Friday, July 29, 2011

One Hundred Wonders of the World

"You have to truly immerse yourself in another culture to truly understand your own"

Seven Wonders of the Medieval World
Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa
Great Wall of China
Porcelain Tower of Nanjing
Hagia Sophia
Leaning Tower of Pisa

100 Wonders of the World 
1 Pyramids of Egypt at Giza Egypt
2 Great Wall of China - China
3 Taj Mahal - India
4 Serengeti Migration Kenya & Tanzania
5 Galapagos Islands Ecuador
6 Grand Canon USA
7 Machu Picchu Peru
8 Iguazu Falls Argentina & Brazil
9 Bali Indonesia
10 Amazon Rain Forest Brazil & Peru
11 Ngorongoro Crater Tanzania
12 Great Barrier Reef Australia
13 Angkor Wat Cambodia
14 Victoria Falls Zambia & Zimbabwe
15 Forbidden City China
16 Bagan Temples & Pagodas Myanmar
17 Karnak Temple Egypt
18 Teotihuacan Mexico
19 Banaue Rice Terraces Philippines
20 Bora Bora Polynesia
21 Acropolis/Parthenon Greece
22 Potala Place at Lhasa China
23 Jerusalem Old City Israel
24 Qin Terra Cotta Warriors China
25 Chichen Itza Mexico
26 Petra Jordan
27 Nile River Cruise Egypt
28 Easter Island Chile
29 Cappadocia Turkey
30 Colosseum of Rome Italy
31 Fjords of Norway Scandinavia
32 St. Peter's Basilica Vatican City
33 Egyptian Museum Egypt
34 Borobudur Indonesia
35 Valley of the Kings Egypt
36 Hong Kong Harbor/City Scape China
37 Sistine Chapel Vatican City
38 Alhambra Spain
39 Louvre Museum France
40 Canals of Venice Italy
41 Versailles France
42 Carlsbad Caverns USA
43 Mecca Saudi Arabia
44 Kathmandu Valley Nepal
45 Metropolitan Museum USA
46 Mount Everest China & Nepal
47 Temple of the Emerald Buddha Thailand
48 Hagia Sophia Turkey
49 Pompeii Italy
50 Kashmir Valley India
51 Prague Old Town Czech Republic
52 Golden Temple India
53 Amalfi Drive Italy
54 Meenakshi India
55 Chartres Cathedral France
56 Mezquita of Cordoba Spain
57 Damascus Old City & Umayyad Syria
58 Dubrovnik Croatia
59 Uffizi Gallery Italy
60 Rio Panoramic Views Brazil
61 Golden Pavilion Japan
62 Delphi Greece
63 St. Basil's Cathedral Russia
64 Abu Simbel Egypt
65 St. Mark's Basilica & Campanile Italy
66 Florence Cityscape Italy
67 Kremlin Russia
68 Varanasi/Ganges India
69 Li River Cruise China
70 Shwedagon Stupa Myanmar
71 Sahara Desert Multinational Travel Wonder
72 Leaning Tower of Pisa Italy
73 Baalbek Lebanon
74 Mont-St-Michel France
75 Topkapi Palace Turkey
76 Carnival in Rio Brazil
77 Stonehenge - England
78 Angel Falls - Venezuela
79 Yellowstone National Park - USA
80 Santorini - Greece
81 Petronas Twin Tower - Malaysia
82 Matterhorn - Switzerland
83 New York Skyline - USA
84 Marrakesh - Morocco
85 Eiffel Tower - France
86 Ladakh - India
87 Niagara Falls - Canada & USA
88 British Museum - England
89 Burg Al Arab - Dubai, UAE
90 Antarctica Penguins - Antarctica
91 Yangtze River Cruise - China
92 Yosemite National Park - USA
93 Ayers Rock - Australia
94 Chambord Chateau - France
95 Temple of Heaven - China
96 Neuschwanstein Castle - Germany
97 Suez Canel - Egypt
98 San Francisco Bay/Cityscape - USA
99 Dead Sea - Israel & Jordan
100 Portofino - Italy (haven't technically seen this, but the Cinque Terre is 5 min away and practically the same village)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Chowder

Here's a recipe I threw together the other night when I was craving some of the corn chowder I used to make long before becoming vegan.  I haven't made chowder in a long time now, so I decided to throw some ingredients together and see what happened!

You can toss just about anything in that you like, but here's the ingredients I used: 
  • 1 onion
  • Garlic cloves, as many as you want
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 zuchhini
  • Soup base 
  • 2 handfuls of chopped kale
I could have make my own creamy base with almond milk or vegan cream, but I decided to go the quick route and used this soup I bought from Trader Joe's- Creamy Corn & Roasted Pepper Soup.  It surprisingly doesn't have any dairy in it (unless I read the label wrong!)
The first thing i did was chop up an onion and garlic and let that start sauteing while I chopped two russet potatoes into tiny pieces.
I threw the potatoes in the pot and let them cook for awhile as I chopped up the rest of the veggies. 
Then I threw in the zucchini and carrots into the pot and added the soup.
You know how hard it is to take pictures of steamy food in pots??
Meanwhile, while the soup is simmering, boil a pot of water in a small pan, and add the kale.  Allow the kale to boil for a couple minutes (just a few!) to get rid of it's bitter taste.  Drain it, rinse it with cold water, and then through it into the pot!
Now you can let the soup simmer as long as you want to let the flavors really mix, but I tend to eat it immediately because I'm very impatient.
But wait!  I forgot to add any corn!  In my corn chowder!  Luckily, we happened to have some fresh corn on the cob, so we tossed those into boiling water for about five minutes and cut the fresh yummy kernels into the soup pot.

Then enjoy!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Nooks and Crannies

Once upon a time, I was working from home and laying bed, staring at our closet.  We had removed our closet doors long ago so I'd have easier access to everything in the closet, and hung up white curtains in their place.  They looked great with the deep chocolate walls, but there was something astray.  See, the little bit of wall that leads into the closet (where the doors ram into) was still the "apartment white" that the rest of the room was before I painted it, and the off white clashed with the bright white curtains and off white trim.  
Excuse the ugly mess!
So, I had to whip out some leftover brown paint and paint the little nook
So since then, I had forgotten all about how great that tiny tweek turned out.  But recently, while painting the trim in the living room, I realized the coat closet had the same issue with the little nook not matching the door or surrounding wall.  Soo.....

I painted it gray to match!  It's crazy how that little touch up of paint goes a mile aesthetically.
While I was at it, I also tackled the windows and backdoor.

I love how it seems to visually expand the room just a little bit more, and blend the windows in the room for a seem less look.  It's amazing what a little bit of paint can do, isn't it?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


T Minus 18 days until my birthday!

Birthday present?  Eh??  Nikon D3000, how I dream about you...especially since the D3100 just came out and now you're getting cheaper by the minute!!!  (Did you get that hint Tim??)


New Merch in the House!

Guess what I did!
I found a new rug for my living room that matches the $59 rug from World Market that I LOVE:
And here's the new one:
The new rug picks up the blue color of the old one and is the softest thing I've ever felt.  Its chenille, which isn't quite the jute material I was going for (jute is all natural and long lasting and much cheaper than wool)  but the green jute rug I had my eye on was $120, while this baby was...

....$19.99!  Can't beat that! 

Here's the before:

Maddie exploring...

The two rugs together
(There's actually about a foot and a half in between them; this is when I first laid them down)

What do you guys think?  I love the bold color next to the white couches.  And the best part is, the rug was so cheap that if we switch our seating around in the future, I can bring in a new one without feeling guilty!  

Monday, July 25, 2011

On My Way, This Time Around

Ah Monday, Monday.  I thought it was supposed to be sunny for the next ten days?  I'll place my bets on some afternoon sun to cheer up this dreary day!  I'm not complaining after the gorgeous weekend though!  This weekend Tim and I had a date night, just the two of us on Friday night, and he took me to get a pedicure, sweet guy:), then on Saturday I did a boudoir photo shoot and then spent the day at a friend's bachelorette party- we rode the most hilarious conference bike that was like a big circle that seats seven people, and we all pedal together around the streets of Ballard.  Take a look:

It was so much fun riding around and watching everyone's expressions as we pedaled by!   Then we all went to dinner at Plum Bistro, a delicious vegan restaurant in Capitol Hill.  Malena and I shared a quinoa burger and grilled asparagus- so freaking delicious! We followed that up by rocking out to karaoke at the RockBox (my new favorite place) and ended the night at the Silver Cloud hotel, which is super swanky btw- jacuzzi tub!  I must say, Malena plans the best bachelorette parties!  I always have the best time with her, no matter what we're doing.  Fifteen years later and I still love Malena, Lindsey, and Nicole, who know me better than anyone (besides Tim), who are always there for me, and who have never let me down.  Ever!  Loyalty at it's finest.

Malena and I rock climbing circa 2005.  Look at that love!
7/25 Playlist
  • There's a Light - Rocky Horror
  • Go Your Own Way- Glee Version
  • Over the Hills and Far Away- Led Zeppelin
  • Boarder Song- Elton John
  • Let There Be Love- Oasis
  • Song for the Asking- Simon & Garfunkel
  • Long As I Can See the Light- CCR
  • The Long and Winding Road- The Beatles
  • Like a Prayer- Glee Version
  • Dump- Blind Melon
  • Life Ain't So Shitty- Blind Melon
  • If I Had Eyes- Jack Johnson
  • Never Giver You Up- The Black Keys
  • Hey, Johnny Park!- Foo Fighters
"Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding" -Mohandas Gandhi
"One good thing about music, when it hits- you feel no pain" -Bob Marley
"Love life and life will love you back. Love people and they will love you back" -Athur Rubinstein
"True friendship isn't about being there when it's convenient; it's about being there when it's not"
"I love humanity but I hate people" -Edna St. Vincent Millay
"Where there is love there is life" -Mohandas Gandhi 
"Love all, trust a few" -Shakespeare
"I can think of nothing less pleasurable than a life devoted to pleasure" -John D. Rockefeller

"Be the change that you want to see in the world" -Mohandas Gandhi 

“Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I'm not perfect and I don't live to be. But, before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean” -Bob Marley


"To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with" -Mark Twain


"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares" -Henri Nouwen

Friday, July 22, 2011

Simply Green

Living green is such a fabulous thing you can do, not only for Mother Earth, but for yourself as well.  It's very important that I have a healthy home-  I've had severe asthma my entire life, and after a bout of increased systems when I was having trouble controlling the attacks a few months ago, I've decided to really step up the conquest to purify my home.  I've recently read that the average American household is four to ten times more polluted than the outside air, and that includes the air in cities.  Yikes!  No wonder everyone always feels so refreshed when they step outside into the fresh air!  These staggering statistics speak for themselves:

1 in 4 Northern American adults have allergies
1 in 14 Northern American adults have asthma
1 in 18 Northern American adults have chemical sensitivity. 

So the fact that we're just stuffed with toxic chemicals day in and day out is just not OK with me.  Not only do I want to create a home that is as toxic free as I can make it, I want to keep my carbon footprint at a minimum.  I don't want to be a contributor to pouring toxic chemicals down the sink and into the homes of furry otters and happy dolphins.  I don't want to see a seal laying dead and think, hey I helped!

Tim and I have been slowly greenifying ourselves for years now.  Besides doing the single best thing you can do to cut down on greenhouse gas emission, we've been using reusable tote bags at the grocery store and we drive a eco friendly Toyota Prius.  Some swaps are easy to make, like using no or low-VOC paint, switching to all natural cleaners, and using as much all natural beauty products as possible.  We even use compostable garbage bags. But I've decided to take it a step further.   

I plan to eliminate all the plastic in my house to cut down on the nasty off gassing effect.  I want to switch to new cookware that doesn't have chemically laced non stick surfaces; and to eventually replace our mattress with one made from all natural latex (we'll be saving our pennies for awhile for that one!) and our pillows with non flame retardant covers.  Another big project, cost wise, will be replacing our carpet.  We've been planning to eventually anyway, because our rabbits chewed a big hole the first week we moved in, and plus it's ugly and very shaggy (bad news for allergies).  I hope to find an eco friendly and all natural wool carpet that we like, perhaps at the eco version of Home Depot called Ecohaus (a branch of Green Depot) that's located in SoDo?

Speaking of plastic, I'm sure everyone and their brother has heard the dangers of BPA, but did you know that receipts carry a powdered form of BPA that's way easier to transport around?  The amount of BPA found in most plastics is "nanogram quantities" where as receipts have 60 to 100 milligrams worth.  That's way more dangerous BPA than what we've already deemed unsafe in our water bottles.

This is checklist that's going to help me keep on track with detoxifying our home:
Replace cookware with Greenware
Replace pillows with non flame retardant ones
Save up for an all natural mattress
Try making my own laundry and dish soap
Buy some microfiber cloths for cleaning and actually use them instead of paper towels
Replace all plastic Tupperware with glass
Replace carpet with all natural wool carpet
Install a water filter under the sink
Add more plants, especially in the bedroom
Buy an air purifier for the living room and bedroom
Throw away all unnaturally scented products in our home
Only buy organic cotton or bamboo (sustainable and renewable resource) towels and sheets in the future

There's always going to be more to add to that list, but I feel like this is a good starting point for Tim and I.  I can practically smell the fresh clean air already!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Painting the Trim

Some people may call me obsessive.  And they are 100% correct.  I almost never obsess about wiping down the counters but I do obsess about projects I want to do around the condo and trips I want to take.  But most of all, I obsess over colors!  It's a little weird, but I always want all the colors around me to be perfect- I don't like red and I actually will go out of my way to keep anything red out of my house, with the exception of the occasional garment.

So according, I've been obsessing over the off white trim color of our trim and doors.  I've always wanted to paint them, but being a new home owner, I wasn't sure if that was possible.  I know it sounds stupid, but I figured it would be a huge process that I wasn't willing to undertake (yes I'm talking about painting, and yes this is the girl who's painted every room in our condo at least twice).  

Because we recently installed crown molding, I finally had to motivation to paint all our trim bright glossy white.  See, while our crown molding seems like it's painted in those pictures, it's actually just primed and waiting for paint.  So we grabbed some off the shelf no-VOC semi-gloss white paint from Olympic, and got the work!  And by we, I mean me.  

Tim walked in from the porch to this scene:

"What are you doing?"

"Painting all our doors and trim white."

"Aren't they already white?"

"They're apartment white, I'm making them white white"

"Oh, OK"

The poor guy often comes in to find me tearing apart a closet or painting a random wall or something crazier.  I think he's a lot more comfortable with seeing me painting a door rather than ripping the doors off our closets or cutting through our carpet to see what our floors are made of (In my defense, the bunnies had already chewed a hole in the carpet, I was just digging through the backing!).  

Back to the trim, it's amazing what a coat of paint can do!  The bright white glossy trim is sooooo preeeeeeeeeeeettttttttttttttttttty!  I am in love :)  

Extra paint I needed to paint over

Painting bliss

Note in the above and below pictures the differences in whites.  See how the new white really sets off the previous color?  The more yellowy hued white looks really mucky, doesn't it?
I don't have picture yet of the rest of the molding I painted, just this first batch here.  I'll be sure to post more when I finish!

You can see here how the bright white looks so much more fresh and crisp- see how in the top picture it reflects the light blue so much more than the ugly off white in the bottom picture?

There's still two more room's worth of trim and doors to finish,  but I ran out of paint!  I can't wait to finish and see the stunning white against the chocolate brown walls in our bedroom.  Swoon!

Side note, I've read a great tip when it comes to saving your paint can.  Use a hammer and nail to make a couple holes around the rim of the can, and then excess paint will drain back into the can, both making it easier to close, and preserving more paint!  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Adding the Missing Piece

A friend recently pointed out to me that our bathrooms are seriously lacking in the hand towel department.  I wasn't completely oblivious to this fact, but I just could never find a good spot to put a hook, especially since I started using the only towel rack in the spot to hold my necklaces while I build a full length mirror jewelry box.  The most obviously spot would be on the wall right next to the sink; alas, look how crowded it looks:

So that was not going to work.  However, I remembered a picture of a bathroom I saw once that  had a serious of hooks on the wall instead of one long towel rack, and I knew I wanted to replicate this look once I could find a place to store my jewelry.  So I found a couple old hooks I had hanging around (pun intended) that I picked up from Target for $2.50 three years ago and I painted them the same cream color that I painted the mirrors on the wall.

Voila!  Two hand towel hooks for F-R-E-E!

30 Day Song Challenge- Day Twenty

Day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry 

I guess I should carry out this whole Seattle grunge routine and select some Nirvana, huh?
Nirvana - Plateau

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Easy Peasy Recipes

Doesn't that haul look deeeeee-licious?  I need a bigger fridge that's half crisper and half wine chiller.  For real y'all.  We get a weekly and sometimes bi-weekly delivery of fresh local organic produce, and we can never fit it all in!  We have a little container that's supposed to keep produce fresh, and that helps to spread the storage, but we're still cramming in the drawers!!  This week we've got some delicious spinach, kale, chard, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, corn on the cob, and a pile of yummy fruits!  I can't wait to try some new recipes!  (PS Tim, if you're reading, remember our new meal tradition we're going to be starting Sunday night?? Don't forget!)

I thought today I'd share some of our quick and easy recipes, mainly for my mom who's newly learning more about a plant based diet and what to cook!!  These are some things we've whipped up recently that were super easy, quick, and full of yumminess.

Tofu Skewers:

Marinade tofu cubes for two hours or overnight with Italian dressing (or buy pre marinaded tofu like we did).  Throw onto soaked kabob sticks with large chunks of bell peppers, onions, zucchini, whole mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and anything else you like.  Grill until tender.

Sausages and Sauerkraut:

Cut potatoes into chunks and boil about 5 minutes, until softened but not cooked all the way.  Throw them into a skillet with cut up carrots and fake sausage (we love Field Roast products because they're not made with soy and delicious!  Oh, and they're made in Seattle!) on medium heat and cook until heated through.  Throw in some sauerkraut, and if you'd like some extra nutrients, toss in some leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or chard, and continue to cook a few more minutes until everything's tender and warm.  Serve with vegan sour cream and spicy mustard.  

Mushroom Tarts/Calzones

For this suuuuuper yummy dish, I simply chop up some garlic, onions, leeks, mushrooms, and some leafy green (you can toss in almost anything you want, really!), cook a few minutes on the stove to soften, then spread out pre made refrigerated dough and divide it into about 4 pieces.  Fill each piece with the mushroom  mixture, fold over the edges, glaze with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Then bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes and enjoy!!  You can make so many variations with pizza dough.   For another example, you can fill with fake sausage, pizza sauce, onions and bell peppers.  Mix and match to see what you like!


Now this makes for a fun Friday night for some super cool kids like Tim and I (Or Saturday Netflix night Mom!).  Buy some whole wheat pizza crust at the grocery store- we love the 365 pizza crust from Whole Foods, but I believe Boboli makes a whole grain kinda as well.  Toss on some pizza sauce, and throw on your favorite toppings (cruelty free, right?).  Personally, I like to use a nice sauce and go without cheese, but Tim likes to buy soy or rice mozzarella to toss on.  Then we just toss it in the oven for about ten minutes and chow down!  Note:  veggie pizza, as well as veggie sandwiches, rarely fill me up, so I usually accompany this with a nice salad with beans to fill me up! But I also eat like a horse...

Cashew Creme Sauce:

This sauce tastes just like alfredo but with much healthier ingredients!  Combine a half cup of cashews, 1-1.5 cups of water (depending on thickness preference), 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, 1 tablespoon of flour, and 2 teaspoons of parsley or oregano into a blender and combine until smooth.  Pour the mixture into a saucepan and heat until desired temperature.  Pour over cooked pasta and enjoy!

Baked Potatoes/Quinoa/Veggies

This dish has become known as our Tuesday night special.  It's replaced spaghetti as our quick meal we make every Tuesday before Tim does guy night and I scamper off for Glee/Laundry/Wine night.  It's easy as pie and super delicious.  Oh, and it's super healthy as well.  Just grab a potato or two and "bake" them in the microwave.  While those are cooking turn on some water to boil for the quinoa.  When it's boiling, toss in the super grain, reduce to a simmer, and it'll be ready in about 10-15 minutes.  Lastly, steam some vegetables- I usually make broccoli and asparagus/zucchini, and then chop a few fresh green onions.  When it's all ready, toss it on a plate with some extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.

Side note: Quinoa is so amazing.  It's packed with protein, cooks super fast, and has a great texture and taste.  Have you tried some?  

Shauna's Tacos

This southern inspired meal came from a twist on a meal I ate at an incredible vegan cafe in Hawaii.  Cook some quinoa (just like rice but only cook for 10-15 minutes) and black beans with some taco seasoning (I make my own using this recipe.  That way, I know what I'm eating has no yucky chemicals, and I can make up a big batch and store in the pantry for future use.).  Meanwhile, saute some bell peppers, chard, and corn, then toss all the ingredients together.  Throw on a place with some fresh red onion and sliced black olives.  If desired, top with green salsa and soy or rice cheese.  This recipe even had my brother, who refuses to compliment my cooking, going back for thirds and declaring that "this is actually pretty good for you."  Thanks James!

Cauliflower Steaks

Slice a head of cauliflower into "steaks" about a a half inch to an inch thick.  Spray with extra virgin olive oil, toss with sea salt and pepper, and then bake for about 10-12 minutes on 375, then flip and bake another 10-15 minutes.  This makes a great side dish or as a grain topper.

Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Now let me start this one by mentioning how delicious the tofu at P.F. Changs is.  I mean, it's like no other tofu I've ever had.  It's ridiculously firm; I easily confuse it with the mushrooms.  But anyway, I love getting the tofu lettuce wraps because it's a cruelty free version of the chicken ones I've always been obsessed with.  Now I whip some at up at home, but I'll admit that this recipe is a little too soy saucy for me and I'd love to find another sauce to use with these instead.  I'm sure there are plenty of good ones out there, I've just been to busy to find them!

Here's how I make them:  I take a block of tofu and cut into layers and squeeze out as much water as I can.  Cut the tofu into cubes and season with soy sauce, sea salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Bake for 20 minutes.  
Meanwhile, chop the mushrooms.  Heat a pan and saute some chopped garlic and then add the mushrooms.  Add more soy sauce, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if desired.  Cook about 10 minutes, then add the tofu and let cook a few minutes to combine.  As always, throw in some leafy greens for extra nutrients and allow to wilt!

 Throw the mixture into some washed lettuce leaves and enjoy!  This recipe is especially delicious with some spicy green beans, edamame, or steamed bok choy on the side.  

How about everyone else?  Any good recipes to share?