Wishing you a sweet weekend

Three cheers for Friday! What are all you lovelies up to this weekend?

It's Jason's little bro's birthday (happy birthday Ross!), so we're headed to a yummy seafood restaurant this evening to celebrate. The rest of the weekend, I plan to stock up on healthy groceries for the week, try out some recipes from my new cookbooks, get in a couple good workouts, catch up on my Mondo Beyondo course, and fill out my application to volunteer at the local humane society. (The humane society needs volunteers to help walk dogs on their 5.5-mile nature path. I've been wanting to volunteer with animals for awhile now and this seems like the perfect opportunity. I hope it works out!) Oh, and it's supposed to snow a bit this weekend! If so, you'll find me curled up by the fire with a mug of chai. Mmm...

I hope you have a delightful weekend, whatever adventures may come your way.

P.S. Have you noticed les macarons popping up everywhere these days? I'm officially calling it: macaroons are the new cupcakes.

Image via Tastespotting.


Etsy pick: evapaul

A couple weeks ago, I was browsing wedding invitations on Etsy and fell in love with the work of evapaul (a super cute husband and wife team, Nic and Kirsten, who work together to design wedding invitations and such).

After emailing them some questions and receiving an incredibly thorough and friendly response, I decided to have evapaul design my wedding invitations and programs. If there are any brides to be out there, take note: evapaul has been an absolute dream to work with. Super responsive and professional. And I just adore their fresh, modern style that's cute without being cutesy. Let's have a look...

(This is the design we chose.)

If you're in the market for pretty save-the-dates, invitations, programs, etc., I super duper 100% times a million recommend evapaul!

P.S. For more evapaul awesomeness, check out their fun blog or follow them on twitter!

All images via evapaul.


A few cookbook favorites

As I mentioned last week, one of the steps I'm taking to create a clearing in my life is to embrace wholesome and healthy foods and to minimize the not-so-healthy ones. (Cupcakes, I'm looking at you). I've always considered myself a pretty conscious eater, but I'm not going to lie: making this change is hard. I think, for awhile, I was fooling myself into thinking that, because I try to eat organic foods and try to eat a generally healthy diet, I was taking good care of myself. But when I decided several weeks ago to cut out the junk - including almost all processed foods, refined sugars, coffee, alcohol, and most dairy (as well as red meat and poultry, for health and other reasons) - I was amazed by how dramatic the change felt.

What's making this process, well, not exactly easy, but easier, is the variety of fantastic natural/healthy foods cookbooks out there. I feel like I'm learning how to think about food in a whole new way, and part of it is realizing how truly delicious wholesome foods can be with just a little bit of effort. So I thought I'd share some of the cookbooks currently in heavy rotation in my kitchen.

by Heidi Swanson
Written and photographed by Heidi Swanson, creator of 101 Cookbooks (one of my favorite cooking blogs), Super Natural Cooking explores a range of simple dishes that make use of unrefined ingredients like whole grains, natural sweeteners, and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Swanson also includes tips on creating a whole foods pantry, which I'm finding particularly helpful as I restock my kitchen shelves with healthy staples. Many of Swanson's recipes are gluten and/or dairy-free, a bonus for those with food allergies or those who (like me) simply wish to minimize those foods.

Recipe to try: Otsu (buckwheat noodles tossed with a fiery ginger-sesame dressing and a generous dose of cucumbers, scallions, and pan-seared tofu)

For: uncomplicated, delicious dishes with an emphasis on unrefined ingredients + equally scrumptious photography

by Mark Bittman
True, "vegetarian" is not synonymous with "healthy," but in his follow-up to How to Cook Everything, acclaimed New York Times food writer Mark Bittman ("The Minimalist") has compiled an astoundingly comprehensive collection of super simple recipes, featuring a mostly healthful assortment of whole grains, vegetables, and legumes. Bittman offers variations on almost every dish, and his easy-yet-flavorful concoctions are perfect for spicing up stuff like leftover brown rice, beans, and veggies.

Recipe to try: Fava and mint salad with asparagus

For: a seemingly endless supply of mostly health-conscious vegetarian dishes

by Alicia Silverstone
The collection of healthful recipes encompasses three separate levels - the first level for those who simply want to reduce their meat intake and eat a more plant-centric diet and the third level being totally macrobiotic. In other words, there's a little something for everyone along the healthy eating spectrum. Silverstone also includes insights and musings on her personal relationship to food, and her philosophy on eating well for our bodies and for the planet.

Recipe to try: Eggplant Chana Masala (an Indian-spiced chickpea dish)

For: Recipes and advice on making the switch to a plant-based diet, as well as tips for those flirting with veganism or macrobiotics

What are your favorite healthy cookbooks and recipes? I would love to hear!


Wishing you a lovely weekend

Hooray for the weekend! I'm looking forward to enjoying some good times with some great people. Tonight we're going out for sushi with Jason's fam. Tomorrow morning I have a coffee date with one of my lovely bridesmaids to talk fun wedding stuff. And on Saturday evening we're having celebratory drinks with our dear friends who just got engaged over the holidays. Sometime in there I'm hoping to fit in some more reading (currently, Style Statement + Eating Animals), yoga, and baking.

What are all of you lovelies up to this weekend? Any fun happenings or creative projects in the works?

Image via Flickr user Mademoiselle Granny.


Currently reading

Style Statement
by Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte

It sounds cliché, but I truly cannot put this book down. (I mean that literally. I was balancing the book in one hand while cooking dinner with the other last night. It was slightly ridiculous.) Here's the scoop: author, entrepreneurial guru and blogger extraordinaire Danielle LaPorte teamed up with designer and lifestyle guide Carrie McCarthy to create a totally brilliant and fascinating workbook on creating your own style statement, a two-word compass that defines who you are and how you express your authentic self to the world.

The first word represents your foundation, your 80%. The second word, your 20%, is what motivates and distinguishes you. As Carrie states on her website, some people have likened it to a "personal brand" or a "creative thumbprint." Through a guided journey of self-discovery, mixed with inspirational tidbits and profiles, this book helps you to identify the themes, values, and ideas that make you you, resulting in your own two-word style statement. Once you have defined your style statement, it can help you to make more authentic choices about almost every element of your life. This concept extends far beyond what we might typically think of as style (fashion and other aesthetic expressions) to potentially encompass decisions about career choices, relationships, how we spend our time, and how we express our unique selves to the world.

Some examples of style statements for people profiled in the book: Genuine Adventure, Cherished Playful, Traditional Feminine, Structured Magic, Organic Treasure, and Contemporary Beauty. (Carrie's is Refined Treasure and Danielle's is Sacred Dramatic.)

I am only about a third of the way through the book, so I don't know what my style statement is yet, but I'm really excited to find out. It kind of feels like I'm reading a mystery novel about myself! If any of you have read the book, I would LOVE to hear your style statement.

P.S. Thank you so much for all of your heartfelt and supportive comments on yesterday's post. You guys are the best!

Image via Style Statement.


Creating a clearing

As I mentioned last week, I'm currently taking the Mondo Beyondo e-course, and I wanted to share with you a lesson from the class that is really resonating with me: Creating a Clearing.

Jen Lemen (who facilitates the class along with Andrea Scher) writes:

A clearing is a wide open empty space in your life that is ready for something new or amazing to emerge. A clearing can be a cleaned-out closet or a regularly unscheduled Saturday. A clearing can be dissolving an unproductive business partnership or going to bed early two days in a row. A clearing can be saying no to a pesky friend or saying yes to a forbidden treat. A clearing can be as simple as taking out the trash or as serious as leaving a job or ending a not-so healthy relationship. A clearing can be recycling that piece of furniture you never really liked, not for one second.

This lesson could not have been more timely for me. In recent weeks, I have been feeling a strong urge to create space in my life and let go of clutter, both literally and mentally. Part of this urge is a desire to make room for the adventures, experiences, and dreams of a New Year and part of it, I believe, is simply that I am growing out of some patterns and behaviors that no longer serve me and developing new ones that do.

Some of the ways I've been creating a clearing are:
  • Eliminating the junk and impurities out of my diet and embracing wholesome and healthy foods that nourish me and leave me feeling light, energized, and clean. (Added bonus: I've lost almost 10 pounds.)
  • Sorting through old clothing, shoes, etc. and donating four bags of things to charity.
  • Switching up my exercise routine (trying new yoga podcasts, adding weight-lifting to my rotation, pushing myself slightly outside of my comfort zone, etc.)
  • Saying no to social functions and other activities that I don't truly desire to attend and instead treating myself to an artist's date or just a relaxing night at home.
  • De-cluttering my cubicle and using the freed up space for a stash of pretty office supplies.
  • Avoiding the kind of conversation that saps my energy (gossip, complaining, mindless small-talk) and instead seeking out opportunities for genuine connection.
  • Trading in chemical laden cosmetics and cleaning supplies for organic/eco-friendly alternatives.
  • Researching volunteer opportunities. (I've found that one of the most effective ways to create space in your own heart is by sharing your time and energy with others. I really miss doing volunteer work, and have been wanting to get back into it.)
  • Clearing my blog reader and twitter feed of stuff I no longer find interesting/relevant and replacing them with stuff that more closely aligns with my current interests.
I have to say - it feels wonderful. I feel relaxed, expansive, and open to whatever wonderful things are headed my way in the coming months. There's something really empowering about saying goodbye to the things we no longer want/need in our lives and welcoming in the things we do.

How do you create a clearing?

Image via Girl Meets NYC.


Healthy Fish Tacos

While in Key West over the holidays, I ate the most delicious fish tacos at a tiny hole-in-the-wall spot called Bad Boy Burrito. Think super fresh local fish (caught that morning), shaved cabbage, pico de gallo, crema, and a spicy verde sauce. It was heaven in a (homemade and still-warm) corn tortilla. Throughout our trip, we went back to Bad Boy Burrito multiple times for those tacos and ever since we returned, I've had a serious craving.

A few days ago, the craving was bad, so I decided to whip up a batch of my own. This version contains no dairy and no gluten if you use pure corn tortillas. You could make this totally vegetarian by eliminating the fish and sautéing some butternut squash or another veggie of your choice along with the zucchini. If you're a garlic fiend - like I am - don't skip out on the chopped garlic because it gets nice and crispy in the pan and adds a pungent crunch to the tacos.

I love these fish tacos because they're a cinch to prepare and healthy to boot. They're not Bad Boy's fish tacos, but they are pretty darn tasty.

Healthy Fish Tacos
(serves 4)
1 pound flaky white fish such as tilapia or mahi mahi
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 tbsp garlic powder
3/4 tbsp Mexican seasoning
1 white onion, diced
1/4 cup scallions, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup zucchini, thinly sliced
1 cup cabbage, rough chopped (We actually used arugula because we had some left over from a salad, but cabbage is more traditional.)
8 corn tortillas
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Guacamole to garnish (a great source of healthy fats!)
1 lime, sliced

Combine diced onion, scallion, and cilantro in a small bowl and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté zucchini until tender and set aside, keeping the skillet out to cook the fish.

Coat both sides of the fish with garlic powder, Mexican seasoning, salt, and pepper. Place fish in the skillet with chopped garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until both sides develop a bit of a sear.

Meanwhile, pop the tortillas into the microwave for about a minute. (Tip: Microwaving the corn tortillas in a damp paper towel will help to make them soft and pliable.) Remove fish from skillet and, with a knife, break fish into small pieces. Assemble your tacos, garnish with a spritz of lime and guacamole, and enjoy!

Photos by my fiancé, Jason.


Tranquilista Love

I'm pretty sure my heart did a little happy dance when I opened my mailbox yesterday and discovered that I'd received my pre-ordered copy of Tranquilista by the fabulous Kimberly Wilson! Her first book, Hip Tranquil Chick is one of my all-time favorites. Kimberly's enthusiasm for life is just so infectious and her tips on creative living never fail to inspire. Thus far, I've only browsed through Tranquilista, but I can tell already that I will love it. I can't wait to really delve into it this weekend.

What are you reading right now?

Image via Tranquility du Jour.


Film fest

This past Saturday, I had my very own little at-home film fest, with a pot of green tea and a cozy blanket for company. My Saturday mornings are typically consumed by catching up on all of the week's loose ends (paying bills, doing laundry, etc.). It was such a delicious feeling to wake up and then simply relax for several hours instead of racing around the house getting things done (though I did that later on in the afternoon). I didn't quite get to The Guitar as planned, but I did watch two films I'd been meaning to watch for ages.

Food, Inc.
The posters for Food, Inc. proclaim, "You'll never look at dinner the sameway again. " I can assure you that, if you watch this film, you'll never look at many things the same way again. Narrated by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, this searing documentary takes on industrial food production in the U.S., examining its hidden environmental, economic, and health
costs and exploring more sustainable alternatives to the current system. Prior to watching this film, I considered myself relatively well-informed about these issues, and for the past 5-6 years have made an increasing effort to eat foods that are locally grown, organic, etc. However, I must admit that I didn't fully understand how all of the issues were connected to large-scale food production and the influence of corporate agriculture. And while I had some idea of these companies' disturbing practices, I can't claim that I realized the extent of how they grossly mistreat animals, workers, small-scale farmers, and consumers. This film really helped to connect all of these issues, and make sense of them in a way both that is at once intellectually compelling and emotionally devastating. I promise you this film will leave you with a dramatically different perspective not only on food, but on life and our relationship to the earth, our bodies, and each other. By the way, Food, Inc.' website has lots of great suggestions for easy ways to get involved in working for a more sustainable system.

Enlighten Up!
As a yogi, I was quite excited to watch Enlighten Up! by filmmaker and dedicated yoga practitioner Kate Churchill, who sets out to prove that yoga can transform anyone. She selects Nick Rosen, a skeptical yet willing subject, to demonstrate her theory. Nick travels the world, visiting yogis and gurus whose practices and beliefs run the full range of the spectrum. Despite Churchill's efforts, Nick continues to view yoga as primarily a good workout rather than a path to spiritual enlightenment. These adventures make for an interesting film, but I was turned off by the way Churchill seemed like she was trying to force Nick to acknowledge yoga's transformational power (as evidenced by her oddly confrontational questions throughout the film). Overall though, the film's lighthearted and humorous tone makes for pleasant - if not terribly revelatory - viewing. Learn more by visiting the film's website.

I would love to hear your thoughts if you've seen either of these films.

P.S. I'm on a total documentary kick right now! I know all of you clever readers must have some great recommendations, so tell me: what's your favorite documentary?


Monday inspiration

Good afternoon lovelies! I hope your weeks are off to a good start. I'm not sure if it's the fact that I had a very serene weekend or perhaps that my Mondo Beyondo e-course begins today, but I'm feeling a sense of contentment and expansiveness that I shall try mightily to hang onto as the week progresses.

In that spirit, here some things that are making my heart sing today:
  • Anthropologie's January catalog: airy, gorgeous perfection (see photo above!)
  • Yogademia ponders cutting out static (a good read - check it out)
  • Modern and totally unstuffy wedding invitations and save-the-dates by Ello There
  • A renewed commitment to ethically produced, local, and organic food thanks to watching Food, Inc.
  • La Tartine Gourmande's shares a yummy recipe for beating the cold (with beautiful photos, as always)
  • Yogi tea wisdom with this morning's cup of green tea: "Happiness is taking things as they are."
Tell me readers: what's inspiring you today?

Image via Anthropologie.


Weekend plans

What's everyone up to this weekend? I'm planning to have a little at-home film fest (The Guitar, Enlighten Up! and Food, Inc.), make jambalaya in our new slow cooker, catch up on my to-do list, and practice yoga by candlelight (I'm currently sort of obsessed with this candle that Jason gave me for Christmas). I also might have to indulge in a little bookstore browsing. I recently read Malcom Gladwell's Blink, and now I can't wait to read his latest!

Whatever you do, I hope your days off are filled with relaxing and creative goodness!

New year, new look

Happy Friday dear readers! I'm really excited today because something I've eagerly awaited for the past three months has come to fruition: a new look for Tulips & Tea! If you're reading this in a feed reader such as Google Reader, be sure to hop on over to the actual site today to check out the new design.

For a while now, I've been contemplating a redesign of the site. I wanted a look more visually reflective of both my personal style and the blog's content. While researching designers, I happened upon Tabitha Emma, the designer behind the beautiful Department of the Interior blog. After perusing Tabitha's website, blog, and Etsy shop, I knew I'd hit gold. Her sweet + whimsical yet uncluttered aesthetic was exactly what I had in mind. If any of you are thinking about a blog redesign or otherwise need the services of a designer/illustrator, I highly recommend Tabitha Emma. She was able to translate my somewhat abstract ideas into a cohesive look, and she made the process easy and simple to boot.

It might sound silly, but the redesign makes me even more excited to blog - sort of how a new hairdo or great outfit puts a little swing in your step!


Bloggers with Heart: Melita of Gussying up the Tuttle

For any new readers,Bloggers with Heart is a series of interviews with bloggers whose voices resonate with authenticity, sparkle, and soul. You can read past interviews here.

I am sure that some of you already know and adore this week's Blogger with Heart, the wonderful Melita of Gussying up the Tuttle. When I was just getting started with Tulips & Tea, Melita was one of the first readers to begin commenting regularly on my posts. As a newbie blogger, I was so encouraged by her kind words of support. I began to explore her blog as well, and found a genuine voice and truly sweet soul, brimming with wisdom and clarity on a variety of topics. It has been a joy to hear about her journey toward bliss (see question #5 below), and I am constantly inspired by her spirit and spark. I especially like her Monday Moments of Zen, which always provide a little lift to the beginning of my week! I have so enjoyed getting to know Melita and encourage you to do the same. She truly embodies a Blogger with Heart.

1. Why did you start blogging?
i started blogging as a creative outlet. i was working a job where i sat in my office doing the same thing over & over. i felt as though it was draining me. i felt the need for more. more inspiration, more creativity and more me!

2. What is the best thing about blogging?
the best part about blogging is without a doubt the fantastic community of online people i have met. there are so many creative and wonderful people out there and i am happy to say that i have met a few in person. i hope to one day meet everyone in person!

3. What do you think is the hardest thing about blogging?
right now the hardest part about blogging is finding the time. since i started massage therapy school and started my yoga teacher training in september i have been uber busy. it's a happy busy but i wish i had more time to write better posts.

4. What does the blogging community mean to you?
the blogging community is such an inspiration to me. there are so many lovely and talented bloggers out there. everyone has been so supportive of me and my blog.

5. In the last year, you have shared with readers your decision to change your career path and pursue a life more closely aligned with your bliss. How has blogging and the blogging community affected this journey?
if you remember, it took me a while to reveal what i was referring to as "plan b." i am a processor. i need time to think things out and formulate plans. i also wanted to be sure of my plan before i announced it into the blogosphere. once my plan started to come together and i announced it on my blog everyone was so happy for me and encouraging. a lot of people who read my blog somehow knew that it was wellness related which made me really happy.

6. Which bloggers inspire you?
ah, so many bloggers so little time! i have such a varied list of blogs that i love. but the blogs i visit most frequently are kimberly wilson, city girl lifestyle, kaileen elise, hang on little tomato, tulips and tea, dolce vita, everyday revelry, you and me and lucy, ellecubed, the analyst, dirty footprints studio and so many more!!

7. What else is inspiring you right now?
i'm inspired every day to get up and go to class. i have honestly never been so excited to go to sleep so that tomorrow comes and i get to go to school and learn something new. i used to dread going to bed because i knew tomorrow would come so fast and i would be dreading the day ahead.

8. What advice would you give to someone just getting started as a blogger?
give it time. there is no rush to find your niche. even if you don't get a lot of comments in the beginning, people will catch on. a blog is something that others read but it's also for yourself. write what you want to read and i guarantee you others will as well.

9. Five by five. Tell us your five favorite: books, movies, albums, foods, and simple pleasures in life.

"hip tranquil chick" by kimberly wilson, "eat pray love" by elizabeth gilbert, "girl seeks bliss" by nicole beland, "all you need to be impossibly french" by helena frith powell, and "the art of happiness" by the dalai lama

movies: the wizard of oz, breakfast at tiffany's, fight club, sex and the city, american history x

albums: too many to list!!

foods: sushi, pineapples, mangoes, blueberries, chocolate

simple pleasures: yoga, getting a massage, a mug of hot tea, reading (books, blogs & magazines), naps

10. If you had the opportunity to create "the perfect space" for blogging and other creative pursuits, what would yours look like? (How would it be decorated, what objects would surround you, how would it sound, feel, smell, etc.?)
i have always dreamed about living in a loft in nyc. i would love to have old wooden floors and a beautiful color on the wall. there would be large windows so i could see the beautiful city and be inspired daily. i would have a desk, lots of bookcases, a huge comfy chair and chaise. i would have a fabulous space to leave my yoga mat rolled out so that i could do yoga at a moments notice. i would also have a private space for my massage table so that clients could come to my loft and be pampered and unwind. it would be very zen.

11. In five words or less: what is the meaning of life?
live in the moment

melita mollohan is truly on a path of wellness and creativity. after struggling to find her place in this world, she knows that beyond a shadow of a doubt that she's on the right path. melita is a massage therapy student, taking reiki classes and in yoga teacher training. when melita is not in class, doing yoga, giving a massage, or blogging you can usually find her snuggled up with her two cats, dog and beloved boyfriend, savoring a mug of hot tea, taking a hike through nature or enjoying the company of friends and family. You can connect with Melita on twitter or Facebook.

Thanks, Melita, for sharing your thoughts with us and for blogging with heart!


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