About Me...

From dieting to decanting wine...wedding planning to whipping up new recipes in the kitchen...come sit a spell with me!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Accidentally Vegan...

Vegan.  One little word....but quite a powerful movement.  I've never really liked the word, "vegan."  I think it has some old school stigmas attached to it.  Some words that come to my mind are:  hippie, crunchy-granola, crazy animal-rights activist, extreme liberal, PETA, etc.  You get the picture.  Until recently, I had never considered going vegan.  One of my very best friends just celebrated her one year anniversary of going vegan.  She is a great inspiration and success story to so many women.  After many food documentaries, long late-night conversations, blog reading, recipe sampling...I accidentally turned vegan.

It actually started out as a 'detox' as I'm calling it.  One drunken night (too many hunch punch drinks will come back to bite you!) turned into an even worse Saturday (i.e. hangover from hell)  That day I had  ZERO coffee and barely any food at all.  I spent about 70% of the day wallowing on the couch cursing my previous night's decisions to consume massive amounts of booze, and I was hating my body's internal reaction to my withdrawals.  So...long story short...I made it through that hangover.  The next day, you guessed it- no coffee either.  This may seem like no biggie for many of you.  You are looking at the gal that MUST HAVE a cup of coffee every single morning.  No matter whether I'm on vacation, sick, hungover, on my death bed...whatever.  I was the biggest coffee fiend ever.  So...after I realized I'd gone 2 WHOLE DAYS without caffeine, I was pretty damn proud of myself.  I decided to give something a whirl...hey- let's see if I can go all weekend without coffee.  And sure enough,  I did.  I had a pretty gnarly headache the entire weekend...but that weekend turned into a week.  And that week has now turned into 2 week.  No coffee.  How fabulous?

I'm sure you're wondering how or when the vegan thing comes into play.  On day 2 of no caffeine, I decided- let's keep this up.  Let's just try to get tons of fruit and veggies over the next few days.  Let's get some toxins out and get back on the "healthy horse."  And after a few days of not really missing meat, dairy, or cheese....I thought to myself...I could really do this?!  Let's give it a try.  I immediately began reading a book that a dear friend gave me, Becoming Vegan.  This book gives you the history and background on veganism and vegetarianism.  It's more of a textbook read, but there is a wealth of information in the book.

My next step was to immediately DIVE into vegan food blogs, vegan food recipes, vegan baking recipes etc.  I get the most joy out of baking and cooking yummy food for others.  Could I find the same joy while cooking vegan-friendly foods and goodies?  I was most certainly up to the challenge.  My new favorite vegan chef/author/blogger, Chloe Coscarelli, was my first go-to reference.  Her book, Chloe's Kitchen, just came out and with the help of Amazon...it arrived on my doorstep within 3 days.  I have tried several of the recipes already- and LOVED them!!  My goal is to blog more and share my experiences baking, cooking, testing, and tasting those vegan recipes with you all.

I should probably mention one more (yet very important) detail.  My amazing and supportive husband, Jason.  (see photos on the right!)  Just a few days after my choice to try out the vegan lifestyle, he has decided to give a 30 day trial of vegetarianism.  He wants to support me and my decisions while bettering his health at the same time.  (Could you ask for a better husband...?  No!) So we are both in this together.  I'd say he has the tough role of my recipe taste tester.  It's a very official title.  More salt?  Too spicy?  Is this even edible...??  I am looking forward to many more laughs and trials in our little tiny apartment kitchen.

Well...I hear the timer going off in the oven.  Working on some trial cupcakes for an important bridal shower coming up.  Here's a little teaser for what I'm working on today...and hopefully my next blog post.  

Until next time....

Monday, December 12, 2011

The era of the mustache....

Well it's definitely time for a blog update.  It's been almost two weeks exactly since my last blog post.  Two weeks ago tomorrow I found out that I lost my job.  (yes that stunk- you can read my last blog post to hear more sappy sentences about that)

Today I started my new job!  Yes...a new job!  The stars aligned JUST perfectly for this job to come my way. With the help of a few great people (you know who you are) and the cosmic powers just right....I landed a job this past week!  I think you could say that was record timing.  Unemployed on Tuesday...interview on Friday..job offer on Tuesday.  :)  Wow...I'm pretty lucky.

For those of you wondering about the title of this blog post, that was my first hint about my new job.  My second hint...you probably have this app on your smartphone.  My third hint...you've probably used this app to help you plan your weekend dining out plans or shopping trips.  Like 50% off...?  Yea, me too!  If you haven't guessed already (or if you live in a city that doesn't YET have this awesome app) I am now working for Scoutmob.  Scoutmob is quite simply the most awesome thing ever.  Check out the website, get the free app, and start cashing in the awesomeness.  Scoutmob features a different local business {mostly restaurants and boutiques} each day on their website and dedicated email blast to each city.  Not only do you get a great story about the history and the culture of this local business...but the business in return offers YOU a 50% off discount for their goods or services.  No upfront costs...no coupons to buy...no strings.  It's a great excuse to try new local restaurants and boutiques.  Jay and I have been planning our evenings around Scoutmob deals for a while now.  The age old conversation, "Where do you want to go eat?"  has been squashed.  Now it's, "What places around us are on Scoutmob?"  Check it out.  Download the free app.  It's awesome.
Scoutmob- check them out here
Anywhoo...enough about that.  I am happy to no longer have to report to the unemployment office {as pleasant as that was} and I am so grateful for the unconditional support and love from my husband, my family, and my friends.  I could not have gotten through this rough patch without you all.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support, your kind words, and your networking help.  I certainly appreciate all of it.  
With the new job underway...I'm getting excited about Christmas and the time we'll get to spend with our families and friends this year.  Our first married Christmas....I have taken to some holiday baking and have tested out some awesome new recipes.  Next few blog posts will be about my baking experiments... =)   Drooling yet... hello, cranberry chocolate chunk cookies....
Recipe Courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis- Giada at Home

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Funny what you wish for...

It's been less than one week from my last blog post and WOW have things changed!  Last time I was talking about how I was such a lucky girl and how I really wanted God to show me how to find my story.  Well...as the adage goes, "be careful what you wish for." 

The very next day I receieved the gut wrenching news that my company was shutting down.  The room started spinning, I got hot and sweaty, and didn't really hear everything that was said.  I kept hearing phrases like, "your last day is Friday" and "dissolving the business" and "we really regret having do make this decision."  If you have never been laid off from a job, consider yourself lucky.  This was certainly the first time that I had not chosen to leave a company.  You see...I'm quite the control freak. Yes..me...the control freak.  "Hi.  My name is Jessica and I'm a control freak."  It really sucked having all control yanked right out from under me.

Anyways...so after being asked to leave for the day and we had to come back the next day for a meeting.  I was still kind of in shock.  I didn't want to tell my husband over the phone, so I waited...and waited...for him to come home.  After a little liquid vino courage and a few hours, he was finally home.  I broke the news to him (without shedding a tear might I add)  I kind of felt like a puppy who had peed in the floor.  I had my tail between my legs and was just waiting for my owner's reaction to my mess.  Much to my surprise, my husband was so calm.  Supportive- yes.  Encouraging- of course.  Reassuring- absolutely.  His reaction really helped calm me down.  If he felt like we'd be okay, then we would.  Period.  I realized at that moment that our marriage (just two months in) was already being tested.  I know God will never give us more than we can handle.  Boy, I just didn't see this coming so soon.  "Happy 2 month wedding anniversary....I'm unemployed!" Yea...not what I was going for.  My husband's love and encouragement really calmed my nerves.  I immediately knew it was going to be okay. 

I am taking this time to really ask God for help and guidance.  Help me find my story...help me find my way.  God, what do you have planned for me?  I know that God has a greater plan for me...it just sometimes takes a little intervening.  I've been wanting to make a transition into a different career, so maybe this is my perfect opportunity.  The past several years, I've been really yearning for a more socially meaningful career.  I want to work with children.  I want to inspire children.  I want to do more than just sit at a desk and sell people stuff.  I want to make a DIFFERENCE.  How many people do you know that truly love what they do for a living?  How many times have you said to yourself, "I've got to make a change"?  Well...God is most definitely making a change in my life.  The hardest part is just letting go of that control and trusting that God will take care of my husband and me.  Let go and let God....

So I say all of this not to evoke sympathy from you {I truthfully didn't want to tell anyone about me being unemployed...but I dont think that many people read my blog lol}  I hope to come out on the other side of this valley with a new outlook on life.  I want to use this opportunity to make a change and make a difference.  Here's to the next chapter of my life....

Until next time,

Monday, November 28, 2011

Finding my story...

  Well with Thanksgiving under our belts...and our belt maybe loosened up a notch or two...it's already here!  Christmas, that is.  The Christmas Season is officially upon us.  It's hard to believe that another Christmas is here.  December 1 is just a few days away...and it's really hard to believe that an entire year has passed.  I think I always say this, but WOW this year has flown by!  2011 was by far the best year of my life so far.  I  ran my first 10K, had my first bridal shower and bachelorette parties, MARRIED the love of my life, took a beautiful honeymoon to a tropical place we'd never been before...see below...

Dragon Cay in Middle Caicos- Turks & Caicos
This year has been pretty great.  Sometimes I feel like I'm a little too lucky.  Like Charlotte said on Sex & The City, "no one gets to have it all.  Look at Miranda and Steve...look at Carrie and Big..."  How is it possible that someone like me can have a life so blessed?  It's pretty hard to fathom sometimes....

The past few Sundays at Buckhead Church we've been learning about "The Immeasurable Life"  The series of sermons focused on how we are always looking for more in life.  We want to graduate college, then we want to get married, then we want a bigger house, then we want babies, then we want a promotion, then we want to retire, then we want to travel....we always want more, more, more.  But...when are we ever satisfied?  When we reach the next level of more...it just doesn't seem as awesome as we'd imagined it.  Hence the reason why we are always wanting more.  Get it...? 

In light of this....it's got me thinking about my life and my more and what my story really is.  I feel like at this age (26) we really start to look at what we've done, what we've accomplished, and where we are going next.  It's got me thinking about who have I touched, who in my life have I really influenced in a positive direction? In all 26 years....what do I really have to show for it all...? 

So since this has been on my mind lately...it only was fitting for the sermon in church yesterday to be about stories.  The pastor issued a challenge for the month of December...to ask God to help us find our story.  This message really hit me so hard....what is my story?  What will my story for next year be?  How can God help me write my story...?  My challenge for not only December...but for the entire year....I need help.  I need to really let go of the reigns and let God show me the way.  I need him to help show me the pencil and the paper, metaphorically speaking.  I am hoping and praying for a really cool story.  I want nothing more than to help make someone else.  I want to help someone else feel as blessed as I do.

So there it is...that's my challenge and what I'm mulling over right now.  I hope that you, too, can find your story and your path.  We all have one...it's just a matter of finding it.

Until next time.......


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Batter Up...Almost Time for Thanksgiving!

I must say the eve before Thanksgiving eve...I'm getting pretty excited!  I love getting together with friends and family.  I love the smells in the kitchen, I love cooking new recipes for my loved ones to try....I just love all of it!  Some of our dear friends, Greg and Wendy Fry, are coming home with us for Thanksgiving.

The Frys and the Smiths- at our watering hole, Pub 71
Mrs. Wendy Fry is our resident vegan and a foodie just like me!  I've deemed this year's Thanksgiving, "Vegan meets Southern Cooking."  I am bringing two dishes to my mother-in-laws Thanksgiving lunch- both vegan friendly! Recipe 1:  Home made cranberry sauce with walnuts and green apples.  Recipe 2: Roasted brussel sprouts with pomegranates.  Yum.

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network

The original Bobby Flay (loooooove him) recipe calls for Vanilla Pecan Butter to be added at the very end.  While I think the words 'vanilla' and 'butter' sound FABULOUS together, I am going to omit those two and make this a vegan-friendy Wendy-friendly dish

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 1 lime, finely zested
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Place the Brussels sprouts in a medium roasting pan and toss with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until lightly golden brown, 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, add the pomegranate molasses and stir to combine. Return to the oven and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes longer.  Transfer the sprouts to a large bowl, add the pomegranate seeds and lime and orange zests. Transfer to a platter and ENJOY! =)

I cannot WAIT to try this. I LOVE the color combination of the red pomegranates and the green Brussels! Very festive..

Recipe courtesy of Food Network
The second recipe I'm planning to make is an old favorite with a new twist!  I used to think that 'cranberry sauce' always came out of a can.  Sometimes my mom would forget to set out the cranberry until right as we were sitting down to eat.  She'd yell, "CRAP- THE CRANBERRY!  Somebody grab a can opener and get it out here!" :)  Last year I made this Barefoot Contessa recipe, and it turned out fabulous! This year I think I'll make 1 or 2 healthy swaps!


  • 1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, cleaned
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 orange, zest grated and juiced
  • 1 lemon, zest grated and juiced
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
*I think I will substitute Agave Nectar  for the sugar (sheesh....1.75 cups of sugar??)  Also, I think I will omit the raisins simply to reduce sugar even more.  I prefer my cranberry sauce a little more on the tart side.  As Claire Robinson of 5 Ingredient Fix says, "BYOC."  That means, Be Your Own Chef...make changes, substitute...you are the boss afterall! 

Anyways- here's what you do:  Cook the cranberries, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the skins pop open. Add the apple, zests, and juices and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the raisins and nuts. Let cool, and serve chilled.

This year's recipes along with Wendy's vegan pumpkin pie (stay tuned on a blog post about that later- yum!) and the mother-in-laws fabulous southern cooking....this will definitely be a Thanksgiving to Remember! :)

p.s. Take a look at my friend's blog about taking back control of Thanksgiving!  Great ideas on how to handle the mass amounts of calories: BLOG: Pieces of Me

Gobble gobble....

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Before 30 Project

We've all heard the term, "mid-life crisis" or now a days "quarter life crisis."  While I feel like I'm pretty much smack dab in the middle of a quarter life crisis, I feel like it's time to take charge and set some goals in my life.

After marrying the love of my life this September (see below for awesome pic) , I feel like we have the world at our fingertips.  We are done with the wedding planning....the honeymoon is over...and after all the dust has settled...we're kind of looking at each other saying, "now what?"  We're not quite ready for babies, and it's not time to buy a home just yet.  So...what do to?  With Jay being 28 and me turning 27 in July, I think it's the perfect time to start the "30 before 30 project."
Photo courtesy of Sarah Esther Photography
I was inspired by two things to start my project.  This past January, I made a '2011 Bucket List' for myself.  I made 12 things that I could do (with or without Jay) one for each month of 2011.  All were pretty attainable, but I didn't quite complete my list just yet.  A few highlights of my completions are:  running my first 10K, running the Peachtree Road Race, planting an herb garden (although it may or may not be living still), Get Married, tour a few wineries in North Georgia....ok, that's all I can remember.  :)  I have decided to expand the list and carry over a few items that didn't quite get completed.  I've gotten a bit ambitious and created a list of 30 things I want to do before I turn 30.  I've got 3.5 years to get all of this done, and I'm looking at this project like an exciting challenge.  I am looking forward to tackling each and every one of these things with my husband. Here we go.....

30 BEFORE 30:

30 before 30...
1.  Run a half marathon
2.  Complete p90x (preferably with my husband)
3.  Marvel at the Eiffel Tower in Paris
4.  Take a professional cooking class
5.  Make pasta from scratch- just like in Italy
6.  Take a gondala ride in Venice, Italy
7.  Eat and drink authentic Italian food IN  Italy- pizza, pasta, vino....amore!
8.  Sip mai tais in Hawaii- and visit a volcano while we're there
9.  Become completely debt free (well...with the exception of those pesky student loans)
10.  Purchase our first home
11.  Go skiing in Colorado or Utah....or just sip hot chocolate in a fabulous mountain ski resort out west :)
12.  Live it up in LAS VEGAS....for play not for work
13.  Show Jason New York city and all it has to offer
14.  See a live fashion show in Bryant Park
15  Plant a garden- and make it live more than 3 weeks....
16.  Spend one Christmas or New Year's holiday someplace tropical
17.  Own 1 piece of Louis Vuitton
18.  Host a Thanksgiving dinner with both sides of my family present (complete with amazing servingware and pretty centerpieces)
19.  Visit the Grand Canyon
20.  Go para-sailing someplace tropical
21.  Visit the Louvre
22.  See the Hollywood Sign in person :)
23.  Find a career that I am truly passionate about (they say LOVE what you do and it won't feel like work)
24.  Finally buy a really really expensive camera- and learn to use it correctly
25.  Visit the Colleseum in Rome, Italy
26.  Go to 'The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party' aka- the UGA v. UF football game in Jacksonville.

As you see...I've left a few spaces blank.  I'd like to be able to add or edit this list along the way.  I can't wait to keep you all updated and post photos and awesome stories from crossing things off of this list!

Life's too short to not spend it doing things you love....so...

Cheers to the 30 Before 30 Project!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Just a lil grumpy...

Welp...it's Thursday evening.  That means I have made it 4 WHOLE ENTIRE days without carbohydrates, sugars, fruits, alcohol or dairy (minus cheese).  WOW.  I did not think this was possible.  Each day is getting a little easier and a little easier!  Let's explore a few pros and cons:

- I am eating far fewer calories than normal
- I don't crave sweets after every meal
- I feel more satisfied after each meal since I'm having snacks inbetween
- I found a dessert that is okay for this detox.  (yea, I said it.....desssssertttt)  Recipe below:

"Chocolate Cheesecake Wannabe" (is what I'm calling it)
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 tbsp (or more in my case) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 packet of sugar substitute (choose whatever carcinogen filled sugar sub)
- dash of cinnamon (optional but tasty) 

Okay, this sound weird but it seriously tastes like chocolate cheesecake- minus all the horrible carbs/sugar/calories!  Put in the fridge and get it super cold. ENJOY!!! 
Well, after a few days of no carbs or sugar- one would think there are a few side effects.  Here are my cons:

- I STILL want bread, or sugar or chocolate or whatever the hell your crack is
- lack of energy.  We all know carbs give you energy..and I'm trying to substitute in as many ways as possible. 
- Grumpiness....bitchiness...just being a little snippier in general (or so my coworkers, fiance, and dog say) I mayyyy be just a wee bit quick to get a little bit of angry these days.  But SHEESH I'M HUNGRY OKAY?! =) {humorous sarcasm}

I've actually started trying this new "all natural" energy supplement, FRS.  It's actually pretty cool- you can get a free trial if you go on www.frs.com and just pay shipping and handling.  I really like these energy powders
 This is the 'diet orange' flavor.  Each little packet looks like a 'Crystal Light' packet.  It has ZERO sugar, ZERO carbs, and only 5 calories!  You dissolve it in 8-12oz. of cold water.  It seriously tastes like yummy, pulp-free orange juice.  (I mean, who likes the pulp - serioulsy?) 

Here is what FRS has to say about their 'healthy energy':
"At the core of the patented FRS formula is an antioxidant called Quercetin. Not only does Quercetin support the immune system like other antioxidants, but it’s clinically proven to boost energy. When taken regularly people report increased and sustained energy without the jitteriness of caffeine or other stimulants. Quercetin energy feels different than stimulant energy because Quercetin energy works in a completely different way."- (www.frs.com)

Sounds pretty cool, huh?  In my free shipment I got the healthy energy diet orange powder, 2 flavors of these cool chews, and 2 bottled energy drinks.  I think everything is pretty tasty- just have to look out for the sugar content in the pre-packaged drinks!

Well anywhoo....I think I am well on my way to completing the 7 days of this cleanse {I mean, SB diet phase 1} After these 7 days, I'd like to evaluate my results and maybe try another 7 days? ONly problem....Cinco de Mayo is coming up. =)  We will see....

Until next time..........