First Foam Art and Greenville Faves

Hope you’re all having a great Easter weekend!

On Saturday, Dad and Sis wanted to watch the new Captain America 2 movie. With the weather being rainy with a high of 58, it was a good day for that. Hubby and I had already seen it, but he was up for seeing it again. Since my mom isn’t a big movie fan, she and I decided to have a mother-daughter afternoon.

Due South Coffee

I took her to Due South Coffee (which I visited during their opening week) for her first latte foam art experience.

Mom at Due South Coffee

She was a fan. She was cute and asked, “Am I supposed to drink the foam art?” Yup, go for it!

Thank you, Due South Coffee, for providing a great experience!

Henry's Smokehouse BBQ

While we were out, we decided to hit up some of our other favorite spots like Henry’s Smokehouse. Hello, BBQ sandwich plate!

The Chocolate Shoppe

And since I was one day away from being able to enjoy sweets again, we picked up two dozen of my favorite chocolate chip cookies from The Chocolate Shoppe. If you’re ever in town, definitely stop by. You’ll be greeted with a free chocolate chip cookie sample! It was everything I could do to not scarf down that free cookie. Can’t wait to dig into those on Sunday!

We also hit up The Pita House for dinner, checking off another Greenville fave visit. I must have been more hungry than I thought because I had already dug into everything by the time I thought to take a photo. Trust me, our Pita House meal was beautiful and delicious.

My parents currently don’t have a TV – just wi-fi and a ton of books and magazines. We’ve enjoyed a pretty quiet weekend so far. I spent some time working on converting a couple more recipes here on TCL for you guys and making some other blog enhancements. And I finally had a good chunk of time to spend some QT with a good book, which was a great way to wind down for the day.

On a not-so-quiet note, I showed my family this video of this amazing 80-year-old salsa dancer, and they loved it! I sure hope I can move like that when I’m Paddy’s age.

Happy Easter to those celebrating!

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Happy weekend! Hope you’re all enjoying the beautiful spring weather as much as I am!

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I went with my friend Lindsey to see Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour with Cirque du Soleil. The show was SO fun! The show featured mostly dancing, which surprised me a little since I associate Cirque with elaborate acrobatics. It was still a blast and also made me feel very sentimental since I, like many of you, grew up listening to Michael’s music and watching his music videos. I actually wore out his tape when I was a kid from listening to it too much! I enjoyed the selection of songs and how they worked in poems and sound clips of Michael talking throughout the show. And they even encourage you to stand up and dance for the last part of the show, which makes it feel like a big party celebrating the king of pop.

If you’re a big Michael fan like me, you may want to check out the official show soundtrack, which features remixes and different cuts of almost 30 songs for about $12 on iTunes.

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In other news, I’m definitely ready for Lent to be over. I want dessert! I made this chocolate banana smoothie for a post-dinner non-dessert. It was made with just bananas, unsweetened cocoa powder, flaxseed, and rice milk, but it tasted a bit like chocolate pudding. Yum! Still not as good as a cupcake, though.

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And poor Bailey had a rough week. He was sick last weekend and then had to get a tooth pulled on Thursday! He’s quite the chewer, and he actually cracked a tooth awhile ago. We were worried it may get infected, so we took him in for a cleaning, and they decided the tooth needed to come out. Poor little guy. I picked him up from the vet with the tiny paw print bandage in the photo above. Luckily, he’s feeling much better already, so he seems to be having a quick recovery.

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Hubby and I had a date night on Friday and went to the Studio Movie Grill to watch the new Captain America and get dinner.

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Dinner was okay, but we decided to get snacks and a drink after the show at Enso since we were already at the Epicentre.

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To celebrate the spring weather, I spent a little time on today hitting up a local nursery to get some herbs and plants for some pots around the house. My mom is growing some more herbs for me, so I just got two Italian parsley plants and one mint. The mint is actually called “mojito mint”, so I guess we know what I’ll be drinking this summer. Anywho, I had a great time soaking up some sun and getting my hands a little dirty. I miss growing herbs and vegetables. I definitely need to talk my family into visiting so they can install a garden in our backyard. I’m ready!

Morning Coffee Break

How do you spend your mornings before work?

Morning Coffee Break

As I tend to be more of a night owl, my mornings are usually a bit rushed. I hit snooze a time or two too many, and the next thing I know, I’m running behind, often rushing out the door with a meager breakfast bar for eats.

I’ve recently learned that two of my tech friends who I really respect and look up to have a weekly, if not daily, habit of visiting a local coffee shop. They use these morning coffee breaks to relax, reflect, plan, and be creative.

Morning Coffee Break

I met one of my friends for a pre-work latte (and slice of quiche) the other day, and it was such a nice way to start the day. I thought about how great it was to catch up, and how it would be good to do that more often and to see more friends. I wondered if a morning wouldn’t be a better time than 11pm to write a blog post for The Chic Life. And all that has me thinking even more that I’m doing things wrong in the morning. If I could just wake up a little earlier, I could enjoy such a break, too.

On top of this, I’ve heard tips from others about spending a few minutes each day planning out the days to-dos and appointments. Not only would I feel more prepared for the day, but I think I’d feel more confident and organized, too. And then there’s the obvious bonus of not feeling like I’m pressed for time and having a few minutes to make a quick breakfast.

It’s definitely food for thought. Guess I’ll have to work on getting to bed earlier, too!

***

Thirsty for more? Here’s a great article from the Harvard Business Review about the two lists you should review every morning (click to view).

Do you rush around or do you have a nice mooring routine down?

Cold Spring and No Dessert for Lent

Hello! Hope you all had a great week.

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Bailey says, “Hi!”

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I’m not sure what the weather is like where you are, but it’s been really cold around town lately. We had some 70 degree weather awhile back, but I guess that was just a tease. This week has been all in the 50′s, 40′s, and even 30′s! I’m ready for spring!

The only upside I found this past week was making a big slow cooker batch of my beef and 3 bean chili. Chili is such good cold weather food. We enjoyed ours with fresh-grated cheddar melted on top and Great Harvest jalapeño poppers on the side. Those poppers are almost as good with chili as the classic PIC – cornbread. The poppers are like white rolls stuffed with a jalapeño slice and cheddar cheese…yum! We warmed ours up in the oven for a few minutes for that fresh-baked taste.

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The weather seems to only be adding to my stress levels lately. I’d like to say I’m trying to balance that out by sleeping more, but I’m not good at going to be early. So, instead, I’ll continue to try to eat healthy and get plenty of water, fruits, and vegetables.

We had pizza for dinner tonight, but breakfast, lunch, and dinner were lacking in the veg category, so I decided to have a snack of edamame with coarse salt and zesty spices for a movie snack.

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And I gave up dessert for Lent, so no sweets for me for awhile. I’ve decided that smoothies are okay post-dinner because I get extra fruit (and often times vegetable) servings. So far, I’ve had a couple simple green monster smoothies after dinner, and though they aren’t a true dessert, I’ve enjoyed them quite a bit.

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I’ve felt pretty wiped out this week. I think things started out poorly when I spent most of Monday from 8am – 7pm in meetings at work., and I’ve been playing catch up since then. Bailey and I are hoping for some good R&R this weekend.

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Here’s something to think about for the weekend – Yogi Tea wisdom – “Let your heart guide you.”

Today’s Green

I definitely forgot to wear green today. I work in corporate America. On Mondays, we wear black. But, hey…I had two green drinks:

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1) green smoothie

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2) green tea latte

Close enough, right? :)

A Hands-On Chinese New Year Party

Did you do anything fun for Chinese New Year? Hubby and I usually try to get dim sum every year, but this year, we did something even better.

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My friend Briana invited me over for a hands-on Chinese New Year party at her house. The plan – prepare her family’s recipes and learn how to fold dumplings and egg rolls and make other traditional dishes.

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When I arrived, Briana was frying up shrimp chips.

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The colorful discs are small and thin when they come out of the box, but they puff up to at least four times their original size as they fry in oil.

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The fruit platter was easy to put together – just add sliced oranges and stuff cherries into lychee fruit.

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With pineapple added to the center, the simple fruit platter was beautiful and colorful. The oranges are said to bring wealth and good luck.

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After some snacking and gathering, Briana kicked off the real hands-on fun with the party. The dining room table was set-up for dumpling and egg roll making and most of the guests found a seat there.

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I headed into the kitchen to learn about Tang Yuan. I’d never seen anything like it, so I was really curious to see what it was about.

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Glutinous rice is used to make a dough that is rolled into balls and then boiled till they float. Next, the dough balls are cooked in a sweet broth made with pandan leaves, ginger, and sugar.

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The soup is more like a dessert, but I didn’t mind eating it first. It’s always a good time for dessert!

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After finishing with the dessert soup, I checked out what the others were working on – folding egg rolls…

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…and steaming dumplings.

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Time for the big reveal…

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Oh yea!

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Hello, lovelies.

Nothing like freshly steamed dumplings. Briana said the dumplings are shaped like coins to symbolize wealth. I was curious about the coin shape reference since they don’t resemble the round shape of coins I’m familiar with, but this article mentioned that the shape is like ingot-shaped coins or yuanbao.

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These were served with a simple sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, and green onion.

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The dumplings and egg rolls were gobbled up almost as soon as they were cooked. They were both so great! Lucky for us, the group had prepared tons of food. And while batches and batches of Chinese New Year eats were prepared, cooked, and served, we got to enjoy good company from the fellow guests. Also not pictured, we had even more delicious eats that Briana prepared and other guests brought – fried taro root cakes, noodles, kimchi, Filipino sweet rice (that I brought), and Chinese BBQ chicken wings.

By the way, I learned from Steamy Kitchen that the egg rolls also have symbolism since they are shaped like gold bars and thus are said to bring wealth.

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After we’d stuffed ourselves on (mostly) savory eats, Briana got started on dessert #2 – Almond Cookies!

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Briana said she liked to make her cookies a little smaller than normal. They were pretty much bite-sized, and you couldn’t help but want to snack on them like chips.

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They were so yummy!

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And don’t forget about the tea!

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Thank you to Briana for opening up your home to us and sharing your family’s traditions! We had a blast!

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