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quinoa salad.

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Over the past few years quinoa (“kin-wa”) has become super popular for reasons I don’t quite know. I’m guessing it correlates with the popularity of “gluten-free” diets, which I don’t pay much attention to, and the fact that it’s a nutrient-dense food.

To me, since I do Weight Watchers, the only thing that matters is how many Points Plus a food is — and quinoa has more points than rice, so I never really cared too much to try it.

Oh, but then I did.

About a month ago I attended a family BBQ with Robert, and his aunt Karen had made a mediterranean-style quinoa salad.

I don’t know if it was the quinoa, the red wine vinegar, the lime juice, or the combination of fresh and delicious veggies that made me fall in love with this dish, but I did. I couldn’t stop eating it!

Last night we had people over for our own BBQ and I thought it would be a great side dish to put out with the carb-heavy prosciutto & pea pasta salad Robert loves so much.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 medium cucumbers, diced
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Soak the quinoa in cold water for five minutes, drain, rinse and drain again.

In a medium sauce pan, bring the water to a boil. Add salt and rinsed quinoa. Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and translucent. Drain and return quinoa to pan; cover and let sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients.

Add quinoa and toss. ENJOY!

Last weekend I made my first ever Lululemon purchase.
I admit that I was a bit hesitant, as I’ve gone into the store before and felt out of place (and after last years’ see-through fabric scandal, I found out that may have been intentional). For the majority of my life I was a size 16 and at my heaviest I was an 18; the thought of going into a store that has made it publicly known it only manufactures up to a size 12 was a bit overwhelming.
But, as summer rolls on, I’ve come to the conclusion that my favorite gym pants are too hot to wear around (read about those here). And, my current size has been anywhere between an 8 and a 12, so I knew I’d probably be able to squeeze into their pants.
I popped into Lululemon at Market Street, Lynnfield and was instantly approached by a girl who asked if I needed some help. I told her that I had never shopped at Lululemon, but that I was interested in buying some crops. She had me try on a few different styles & I fell in love with the Seamless Street Crop.
Then, somehow she got me to try on their Stuff Your Bra Tank, which has the type of support that allows you to not wear a bra… I was extremely hesitant, but I had already spent 20 minutes trying on every pair of crops in the store, so I though “eh, sure.” And, to my surprise, the tank was AMAZING.
I purchased my new-found favorite items and headed straight to the gym that afternoon (for the first time in four weeks). I’m now completely obsessed with them & plan on going back to get more in different colors!
Tell me about your favorite Lululemon items, or where you like to get your gym clothes in the comments.

Last weekend I made my first ever Lululemon purchase.

I admit that I was a bit hesitant, as I’ve gone into the store before and felt out of place (and after last years’ see-through fabric scandal, I found out that may have been intentional). For the majority of my life I was a size 16 and at my heaviest I was an 18; the thought of going into a store that has made it publicly known it only manufactures up to a size 12 was a bit overwhelming.

But, as summer rolls on, I’ve come to the conclusion that my favorite gym pants are too hot to wear around (read about those here). And, my current size has been anywhere between an 8 and a 12, so I knew I’d probably be able to squeeze into their pants.

I popped into Lululemon at Market Street, Lynnfield and was instantly approached by a girl who asked if I needed some help. I told her that I had never shopped at Lululemon, but that I was interested in buying some crops. She had me try on a few different styles & I fell in love with the Seamless Street Crop.

Then, somehow she got me to try on their Stuff Your Bra Tank, which has the type of support that allows you to not wear a bra… I was extremely hesitant, but I had already spent 20 minutes trying on every pair of crops in the store, so I though “eh, sure.” And, to my surprise, the tank was AMAZING.

I purchased my new-found favorite items and headed straight to the gym that afternoon (for the first time in four weeks). I’m now completely obsessed with them & plan on going back to get more in different colors!

Tell me about your favorite Lululemon items, or where you like to get your gym clothes in the comments.

I have wanted to make this cake for a couple years, ever since seeing it in an obscure blog post (and then again on Pinterest 5 million times). I finally decided to try it out, and, while it looks complicated, it’s really quite simple.
All you need is three batches of cake batter in red, white and blue. I used Betty Crocker French Vanilla for the white and blue and Betty Crocker Red Velvet for the red.
I baked two layers of blue cake and four layers of red and white cake. I found that a batch of cake batter weighs 2 lbs., so I actually weighed each pan to try and make the layers even — 16 oz. for the blue and 8 oz. for red and white. In retrospect I could have divided the French Vanilla into one blue layer and two white layers… but I preferred having the extra layers in case I screwed something up.
After baking 10 layers of cake, I assembled everything. The bottom is pretty self explainitory. For the top, I hollowed out one of the blue layers to make an “O” and then cut layers of red and white to fit inside of the “O.” Then I finished it off with lots of white buttercream and some patriotic sprinkles!
Happy July!!

I have wanted to make this cake for a couple years, ever since seeing it in an obscure blog post (and then again on Pinterest 5 million times). I finally decided to try it out, and, while it looks complicated, it’s really quite simple.

All you need is three batches of cake batter in red, white and blue. I used Betty Crocker French Vanilla for the white and blue and Betty Crocker Red Velvet for the red.

I baked two layers of blue cake and four layers of red and white cake. I found that a batch of cake batter weighs 2 lbs., so I actually weighed each pan to try and make the layers even — 16 oz. for the blue and 8 oz. for red and white. In retrospect I could have divided the French Vanilla into one blue layer and two white layers… but I preferred having the extra layers in case I screwed something up.

After baking 10 layers of cake, I assembled everything. The bottom is pretty self explainitory. For the top, I hollowed out one of the blue layers to make an “O” and then cut layers of red and white to fit inside of the “O.” Then I finished it off with lots of white buttercream and some patriotic sprinkles!

Happy July!!

hopster’s.

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Robert is a die-hard beer lover and he adores trying new craft beers. Something that he’s always wanted to attempt is a home brew… but it scares the hell out of me. I mean, it’s basically chemistry, and chemistry was NOT my favorite class in high school.

Well, earlier this year, I discovered a place in Newton, Mass. called Hopsters Brews & Boards. They offer “brew sessions” with a brew master, so I booked us a slot last month to conquer my fears.

Upon arrival, we sat at the bar to wait for our brew master. We quickly realized that all the beers (and alcohol) available were from local New England breweries, which was a cool concept. Robert saw that they had Backlash Beer on tap, so he was stoked, and I discovered the most delicious hard cider called Downeast. So they scored points for drinks!

When our brew master, Kevin, got to us, he gave us a book of Hopsters beer recipes. I really wanted to make something fruity, or maybe their vanilla cream beer, but Robert would be drinking most of what we made, so I let him pick. He chose “Hopmeal IPA.”

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Our first task was measuring out some crystal malt, malt extract, and three different types of hops, and then adding them to a vat of boiling water. This would become our “wort” and while we waited for it to be ready, we chowed down on some of their small bites, including a flat bread and a soft pretzel with onion and bacon jam (both were delicious).

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Once the wort was ready, Kevin helped us bring it down in temperature, add yeast, and get everything into our sanitized fermenter. And with that, we were pretty much done! While I learned the basics of how to brew beer, I still wasn’t confident that I could recreate it at home…

Two weeks later we returned to bottle our beer, which was a bit less fun. Hopsters bottling area is small, and, since most beers were made by more than one person, there were too many people crammed into the area. But we were able to score another soft pretzel, which I classify as a win!

It was definitely a cool experience and I’d go again. They say that you can bring your own beer recipe if you want — I’m thinking we should go back in the fall and make Robert’s favorite: pumpkin beer.

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French macarons from Boulangerie Patisserie

French macarons from Boulangerie Patisserie