Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lazy Valentine's Day Present

I just had the most fun! Luckily Aaron doesn't read this blog because I just made his Valentine's Day present for him and I can tell you how fun and easy it was!

I went to Vista Print to order the Love Scarf Project cards that will be attached to each of the scarves we hand out just before Valentine's Day at the City of Hope. Just that alone was so fun and so easy to make on their site. It's really a Lazy Woman design tool and deliveries come super fast in my experience.

When I was done, I noticed there is a "Specials" page that I had never checked out so I went there and found there was a sale on making hard cover books. I had made a beautiful hard cover book for my dad last Christmas of pictures from our previous Christmas. He absolutely adored it. I did that book on another site (for the life of me I can't remember which one!) and it was super easy.

So, I just made one for Aaron on the Vista Print site from photos of all of our travels since we many romantic trips. It is the easiest personalized gift on the planet!

Tips if you do it:

1. They give you backgrounds to use, but you can actually use your own other photographs in the you can use a photo in the foreground and a different one in the background.
2. You can put text anywhere on the page, just click on the TEXT tab and drag the TEXT icon anywhere you want it to go.
3. Bottom line -- you can move and adjust just about everything. So, whenever you feel stuck, know that there is a way to adjust and personalize it even more.
4. I'm not big on little icons -- virtual stickers -- but they have tons of them. Great selection if you are into them!

Love love love,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Lazy Pancakes

Isn't it pretty amazing that we get BLUEBERRIES in January? For the love of god! And, they are GOOD to boot! Trader Joe's really almost always has them. And, they also always have frozen ones, of course, too.

I had TJ blueberries left over from Saturday's dinner, and I had never made Aaron his favorite Blueberry Pancakes, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity. I've attached the recipe I used, but what I'll be trying next is a recipe with ricotta or sour cream, I think, but these were DIVINE. Seriously, they were amazing. Trader Joe's has all the ingredients except Baking Soda, which I'll just hope you already have in your cupboard.

And, I'm sure you are saying that making blueberry pancakes from scratch is silly. Well, if you have flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in your pantry -- the ingredients that are generally in the mixes, it takes an extra 3 minutes to throw it all in a bowl. Sometimes mixes are great, but recipes afford a little more deliciousness factor.

To pump up the deliciousness factor on the recipe I've attached, are some Lazy Deliciousness Tips for pancakes:

1. Egg Whites -- Always always always -- even if the recipe -- like this one -- doesn't call for it --- SEPARATE THE EGGS and beat the whites to stiff peaks.
2. Fold -- Gently fold the egg whites in with the other ingredients, and you really JUST FOLD until the ingredients have just barely all mixed together. The kiss of fluffy death is over folding or mixing in any way. The batter will actually look LUMPY! Never fear, though, as that is the egg whites causing an optical's all mixed. If it almost looks alive, like it's going to gurgle back at you, you have succeeded!!!!
3. Lemon or Orange Zest -- If recipe doesn't call for it -- like this one --- I always always add the zest of one lemon or 1/2 large orange. It kicks it up a notch.
4. Blueberries -- If you are putting them in, do NOT mix into the batter. Grab several and plop them onto the pancake once it's on the grill. This way, your batter stays nice and golden and the blueberries really pop and when you bite into them they pop in your mouth!
5. Flipping -- Never ever ever flip more than once -- the texture, inside and out will be ruined. Leave on each side about 2 minutes. You'll see the batter start to bubble on the first side right about 2 minutes, flip and then wait another 2. The 2 minutes is if you don't have the pan too hot or cold of if you aren't sure, just do the first pancake all alone to test out the process.

and for the BEST PANCAKE SYRUP EVER!!!! It's not too sweet so it doesn't overpower the pancakes. It's just right.....This is enough syrup for about 4 people:
  1. Pour about 1/2 cup of maple syrup in a small saucepan.
  2. Add about 2 tablespoons of butter.
  3. Add about 1/2 of a lemon's fresh juice.
  4. Dump in a bunch of frozen blueberries and/or strawberries -- maybe almost a cup.
  5. If you have it...great a tiny bit of fresh nutmeg for a little extra flair!
  6. Let it simmer while you cook your pancakes.
  7. I put the pancakes on the plate and then drizzle the hot syrup/berry mixture around the pancakes so they are almost floating in a lovely purple sea. Grab a few of the hot berries and place on top of the pancakes for accents. People can move the pancake into the syrup as they like.
  8. Feel free to adjust the recipe -- if you like more butter or more syrup, go for it!

Thank you Trader Joe's for providing all of these fine ingredients for a delicious, heart-warming breakfast!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lazy Cooking Weekend

I had a glorious weekend in part because I did a ton of cooking -- the LAZY WAY!

First, there was Spanish Night for my cousins on Saturday night. They were coming over at 5 p.m. and at 2 p.m. we were just finishing the marketing (which actually was super easy and fun) so we had three hours to do all the cooking, setting table, etc. and we did it with time to spare!

Spanish Olives and Cheeses and crackers
White Sangria
Shrimp (recipe attached...we just added scallops to shrimp recipe)
Salad with Pepitas and Manchego
Tres Leches Cake (recipe attached)
Bread baked with olive oil (or Green Cilantro Spread)
Spanish Dessert Wine
Spicy Mexican (I know it's not Spanish, but give me a little Lazy leeway!) Hot Chocolate (recipe attached)
This is such an amazingly impressive dinner party with really so little effort. And, two of the major ingredients can -- and frankly should be made ahead -- Sangria and Tres Leches Cake. I did not make them ahead cause we decided on the menu at 11:30 on Friday night! If you don't make them ahead it's perfectly fine, the flavors just steep a little more...but NOT necessary, just cool that you CAN do ahead and decrease the load on party day.
We looked at a bunch of Paella recipes but because I'm vegetarian we needed to find the ones without chorizo or sausage as flavor-base. The one we found is great. We added scallops because Aaron loves scallops. It looks super beautiful with fresh flat parsley sprinkled across it and lemon wedges all around!
We looked at a bunch of Tres Leches Cake recipes also and I found one that is so easy you would never guess it was Martha Stewarts. My variation: I cut the 9x13 cake in half and put whipped cream in between and a melange of fresh fruit -- pineapple, mango, blueberries, strawberries (the juicier the fruit the better so I'll add orange next time too) --- and put whipped cream all over it and brought it to the table looking like a very normal almost-square cake...and then SURPRISE, it's soaking wet with tres leches, fruits and cream. It was unbelievably delicious -- if I do say so myself!
Spanish cheeses and olives are easy to find at Whole Foods -- muy delicioso!
After dessert, we served a Spanish dessert wine...and then, when people were good and full, we went and sat by the fire with our rich and spicy Hot Chocolate. The recipe says you can add sugar to taste. but I added none. It was DIVINO! But, I forgot I wanted to throw in a cinnamon stick when heating it up. Will do next time for SUPER-DIVINO!
I made White Sangria because Aaron prefers it. A little odd for winter, I know, but people didn't seem to mind. You can find tons of recipes on line but I just three together white wine, Hansen's mango soda, a little mango juice, and several swooshes of Brandy, then tons of fresh chopped fruit (the same varieties I used in the Tres Leches) PLUS pomegranate, green grapes, orange. It was stunning to look at, and it tasted so great. Not too sweet. You don't need to add sugar because the soda and juice have plenty.
For the Salad, I just did my usual lemon and olive oil. I used a mixture of red and butter lettuces and then sprinkled with Pepitas and some shavings of Manchego cheese.
For the Bread, I found this unbelievable Cuban (yes, I know Cuba is not Spain, but again, I'm Lazy!) Green Sauce at the new and amazing Figueroa Produce here in LA -- for those of you who live here, this is a MUST SHOP. FYI, this is where I got the most unbelievable lettuces for this dinner as well, and the shrimp -- for about 1/3 the price of normal markets -- fresh, lovely and CHEAP! For those of you elsewhere, for this dinner just take a sourdough baguette, slice, and brush between the slices with olive oil or butter. You don't need to add any garlic for this dinner but you certainly can add a little finely chopped garlic in between slices too.
The LAZIEST part of the meal was the Paella because Aaron did it! LOL! I helped prep though which is most of the work. The deal with Paella is you just prep every ingredient and put in separate little bowls. Nothing will go bad while it sits. Then you start the process when your guests arrive. During hors d'oeuvres he had to excuse himself just twice, and then voila it's out of the oven and steeps for the last ten minutes til you sit down for dinner! So impressive and really -- other than the chopping -- a very, very easy dish to make.
Seriously, this is one of the easiest, most impressive meals I've ever made! Hope someone does it! You must report back if you do!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday: Delightful Color

It's been cold lately and raining hard for the last few days and walking into Trader Joe's you'd never know it because you can create Spring-like dinners with delightful fresh flavors and gorgeous colors.

Last night. the dinner took about 20 minutes total to make and boy oh boy was the plate impressive:

1. Salmon with Couscous Filling -- In the Fresh Fish section. Just stick it in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 and then under broiler for another couple to several minutes. Squeeze a lemon wedge over it to bring out taste of both fish and couscous.
2. Mixed Color New Potatoes (purple, white, red) -- Cut in quarters and steam them for about 10 minutes. Toss in 1 or 2 tablespoons butter and drizzle some olive oil. Then toss with juice of 1/2 lemon and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Arugula Salad -- Toss arugula, some shredded parmesan and toasted almonds with some lemon and olive oil.
4. Asparagus -- Bend the asparagus until the ends break off naturally. Sautee in a little olive oil. Salt and pepper and squeeze fresh lemon juice to taste.

It's a Spring Culinary Celebration. A Trader Joe's delight. Bon appetit!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lazy Love Scarf

There is so much love out there, so much love. I have had a truly miraculous week with The Love Scarf Project. I started this project several years ago after my friend Robbie died at the City of Hope from graft rejection disease after his bone marrow transplant he got while fighting, battling, having a knock down drag out fight with leukemia. Robbie had friends with him 24/7, but most patients -- including children -- did not have someone with them round the clock. Some people were so far from home, they had no visitors. No visitors. Can you imagine fighting for your life without your loved ones?
So I started the Love Scarf Project and beautiful people around the country knit scarves that we deliver to patients so they feel loved round the clock. But, really all I did was start it, and other beautiful women -- some that I know, some that I will likely never meet -- started inspiring each other to spread the love, spread the desire to knit for these sweet souls who are fighting for their lives.
My father's death in October has thrown my life a little out of whack. I've had to let go of the expectations of how my life should look in a lot of areas of my life. It has been hard to let go of the expectation about where I should be -- especially once the New Year hit and I realized I was only six weeks from delivery. I started freaking out. It's been a real exercise to let go of the expectations because it effects not just me, it's for others. I have gotten tense, then let go, then tension, then letting go, over and over.
Then the miracles started: day after day for the last 7 days I've received news that people I know and don't know are knitting up a storm! Not only are they knitting, but they are so excited to knit for these patients, and it's really giving them something. It's the gifts giving gifts and love giving love.
I am so blessed. And, still, I need to keep letting go of the expectations. Lazy Women get to give more if they keep letting go, keep doing the work while letting go, and letting the miracles happen!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti - Dealing the Lazy Way

I honestly don't know how the Haitians are processing all the loss. I have a friend who is going through losing her job, getting a divorce, and moving all at once and I was just consoling her for having so very many stressors. And, frankly, I was feeling sorry for myself just before the quake -- and embarassingly after the quake too -- for the stressors I have going on with my father's estate and passing. Then I caught myself and felt incredibly ashamed.

I just don't understand how they are putting one food in front of the other. To quell my own sense of helplessness and hopelessness I gave money to the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. Synchronistically --- a wonderful organization that gives people like you and me an opportunity to give loans to entrepreneurs in impoverished areas around the world --- sent me an email today telling me my last loan was paid so I could lend again. Of course, there were no Haitian entrepreneurs, but there was a group of women in the Dominican Republic, so I gave to them and somehow felt I was reaching out and touching at least Haiti's neighbor for one millisecond.

So, I'm going to keep giving when I can, and Aaron and I are talking about going to Haiti in several months to help rebuilding efforts. We'll see...somehow it makes me feel better to think about it, and to imagine being a part of helping with my own hands.

And, praying, praying I think is a very Lazy Woman tool in these circumstances...I am reminding myself as I write to spend more time praying....

Pray, love, pray, love, pray, love to Haiti.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Lemony Cheesy Deliciousness

OK guys. We found one of the best buys ever at Trader Joe's. In the cheese section you will find a three-pack of goat cheese: plain, pepper and herb. It's just $4.45!!!! Amazing deal!!! And, oh my god is it great with the fairly new Pita Crackers they have now at TJs. The Pita Crackers are the perfectly thick and very crunchy accompaniment to the big-flavored cheeses.

But, tonight, I did something fun with the Pepper Goat Cheese in the three-pack. For two people:

1/2 pack or box of any pasta -- we used shells, but ziti would work too
1/2 to 3/4 of the package of pepper goat cheese (but any of the three goat cheeses would be great!)
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Can of sliced black olives (or chop up 1/2 can of whole black olives)
One package of fresh flat parsley
Salt and Pepper
Optional: Chili Flakes

While the water boils and pasta cooks, chop up the parsley and mix in with the olives and set aside. Put goat cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, butter and olive oil in a bowl. Throw the hot pasta in the bowl once it's done and mix until butter melted and everything blends well. Lastly, throw in the parsley and olives, and then salt and pepper to taste. I threw in chili flakes too but if you don't like spicy, it's not necessary.


Monday, January 11, 2010

What's a Lazy Resolution?

Will the re-solution you just made re-solve that thing that's been bugging you? Have you solved it before? Have you had the solution before, used it, and made a difference to achieve the goal: more money, less debt, more skinny, less fat, more fun, less work?

Re-solutions can definitely be lazy if they are going to bring you less stress and more joy. So, the deal with resolutions is to bring them into your life with as much grace and ease as possible. Can the re-solution be the forever solution? Can you bring it into your life like a new puppy? It's here to stay, never to be "re" again, to be the solution for now and always.

Before I picked up my dog Lucy, I read books, websites, bought all the equipment, the puppy pads, the crate for "training" (that never happened but I had the crate and the know-how), the special food, tiny bowls, etc. And, I made sure my travel schedule was appropriate for a new arrival, etc. I talked to friends who I knew had experience with puppies, loved puppies, supported my decision to get a puppy so I had a bit of an emotional support system for the transition. I crafted my life so it supported the new addition, because it was important to me. When it's important, you do what is necessary to solve it for this year, next year, and forever.

By the way if you didn't make your resolution on New Year's Day, don't get your panties in a bunch, it's perfectly Lazy Wonderful to set up your Lazy SOLUTION today.

So, here's to Lazy New Year's SOLUTIONS....bringing you less stress and a lot more joy!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Lazy Re-Entry

One of the smartest things I've done in the history of my life here on Earth was setting up a three day sojourn in Palm Springs for my boyfriend and I when we came back from Paris. We were able to come home, unpack and pack a few things and drive out to beautiful Palm Springs to simply decompress before really re-entering our lives.

The trip was a wee bit trying for the Lazy Woman because the luggage was lost until just about 14 hours before our return flight. My carry on was well stocked so it wasn't too stressful for me, but having a 16 year old girl losing her luggage is another story. So, it made for some trying moments. And, then just after the luggage was returned to us....literally 12 hours before we left for the airport I got a doozy of a food poisoning! There's nothing like flying while nauseous, eh?

So booking in some laziness was the best Christmas gift I could have given myself. And, I'd recommend this resort to anyone. The Mira Monte in Indian Wells is a lovely place to stay and they let you bring your dogs too! The food -- literally every meal -- from room service to New Year's Eve was really great and unbelievably well-priced. We felt like we never had to leave and everywhere you looked was beauty. It was peaceful and rejuvenating for body and soul and in this economy it was a really great deal.

Sometimes spending extra money is NOT lazy because it causes stress, but sometimes the payoff is far more than the expense. In this case, re-entering into life after 2 1/2 weeks off was a lot easier, happier and stress-free because I spent a little extra.

If you can't book time away, though, book time in your bathtub or a lovely lunch out, or a mini massage, or whatever rekindles your soul for the budget you have. The Laziest thing to do is take care of YOU so you can take care of others and all your commitments.

Happy New Year!