Monday, November 28, 2011

Always a lovely reminder.

Today is Day 1 for my project of making a Home Studio. It's been so fun dreaming this new venture up and it's finally in front of me. My lighting came in last week and I'm patiently waiting for my backdrops, stands and new business cards to arrive. I'm excited to share with you all the progress along the way so stay tuned this week for pictures ♥

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thank you Art! ♥

I received this lovely gift from Emma from Bambi Eyez for being her 100th follower. If you have a few minutes stop by her blog, website, shop and like her on facebook. She has such beautiful artwork. You will be awed and fall in love just as I have. Thank you Emma! ♥

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Love at First Bite: Chocolate-Cranberry Bread Pudding

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I tend to buy a lot of bread. Once a week I buy lunch at my local co-op, and I almost always end up buying a loaf of French bread because, well, they just look so damn tasty. Cut to two days later when I have a stale loaf of French bread sitting on my counter, and you can begin to see where this recipe came from. 

Bread pudding is an ingenious way to use stale bread. You end up a hero instead of that schmuck who let the bread go bad. The bones of the recipe are simple; just a basic custard, some bread, and then whatever the hell else you have on hand. In my kitchen I almost always have chocolate and dried cranberries, and that flavor combination shows up often in my baking, hence this iteration of bread pudding.

It is absolutely essential that the bread be stale; if you can’t wait day or two cut up the bread according to the recipe and then out it in a low oven (175-200) for a while until its dried out. If you try this recipe with fresh bread you’ll end up with a soggy, sloppy mess. Over than that, feel free to add in whatever goodies you have on hand. Dried fruit, candied ginger, bits of peppermint, or chopped nuts would all work.

● 1 loaf stale French bread
● 1/4 cup dried cranberries
● 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
● 4 eggs
● 2.5 cups heavy cream
● 3/4 cup sugar
● 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
● 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
● 2 pinches kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut the French bread into 1/4 thick slices, or cube (your preference)
2. Arrange the bread pieces in an 8.5 x 11 inch oven-proof casserole dish. Sprinkle the cranberries and chocolate over the bread.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until combined (this is your custard base).
4. Pour the mixture over the bread, pressing down to make sure each piece of break is covered in the custard. Cover the dish with tin foil and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to let the bread soak.
5. After the bread has soaked, place the dish in the oven and bake 45 min – 1 hour, until the center has set and no longer jiggles. Remove the tin foil from the dish during the last 15 minutes of baking to allow the top to get browned and crisp.
6. Serve hot!

Thank You. Here's a Smile for You!

A little over a year ago I wrote this post about my wonderful friend Sherry. At the time she had been battling cancer on and off for years. During that time she was going to be in the hospital for the Holidays and we went to decorate her room to cheer her up. She sadly passed away early last summer.

I think of her everyday along with all loved ones in my life that are no longer here. There's always a few minutes in our day to do so, and I try to take advantage of those times. I think of all the conversations we had alone and those with our group of friends with every visit to see her. She was always so supportive of our decisions; however, she was honest and told us when she felt we should be going in a different direction. The minute you began asking her questions about her, she would smile and say "enough about me, let's talk about you." You could see it in her eyes that she lived to care for others. She always wanted to help us and didn't want us to worry.

One of the repetitive conversations I had with Sherry was about my job at the time and my dream to pursue my photography. She was always reminding me that there is more to life out there, more that I need to be doing, and I wouldn't find it where I was. She left her strength for all of us and that is what got me through my days. That is what has pushed me to go out and start becoming what I've dreamt of being.

I think we all have someone like Sherry in our lives but we tend to not realize what a great impact they've made until it's too late. I am fortunate enough to have been able to express to her what an amazing impact she made on my life along with our other friends. And I know she's been with me and will continue to be on my new journey.

I'm also very lucky to have many genuine people in my life that each day support me. This week in bright lights, on TV, in the store windows, all over the internet is reminding us to be Thankful for those in our lives. Those Sherrys that keep us on our toes, hold us up when we're falling. Those Sherrys that give us strength to make decisions that have been so difficult to make on our own. I thank you all for being you, being wonderful. Sending x's and o's your way. Pass them along those those you love too! ♥

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Teach Me How To Dougie"

I absolutely love this time of year! When the stores are all caught up with the same Christmas Channels and you can hear the music blaring for all of the shoppers. My favorite is seeing the little Santa cardboard cutouts and snowflakes hanging from the ceilings to direct you to the Seasonal Section. Then when you get there it's bright with lights on faux trees and wreaths all about. I love it all!

Most of all I love the energy that consumes me to get out and spend time with friends, family, sing and most of all dance. Here's some of my past adventures with my lovely friend Tania over at My Adventures in Mommyland and some corny dance moves of mine. If you have just 30 minutes this week, turn off the TV and throw on some of your favorite music. Shake your soul and "...Teach yourself how to Dougie.." ♥


Friday, November 18, 2011

Meet Our Lovely Sponsors

1. I grew up in Connecticut and moved to Philadelphia 3 weeks ago.
2. I love Starbucks. Anything Starbucks. Hot ... cold ... latte ... whatever. But outside of the 'Bucks, I don't really like regular hot coffee. I very much prefer iced. In fact, I'm drinking a pumpkin iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts as I write this. :)
3. I miss my friends and family like crazy! There's a built in shelf in my new living room filled with pictures of all of my loved ones ... including my fur nieces.
4. I am terrified of haunted houses but I love scary movies. My friends and I once went to Six Flags during Halloween time and I cried like a small child. It was terrible!
5. I have three nephews and two nieces. I've been an aunt since I was 8 years-old. 

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Hello, my name is Liv and I am a free-spirited, new experience craving, music loving, peace seeking, soul singing butterfly.  My blog is a special place where I store away all of my treasures, a place where I record our daily adventures and reflect on the simple blessings in life.  I love writing, learning new ideas, making music, taking photos, and collecting sentimental pieces.   I spend my days balancing my time between working as a nurse and building a career I am passionate about while also being a wife and mama to my precious family.  Together, we spend our days striving for peace in our hearts, kindness in our words, and adventure in our souls.

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1. I am classically trained dancer in all styles of dance and I will definitely bust out the moonwalk any and everywhere.
2. I hope to publish a book one day and own my own business. This girl has big goals!
3. For my honeymoon I went to Southern California and I am dying to go back. Being from Louisiana you can only imagine that the worlds are different. I mean, there are NO rednecks in Cali. I have included a picture of me striking a pose in Cali on our hike in Palm Springs!
4. Me and my husband's first date was mud-riding on four wheelers with a big group of people. He flipped the four wheeler over in a ditch of muddy water. The rest of my ride I had mud clumps in my eye lashes and was freezing in wet clothes! Good for cuddling but bad for disastrous look.
5. Most people need to have their morning coffee...well I have to have my morning hot chocolate. It's the breakfast for champions! 
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My name is Misty. I'm a child of God, a 30 year old wife to an incredible man for 4 1/2 years and a mom to an awesome 2 yr old little girl. I blog over at Through a Photographer's Eyes. What started out as a simple challenge of taking a photo a day for 365 days has blossomed into so much more including a weekly photo contest called SHOOT. EDIT. SUBMIT, a weekly Tutorial Tuesday, and a  weekly series called Sunday: Focus on the Savior. So much going on over in my corner of the blog world! Come visit me and join in on all the happenings!

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Blog  •  Facebook  •  Bloglovin'  •  Pinterest  •  Website
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Hey guys! I am Rach and I blog over at "So, hi". It is a blog about my life as a high school senior going through all of that "getting ready to grow up" phase in her life. It is also about beauty and fashion tips that everyone should know, and just tips that make life a little easier. I also have a lot of random opinion posts, hottie's of the day, and a bunch of other random stuff. So come and check it out, you definitely will not be disappointed. ;)

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1. I am in love with reese's peanut butter cups.
2. I talk to my cat on a daily basis.
3. I sing like no one is watching/listening but someone usually is.
4. Me and my husband ran away to Vegas when we were 18 and got married.
5. I secretly dream on being a forensic psychological.

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1. I am a dance teacher and choreographer.
2. I love playing Scrabble.
3. I've owned my tap shoes for 14 years and even though they have a hole I won't get new ones. They are perfectly worn in.
4. I absolutely have to have my toenails painted at all times.
5. I hate eating in fast food restaurants and would way rather go through the drive through then sit in the car and eat it.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Love at First Bite:Chicken Stew with Biscuits

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The season of comfort food is upon us! In my opinion there is no more glorious a time for eating than when the weather turns cold and the leaves fall from the trees. Some people have their summer barbecues, strawberry shortcakes, and corn on the cob, but for me nothing is better than a hot, steaming plate of comfort. It can come in many forms - a hearty meat chili, gooey baked mac ‘n cheese, a rich, creamy bread pudding, but perhaps my favorite is Chicken Stew with Biscuits. Its sort of like chicken pot pie, but with biscuits, and lets face it, everything tastes better with biscuits (and bacon, but that’s a post for another day).

This is essentially the combination of two recipes; one for chicken stew (which I’ve adapted from Ina Garten’s book Barefoot Contessa Family Style) and my go-to, easy-peasy biscuit recipe. You can certainly roast your own chicken, but for ease of assembly (and one less than to make) I usually opt for the store-bought rotisserie chickens that seem to be ubiquitous these days. Bonus - save the chicken carcass to make your own homemade chicken stock, which can be frozen for up to two months and used the next time you make Chicken Stew with Biscuits. I promise you that this is a recipe you will be coming back to over and over again. 

Chicken Stew with Biscuits
Chicken Stew
     1 store-bought rotisserie chicken
     1 quart chicken stock (I use homemade, but store-bought works fine)
     1/2 cup heavy cream
     3 medium carrots, diced
     3 ribs celery, diced
     1 lb mushrooms, cleaned & chopped
     1/2 cup frozen peas (you can also use shelled edamame)
     1 medium onion, diced
     2 cloves garlic, chopped
     3 tbsp butter
     2 tbsp olive oil
     1/4 cup all-purpose flour
     2 cups all-purpose flour
     1 tbsp baking powder
     1 tsp kosher salt
     6 tbsp cold butter
     1.5-2 cups heavy cream or half & half
     1 tbsp butter, melted

Make the stew
1.    Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove as much meat as possible from the rotisserie chicken and shred with your fingers. Save the skin and bones to make homemade stock later.
2.    Add the shredded chicken, diced carrots & celery, and peas to a 9x13 oven-proof casserole dish. Add a dash of salt and a dash of pepper and mix to ensure all bits are evenly distributed. Set aside.
3.    In a large skillet heat the 3 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup flour and stir into the onion mixture. Let cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly (this will get rid of the raw flour taste).
4.    Pour the chicken stock and 1/2 cup cream into the skillet and whisk to remove any lumps. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, whisking constantly to prevent scorching. Let boil for 1 minute and remove from the heat. Add salt & pepper to taste.
5.    Pour the liquid over the chicken and vegetables in the casserole dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Make the biscuits
1.    While the casserole bakes you can make the biscuits. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade combine the flour, baking soda, and salt with a few pulses. Add the cold butter and pulse until it is cut into the dough, about the size of small peas. With the motor running slowly pour 1.5 - 2 cups of cream or half & half until the dough just comes together in a ball. (You can also mix the dough in a large bowl; just cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two knives and proceed with the rest of the recipe).
2.    Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured board and gently pat into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Using a 3" biscuit cutter (or small juice glass) cut out six round biscuits, reforming the dough scraps as needed. Any scraps left can be refrigerated for a few days and used for extra biscuits or shortcakes.

Finish the stew & biscuits
1.    After 45 minutes remove the stew from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 425F.
2.    Remove the aluminum foil and gently arrange the biscuits atop the stew. Brush each biscuit with some melted butter.
3.    Once oven has reached 425F place stew back into the oven and bake, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until the biscuits are golden-brown on top.
4.    Serve hot and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Finding What Makes You, You!

Today I'm reaching out to all of you with both arms. I'd love to get feedback. Have you ever had your own business? What was it? What advice do you have for me that could help? What things should I stay away from? Any suggestions, tips, words of wisdom and criticism I would love to hear (read). ♥

The last few weeks I've been busy kicking off my Photography Business. It's definitely a challenge working on my own and who knows what the future will bring. What I do know is that I'm happy, really happy. Enjoying each session, getting to know people and give them beautiful photos. I'm also in the midst of planning out a studio in my own home. I'm totally psyched for that and to begin this project. This allows me to offer an indoor location which is something I've lacked during my years of taking photos. I've also, been working on getting my website together and I can't wait until it's in one piece and ready for viewing! I have a wonderful friend of Charlie's assisting me. 
[Photo taken by one of my very talented friend's Dave]

*Tomorrow there is another special treat coming your way from the new Wednesday series "Love at First Bite." If you missed last weeks, you can check it out here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Oh, it's Monday again."

I know that's the first thought that comes to our minds when we roll over in bed to turn the alarm off. What has always kept me on track when the week begins is playing memories of the weekend over and over in my mind. This one was fabulous. I did a bunch of photo shoots that I'm spending today editing [you can see my work here]. I also had a fun photo session with a friend of mine where I was able to get some great shots for my Website (coming soon). It was the first time in a long in which I was in front of the camera putting on my serious face (which never lasts too long). Mother Nature has been good to us lately. Here's a few randoms from over the past few days.
What kind of Mom would I be if I didn't check to see if Peanut's Christmas suit fits him? ♥

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Awkward and Awesome Thursday!

- I had lunch with a close friend of mine at Panera Bread (mmm, of my top favs) yesterday. She looked up at me and had this huge smile on her face and pointed to her head. I looked around and there was a cute, little old man with the most obvious toupee on his head. The worst part is he was with his daughter. I promise now to my Dad when and if he ever needs one, we'll make sure it matches all of his hair that's still hanging around.
- I was trying to take some Holiday photos of Peanut yesterday outside. There was a dog a few houses down barking that Peanut found more interesting, even though he couldn't see him or her.. Peanut was just not feeling the photo shoot. I really need a studio.. sound proof preferably.. :)
- Letting your stomach grawl, grunt and do flips for hours only because you're too stubborn to decide on what to eat!
- Approaching someone with the impression I've met them a few times before. Going over all possibilities of how we knew each other just to find was definitely the first time we ever met.
- Typing out the word possibilities wrong in the previous note and realizing there's quite a few "i's" in that word.
- Getting an automated call from CVS Pharmacy for someone else. I followed the prompts to talk to someone to explain it's the wrong number they have on file, only to get a speech about why I need to get my flu shot. 

- I'm currently working with a good friend of Charlie's to help put together a Photography site for my little business. Very psyched for the final product and things are looking up! I've been having such a blast at photographing more sessions and growing my business. Indescribable feeling!
- We're having a fire at our home on Friday Night, always a fun time and definitely a way to save money. With all of the trees that fell down in our back yard from this past storm we'll have plenty of wood to keep the fire burning. It's funny how things work out. 
- Having a the most delicious sushi this past week ♥
- Since the storm we have only had beautiful weather each day.Today may be a bit cloudy, but it's dry and that gives perfect walk around aimlessly weather! (I jinxed today, as it's now raining)
- When you feel like your life has made a full circle, in a great way. Reuniting with friends I've lost touch with for years a at time. Welcoming and being welcomed into new friends lives. That's awesome.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Love at First Bite: Sun-dried Tomato & Pesto Torta

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     Hi there! I’m Matt, one of Katie’s oldest friends and I’m obsessed with food. I write a blog about food, sustainable agriculture, and food policy called Green Eats Blog, and I’m excited to be starting a new column here at Love Is Everywhere called Love at First Bite. I’ll share recipes and tips for easy, healthy dishes that even a kitchen novice could make. Check back most Wednesdays for a new recipe!

This was by far the most popular appetizer that I served at my recent wedding (yes, I catered my own wedding, I know I’m nuts). The recipe could not be simpler, all it takes is a little time to assemble the layers and a food processor to blend the ingredients. Everyone who entertains should keep a copy of this recipe on hand! This tastes better after it has had time to sit, so I would recommend making it at least one day ahead, but preferably two or even three.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Pesto Torta
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit, Dec. 1999
     4 tbsp pesto (store-bought or homemade)
     2 2/3 cups cream cheese (room temp)
     1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
     1 1/3 cups drained, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
     1/3 cup tomato paste
     3/4 cup butter (room temp)
     fresh basil sprigs (optional)
     toasted pine nuts (optional)
     toasted baguette slices
     Nonstick vegetable oil spray
     plastic wrap
     6-cup souffle dish (or similar-sized, straight edge dish)
1.    Add 1/3 cup cream cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and 4 tbsp pesto to food processor. Using on/off turns, process just until blended. Transfer to medium bowl and set aside.
2.    Coarsely chop tomatoes in processor. Add tomato paste and process until mixture is almost smooth. Add 1/3 cup cream cheese and blend well.
3.    Using electric mixer, beat 2 cups cream cheese and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.
4.    Spray 6-cup soufflĂ© dish with nonstick spray. Line with plastic wrap, extending plastic over sides. Spread 3/4 cup cream cheese-butter mixture evenly over bottom of prepared dish. Top with half of tomato mixture, then 1/2 cup cream cheese-butter mixture, then half of pesto mixture. Repeat layering with 1/2 cup cream cheese-butter mixture, remaining tomato mixture, 1/2 cup cream cheese-butter mixture and remaining pesto. Top with remaining cream cheese-butter mixture. Cover and chill overnight. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
5.   Invert torta onto platter. Peel off plastic. Garnish with basil sprigs and toasted pine nuts. Serve with baguette slices.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Just a Few Snaps & Smiles.

As most of you know I've been working really hard on my Photography. I've put together a bunch of fun sessions so far. I enjoy seeing people happy and then capturing all of it.Over the last few days I've had the opportunity to take some of the first of many Holiday Photos this year. I hope these photos make you smile just as they do for me. I hope you'll stop by and visit my Facebook Photography Page and check out more of my photography. ♥

Below are photos of my bestie's son, RJ. Isn't he the cutest little man in the world?
Below are photos of my lovely friend Tania and her daughter Emma. 
You can follow their journey at "My Adventures in Mommyland"