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When it comes to my list of likes, food and typography rank near the top. So it should come as no surprise I've got a serious creative crush on the woman who brings both of these things together to create magical, storybook-worthy works of art. (Anyone who has ever tried to wrangle sprinkles into submission knows this is no small accomplishment.)
Columbus-based artist, Danielle Evans (aka Marmalade Bleue) creates eye- and awe-inspiring masterpieces by way of "lettering and typography, which she exhibits through brush pen, paper cutting and most notably, dimensional type. She art directs, food styles, and collaborates with personable and quirky clients to achieve authentic, evocative, and approachable work for social media campaigns, editorials, and advertising."
To put it another way, if your brand is a foodie brand, drop what you're doing and call Danielle. If your brand isn't a foodie brand, after you check out her work...you're gonna wish it was.
In conclusion, any woman willing to get her hands dirty (and spend a morning knuckles-deep in raw meat) is my kind of awesome.
Learn more about Danielle and her work at http://marmaladebleue.com.
(All images via MarmaladeBleue.com)
From burritos to bowls, Chipotle makes taste buds swoon and hearts skip a beat. Here's to the hero of lunch o'clock. (And his little guac, too.) Feel trigger happy? Click here to tweet the infographic and declare your Chipotle love STAT! Otherwise, you'll find all the stats in this infographic broken out into single-click, tweetable tidbits at the bottom of this page.
Tweet (and eat) on, friends!
Hey there. You made it all the way to the bottom. Good for you! Like what you see? Click any of the "click to tweet" links below to share the infographic in its entirety or pick a specific tidbit to pass on.
TWEET THE ENTIRE INFOGRAPHIC
- I heart @ChipotleTweets! And here's why. For the Love of Chipotle - an #infographic. CLICK TO TWEET
- Chipotle uses 97,000 lbs of avocados on an average day. Click to Tweet
- It takes 70 avocados to make one batch of @ChipotleTweets guacamole. Click to Tweet
- 80% of the cilantro served at @ChipotleTweets is organically grown Click to Tweet
- On average, lettuce travels 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate. Click to Tweet
- If you are eating Cali lettuce in NY, it takes 56 fossil fuel calories to put 1 calorie on your plate. Click to Tweet
- When seasonally available, Chipotle sources produce within 350 miles of their restaurants. Click to Tweet
- Naturally-raised cows produce milk for 10-12 years. Hormone-fed cows are, ahem, "retired" after 3-5. Click to Tweet
- 100% of the sour cream and 65% of the cheese served @ChipotleTweets comes from pasture-raised cows. Click to Tweet
- A steer has to eat seven pounds of corn to produce one pound of meat. Click to Tweet
- Of the 2 million farms in America, fewer than 30% are family operated. Click to Tweet
- 70% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are fed to animals on factory farms for purposes other than treating diseases. Click to Tweet
- 66% of grain produced in the US is used for livestock feed. Click to Tweet
- 100% of the pork Chipotle serves is naturally raised. Click to Tweet
- The USDA definition of "naturally raised" doesn't include on-farm animal welfare protocols. Chipotle's does. Click to Tweet
- 95% of pork sold in the US comes from farms that raise pigs in confinement. Click to Tweet
- .@Niman_Ranch has gone from 55 to 650 naturally-raised pork farms by working with @ChipotleTweets. Click to Tweet
- By using 100% recycled content in their napkins, @ChipotleTweets saves more than 22 million gallons of water per year. Click to Tweet
- With 655,360 possible combinations, you could eat at @ChipotleTweet 1x per day without repeating a meal for 1,794 years. Click to Tweet
While much of the world is busy groaning about Christmas in October, I am one of those people who starts longing for the holiday season right around the time I start packing away the 4th of July decorations. No doubt about it, my soul is dipped in red-and-green glitter and strung with twinkle lights. And I'm okay with that.
Like any good Christmas fanatic, I have a rotation of recipes that scream "HOLY HOLIDAYS LETS DO THIS THING!" And this is one of them. If you're not a cook, no worries. If you can chop things with a knife and wield a wooden spoon, you're golden.
Note: pretty much everyone on the planet has a variation on this recipe in their stash (or their mom's stash or their grandma's stash). Adapt at will. It's hard to mess it up.
Christmas Chicken Salad
4 c. cubed or shredded chicken (or 2 cans if you're not into getting hands-on with your poultry) 1 c. dried cranberries 1 c. chopped walnuts 1. c. finely chopped celery 1 c. quartered red or green grapes 1 c. finely chopped green apple 3 stalks chopped green onions salt + pepper to taste Enough mayo to wet it all down (appx. 1 cup)
Now for the super complicated instructions...
Add ingredients to bowl. Stir. Spread on a croissant and prepare to have your bells jingled.
Note: If you can resist for a day or two, this is even more delicious on day two or three.
By now my regular creepers followers know that the list of things that bring me joy is long, varied and ongoing. From bare feet to wooden spoons, narwhals to misheard lyrics, it's sort of an ever-evolving archive of Amy-endorsed awesomeness in no particular order. Two things consistently hovering near the top of the list: dinner parties and friends.
To date, one of the best days of my life remains the evening GVL BFF and I live-streamed the making of "The Turducken of Cheese Balls" (Yes, it is a thing. Yes, it is a crazy pain in the ass to make. Yes, it is just as glorious as you could ever possibly imagine.) after stumbling across the recipe on the internets. Roughly a hundred dollars, a couple bottles of wine, a little hysteria and a dozen layers of foodstuffs later, we arrived at this. AND OUR LIVES WERE NEVER THE SAME AGAIN.
My birthday twin, Julia Child, once said, "In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” If you're looking for a way to stoke your what-the-hell fire, Go Cook Yourself is a good place to start. Coincidentally, they just published their first book...and I have assembled ten incredibly compelling reasons you will instantly fall in heart with GCY and should pick up a copy of their book right now.
TEN REASONS TO GO COOK YOURSELF
- Let's cut to the chase. The authors* are British people, so when you read the book in the voice in your mind, you can pretend the recipe calls for “basil” instead of “basil.” And we all know THAT IS WAY MORE ADORABLE. (Also, for some reason, much less bothersome to the American ear than the way the British insist on pronouncing "aluminum.") (Side note: the dictionary claims we all pronounce basil the same way. The dictionary is clearly in denial and I can no longer trust anything it says.)
- (Straight men...skip directly to bullet 3. Gays and girls...come with me.) The “British people” are actually “British twin brothers.” Coincidentally they are also “British handsome.” If commercials have taught us anything, it is that two are better than one. And if you haven’t based your entire understanding of everything that is right and good in the world on the indisputable wisdom of late-80s advertising, you’re no friend of mine.
- Now is your chance to finally get around to learning something about the metric system, which you probably did in fifth grade and again in tenth grade and then promptly forgot because "IT'S NOT LIKE I'M EVER GOING TO USE THIS." Guess what, younger self? You were WRONG. Not only will mastery of the metric system help you win friends and influence people, it will also take you one step closer to becoming a badass like Walter White. Bonus: instead of leading you down a path of sin that ruins your life and destroys your family, GCY will lead you down a path to a delicious pile of something delicious.
- Know who likes bacon? Go Cook Yourself. Know who else likes bacon? Ron Swanson. Know what else Ron Swanson likes? Puppies and dancing. If you don’t buy this book I will assume that means you hate puppies, dancing and bacon, which will leave me with no choice but to write an open letter about you. And we all know how that goes.
- Cooking is sexy…and it knows it.
- Three Reasons, One Photo.
- One word: s’moreos. THIS IS A THING.
- The book is gloriously meatball and meatloaf-free. In every conceivable way.
- The book will challenge you to challenge yourself...by eating "black pudding." After reading up on the matter, I have come to realize that "black pudding" is just a polite British way of saying "SAUSAGE OF DOOM." If you are American and send me a video of you eating (or even attempting to eat) black pudding, I will create a post on this blog and you will become an honorary member of The Hall of WTFame. Note: *I* will never become a member of the Hall of WTFame because NO. Just...no.
- Because I said so. And I would never lie to you.
Then go follow Go Cook Yourself...
*Full disclosure: I am faraway friends with half of the authors, however he neither compensated me for nor encouraged me to write this post. It is also entirely possible he will be completely mortified by it. Hi Dan. Congratulations on the book!
Two years ago, my family found ourselves crowded into a rented minivan, making our way across the country to bury my grandmother in her tiny hometown of Frederick, Oklahoma. At one point during the trip, we took a detour past the farm and home my great grandparents had called their own. As years of childhood memories came flooding back, flashing before my mother's eyes, I remember her making a comment on one thing in particular--a small plot of land where my great grandmother Mimi had once passed her days, caring for the irises. I've always enjoyed gardening, but as I've gotten older I've started thinking about my hobby from a different perspective. In a world that is so enamored with the latest technology, how can something as fundamentally basic as tending to a plot of land be such a source of immense joy?
Gardening is a connection to our food. When was the last time you really stopped to appreciate the painted edge of red sail lettuce or reveled in the divine shape of a radish freshly plucked from the ground? For me, it doesn't happen nearly enough. When I stop by the grocery after work, I'm usually in a rush. All too often, I find myself shoving hurried fistfuls of vegetables into plastic bags so I can get to the checkout as quickly as possible.
Modern convenience has driven a wedge between people and our food. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone--it's a regular topic of conversation, and a driver behind the "eat local" movement. And while local farms are wonderful, I feel there is an even greater benefit when we take "local" one step closer to home. It doesn't get any more local than your own backyard.
When you grow and harvest your own vegetables, it transforms your relationship with your food. You're no longer just chopping carrots or plucking basil; your sustenance becomes a direct result of your labor. The plants on your plate are no longer a food group; they're a testament to a relationship between ground and gardener. And that makes every bite taste a little bit better.
Gardening is a connection to ourselves. Gardening is one of the few times I feel like I am able to truly disconnect from the world and reconnect with myself. When I'm wielding a trowel or elbow-deep in soil, I'm not thinking about twitter alerts or worrying about what I'm missing on facebook. I find that when I'm gardening I'm able to be truly present in the now. I relish each breath of fresh air. I appreciate the warmth of the sun on my skin and the whisper of the breeze. Gardening is my gateway and welcome escape back to the reality that really matters.
Real life, just like gardening, is gritty and dirty and unpredictable. In order to thrive and grow, our lives (and ourselves) require effort, energy, care and love. Real life won't be quantified in 140-character blips; it measures in seasons, sun-ups and sun-downs. It doesn't matter how many people applaud what you do or say--or if they even like it all. Real life is a cycle of growth. It marches onward indifferently, regardless of whether you're a person, a green bean bush or a bumblebee.
It doesn't get much more real than that.
Gardening is a connection to God. For those who subscribe to the message behind the oldest story ever told, life and the world as we know it began in a garden a long, long time ago. The first sunrise stretched its arms wide, spreading its rays, for the first time, over an infinite bounty and everything the universe had to offer.
Maybe the affinity for gardening is something that has been hitchhiking--for centuries--on the deepest roots of our DNA. Perhaps it's an heirloom of a memory harkening back to that one first day. I prefer to think of it simply as something that brings me closer to God.
Try as we might, none of us carries on indefinitely. Like everything and everyone, we progress through a series of seasons. When our winter inevitably arrives, we return to the earth at rest.
Some churches come equipped with pews and a steeples. Others with shovels and trowels. Not every conversation with God happens in words. Some of us do our best prayer on our knees amongst the seeds and weeds. But in some way, each of us is a garden.
I have a fairly large extended family. For the most part, our current clan originated in Wichita, Kansas, but through the power invested in marriages, divorces, job transfers and time, we have been strewn out across the country over the years. You'll now find pushpins in our family map everywhere from the Florida Keys to Honolulu, Austin to Wisconsin.
As a result of our geographic divergence, it makes it very difficult for all (or even many) of us to ever come together in the same place at the same time. Years go by and we don't see each other. The younger cousins eternally frozen in my mind as munchkins at the "little kids table" are now high school seniors and sophomores in college. The home I cast as the scene for all family memories hasn't been in our family for nearly a decade. This is just to say - things change, people get busy, time flies.
A year ago my grandmother passed away after a brief battle with cancer. Weddings and funerals. For better or worse, these are the things that finally bring a modern family together. As each branch received the call, they made plans to descend upon the teeny, tiny town of Frederick, Oklahoma - my grandmother's childhood stomping ground. She had elected to be buried in Frederick beside her parents.
Frederick. How do I explain Frederick? It is perhaps best described as a blip town. A blip I fell very much in love with. Frederick is the kind of little place you pass through on a rural highway heading somewhere else. The last census put the population at under 4,000. I'm not sure what industry supports the economy there, I can only guess farming, and I remember reading somewhere that the median income in Frederick was well under $30,000.
In many ways Frederick feels like a land untouched by time. It struck me as the kind of place that could be described (and accurately so) as the heartbeat of America. A place steeped in family, God and the American dream. Unpretentious and hardworking. A welcome smile with a little grit under the fingernails. A land where people know their neighbors - and the value of a hard day's work. Frederick isn't relic as much as it is artifact. It isn't un-evolved, rather it's a place - and a lifestyle - unperturbed. From what I have gathered from my mother's accounts of visiting the sleepy tow in the 50s and 60s, not much has changed for Frederick the past half-century...and that's okay.
My family descended on Frederick like a bit of a storm. If you're going to stay in Frederick, your lodging options are limited to two motorlodge-type hotels on the outskirts of town. If you don't like the first, no worries. The other option is right next door. But if memory serves, one of the signs boasted that they were now offering wireless internet, so you may want to take that into consideration.
Our first afternoon in town, we took a driving tour around the city - and down memory lane. 40-some years later, my mother's memory was still able to trace its way back to the modest farmhouse my great-grandmother (Mimi) and great-grandfather (Homer) had owned together. It is the place where my grandmother grew up. My mother reminisced about the small patch of land my great-grandmother had tended, a vegetable and flower garden, and beyond it, the land my great-grandfather had tilled. She regaled us with stories of Mimi, the industrious wife of a farmer, snapping the necks of dinner chickens and plucking them clean. It was a stark contrast to the gentle, quiet, if not a bit frail, great-grandmother I remembered. In my mind, she was a soul better suited for gently cradling a cup of tea than slaughtering unsuspecting chickens. The image of her strong and fearless doing what had to be done gave me new perspective.
I come from a long line of strong, courageous females, it would seem.
The funeral went as funerals go. The chapel and cemetery set in a picturesque, rural area outside of town. It was a beautiful day, unseasonably warm, and cows were murmuring off in the distance. I suspect our unusual quietness was a bittersweet recognition of the irony that bidding a loved one farewell was the one thing that had a way of bringing the living back together.
After the casket had been laid, we mobilized the troops. We'd need lunch before everyone traveled back to their separate corners of the world. Having had our fill of Pizza Hut (and having no inclination to try Sonic), we ended up at a little local restaurant called The Bomber Inn.
My people are not a small people. At 5'10" I am one of the shorter cousins on my mother's side of the family. As we descended on The Bomber Inn, the staff and regulars looked at us incredulously, but only for a moment before shuffling chairs and tables to make it work. We crammed into booths, shared menus, stormed the single restroom. Clearly strangers, nobody poked or pried. They just made us feel welcome.
I don't recall what I ate that day. A grilled cheese or a chicken-fried steak, who can say for sure? I remember strange things from that afternoon. One of the waitresses asking my cousin to come into the kitchen to reach something on a high shelf. An older gentleman approaching my uncle to tell him he had a "mighty handsome family." More than that, I remember a feeling. A feeling of being acutely aware of the importance of eating together that day.
The truth is we cannot control the ticking of time. We don't get a say in when or how or where things come together or fall apart. We get busy, stressed, preoccupied, but at least a few times a day, life forces us to stop and eat. And we can choose to do that together.
Author Norman Kolpas once said, “Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.” That afternoon, crammed in booths at The Bomber Inn, we weren't just eating lunch, we were celebrating a life. We weren’t just nourishing our bodies, we were nourishing our hearts and our spirits, too.
It's unlikely I will ever be in Frederick again. I doubt I'll be back at The Bomber Inn. But I often think of the kindness they showed us that day, and I hope they know that more than a meal, they gave us a rare and precious moment of togetherness in the heartbeat of America. It won't soon be forgotten.
Throughout my life I have noticed certain inalienable truths. You'll always find what you're looking for the day after you need it. The home projects you've been meaning to tackle (ugly countertops, hideous paint jobs, tragic flooring) are the things that get done just before you hand the keys over to the new owners and move out of your house. And when it comes to rolling out the royal treatment, most of us are adept at treating house guests with a sense of pampering that we fail to master for ourselves in our daily lives. No more, I say. It's time to be your own guest.
Southern hospitality is no joke. And while my first year of living in the south may not have sold me on chitterlings, sweet tea or turnip greens, the great lengths that southern women go to in order to care for their homes and create welcoming spaces for guests (whether they're staying an hour or a week) is near and dear to my heart.
If you're anything like me, hostessing a house guest is an opportunity to tap into your Pinterest-loving, friend-and-family-spoiling, Martha Stewart-idoling inner core. In the days leading up to a house guest's arrival, I find myself pressing linens and arranging fresh flowers while plotting flavored water recipes.
As is known to happen, after the guest leaves life returns to it's regularly-scheduled, hectic pace. Linens get tossed in the dryer instead of line-dried. Flowers bloom and wither on the vine. Water is water.
This is the picture of insanity. Over the course of a year, I probably entertain house guests for an average of 20 cumulative days. That's less than a month when all is said and done. The other 11 months of the year, I live here. I know I'm not alone int this tendency. So what is it that compels us to care for our guests with such joy and enthusiasm during a brief stay, while we forgo the simple pleasure of a pampered life when it comes to our own daily lives?
No more, I say. It's time to become your own house guest. Below you will find ten of my favorite, standard houseguest niceties. I hope you will treat yourself to one (or eleven) of these simple pleasures. They truly can make the difference between just getting through the day and savoring the little moments of life.
I have noticed that most lavender waters sold online and in stores are often QUITE expensive. (Put anything in a glass bottle with a french name and I guess it gives them free reign to jack up the price.) Here is a great recipe for an at-home DIY lavender water that is just as lovely as any you will find in the store. Your local Whole Foods is a great resource for reasonably priced lavender essential oil.
Quality Hand Soap
Sure, you can grab a bottle of hand soap at the local dollar store. It will clean your hands and get the job done, but will it invigorate your spirit? For whatever reason (call me a soap snob), I have found that investing in a quality hand soap is one of those unexpected opportunities for a little pick-me-up moment of invigoration. Two of my favorites hand soaps are Mrs. Meyers in Lemon Verbana and J.R. Watkins in Lavender.
A Cream-Colored Quilt
I will admit, I am a bit quilt-obsessed. There are few things as quintessentially American as being wrapped in a quilt on an autumn night. It feels like being hugged by history.
I know some people love to get crazy and colorful with their bed linens, but I tend to be more of a traditionalist, favoring the crisp, clean look of white linens topped with a cream-colored quilt. Not only does it conjure up a sense of B&B luxury, a cream quilt goes with everything and gives me the freedom to change accessories in the room without having to invest in a new set of sheets.
An Signature Scented Candle
Find a signature scented candle. Embrace it. Sprinkle it throughout your home. Breathe deeply throughout the day. Feel good about life. I can understand why some people balk at the thought of paying $30 for something you are going to burn, but I have noticed that Henri Bendel candles really do last forever. They claim to have a 60-hour burn time, and I have squeezed a year of fairly regular use (hour-long burning sessions) out of mine. Firewood is my signature scent. It's like having an eternal autumn on speed-dial.
Another favorite candle brand: Linea's Lights. Soy candles, cotton wicks, utterly amazing scents. I pray that they will bring Forest Fir back this Christmas, at which point I will be stocking up with enough to get me through the year.
Every woman needs a set (or two..or eighteen) of quality stationary on standby. My suggestion is:
- a set of personalized, blank stationary for formal correspondence
- a set of fun, blank stationary for casual correspondence
- a set of quality thank you notes (because, let's be frank, most greeting cards sold on supermarket shelves are simply hideous)
Last year I went a little nuts with Amazon's Christmas $5-$10 magazine special, and I must admit, opening the mailbox to discover a new glossy awaiting me still gives me a kid-on-Christmas thrill. Whether your vice is celebrity gossip, interior design or guns & ammo, go ahead and indulge in reading material for your bathtub bookshelf. Your secret is safe with me.
Nothing smells more amazing that line-dried linens. And white linens bleached by the sun? Utter heaven. Do it. And while you're at it, check out LaundryList.org.
A beautiful, signature tumbler
A special, pretty tumbler, all my own, makes me want to drink more water throughout the day. Or lemonade. Or mojito.
Yummy Bath Products
What pampering list would be complete without a little tub-side luxury? I realize the above photo looks like a jellyroll gone awry, but trust me on this. Lush has THE MOST amazing bath products ever. And while they're far from cheap, they are worth every penny. And the cost of shipping. And the wait time as they slowly travel down from Canada. Try the bubble bar in Karma. Bathtime will never be the same.
Note: I slice off half-dollar size pieces of the bubble bars to extend their life (and help my wallet.) While you won't get a bubble extravaganza from such a small piece, it is more than enough to scent the water, your skin and bathroom.
Fruit Infused Elixirs
I always get a kick out of the spa waiting area. Admid the zen waterfall and mood lighting, women chug down thimble-sized cupfuls of spa elixir (fruit infused water.) The possibilities here are endless. I like to pull from my garden. Play around until you find a combination that makes your taste buds cheer.
A few options...
- Citrus fruits (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit)
- Berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries)
- Cucumber slices
- Herbs (basil, mint)
Now, go forth and spoil thyself. Happy living!
Choke a guy named Artie once, and nobody ever lets it go. (Just kidding.) Ah the mighty artichoke. What's not to love? Spiky outer leaves provide a suit of armor, protecting the tender heart within. (Sounds like a metaphor for several of my ex-boyfriends...) During the 16th century, it was considered scandalous for women in the 16th century to partake of the pleasures of artichoke eating. (It was also thought to be a potent aphrodisiac for men.)
A few centuries down the road and into future, it's obvious the artichoke should be welcomed into all our diets - men and women alike. Research has identified the artichoke as a natural antidote to a host of ailments including heart disease, cancer and birth defects. Among antioxidant-rich foods, artichokes are often overlooked, however a July 2006 study tested the antioxidant levels of more than 1,000 foods and beverages and found that artichoke hearts had the highest level among all vegetables measured. They came in fourth among all foods and beverages analyzed in the study. That means artichokes beat out more commonly referenced antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries, red wine, chocolate, coffee and tea.
Cynara, the first Myth Artichoke According to an Aegean legend, the first artichoke was a lovely young girl who lived on the island of Zinari. The god, Zeus was visiting his brother Poseidon one day when, as he emerged from the sea, he caught sight of a beautiful young mortal woman. She did not seem frightened by the presence of a god, and Zeus seized the opportunity to seduce her. He was so pleased with the girl, who's name was Cynara, that he decided to make her a goddess so that she could be nearer to his home on Olympia. Cynara agreed, and Zeus looked forward to the trysts to come whenever his wife Hera was away. Soon thereafter, Cynara began to miss her mother and grew homesick. She snuck back to the world of mortals for a brief visit. After she returned, Zeus discovered this un-goddesslike behavior. Enraged, he hurled her back to earth and transformed her into the plant we know as the artichoke.
A few tweaks to a favorite spinach dip - and voila! Delicious artichokeness with a low-fat spin.
SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP
- 2 cans artichoke hearts, unmarinated
- 1-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 block chopped spinach, frozen or fresh
- 1 8-oz brick reduced fat cream cheese
- 1/3 cup low fat sour cream
- 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- optional, chopped water chestnuts for added crunch
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all ingredients in a baking dish, reserving 1/2 cup mozzarella for toping. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle additional 1/2 cup mozzarella and broil until the cheese browns. Serve with tortilla chips, french bread, pita slices or keep the calorie count down and serve with crudites.