill, or my circuit training app to spur me on. Forget my food and exercise diary, or twitter for that matter. I even had to contact a client to get the log in information for their social media accounts which I manage.

Don’t expect a call, as I have no record of your number, my passwords for almost anything, or a reminder to take care of things. In fact, if you need me, just write a letter and mail it to me. I am out of commission.

On the other hand, there is something nice about just living in the present, away from the constant need to check email, keep up with the Joneses on Facebook, or photograph dinner.

It is amazing how I spent a good part of my adult life without the benefit of portable technology. I finally got a cell phone when I had a child and wanted to be reachable at a moment’s notice. Shortly thereafter, my company purchased Blackberries, and the madness began. While many people were not yet using them, there was a constant stigma to “put away the Crackberry,” as we often called the addictive little device. Then came the iPhone, which disrupted the entire population by providing easy access at the touch of a screen.

Men and women, young and old, are now tethered to their devices, on the street, in the car and out in public. It is not unusual to be in a meeting, or even a restaurant, with everyone sitting around the table, punching frantically away on their smart phones. Even the bathroom is no longer a sacred place.

At what point is technology a good thing, and when do we realize as a society, that we have gone too far?  So far, I am 3 days into my smart phone cleanse, and I am happy to report that I am functioning, albeit slightly inconvenienced. With my laptop at the ready, I have to admit that it isn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be.

I often reach for it instinctively, and realize it’s gone. Then I step back and find a way to accomplish what I need to do the “old school” way, and for now, it’s working out just fine.

How dependent on your smart phone are you?

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Peeling Ginger

April 29, 2014

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We love fresh ginger! It adds a jolt of flavor to sauces and stir fries, and has amazing health benefits. The surface of the ginger root is rough and bumpy, making the task of peeling it seem daunting. Have no fear, it’s way easier than it looks! Use the side of a spoon to gently push the skin away, exposing the flesh, and you are good to go. Dice it, slice it or grate it into the dish of your choice. Now how easy was that?

photo: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week: Miso Butter

April 28, 2014

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Just as there are finishing salts, there are also finishing butters. These items are meant to provide a flavor blast at the end of the preparation, after the food is nearly cooked. This delicious miso butter, is not for sautéing. Try brushing it on seafood, vegetables or even chicken at the end of the cooking process, and watch how it ramps up the simplest of dishes.

I used this on shrimp and scallops, but I also sautéed them with some shallots, garlic and ginger in a little neutral oil before adding the miso butter. Since this is an unrecipe, feel free to toss some of these into the mix to suit your taste.

Miso Butter:

Take 1 stick of unsalted sweet butter and a couple of generous tablespoons of miso paste, and mix it together in the food processor. Add a bit of  soy sauce, and a splash of sake if you have it on hand, and blend until smooth. If you like, toss in a clove of garlic, and a little peeled ginger and blend until minced. Brush the miso butter on fish, seafood, vegetables or chicken during the last minutes of broiling, sautéing, or roasting and enjoy!

This keeps well when placed in a sealed container in the refrigerator for at least a week.

photo: Glasshouse Images

How To Be A Morning Exerciser

April 24, 2014

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Working out in the morning has it’s perks. It’s energizing, it starts your day off right, and there are no excuses when work and life get in the way later. The downside: you need to actually get your butt out of bed and do it!
Becoming a morning exerciser is possible; even for those of us who like to press “snooze” more than we like to get our sweat on. Trust me, once you get going, you will be so grateful that you did. And it only hurts for a few minutes, before the adrenaline kicks in.

Here are a few ways to get yourself going in the morning:

1. Schedule your workout (whatever time of day you do it) as you would a meeting or a doctor’s appointment, and show up!

2. Book a class, a trainer or a training buddy to ensure that you really do show up.

3. Commit to your rest days in advance. This keeps me accountable. I can decide in advance when I am not going to work out, so I don’t just make the call when the alarm goes off and I don’t feel like getting up. Just deciding not to go in the morning is a non-negotiable.

4. Plan ahead. Lay out your gym clothes the night before. Pack your gym bag if you shower there to make sure that you have everything you need when you get there. Getting out of the shower and realizing you have no clean underwear is not fun.

5. Plan your pre-workout breakfast. Whether it’s a glass of water or juice, or a light breakfast, decide in advance what it will be to avoid wasting time in the morning. Make it enough to fuel your workout, and keep you hydrated, but light enough not to weigh you down or cause stomach upset.

6. Tell yourself you just have to do a certain amount and you can quit. Set a minimum amount of work, such as run a mile, do one set of a circuit, or put in 10 minutes on the bike. Chances are, once you get past that small amount of exercise, you will be pumped up to do more. Getting to the gym is half the battle. Once you are there, you are highly likely to workout.

7. Congratulate yourself on your diligence. Working out every morning is no small feat, but you will be so much better off for it. Pat yourself on the back, give yourself a treat and keep up the good work!

8. Don’t give up! Studies show it takes 21 days to form a habit, and 66 days to make it permanent. Push through it. You will thank yourself in the long run.

photo: glasshouse images

 

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: How To Peel A Carrot

April 22, 2014

carrots, vegetables, nutrition

Most of us have peeled our share of carrots in this lifetime, but clearly, we haven’t been doing it very efficiently.

Did you ever notice that peelers have 2 blades? They are there for a reason. This tip first seen at Eat The Love, changes the way you will look at a carrot forever!

Hold the carrot at a 45 degree angle on a flat surface or cutting board. Slide the peeler up and down while rotating the carrot. Only attempt to peel about 1/2 way up the length of the carrot with each swipe. Flip the carrot, and repeat the process on the other end. You will be amazed at how quickly that skin comes off!
Confused? Check out their video tutorial and see for yourself courtesy of The Daily Meal.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Eggs and Asparagus

April 21, 2014

What symbolizes springtime more than stalks of green asparagus, eggs and a lemony sauce? We served this last night as a first course, but it could be a great main dish for a light dinner, accompanied by soup and some crusty bread (hello meatless Mondays!) or as an entree for Sunday brunch.

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Roasted Asparagus With a Poached Egg and Lemon Mustard Sauce:

recipe adapted from Foxes Loves Lemons

Clean asparagus and trim the tough stems. Coat lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until cooked but still crisp. Timing will depend on the thickness of the asparagus, so be prepared to cook thick stalks longer, and very thin ones for less time.

In a sauce pan, heat about 3/4 cup heavy cream,  and simmer until it reduces to about 1/2 cup, and has a thick, saucy consistency; about 6-8 minutes. Remove it from the heat and whisk in the juice of 1/2 a lemon, a little lemon zest, a generous tablespoon of butter, 1/8 teaspoon dried mustard, and a little finely chopped fresh tarragon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In the meantime, bring water to a boil in a large pot or high sided sauté pan, and then reduce the temperature so that it is gently bubbling. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (plain white vinegar will also do) to the water, and gently slide in the eggs. We recommend cracking them 1 by 1 into a small dish and pouring them into the water to avoid breakage. Cook 3-5 minutes. Three minutes will yield a very soft, runny yolk, and at 5 minutes it will be nearly hard boiled.  Using a slotted spoon, gently remove the eggs from the water, and place on a paper towel to drain.

To serve, place several asparagus spears on a plate. Add the egg, and drizzle with the sauce. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, and garnish with a few tarragon leaves and some lemon zest. Enjoy!

photo: indigojonesnyc instagram

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Festival Chic: Vintage Floral Toppers

April 18, 2014

Music festival style is a well curated melange of denim, merged with feminine items with a bohemian vibe. While this look may not work for most of us on a day to day basis, there are great items to incorporate into your wardrobe to add an element of boho chic.

The sheer floral print top was a big trend at Coachella. Whether it’s a vintage robe or dress, or a new piece inspired by them, these were the topper of choice over denim shorts and bra tops.

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This floral piece with flounced sleeves adds a girlie touch to distressed denim and an oversized tee. Accessories compete the look.

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Long and languid cabbage roses top a laced edge camisole and cutoffs.

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Lingerie inspired boy shorts and bra top are covered by a floral kimono.

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High waisted shorts and cropped top are feminized by a long sheer rose printed robe.

Want to try to inject this into your wardrobe? Try a floral top or dress over jeans, slim pants or even a pencil skirt.  Add some necklaces, and channel your inner hippie.

Photos: Pinterest

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Exercise Your Way Young?

April 17, 2014

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We all know that exercise benefits our health in many ways, but a new study shows it might also help us look younger too.

Researchers at McMaster University in Canada found that mice became ill when sedentary, but thrived when given access to a running wheel. The theory was then applied to humans, with positive results.

A group of  men and women ages 20-84 were split into 2 groups; the first exercising vigorously for 3 hours per week, and the other less than 1 hour per week. It was discovered that after age 40, those who got more exercise also had thinner and healthier status cornuems and thicker dermis layers, a skin composition more similar to those aged 20-30.

They also studied a sedentary group of people over the age of 65. After three months on an exercise programs, the participant’s skin was found to be similar in make up to that of 20-40 year olds, and they looked visibly younger.

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Instead of investing in costly lotions and potions to battle the visible signs of aging, perhaps it’s time to start working out. You heart, lungs, bones and skin will thank you.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Festival Style: LACE

April 16, 2014

It’s music festival time, kicking off with Coachella last weekend. Festival dressing has a style all it’s own, with sexy, boho looks ruling the day. While flower crowns and hippie inspired dresses may not fit into most of our day to day lives, there are some trends to be extracted. Such is the case with lace. Textural cotton laces and crochet add a feminine, yet casual twist to any look. Why not try a lace trimmed blouse with your jeans this weekend, and embrace a little festival chic!

Here a just a few of our favorites:

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Softly tiered cotton with insets of rustic lace give this dress a sweet, yet edgy vibe. Add a sheer floral top to complete the look.

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This voile blouse trimmed with cotton lace is tucked into distressed denim cutoffs.The  tapestry bag is the perfect finish to this haute hippie look.

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Vintage lace and high waisted denim looks flawlessly chic.

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These macrame sandal-boot hybrids, leather bracelets, and woven bag take this eyelet top to another level.

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A soft peasant top and lace shorts make a case for tough and tender, when paired with studded leather accessories.

Photos via: Pinterest

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Centering Egg Yolks

April 15, 2014

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With both Easter and Passover occurring this week, many people have hard boiled eggs on their minds.

When making deviled eggs, it’s nice to have the yolks perfectly centered in the whites, to allow them to be stuffed evenly, and to look more presentable on the plate. Here is a little trick that will make that possible.

The night before you plan to boil the eggs, lay the carton on it’s side in the refrigerator. Use a rubber band to keep the eggs from rolling out of the carton. Leave them for 12 – 24 hours. Cook as usual, and viola! Perfectly centered yolks.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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