Friday inspirations

This novel approach to a wedding registry. Such a fresh and beautiful alternative to the typical registry.

A Sip of Creativitea - 8.5X11
Pretty, food-inspired artwork like these works by Eva Juliet.

 Tiburon, wedding photographs of Emily + Meeko taken by Cameron Ingalls
This bride's soft and casual, yet elegant look. I'm hoping to emulate her hair and jewelry for my own upcoming wedding...

The colorful abundance of fresh flowers showing up at our local Whole Foods.  Tulips, hydrangeas, and peonies, oh my!  I want them all.

A yoga manifesto (via this very interesting NY Times article)

potato salad tahini radish cucumber
Brightly-colored salads, perfect for warm weather weekend lunches: cabbage and lime salad, carrot almond salad, potato salad with watercress, cucumber, and radish

lemon meringue pie I
This beautifully written post, which moved me to tears but left me with a feeling of intense, life-affirming joy.  

Tell me lovelies...what's inspiring you today?  What beautiful plans do you have for the weekend?


Where your heart is


It's been a busy few days in my corner of the universe, but I came across this today, and thought it was so beautiful and so true.  I just had to share.  Hope you're all having a lovely week!



Weekend bliss

Early morning meditation and yoga, completed to the serene sound of tiny raindrops tapping against the windowpanes.  Big ceramic mugs of fragrant sencha tea.  An invigorating 6-mile run on Saturday + 10-mile bike ride on Sunday.  Soaking tired muscles in a rejuvenating eucalyptus & arnica bubble bath, surrounded by soy candles + lemon water + a compelling new book.  An incredible meal with dear fiancé at a new restaurant downtown Annapolis.  Locally sourced organic ingredients, simple yet innovative small plates, subtly rustic decor.  A cucumber margarita with fresh cucumber juice, seared scallops with garlic-infused olive oil and tender microgreens, crisp eggplant "pancakes" topped with tangy feta and lemon zest, soy chocolate milk with cookie dough foam for dessert.  Discovering beautiful music while creating tranquil & inspiring playlists.  A gorgeous bridal shower (for me!) hosted by my sweet future mother-in-law and sister-in-law.  Feeling so very showered with love, affection, and generosity.  Delighting in thoughtful gifts, including hairpins worn by Jason's great great grandmother (!) to be my "something old" on my wedding day.

ell me darlings, what made your heart sing this weekend?


.S. I snapped that photo during last weekend's hike and forgot to post it last week (oops).  Better late than never, right?


A crush

Ok, guys...confession time.  I'm kind of in love with Lee DeWyze, a contestant on this season of American Idol (it's ok though...Jason knows and totally understands).  Have you seen this guy's performances?  The emotion he evokes with each song and his gravelly, yet beautiful voice have nearly brought me to tears several times.  This week's performance was the best yet, though, in my opinion.  Lee sang Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer," which is one of my all-time favorite songs.  It's hard to improve on such a classic, but Lee's rendition is absolutely heart-wrenching, don't you think?  I think I've watched this video about 872 times in the past couple of days.

Do you guys watch American Idol?  Who's your favorite contestant this season?



Hip ways to celebrate Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!  Earth Day always brings back memories of elementary school, when we would celebrate the day with a variety of songs, crafts, and other projects.  I remember learning this "rap" in music class that went something like, "Recycle, recycle, recycle now!  There's nothing to it if you just know how!"  At that young age, I had some concept of Earth Day's meaning, but didn't really understand the why of it.  Over the years, I learned more about the importance of protecting the environment and it's become an issue that I feel strongly about (and happily, I'm not alone!).  Being "green" is now an integral part of my lifestyle, and I'm always on the lookout for hip ways to reduce my impact on the earth.

o, in the Earth Day spirit, I thought I'd share some ways to start "green-ing" your life, or to reinvigorate your efforts:

. Recycle (if you're not already).  Obvious, right?  I'll admit that I sometimes slack on this most basic of tasks, but I'm really trying hard to do it more consistently.  For some aesthetically pleasing motivation, snag yourself some chic recycling bins.

. Compost!  Not only does composting help reduce the amount of waste we send to the landfill, it also creates a useful product for gardens and houseplants.  And it's super easy, especially with a sleek counter top pail like this one.

. Makeover your makeup.  Many cosmetics contain nasty chemicals that are toxic to our bodies and for the the planet.  Consider trading in your conventional makeup, bath products, etc. for more earth-friendly options.  (I'm not advocating that you toss unused products, but it's something to keep in mind when you've run out of something and need to stock up again.)

. Invest in sustainable, yet luxurious eco-wear from Kimberly Wilson's clothing line, TranquiliT.  The fabric is made from organic bamboo, and lends itself to tons of cute and versatile pieces for work, play, and, of course, yoga.

. Plant an herb garden.  Planting your own is a good reminder of where our food originates, and provides endless ways to spice up your cooking, make your own teas, create healing potions, etc.

. Ditch the disposable shopping bags in favor of fun and colorful reusable totes.

. Support local farmers by visiting your area's farmers market.  Stock up on fresh produce, flowers, and other goodies.  For inspiration, flip through the Fresh from the Farmers Market cookbook, which is filled with gorgeous recipes that showcase fresh and seasonal ingredients.

. Re-purpose leftover jars, tins, and other containers.  Glass jars, once they've been cleaned, make adorable vases for wildflowers and colored jars can double as home decor when artfully arranged on a mantle or other surface.  Use tea tins and other pretty containers to organize rubber bands, paper clips, pens, etc. on your desk.

. Switch to shade-grown fair trade coffee.

Reduce your consumption of animal products and/or become vegetarian, even if only for one day per week or one meal per day.  If you can't bring yourself to give up meat, make sure it's organically raised.  To learn more about the impact of our food choices, watch Food, Inc and read Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals.

hat would you add to this list?  I would love to hear your ideas!


mage via
Living Etc.


Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes

Hello friends!  How was everyone's weekend? 

I finished a wonderful book this weekend that I highly recommend to all you Francophiles out there.  Elizabeth Bard's memoir, Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes, tells the story of how the author learned to "live and eat à la française," while building a life in Paris with her French amour, Gwendal.  The book is both a love story and a celebration of France's rich culinary traditions, but as the Publisher's Weekly review notes, the book's underlying theme is "how to build an adult life that reconciles societal pressure, personal ambition, cultural dissonance, and true happiness."  And who can't relate to that?
that I've finished Lunch in Paris,I need a new book, so tell me: what are you reading these days?  I'd love to hear your  suggestions.



50 Ways to Cope With Stress

My sister emailed me this list of 50 Ways to Cope With Stress this morning, and I thought it was pretty amazing.  I found myself nodding in agreement at each sentence.  I think I'm going to print out a copy and tack it to my mirror so that I can remind myself of these ideas every day.  I especially like the suggestion to "schedule play time into every day." It's so true: regularly scheduled play time is so critical to maintaining perspective!

So, tell me...how do you cope with stress?



The perfect Saturday in Annapolis

This past Saturday was such a wonderful day that I just have to share.  

Jason and I hosted my dear sister and her girlfriend in Annapolis, for a day of exploring, eating, and wonderful conversation.  We began the morning at our condo, where we caught up on life and sipped mugs of freshly brewed coffee (ok...so mine was mostly hazelnut soy creamer, with a few drops of coffee).  After we were properly caffeinated, we proceeded to the Anne Arundel County Farmers' Market to peruse the fresh produce, homemade jams, and other goods.  Our next stop was downtown Annapolis, where we walked a bit down the main street before an amazing lunch at Joss Cafe and Sushi Bar.  (Mmm...I could eat Joss's cucumber-avocado rolls and seaweed salad every day.)  After lunch, we explored downtown Annapolis a bit more, pausing down by the water at the City Dock, to sit and enjoy the sunshine for a bit, before heading back to our place.  After some much-needed vegging out, we created homemade pizzas for dinner (fresh multi-grain dough + crushed San Marzano tomatoes + onions + mushrooms + roasted garlic + artichokes pour moi).  A rousing round of Wii and Rock Band was the perfect ending to our perfect Saturday.  It was one of those days you wish would never end!

So thanks, Ilse and Selena, for an absolutely delightful day! Come visit again soon!



Crazy sexy veggie wrap (and my Food Story, part 3)

This is a continuation of a series of posts about my evolving relationship with food.  You can read parts 1 and 2 here and here.

For the first week or two after I changed my way of eating, I experienced serious cravings for the foods I'd given up.  I'm not talking about fleeting pangs, either.  I couldn't pass the cheese section at Whole Foods without running my fingertips wistfully across the fat wheels of Camembert and hunks of nutty Gouda.  I gazed longingly at loaves of freshly baked baguettes, flanked by tidy arrangements of Nutella jars, mocking me with their creamy hazelnut deliciousness.  Every chocolate bar called my name.  And once, I caught myself literally daydreaming about Spaghetti alla Carbonara.  The cravings were physical (partially, anyway), but the real battle was being waged in my mind.  For those ten or so miserable days, I felt constantly uneasy and on edge, surrounded by temptation at every turn and only one weak moment away from a cupcake-fueled meltdown.

Around Day 14, something interesting happened.  That morning, for the first time in maybe years, I woke up feeling bright-eyed, clear-headed, and totally refreshed.  Gone was the usual fogginess that had, for as long as I could remember, clouded each waking moment before 10 a.m.  Gone, too, was the dull thudding ache that used to stake its claim in my coffee-addicted brain as soon as the alarm went off each morning and stick around until I could get my morning fix.  Similarly absent?  The tingly sugar hangovers that had begun setting in on a too-regular basis, and the weird congested sensation that followed a rich or dairy-heavy dinner, and the...well, I could go on, but it isn't very pretty and I think you get the point.

Looking in the mirror that morning, I had the uncanny experience of simultaneously recognizing and not recognizing myself.  I mean, of course it was still me, with my usual crazy sleep-matted hair and blue polka dot pajama pants.  But what I mean is that I felt somehow transformed, and I say that without hyperbole.  I had become so used to waking up and feeling somewhere between mediocre and crappy that I had forgotten what it felt like to wake up feeling, well, pretty great.  That's when it hit me that, along with all the other nasty symptoms, the cravings, too, were gone.

Three months later, I'm still feeling great.  Better every day, in fact.  What a revelation it is to feel in control of my appetite (and mood), instead of victimized by its every whim.  After struggling to find balance with my physical self for so long, achieving this non-antagonistic relationship with food is a huge deal.  It's a huge deal that I can look at a plate of brownies and think, I could take it or leave it.  And you know what?  Sometimes I take a bite or two or three.  Part of finding this balance has been learning to indulge (usually with a glass of wine, a bit of chocolate, or a teeny piece of good cheese) without overindulging or feeling wracked by guilt.    

This détente between food and I is hard-won though, and I can count on it lasting only as long as I keep up my end of the agreement.  So, about 98% of the time, I stick to whole, healthy (and mostly organic) ingredients and completely avoid animal products (including dairy), sugar, alcohol, and simple carbs.  I base most of my  meals around whole grains, LOTS of fresh veggies, and beans or some other form of plant-based protein like tofu.

I've found that it's easier to maintain this commitment to healthy eating when I make it easy on myself.  Thus, one of my favorite healthy meals is also a cinch to assemble.  Start with a large tortilla of your choosing (I like Food for Life's sprouted whole grain tortillas) and add about a half cup of brown rice and a half cup of black beans or chickpeas.  Now - this is the "crazy sexy" part: go wild with the vegetables.  Seriously...go bonkers.  One of my favorite combinations is a mix of baby greens, sprouts, avocado, shredded carrot, and scallion (shown above), but you could use almost any vegetable here: cubed butternut squash, radish, cucumber, artichoke hearts, red onion, broccoli, watercress...the permutations are endless.  Next, add a fresh herb or two.  I used cilantro, but basil or parsley would also add some nice herb-y flavor.  Top with fresh salsa or a dressing of equal parts tamari, toasted sesame oil, and brown rice vinegar and a teeny sprinkle of garlic powder or sea salt.  Wrap it all up, and YUM!  This dish always leaves me with so much calm, happy energy. 

If any of you have made similar changes to your diet, what effects (mood, cravings, etc.) have you noticed?  How do you maintain your resolve?  How do you make it easier for yourself?  I'd love to hear your experiences...so spill! 



Log cabin lust

Oh my. How magical is this log cabin (via this New York Times home tour)? I can just imagine lounging away an entire sunny afternoon on that screened porch, with a good book in hand. The neatest part? The whole thing - down to the chandeliers - was handmade by its owner. Now that is some talent.

Images via New York Times.


Hot hot heat

These past couple days in the DC area have been downright toasty.  With highs near 90 degrees, it feels like we skipped right past spring and dove headfirst into summer!  I'm loving the opportunity to break out my warm weather clothes (I pretty much live in dresses during the summer), and to take part in all kinds of warm weather fun.  Eating dinner on our deck, long walks, happy hours outside, Frisbee in the park...I love it all.

Warm weather always reminds me of some of my favorite childhood experiences.
I have so many memories of playing outdoors with neighborhood kids during the summer months.  We loved walking along the creek that ran through our neighborhood, jumping rope, and taking part in crazy water gun battles that inevitably ended with all of us soaking wet.  We also loved setting up lemonade stands.  About once a month during the summer, my younger sister and I would beg our mom to make a pitcher of lemonade, which we sold in Dixie cups to passers-by (for a whopping 25 cents).  I remember getting ridiculously excited when one of our neighbors handed us a $1 and told us to "keep the change."  These days, whenever I see little kids with a lemonade stand, I always stop and buy a cup.

I'd love to hear your fav
orite warm weather memories!  Please do share.  And if you're in the DC area, I hope you're enjoying the heat spell!


Image found here (original credit unknown).


Pretty fabrics by Laura Gunn

With less than three months to go, wedding planning has officially kicked into high gear.  As part of a wedding-related project (it's a secret, so I can't describe it in detail!), I've been browsing through fabrics on Etsy and came across these gorgeous designs by Laura Gunn.  Aren't they beautiful?  It's almost enough to make me want a sewing machine...

Laura Gunn Fabric Scattered Lantern Pods for Michael Miller FabricsLaura Gunn Fabric Scattered Lantern Pods for Michael Miller FabricsLaura Gunn - Poppy Collection - Dogwood Stripe in Aqua - 1 Yard

Images via Etsy.


Reflections on March and intentions for April

Happy April my dears!  I hope you don't get fooled too many times today.  I'm greeting April with open arms this year.  Longer days, warmer weather, the whole world in bloom...what more could I ask for?  After the rough winter we had this year, spring is feeling downright therapeutic.  

The beginning of this month also brings us one month closer to SUMMER, which, in addition to the usual grilling/hiking/happy hour goodness, is a very special summer because I'll be marrying a man that I love and adore.  It's all starting to feel so real and so exciting. 

Of course, the first day of April means it's time to reflect on my March intentions.  Here are the intentions I set and the progress (or lack thereof) I made: 
  • Increase the frequency of my yoga practice - strive for every other day (currently practicing 1-2x/week, but I miss how amazing I feel when I'm practicing 4-5x/week).  I sort of did this.  A few weeks, I managed to squeeze in 1 or 2 long practices mixed with a couple mini-practices.  It's an ongoing effort.
  • Continue to nurture my body with fresh, healthy foods and lots of exercise.  This has been a major area of growth for me in recent months and I'm really proud of the progress I've made.  This past month in particular, I have reached a place where I feel really good about the way I'm treating my body.  In addition to yoga, I've been doing some form of intense cardio 4-5x/week, including runs of 5 or 6 miles once a week. (A year ago, I was wiped out after 2 miles, tops).  Food-wise, you can read more about my change in eating habits here and here
  • Take more pictures! One of my goals for this blog is to incorporate more photos from my own life, but I always forget to take pictures. Starting this month, I intend to take more!  Meh...didn't really do this very much.  I took some pictures in Dallas that I have yet to post, and I hope to take some pictures of the cherry blossoms this weekend.
  • Take steps toward fulfilling another aspect of Tulips & Tea that I have been toying with for awhile (I don't mean to be mysterious about this, but I need to get a couple things in place before I can share...). This is still in the works.  I wish I'd had more time to devote to the blog this past month, but it was a pretty intense month (lots of wedding planning, out of town for two weekends, etc.).  I still hope to integrate this aspect at some point in the near future.
  • Sign up for a just-for-fun type of class at the local community college (we got the catalog in the mail the other day, and I couldn't believe how many fabulous classes they offer - everything from wine tasting to floral arranging to women & entrepreneurship! It'll be tough to pick just one.)  I decided to postpone this until after the wedding/honeymoon.  However, in the area of personal growth, I did reach one of my Mondo Beyondo goals to volunteer with animals by applying to volunteer at the local SPCA.  I had my volunteer orientation and training this week and am free to begin volunteering as soon as this weekend! 
  • Finalize wedding ceremony details, draft our program, and decide on wine/beer for the reception.  Done, almost done, and almost done.  Jason is in the process of conducting some local beer tastings...a task he very enthusiastically volunteered for!
I'm keeping my April intentions simple:
  • Be selfish with my time and energy.  I know this sounds sort of weird because the word "selfish" has negative connotations, but what I mean is that I want to put my own needs first.  I am constantly trying to find a balance between all of the "shoulds" (especially events or social functions that I don't really want to attend) and my true wants and needs (time for creativity, exercise/yoga, and all the other ways I re-charge my battery).  In April, I vow to honor my soul's true wishes and to not feel guilty about doing so!
  • Continue along the healthy path I'm carving for myself, which includes continuing to eat in a way that is aligned with my values and to nurture my body with lots of physical movement.
  • Laugh.  With the dramatic changes I've made to my lifestyle recently, plus wedding planning, working, and tackling a seemingly never-ending to-do list, life has felt a little bit serious lately.  In April, I intend to laugh more and to bring levity (where appropriate) to the parts of my life that feel serious.  If we aren't laughing, then what's all the rest of it for anyways?   
If you'd like, please share your own intentions in the comments or leave me a link if you post them in your blog.  It's so inspiring to me to hear about what others are doing.  

Wishing you a fabulous month,   

Image via Air Spaces.


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