Recipes

Friday Escape: Maldives

Okay so are you ready for your Friday Escape? I am! Thank you so much to those of you who left suggestions. I really appreciate it. I made a list and we will be visiting all the lovely locations you recommended. Today, thanks to one of my fabulous readers, Hera, we are going to the Maldives!

This gorgeous Island Nation is in the Indian ocean about 250 miles south-west of India. Amazing crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and decadent resorts...it's a little slice of paradise. Let's go!

I know...it doesn't look real. I've only seen this kind of beach as a screen saver!  This must be where they get those shots!

We are staying at the Alila Villas Hadahaa resort. The resort is located on one of the tropical islands in the North Huvadhoo Atol. It's reputation is stellar and many celebrities have stayed here...so it should be perfect for us.

Luxury - check. Amazing - check. Could never afford it in real life - check.

That's it up ahead...see the little villas that are built right over the ocean! I booked us in one of those...of course. Only the best for my Friday escape travelers.

Welcome to the resort...wanna go see our Aqua Villa....

Isn't it beautiful? Let's go inside...

Yeah... this should be just fine. Follow me and I'll show you where I will be spending most of my time...

So fabulous right? The colors of the water are so stunning! Who's making cocktails? Oh heck, I'll just have some brought over to us.

So what do you think? A couple of hours on the deck then we can hit the beach, a sunset soak at the spa followed by a massage then we will hit the bar and restaurant for dinner...sound like a plan?

The two restaurants at the resort, Battuta and Relish serve up Maldivian and Moroccan inspired cuisine. Yum! I love trying new dishes. Want recipes? Go here or here.

I ordered this delectable Moroccan chicken and chickpea dish with spicy avocado! Recipe.

That was delicious! Let's stroll back to our villa. I am totally ready to fall asleep, listening to the waves...

Wow look at those stars. This place is magical. Okay...lets see take a vote...raise your hand if you never want to leave!

Hope you enjoyed this little jaunt to the Maldives. Pretty amazing place huh? Thanks for coming along.

I hope you have a perfect weekend.

xo,

Images via here and here.

Link Love

Hello friends,

Image via weheartit

Yesterday it was perfectly rainy here in Portland. (Surprise, surprise)...and I was roaming through blogland with my hot cup of tea.

I discovered so many pretty things to show you that I was having an inspiration overload, so I thought the best thing to do would just share some of my favorites with you.

A little link love is in order. Ready? Okay let's go...click away!

Discover the snow-covered Amsterdam landscapes by visiting one of my favorite bloggers...Pia.

Enjoy some curated mood board inspiration from Melissa.

Virtually thumb through one of the loveliest online magazine around...Lonny.

Feel like baking something beautiful? Stop over at Aran's for some gorgeous deliciousness...aka...Pear and Hazelnut Tarts!

How about some holiday cheer from one of my favorite artists? Head over to see Geninne...

Hope you have fun persusing some of my favorite blog hangouts. Enjoy!

xo,

Happy Thanksgiving

Hello friends, Tonight my brother came over to make pumpkin pie with Grace.

It was so sweet. He patiently measured out each ingredient and then allowed her to add it to the bowl. With her tiny hands, she carefully emptied each cup or spoonful, making sure she didn't spill a drop. I stood back to observe the magic and take pictures...

Grace didn't like the sound of the mixer but managed a smile for me.

The pumpkin pies won't win any prizes for beauty but they tasted delicious and my brother and Grace got to bond.  I'm so thankful to have him living here in Portland! It means so much to me that Grace will grow up knowing her Aunt and Uncle.

I hope tomorrow, your family and friends will experience the delight of preparing delicious food together! Being surrounded by those we love is something I will always be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

xo,

Vicarious Vacations # 4: Luxembourg

Hello friends and Happy Friday! Welcome to our last Vicarious Vacation. I know the previous destinations have been off the beaten path but I couldn't resist taking you here. Like many girls, I have a soft place in my heart for fairytale castles. So far...the only one I've ever seen, is the one in Disney World and frankly, I don't think that counts. So, I decided to take you to the a land where fairytales castles were born - we are headed to gorgeous Luxembourg.

Image 1.

When you are surrounded by three of Europe's most beautiful countries - Germany, France and Belgium - it's hard not to be amazing! Map - here. The history of Luxembourg dates back to the year 963. Over the centuries, its territory may have diminished but it still stands as the richest country in the world and is often referred to as the "Green heart" of Europe. Beyond material wealth and banking success, Luxembourg offers a culturally diverse population, fantastic food and wine, breathtaking landscapes and an impressive art and theater scene. Oh, and then there are the castles...did I mention that already? Yes...there are over a dozen castles in this magical land. It makes my heart skip a little beat...

So where shall we stay you ask? We came here for fairy tales and I intend to deliver...Welcome to Chateau d'Urspelt. A castle fit for a princess right? This romantic castle has a 300 year old history and was terribly damaged in World War II.  In 2005, Mr. Freddy Lodomez came across this diamond in the rough, instantly fell in love and committed to having the Chateau restored to its original beauty. Thank you Freddy! What a prince!

Images via Chateau d'Urspelt

Lovely isn't it? That claw-foot tub will be a fabulous treat later on.  I will try and contain the girlish squeals...but isn't this place to die for!

Let's go for a stroll...

[audio http://graceandivy.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/39448__juletdomi__amb_rue_caumartin.mp3]

This is the Grand Ducal Palace and official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg - Henri and his lovely wife,  the Grand Duchess Maria Teresa.

A fairytale destination would not be complete without some Royalty, after all. As for Henri's heir - Guillaume (William)...

well he fits the Prince bill rather nicely...don't you think? Okay, enough Royal gawking...let's keep exploring...

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Ahh...here we are at the Place d'Armes or as the locals refer to it - Plëss. It is truly the city's living room and a fantastic place to people watch, listen to some live music and grab lunch at one of the numerous outdoor cafes. I've got the perfect one in mind...

Play to listen to the sounds of the plaza...

[audio http://graceandivy.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/49938__rossgk__take5contrescarpe1.mp3]

Here we are at Le Cafe Francais, one of the oldest brasseries' in the city. Are you ready for some delicious food? They prepare a mix of French and Luxembourg style dishes here.  Luxembourg's food is inevitably influenced by neighboring France and Germany, resulting in a rich blend - the delicacies of French cuisine artfully entwined with the robust, heartiness of Germanic dishes.  More recently the cultural influence of Luxembourg's Portuguese immigrants is also emerging within many of Luxembourg's recipes. You won't leave the table hungry, that's for sure. So let's have a taste...

To pair with our meal, I have selected a lovely dry white wine, typical of the region or if you feel like bubbles, we can toast to our adventure with the local sparkling wine, Crémant de Luxembourg! Cheers!

Let's start with a classic Luxembourg dish: Nettle Soup. Ever had this? I haven't! Often served in the Spring, Nettle soup has a subtle, grassy taste, sweet and mild made rich with lovely cream and potatoes.

On to our next course...oooh...I don't know about you but I am a total sucker for mussels!! So succulent, with all that buttery, wine sauce to sop up. Here in Luxembourg (in the French tradition) it is often served with pomme frites! Yum! This wildly popular dish is served in the months that have an "r". October works, lucky for us. Here's a recipe straight from the region. Recipe. Make sure you use a German or French Riesling for your sauce to make it truly Luxembourg style.

Okay dessert anyone? You know we can't leave that out. How about some Questscheflued? aka Plum Tart - a local favorite. And no, I don't know how to pronounce it. Dig in! It looks delightful and it's heart shaped! Too cute. Recipe.

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Now that our tummies are full, I think it's time to tour a real castle! We are heading to Vianden. It's about an hour north of the city and is a beautiful medieval town, famous for its stunning castle and charming village. Let's hop on the bus, I for one, can't get into that castle quick enough!

*squeal* - sorry I couldn't help it! Look the castle is up ahead!!

Isn't it simply amazing? Straight from a storybook!  A little history: The castle was built between the 11th and 14th centuries and became the seat of the counts of Vianden. It was further developed until the 18th century but with the departure of the Counts of Luxembourg to the Netherlands combined with the effects of fire and an earthquake, it slowly deteriorated. The final blow came in 1820 when William I of the Netherlands sold it to a local merchant who in turn sold off its contents and masonry piecemeal, reducing it to a ruin. There were several attempts at restoration but these were hampered by problems of ownership. Victor Hugo lived in the castle for three months in 1871.Not until 1977, when Grand Duke Jean ceded the castle to the State, was it possible to undertake large-scale work, most of which has now been completed. - Wikipedia

Let's go take the tour!

Check out the view overlooking the town of Vianden...gorgeous...

Can you imagine cooking up a feast in this kitchen?

Here is the castle's chapel.

Oh, is that a wishing well?

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

What shall we wish for? World peace? A castle of our very own? How about free plane tickets to anywhere in the world? hmmm...

Alright my friends, I think I will have to leave you here. While you ponder over your wish, I want to wish all of you the best and thank you for coming along with me on these Vicarious Vacations. I hope you have enjoyed them. I know I have. Thanks to Flickr for being a wellspring of beautiful images and talented photographers. In the future, I will be doing more travel pieces. As you may have noticed, Grace and Ivy is in a state of evolution. Lots of changes are to come and I hope you will stick with me. I promise to continue bringing you beautiful posts that hopefully give you some inspiration. Thank you for all your input. I love reading your comments. Till our next adventure...

Have a gorgeous weekend.

xo,

Audio via freesound.org

http://www.vianden-info.lu/en/gallery/4/vianden-attractions.html?pageID=6

Vicarious Vacations #3: Hydra town, Greece

Happy Friday and welcome to another Vicarious Vacation. I can't even express how excited I am to travel with you today! Our destination promises beauty, relaxation and of course some amazing food. We are off to the Greek island of Hydra. A completely car free town, that is known for its magical architecture, stunning beaches and wonderful walking trails. Rental cars are so last year...let's use our feet and explore this gorgeous destination! We may have to forgo our stilettos but it will be worth it!

Image 1.

Let's board the ferry and I'll tell you more about the island on the ride...

[audio http://graceandivy.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/22508__gadzooks__carferry.mp3]

Fans of mythology will recall that Hydra was actually a nine-headed sea monster, sister to Medusa. Yikes! Don't worry though, no such beast inhabits this majestic island.  Of course, the word Hydra is also derived from the Greek word for water...which is a little more appropriate. The island of Hydra is in the Argo-Saronic Archipelago, between the islands of Poros and Spetses. Map here. Popular with artists, Hydra town, is home to quaint tavernas, chic boutiques and a gorgeous coastline.  Being completely car free, (except for the town's garbage collection trucks) one must get here via ferry. Donkeys...yes, donkeys and water taxis are the only forms of transportation once on the island.

Looks like we are approaching the island. Beautiful isn't it?

Yah! We're here! Let's go check into our hotel...change into some comfortable (but cute) shoes and go exploring.

Welcome to the Hotel Miranda. Nestled amongst the white washed cottages of Hydra town, this historical building dates back to 1810 and was originally built by a wealthy sea-captain. Its 18th and 19th century artwork and furniture only add to its nostalgic charm.

That's it up ahead...

I got us lovely suites, that are simple and elegant.

Isn't that white stone archway wonderful? I love the clean white walls with the contrasting dark floors and furnishings.

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Great view from our rooms! Love the bougainvillea...

Okay ready to head out? Let's go!

[audio http://graceandivy.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/22509__gadzooks__streetsounds1.mp3]

You will see this blue and white architecture all over the town. Charming isn't it?

So pretty! Let's stroll down to the harbor...I think there is an open market today.

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

My tummy is a rumbling...so...let's go find some gorgeous place to have lunch and soak up some sun. I'm thinking ocean side...

Welcome to the Sunset Restaurant. Famous here and highly prized by the locals and tourists alike.

Don't worry...I got us a better table than that. Only the best for us vicarious vacationers!

Images via Sunset Restaurant

How's this? Not too shabby eh? Amazing view - check. Sunshine - check. Now for some food and drink!

Is it too early for Ouzo? No, of course not. We have to have a toast after all...and what better than ouzo to kick off lunch. Ouzo is Greece's national drink and has a strong anise or licorice flavor to it. You don't need much of this potent little liquor before you understand why the Greeks love it so! The expression "Opa!" is often used upon toasting, which translates to happiness and good life!

Let's start our meal with a traditional Cretan Salad...recipe here. So lovely, crunchy and fresh. I swear I could eat feta cheese all day...

Have you ever heard of Haloumi? Well, it's a Greek cheese that originated in Cyprus. It's made with a blend of goat and sheep milk, which gives it a mild, salty flavor and because of its high melting point, it can be fried or grilled. At the Sunset Restaurant, they serve it with tomatoes and pitta bread...shall we give it a go? (recipe)

When on the Grecian islands, one must take advantage of the fresh bounty of seafood! Lobster spaghetti is a true Greek delight! Recipe. Sweet, succulent lobster meat, freshly made pasta, tomatoes and fresh herbs. Yum!

On to dessert...although not on the Sunset Restaurant's menu, I couldn't resist including one of my all time favorite desserts (which also happens to be very Greek) - Baklava. I adore this stuff. Recipe.

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Wasn't that an amazing Greek meal. I'm stuffed.  How about a hike up to an old monastery ending up with a nap on the beach?

We could ride this cute little guy...but I didn't spend a fortune on these hiking sandals for nothing. Come on, we've got calories to burn.

Almost there...

This monastery was actually built in 1813, by the monk Ierotheos. Of the four monasteries on Hydra, this one is the most famous and frequently visited. Four monks still reside here. What a peaceful existence it must be, nestled among the mountains, overlooking the town.

So beautiful...

I am ready for some down time. Let's head to the beach to work on our tan and have a little snooze.

[audio http://graceandivy.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/83935__acclivity__turkishwake.mp3]

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

I think Mandraki beach will do nicely. Can you believe the color of the water! Stunning! Sit back, relax and enjoy the sounds of the waves.

Thank you so much for coming to Greece with me. I hope you enjoyed our little adventure on this jewel of an island.  Next week we head off to a new destination. It will be the last of this series (for now at least). Where are we going? It's a surprise! Make sure you come back on Friday so you don't miss it.

Have a fantastic weekend!

xo,

audio via freesound.org

Gallery of images can be viewed here.

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.kerasma.gr/UserFiles/Image/SPIRITS_BEVERAGES/132716_ouzo1.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.kerasma.gr/default.asp%3Fsiteid%3D1%26pageid%3D97%26tablepageid%3D31%26langid%3D2&usg=__HiB_GId98UMw7-JJuMxljIckvGU=&h=312&w=400&sz=18&hl=en&start=30&zoom=1&tbnid=_O_jsO6uwj0yzM:&tbnh=132&tbnw=169&prev=/images%3Fq%3Douzo%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26biw%3D1503%26bih%3D601%26tbs%3Disch:10%2C785&um=1&itbs=1&iact=rc&dur=397&ei=iBuuTKuLDoX6swPxwIX-Cw&oei=gRuuTPnVHYe8sQOs-4WDDA&esq=2&page=2&ndsp=25&ved=1t:429,r:20,s:30&tx=90&ty=66&biw=1503&bih=601

Vicarious Vacation # 1 : Casole d'Elsa

Happy Friday and welcome to our Vicarious Vacation. Today, I'm going to whisk us off to the quaint, little town of Casole d'Elsa in the hills of Tuscany. Strolling down the ancient cobblestone alleyways, decadent wine tastings, a visit to the Siena marketplace, a brush with history and of course a large helping of the local food are all on the agenda. Sound good? Okay, come on!

Image via casalecapita

Let me tell you a little bit about this beautiful town. Casole D'Elsa is located in the Tuscany region in the province of Siena. Conveniently located between Florence and Siena, it provides a peaceful respite from the bigger, touristy cities. See map here. Pedestrian friendly streets, intimate cafes and a few notable historic attractions should keep us busy but not overwhelmed. Leaving plenty of time to soak in the Italian sun, sip Chianti and gobble up the local delicacies. Now where are we staying, you ask? Well...

I hope you don't mind but I booked us into a rather fancy hotel just outside of town. I think we deserve it, don't you? Welcome to the Relais La Suvera. Steeped in history this medieval fort turned sumptuous Mediterranean villa is our place of relaxation and refuge after all that sightseeing. Sigh...isn't it simply dreamy!?

Ready to see your room? Images via Relais La Suvera

Fit for a princess right? Okay, freshen up and let's go exploring. I know you are tired from the trip but it's nothing a glass of Chianti can't fix! Besides, we have massages scheduled later at the spa. Yes, even medieval fortresses in Italy have spas!

Let's go for a walk...

Press play to listen.

[audio http://graceandivy.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/italian-walk.mp3]

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Am I Hungry? Of course I am! This place looks charming...let's stop here - Osteria del Caffè Casolani- and have some treats.

Here's what I'm thinking...wine, cheese & cured meats. The local cheese -Pecorino di Pienza and fresh cold cuts such as salumi di cinta senese, will make the perfect blend of tastes and textures. Creamy and nutty in flavor, the Pecorino is a perfect pairing with the saltiness of the meat and sweetness of the wine.  The celebrated local wine is aptly named Erta, meaning steep slope, indicative of the agricultural landscape of the region. A completely organic wine, it is a lovely blend of 95% Sangiovese grapes and 5% Merlot. Subtle herbal notes and deep cherry overtones will delight your palette! Want more...why don't we try the testaroli? It's a crepe like pasta usually combined with pesto. Yummy! This place is famous for it!

Images 1. 2.

Now to walk off all that scrumptuous food...

Ooh...before we go...is that a little bakery I see?

We had better stop in and grab some dessert! This region is known for its pastries and traditional sweets. One of the oldest treats around is the famous Panforte margherita!  This "spiced bread" is a magical combination of dough, almonds, candied fruit, cinnamon, all spice and a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar. Isn't it beautiful?

Images 1. 2.

On to some history...

This is the Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta, which dates back 1161! The original Roman bell tower still remains with the upper half of the building being constructed in the 14th century. Inside are the sacred tombs of Beltramo Aringhieri, by Marco Romano, and of bishop Tommaso Andrei, by Gano di Fazio.

Directly next to the church lies the Museum of Sacred Arts. A beautiful collection of religious art can be enjoyed here, including the works of Alessandro Casolani and sculptor, Marco Romano.

Got your culture fill? Let's go to the Siena Markets!

Press play to listen to the bustling market square...

[audio http://graceandivy.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/31429_fonogeno_mercato_di_montevarchi2.mp3]

How gorgeous is that fruit?

Images 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Don't you love all the amazing colors and textures?

I don't know about you but the hotel spa is calling my name...let's head back and end our trip on a relaxing note.

You go on and get your massage. I'm heading down to the hot pool for a nice soak...so lovely...

Images via Relais La Suvera Spa

I hope you enjoyed your day in the Tuscan countryside. Loved vicariously traveling with you! I learned a lot and loved seeing this little corner of the world. The village of Casole d'Elsa was enchanting, the food delectable and the Siena markets were utterly inspiring.

Join me again next Friday, when we head to Spain!

Have a beautiful weekend!

xo,

audio files via freesound.org

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Jitterbug Magic

Tuesday evening was magical. I hosted my book club for the first time and had a blast decorating with Tom Robbins book, Jitterbug Perfume as my inspiration. This my first Tom Robbins novel and it won't be my last. I was completely enthralled with the story and all of Robbins's philosophical musings. His analogies are like nothing I've ever read before! Honestly, this book is both crazy and ingenious. I didn't even think I would like it, but I threw caution to the wind and dove right in. It's one of those novels that stays with you long after you lay it down.

Check out my beet themed centerpiece. If you've read the book, you will get this connection. If you haven't, check out this synopsis. Let's just say that the humble beet plays a very important role.

The silver tea pot relates to the one of the main female characters, Kudra. The book discusses extensively the art of perfume creation, so I wanted to include apothecary elements too. I love my little mortar and pestle that I found at a local antique store.

I served a Greek themed spread in honor of the Greek god Pan, who also played a major role in this novel...yes like I said a tad crazy. A roasted beet and feta salad that I made was super easy and loved by everyone.

The rustic texture of the beets contrasted with the silver and glass makes for a lovely and original arrangement. This has definitely inspired me to create more centerpieces with vegetable elements. It's a lot less expensive than flowers too!

We dined alfresco on my patio under twinkling candles and a spray of fairy lights strewn through my wisteria.

The conversation was very stimulating to say the least. Robbins really challenges you to be open-minded and encourages you to view things in an entirely different way. Among the fascinating meanderings of Robbin's mind he throws out truly prolific lines:

"We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love." — Tom Robbins

"The unhappy person resents it when you try to cheer him up, because that means he has to stop dwelling on himself and start paying attention to the universe. Unhappiness is the ultimate form of self-indulgence. When you're unhappy, you get to pay a lot of attention to yourself. You get to take yourself oh so very seriously." — Tom Robbins

"Our individuality is all, all, that we have. There are those who barter it for security, those who repress it for what they believe is the betterment of the whole society, but blessed in the twinkle of the morning star is the one who nurtures it and rides it in, in grace and love and wit, from peculiar station to peculiar station along life's bittersweet route." — Tom Robbins

As a little take home gift for my ladies, I created my own version of the famous K23 or Kudra perfume. I couldn't resist getting out my essential oils and giving it a go. It's a jasmine themed scent with a lemon and tangerine top note and a sandalwood bottom note. (I didn't have beet pollen on hand so it had to do). My friends seemed to enjoy it, deeply inhaling the fragrance and applying it to the inside of their wrists.

All in all, it was a fabulous night. Good friends, plenty of french red wine, yummy food, a riveting novel and wonderful discussion - doesn't get better than that.

Hope you are reading something inspiring.

Happy Friday!

xo,

Hydrating Rose Oil

The roses are blooming everywhere, so now is a great time to create your very own hydrating rose body oil.

The essential oil of roses is found to be very nourishing, moisturizing and restorative. It is good for almost all skin types and works well even with sensitive skin. The aroma is relaxing and heavenly. You will love making your own rose oil - plus it's easy!

You'll need:

1 cup fresh organic rose petals

1 cup sweet almond oil or sesame oil

1 wide mouth glass jar with a lid

Directions:

1. Place roses in jar and gently crush to release their oils

2. Pour the oil over the petals.

3. Secure the lid and place the jar in a dark, cool place for a week.

4. Strain the oil and place into pretty bottle.

5. Apply after bath or shower while skin is still moist.

Enjoy!

xo,

Ivy

Image via Flickr

Peonies & Peas

Yesterday the rain poured down one minute, only to be replaced by the glorious sun the next. It's the nature of Spring in Oregon and we love it. Unpredictable but beautiful. Silver light and gold. With a bouquet of gorgeous peonies on my table and a handful of fresh spring peas I figured it was the perfect afternoon for a little team work with Grace. She was so excited to pop open each pod to reveal the tiny green peas. While she delighted in this task, I took pictures. I really loved the green of the peas with the pink of the peonies.

At the end of this lovely afternoon, I cooked up a fresh Spring inspired meal from Rachel Ray's cookbook. Check out the recipe here. It was delicious!

Happiness all round.

xo,

Ivy

Pineapple Face Mask

Since we came back from Hawaii, pineapple has been my new addiction.

I can't seem to get enough of it.

I've got gobs of fresh pineapple in my fridge so I decided to play around with it and make up a face mask.

Pineapple has a wonderfully skin friendly enzyme in it called Bromelain. It helps shed dead skin cells, brighten skin and has a gentle astringent like quality. Mixed with the moisturizing qualities of honey and the antioxidant power of green tea this mask made my skin feel fantastic.

{Bonus - the green tea and honey are acne fighters too!}

Try it out for a little tropical pampering.

You'll need:

3-4 slices of fresh pineapple

1 tablespoon organic honey

1 tablespoon green tea

Directions:

Boil water and make a cup of strongly steeped green tea. (I like to steep mine for at least 10 minutes)

Put the pineapple and honey in the blender and mix until smooth. Add the green tea and mix to a paste.

Spread the paste over your clean face and neck. Lie back and relax for 15 minutes.

Rinse with warm water and soft wash cloth. End with a splash of cool water and finish with moisturizer.

Now, go make yourself a Mai Tai or Pina Colada!

xo,

Ivy

Image via: PushShutterSnap via Deviant Art

Oh Maui...how I love thee.

On April 26th, we set off on a long overdue honeymoon to Maui. It would be a six-day, five night trip that would leave us wanting more pineapple, sea air and warm breezes. In short, it was unforgettable, romantic and blissful.

I, as usual, had my handy-dandy camera linked to my wrist at all times and took far too many pictures. I won't try to share them all with you in one post...but rather draw it out into a long series of Hawaiian tales...(bear with me)

Chapter One: Arrive in Paradise

After a quick, smooth and easy  five-hour direct flight from Portland on Hawaiian airlines, I couldn't believe we were already approached Maui.  The gorgeous colors from the plane were dazzling...sapphire blue, emerald green and turquoise. I couldn't wait to land!

I surprised Chris with a lei arrival. Nice touch eh? They smelled amazing.

After retrieving our luggage, we headed over to Alamo, where we picked up our very cute ride - a white soft top Jeep! It was a fun car to have on the island, although I must say, I've had shopping carts with a smoother ride! It was bit bumpy to say the least! Next time we are getting the convertible Mustang for sure.

I promised myself I would have a tropical drink an hour after landing and voila...I did. (It was more like two hours after landing but who's counting?) These Mai Tai's were amazing. We sat there, at our resort, sipping these babies and counting our lucky stars that we were actually in Maui. It took a while to sink in.

Our first meal in Maui was mahi mahi fish tacos...so DELICIOUS! I ate so much mahi mahi it was just plain ridiculous. Between that and the ahi tuna I'm surprised I didn't grow some gills. So fresh! I got all my Omega 3's for sure!

After getting our fill, we retired to our beautiful condo for a little rest before dinner.

As usual, we got our condo through VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner). We absolutely loved the place we stayed. The owner, Chris was so helpful and welcoming, plus we got all the luxuries of the Honua Kai resort without all the $$$. The resort is in a great location with easy proximity to Lahaina, with all the night life and shopping plus access to some beautiful beaches. For our first trip it was perfect. We didn't bring Grace on this vacation but after seeing how family friendly Maui is we will be definitely taking her along on the next trip.

We concluded our first night at the Lahaina Grill. It was seriously the best seafood I've had in a very long time. I had seared ahi tuna, of course, and it was sublime. The service, ambiance, food and wine were all first class. It was a spendy meal but so worth it. It's a special place that should not be missed!

A Maui sunset set the sky ablaze. A beautiful sight to end a beautiful day. Couldn't wait to wake up and greet the ocean the next morning.

Stay tuned for Chapter 2...

xo,

Ivy

Birthday treat - Chocolate Bread Pudding

Today was my hubby's birthday, so Grace and I decided to make him his favorite dessert - Bread Pudding! We had a blast putting it all together and it tasted fantastic. We are quite the team in the kitchen!

The best part about the recipe - it's from Cooking Light so it's not super loaded with fat!

Here is it.

xo,

Ivy

Yogurt Face Mask

If your spring has been anything like ours, then you'll know that your skin has had to deal with a number of crazy conditions. One day it's warm, dry and sunny, the next it's bone chilling wet and windy.

Hot and cold fluctuations have a negative effect on the skin and it often causes an imbalance in our sebum production.  The result: dry patches, breakouts, and oil slicks...ick.

Try this fabulous balancing yogurt mask I stumbled upon in Body & Soul Magazine:

1 egg white

1 tsp. steeped green tea

1/2 Tbsp. plain organic yogurt

2 Tbsp. oatmeal (finely ground)

1/2 tsp. organic honey

Prep: Whip egg white until foamy. In a bowl, mix 1 tsp. of green tea and 2 Tbsp. oatmeal. Combine with egg white, yogurt, and oatmeal; mix in honey. Apply to clean skin and leave on for 8-10 minutes, then rinse.

The Result: Soft, dewy, balanced skin. I highly recommend it.

Have a gorgeous Monday.

xo,

Ivy

Image via luisamöhle

https://martha.zt01.net/BS/1/bns_google_search/landing/google_search.php?gclid=CP_Bt9mR8KACFQ5biAod8ljsHg

By the dozen

This week was all about eggs...we dyed eggs, made craft eggs and decorated the Easter tree...(a bit late, I know) and I even made tried an Egg Strata recipe that we devoured.

I added green onions, mushrooms, ham, onion and red pepper to the recipe. YUM!

I am amazed by the simple beauty of an egg.

We made simple foam eggs covered in glitter and stickers. Grace is kinda obsessed with stickers and I'm kinda obsessed with glitter so we were both happy.

The Easter tree was fun to put together. Adorned with ribbons, fluffy pink chicks, butterflies and strands of pastel eggs, it's Grace's favorite tree so far...

Tomorrow we head to church and then a lovely brunch with friends.

Have a lovely Easter Sunday!

xo,

Ivy

Relaxing Steam Facial

Images via AvaNiviTava

Okay, so three days ago our house went on the market.

It's kinda sad. We love our little cottage but we are just needing more room and I'm dying for a fireplace. A garage would be nice too.

Monday morning the house looked beautiful...almost perfect. Fresh flowers, clean floors and sparkling sinks - it was a sight to behold.

We thought, in this real estate market, it's gonna take some time to get any traffic but we were in for a surprise.

Late that afternoon, we went on a little family outing to the local Gelato place. Tea for us and gelato for Gracie.

At 5:17 pm I received a call from a realtor and then Chris got one two minutes later. Thus the craziness began...

Ever since that day, we have had multiple showings of the house.

Preparation for these showings involve frantic, rushing movements, pulling drapes, plumping pillows, lighting candles and simultaneously trying to contain Grace so that she doesn't undo any of this. It's a rather difficult task...oh and did I mention our insane beagle that loves to track mud through the house at the most perfect moments....sigh...

All in all...it's been a stressful week. I'm exhausted. So tonight I decided I needed a good dose of pampering. I washed my face with my favorite cleanser and prepared a steaming pot of herbs for a steam facial.

Here's the recipe I like to use to relax, hydrate and soothe my skin-

Boil 3 cups of distilled water

To the water add:

1 tsp of  calendula flowers

1 tsp elder flowers

1 tsp lavender

1 tsp comfrey leaves

(I use dried organic herbs and I order them from here.)

1 tsp olive oil

Cover and let steep for 5 minutes

Place your pot on a table and sit in a comfortable chair.

Drape your head and shoulders with a bath towel, hover about 10-12 inches above the pot and remove cover.

Breathe the steam in deeply and allow you skin to drink in the moisture.

I sit with my ipod playing soothing music for 10-15 minutes.

It's sooooo relaxing.

For further pampering...follow with a mask, hot shower/bath, cup of herbal tea, a good book and your warm bed.  So lovely.

Nighty night.

xo,

Ivy

Lunch at the Corral Creek Coffee Co.

Sorry for the delay...but we did go into town yesterday and had a lovely lunch at a quaint little cafe. Decorated with vintage cowboy decor, family run and completely cozy, the Coral Creek Coffee Company delivered great service. We enjoyed home-made spinach, feta and bacon quiche, honey espresso lattes (see recipe below...so yummy)  and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Grace did have a melt down upon sitting down - apparently we were not sitting at the right table and her peanut butter sandwich was made with crunchy peanut butter instead of smooth (oh the trials of being three) but besides that drama we had a great afternoon.

xo,

Ivy

Honey Espresso Latte

1 tsp honey

1 shot espresso

Steamed and foamed milk

Cinnamon for garnish

In an 8-ounce cup, combine honey and espresso. Fill the cup with steamed milk, top with a small dollop of foamed milk and sprinkle with some cinnamon. Then serve immediately.

YUM!

Comfort a cough with essential oils

My dear husband is suffering from a cold with a dry hacking cough. It's been keeping us both up at night and so I headed to my herb and essential oil books to find some help. I mixed this up and it seemed to ease his symptoms.

Mix 2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil and 2 drops lemon essential oil with 2 tablespoons of organic honey. (Aura Cacia actually makes a combo essential oil with eucalyptus and lemon..find it here.) Take 1 teaspoon of this and dilute in a glass of warm water. Sip it slowly. You can add a slice of lemon too.

Then massage the back and chest with 3 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil and 2 drops ginger essential oil diluted in 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil (any vegetable oil would do).

To do a steam inhalation, you could boil some distilled water, add 3 drops of lavender essential oil and inhale the steam deeply with you head and shoulders covered with a towel. Be careful not to burn yourself.  The lavender has a soothing, anti-inflammatory effect.

Got these remedy from one of my favorite books: The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy. It's a great practical guide.

Hope you are in good health.

xo,

Ivy

Image: lindseyalyce

Clear skin with Papaya

Image: Forkable Blog

Who knew that this amazing tropical fruit is thought to help cleanse our digestive system and skin! Treat yourself to a yummy morning shake full of nutrients and skin clearing power.

Enjoy...

  • 2 cups chopped peeled and seeded papaya (about 1 medium)
  • 1 cup chilled pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup low-fat (1%) milk
  • 1/2 cup sliced banana
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Tip: Trader Joe's carries frozen papaya chunks to make this even easier!

xo,

Ivy

Lemon Butter Cuticle Balm

Image: simple effulgence

Inspired by the lovely Burt's bee's product, this is my recipe to make your own version...

1 oz. shea butter

2 oz. sunflower seed oil

1 oz. beeswax

2 small Vitamin E caps

30 drops lemon essential oil

To order these ingredients online...click here.

Put wax, oil and butter into pyrex glass and place in hot water bath. Gently heat until melted. Stir to combine. Remove from heat. Pierce the vitamin E caps and add to oil mixture. Stir. Then add Lemon essential oil.

Pour into glass jar or tin. Place in fridge to harden overnight. This will yield 4 oz. of balm and last you about 6 months. Your cuticles will be lovely.

Enjoy!

xo,

Ivy

Dungeness Crab Dinner

Our second day in Newport we had some pretty serious plans:

1. Sleep in

2. Get dressed

3. Go buy crab & food to go with crab

4. Drink lots of wine

5. Eat lots of crab

Let's just say we got through the list and over did # 4 & 5 like champs.

Did you know that it is good practice to eat freshly made salsa and chips while you crack your crab? Well it worked for us...unlike that stupid red plastic cracking device! Oh, it's also advisable to sip a fabulous white wine while you excavate crab meat. My recommendation: The Four Graces Dundee Hills 2008 Pinot Gris.

The result was a pure delight! A creamy, yet light sauce with delectable crab pieces that melt in your mouth, citrus-y sparks of lemon and the lovely taste of fresh baby dill. Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup clam juice or chicken stock

1/2 cup white wine

3-4 fresh cloves garlic, minced

1 cup half-and-half

2 teaspoons  butter, softened

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 pound fresh Dungeness crab meat

2 tablespoon chopped baby dill

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

8 oz. linguine

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a skillet sauté garlic with a touch of olive oil, the add in the broth and white wine. Boil until reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the half-and-half, stirring constantly until blended. Return to the heat and simmer until mixture is reduced to 1 1/3 cups.

2. Meanwhile, combine 2 teaspoons butter with flour. Slowly whisk into the milk mixture. Continue stirring until the sauce is thickened and has no lumps. Add crab, salt and lemon juice. Reduce the heat and cook until the crab is heated through.

3. Cook linguine according to package directions. Toss with a little extra butter or olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Pour the crab sauce over the pasta and toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with fresh dill and serve.

Enjoy!

xo,

Ivy

1/2 cup chicken broth 1/2 cup white wine 1 cup half-and-half 1/2 cup heavy cream 2 teaspoons butter, softened 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 1/2 pound crabmeat 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley 2 tablespoons chopped green onions 1/2 teaspoon of salt 1 tablespoon lemon juice 8 ounces linguine 1 tablespoon butter 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. In a skillet combine chicken broth and white wine. Boil until reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in half-and-half and cream, stirring constantly until blended. Return to the heat and simmer until the mixture is reduced to 1 1/3 cups.
  2. Meanwhile, combine 2 teaspoons softened butter with flour. Slowly whisk into the milk mixture. Continue stirring until the sauce is thickened and no lumps remain. Add crab, chopped parsley, chopped green onion, salt, and lemon juice. Reduce the heat and cook until the crab is heated through.
  3. Meanwhile, cook linguini according to the package directions. Toss with 1 tablespoon butter and grated Parmesan cheese. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss until evenly coated.