Alex in The City: The Bare Neccesities

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I have learned many many manyyyyy great lessons since I’ve moved to New York but one of my favorite ones is that “I have more than enough.”

It is a lesson I asked for experience with and one that I believed but didn’t know for sure, if that makes sense.

I knew I was fortunate, I knew that there are starving kids that would love to have the food I left to throw away who would still be hungry even if I shoved the remaining piece of filet Mignon down my throat and that I could be happy with much less. I had never really challenged myself on that Idea before I moved to NYC.

Maybe it was because I Didn’t have much money to spend on every Nate Berkus Collection piece at Target, or because there is not much room for a truckload of belongings in NYC or maybe it was a coming of age.

Either way I have begun my trek towards what I like to call “gypsy life.” I have been carrying an affirmation with me everyday which is simply “I have more than enough.” It’s simple but powerful and it has helped me to de-clutter, reorganize, Feng Shui and give life to my space. When I say life I really mean it, I added two living plants to my space and got rid of my candles as a challenge to myself. I’ve also become a lot more frugal and grateful for what I have and I’ve even become impatient and annoyed with “too much.”

I still have impulses to buy and decorate and bring home shiny things so I just remind myself of something I actually need, or simply that “I have more than enough!” And it is true what they say “gratitude turns what you have into enough!”

Have a great weekend and take some time to start figuring out how little you can be happy with and cut it in half to find what you need. Find the bare necessities and rejoice in the fact that you will always have more than enough!

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Love!

Alexandria
XOXO

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IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!

DSC_0054  It most certainly is that time of year, my favorite time of the year. During the colder half of the year life just seems to be bursting at the seems with Love and joy, laughter, travel, respite, generosity, great fashions, delectable holiday foods and everyone’s favorite… Adult beverages!
I designated last weekend as my FINAL weekend of shopping and planning, as usual, that was not the case and I ended up going on a mini gift haul in target. I picked up some great stocking-stuffers and wrapping supplies and went to work on some gift for co-workers and family members. 

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It just so happens that I work with a few awesome people that I couldn’t possibly pass up the chance to give a gift to. I wanted to do something sweet yet thoughtful and not too expensive so I opted for some holiday themed chap-sticks that were on sale at Target.
 
Ok, pause. Two things, if you ever happen to be imagining my voice or reading this aloud please do not mispronounce Target, in my world it is a high end department store and we pronounce the name as such: TAR -JEY! Got it? Good! Second thing, Everything, unless otherwise mentioned, is from Target. Now, Where were we, oh yes gift bags. I picked up some candy canes, EOS lip balms, Cards, Lindt Lindor truffles, miniature bottles of wine, some cute little mugs and cards, gum and a few other items to make cute and affordable gift bags. It was really a joy putting these together and wrapping other gifts and I hope my co-workers enjoy them. 
Goodies to pass out at work!

Goodies to pass out at work!

Gift tins! Tin cans were only $1!

Gift tins! Tin cans were only $1!

If you are looking for a last minute gift for someone on your list and you just want to give a simple and loving gift go ahead and throw together some stocking stuffers and write a nice note on a Christmas card. I love to give all year and I have been fortunate to have what I have but I never pressure myself about the extravagance of the commercial part of the holiday season but rather to realize that there is nothing as extravagant as the holiday spirit, time spent with loved ones, generosity, and the reason for the season the birthday of Jesus Christ! 
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! Enjoy the photos! 
Great Books purchased for my little cousins!

Great Books purchased for my little cousins!

A sweet and inspirational note for the young girls receiving these awesome books!

A sweet and inspirational note for the young girls receiving these awesome books!

Gifts for my mother, she loves Harry Connick Jr

Gifts for my mother, she loves Harry Connick Jr

Getting it all together!

Getting it all together!

Goodies!

Goodies!

stocking stuffers

Made with love,

Zan

Adventures of a Weekend Warrior – Juicing

A good relationship with food should be nonnegotiable.

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In lieu of my journey back to a vegetarian diet and marathon training I took a whack at juicing this weekend. I love fresh juice and all of the benefits it has to offer but it can be a bit pricey and not so easy to find. If I could replace half of the newly opened fro-yo shops in south Florida with a Pressed Juicery I would be jet set. Since I don’t yet have that kind of pull I’ve decided to make it a DIY/UWYH (Use What You Have) project for the weekend in preparation for an upcoming liquid diet cleanse.

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When planning a change in my diet or exercise routine focus on making sure that I am doing the best I can to give my body an awesome and healthy diet but also a routine that is practical and sustainable for me. Most diets are like socialism, they sound nice in theory, they are missing a few essential and imperative elements and principles and they hardly work in real life. I.E. low-carb diets that promote heavy consumption of red meats, foods that can be high in bad fats and cholesterol but tell you you cant have fruit or Nutella, every diet needs Nutella!
Point is, driving 20-30 miles and paying $6-$10 a cup for juice is neither sustainable nor practical for me but fresh juice is something that can be a great benefit.
I, luckily, had a gently used juicer in my home which had been abandoned by my mother and banished to that dark place that bulky kitchen appliances go when owners give up on them: the storage closet. While my mother is notorious for putting these beautiful pieces to rest, I am known for digging them up and making good and quite healthy use of them. (See fried rice on the griddle, protein shakes in the magic bullet, turkey burgers on the George Foreman)
I used celery, a granny smith apple, carrots and a tangerine to make a sweet, red, carrot-y concoction that gobbles up my hate for carrots. I really abhor carrots in most forms but I can tolerate not love them when they are juiced.
I highly recommend this practice and plan to keep it up. The juice was delightful, the clean up was less than perfect but I am certainly on the juicing bandwagon! My next recipe involves ginger and more carrots, I am a huge fan of ginger and I’m anxious to get to this diet because of it!

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My next recipe was courtesy of Kerry Washington and Women’s Health Magazine (December issue ;I am a proud subscriber). I know I will hardly survive on juice, water and vitamins alone during this first liquid cleanse so I found a new vegan shake that is a quick, easy and tasty meal replacement post-workout. The protein powder from PlantFusion used in this recipe is THE best protein powder I have had to date!
The recipe calls for hemp milk and coconut water from Pressed Juicery, I used soy milk and O.N.E. Coconut water because I am used to soy and forgot the hemp milk when I went to whole foods and because I am not close to any Pressed locations. Maybe I will contact them for a product review sample when I get some time so I can have the full effect.
In my magic bullet I combined 1/2 cup of organic low-fat vanilla soy milk 6 oz of coconut water, 6 ice cubes, a few shakes of pumpkin-pie spice, and a scoop of PlantFusion vanilla bean protein powder and shake to get the ingredients blended. Blend the mixture in a magic bullet or ninja or what have you for 45-60 seconds, pour and drink with a bendy straw!
(Secret: Straws ensure no milk/shake mustache and make drinks go down a little easier)

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I really encourage everyone to try some fresh juice if you never have, It is delicious and is extremely beneficial to the body. If juice is not your cup of tea I simply encourage those that wish to lead a healthier life to do things that are sustainable in the long run, do what is most practical and least damaging for you and do what makes you feel best. A diet is not a temporary fix, your diet it what you feed your body and as that changes your body changes.
If you have any great juicing recipes or stories please feel free to share.
Stay beautiful people!
Made with Love
-Zan

One Hour Veggie Chili Recipe

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Chili will always and forever be one of my favorite dishes for fall and winter. I am making a return to vegetarianism but I am and have always been adamant about avoiding a bland and unsustainable diet. This Chili recipe much like most of my other favorites and usual dishes is far from flavorless, cardboard-esque or un-fulfilling.

I usually avoid canned vegetables and soups etc. because of preservatives and exorbitant amounts of sodium and the lack of nutritional value. I don’t claim to know the half-life of every micro-nutrient in every morsel of food but I do my best, I look for fresh or frozen fruits and veggies but what I do not have the patience for is beans, I always imagine them taking far too long to cook fresh. Chili is bean heavy, that was my dilemma, but since I don’t do it very often I used canned beans, corn, and tomatoes but I did cut some fresh peppers and onions and added a about two cups of frozen onions and peppers that I needed to use.

Overall this is not a bad recipe, I actually think its one of the healthier cups of chili I have had in terms of fat, sodium, preservatives etc.  I loved it! If you like your chili chunky you will love this. If you like it a little more soupy, you will like this recipe with a little more broth or water or runoff from the canned veggies. Bon appetit mon amis!

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VEGETARIAN CHILI

Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 45-60 mins
Serves 5-6
Ingredients
1 can Bush’s Chili beans (mild) 
1 can Bush’s Kidney Beans
1 can yellow corn
1/2 cup of vegetable broth
1 can diced low sodium tomatoes
1 fresh red  bell pepper chopped into large chunks
1 fresh green bell pepper chopped into large chunks
1 yellow onion chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cayenne pepper (adjust according to taste)
1 tbsp cumin  (adjust according to taste)
1 tbsp chili powder  (adjust according to taste)
1 tsp sea salt
3 allspice pebbles (optional)
 
 
 Prep
Drain Corn, Kidney beans and Tomatoes
Chop onions and peppers
 
Cooking Instructions 
1. In a large pot or large saucepan heat olive oil and seasoning on high for 1 minute
2. Add peppers and onions to oil and seasonings, stir to mix and then let simmer for 5 minutes stirring as needed
3. Add beans, corn and tomatoes stirring after each addition until all ingredients are well mixed
4. Add vegetable broth and stir until well mixed
5. let chili simmer for 30-40 mins/until desired texture is achieved stirring regularly
6. add seasoning if needed and serve 
 
Serving suggestions: Serve with cornbread or tortilla chips, add shredded chicken breast if you like meat, Serve over rice for a south of the border feel or even throw a little cheese on top and call it a day!
I hope you all enjoy! 
 
Made with Love
-Zan
 
 

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Saturday Morning Glory

 

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Saturday mornings are my favorite time of the week. It makes no difference if I’m sleeping in, working, traveling, auditioning, working out, cooking, gardening or my usual favorite, going to the green market in my hometown: West Palm Beach. There is just something about Saturday mornings that just whispers “stop and smell the flowers.” I am a morning person in general but I am also very busy so not every morning can be savored like Saturdays. My schedule regularly gives me this time of the week off so I like to take my time and do it right.

Sometimes “It” is laying in bed until I’m ready to prepare myself a hot breakfast in bed, sometimes like this weekend it is going shopping at the  local green market with a friend.

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If you ever visit West Palm Beach, FL on a weekend, please please please do not pass up the opportunity to go to this wonderful market. It’s a hot-spot for families, couple, pets, and singles alike. Local restaurants, florist, bakeries and other specialty shops gather on the Waterfront for a saturday morning that is nothing short of glorious. The food is delicious! I have taken some chances like the feta wraps from a local greek restaurant and smoked fish dip from a small shop, those choices and most others have been well worth it. My most recent edible fascination: Red velvet cider doughnuts! Less than half of the walk around cone is pictured above. I think I paid $6 or $8 for them, can’t quite remember but they are made fresh on-site and come with an awesome cream cheese dip. Love them. I also picked up some produce since most of the farmers offer lower prices than grocers and superstores.

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Another delight from this Saturday: a 1-ton christmas tree made of sand, an ode to the not so traditional winter weather in Southern Florida, which I found quite comical. I have an undying holiday spirit so this was joy to see.

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(DEC 1st is also World Aids Day. Check the red ribbons!)

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Peonies, Peonies and more Peonies! I love these flowers.It’s not Peony season so I wasnt able to find any on my last trip to the market and now that the florist I usually buy from has some they aren’t so cheap, these went for $6 a stem. Such gorgeous flowers! I chose 3 bulbs, I wanted to make sure they hadn’t opened just yet so I could get a decent life out of them once I take them home.

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This is simply an ode to Saturday, to the morning. A time to stop and smell the flowers!

I’ll be sharing more Saturday adventures and outing in the coming weeks, If time permits I would love to make this a regular installment.

Until next time, Stay beatiful!

Love,

Zan

Fall Harvest – Delicious Roasted Veggie Recipe

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Its also the most delicious time of the year! I love cooking and experimenting with the seasonal foods I find at my local supermarket and green market. I wanted to share this recipe for Roasted Fall Veggies. I was looking for something hearty, healthy and easy to pack for lunch seeing that I work all week. I didn’t make it to my favorite green market this weekend but I was able to find a good mix of veggies in my grocery store without spending an arm and a leg.

I also made an Apple-Pear Oat Tart which was a result of me improvising after I left the supermarket without figs. I Was Originally going to roast the pears and figs with some brown sugar and butter.

As I type this I am enjoying the roasted veggies for lunch, (I have to shop on my break) and I had the tart for breakfast. They are both delightful!

I am currently not eating meat, I had some salmon that would pair great with these veggies, I made it with Tuna last week, but if you aren’t a big seafood person roasted chicken would be great, or you can do what I did and enjoy them as a meal. The hearty potatoes and squash are really filling and if you cook them properly they still have their nutritional value, cooking them to mush or dousing in oil and seasonings can turn this dish into a mushy fattening mess, so be careful to not overcook and be fair with the seasoning ans olive oil.

RECIPES

Roasted Fall Veggies

Prep Time: 20 Mins

Cooking time: 45-60 Mins

Ingredients

2 Sweet Potatoes (Red Yams)

1 1/2 lb Bag of mixed baby potatoes

18-20 pearl onions (any White/yellow onion is acceptable adjust number accordingly)

1/2 Butternut Squash

1 Small bag of baby Carrots

1 palm full of rosemary

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

1/2 teaspoon of garlic seasoning

6 twists of fresh cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper

2 tbsp of EVOO

1 tbsp of Kerrygold Garlic seasoned butter (Optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1. Wash, peel and chop Yams into 1-inch thick medallions and put into baking dish (I used deep a cookie sheet/roasting pan)

2. Wash and Chop squash

3. Wash Carrots, Onions and potatoes

4. Combine all veggies and seasonings and add oil

5. Mix the veggies using tongs or hands until seasonings and oil is spread evenly (I prefer hands)

6. Drop butter in the center of the dish and toss it in the Oven for 45-60 mins

*Be sure to oil the bottom of your dish well, the yams stick easily! this recipe size should serve 5-6 as a side or 3-5 as an entree.

Pear-Apple Oat Tart

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Prep Time: 10 Mins

Cooking time: 30-45 Mins

Ingredients

1 golden delicious apple

3 Forelle Pears

(can be substituted with Bartlett or Seckel)

1 pack of Quakers Cinnamon Apple oatmeal

3 tbsp Brown Sugar (Or sugar in the raw)

1 tbsp of honey

1 tsp of maple syrup

1 tbsp of butter (salted or unsalted)

a pinch of rosemary (optional)

Bread loaf-sized baking dish

1. Wash the fruits and cut apple into 5-6 pieces

2. pour half of the oatmeal package into the bottom of the dish and add 1/4 cup of water

3. add butter and rosemary to pan

4. Place apples and Pears on top of the oatmeal bed

5. Cover the mixture with sugar, syrup, honey an remaining oatmeal

Let bake for 30-45 mins or until pears are softened and oatmeal bed is fully cooked

*Serves 2-4. Suggestions: Top oatmeal with the fruits for a sweet breakfast. Eat warmed with ice cream for a tasty dessert, or enjoy it alone!

I hope you all enjoy! Please let me know if you use the recipe, if you like it, how you tweaked it, wine pairings, ANYTHING lol.

ENJOY!

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Love,

Zan

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