Monday, June 27, 2016

Podcasts: What Am I Listening to Now?

Podcasts are a really great way to learn and discover new tastes. I have a lot to do throughout the day but I find Podcasts are a great way to learn something new as I do what I need to do.

Here are some of my Favorites:
  • Ladies Who Lunch - Ingrid Nilsen & Cat Valdes, two famous YouTubers, come together to talk about deep topics like relationships and self-worth. With a twist in humor over lunch, these ladies laugh and tackle topics most women would talk about with their BFF. You can even write in and ask questions to them directly.
  • The Paleo Women Podcast - Noelle Tarr & Stefanie Ruper are a fantastic duo who tackle the paleo diet. They cover topics from vitamin defiencey, Autoimmune disease, Body Image and Exercising tips. They cover a wide range of health topics. They have been in the podcasting game for awhile now so they have already covered a wide range of topics.
  • Yogalicious - This podcast surrounds a lot of interviews with fellow Yogis as well as a few variety of classes of yoga you can listen to. They do not have many podcasts as of yet, but they are very informative.
  • YoungHouseLove Has a Podcast - John & Sherri Petersik (the famous RVA duo behind the infamous Blog YoungHouseLove and two books) are the best down-to-earth approach to interior decorating and home decor tips. With their two kids and their dog Burger, they created an empire surrounded by DIY home renovation. I have been following them since their early blogging years so it is no surprise to find them on my Podcast list.
  • Women of the Hour - Lena Dunham's collaboration with BuzzFeed will boost your girlboss and girl power after each podcast. Each podcast shows a dynamic woman and how they have innovatively changed industry. One of my favorites was on Marissa Webb. Give it a listen for a daily dose of motivation!
  • Freakanomics Radio - Yes, just like the book, but it is not boring, trust me on this one! It does have to do with economics and statistics but it is very thought-provoking on topics our world deals with today. I learn something new each time I listen.
  • She Makes Magic - Twice a month this sister duo, Koren and Alana Helbig, give us a boost of self-confidence. These ladies help you stay grounded and motivated. They interview/speak with a lot of inspirational women who were told their ideas were bogus but they made it work!
  • Anna Faris is Unqualified - Anna Faris is new to the podcast game but I am already hooked! She is hilarious and you are guaranteed to laugh. This is a weekly podcast where she just interviews producers, callers and just random questions she has. It is NSFW, and a bit random, but that is what makes it so good!
  • Dan Carlin's Hardcore History - I loved history class in high school, but I learned so much more from this podcast than I ever did in class. While these episodes are spaced sometimes two months between one another, there is so much to learn in one of these podcasts. But, listen to it as soon as you can, since it will move from free into the vault and reserved for donors. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Richmond, VA Neighborhoods: Scott's Addition

I love my city. RVA has a special place in my heart. Richmond, VA is my hometown. In light of that, as Richmond is becoming more and more of a beacon on the map, it is great to know a bit about an area one may visit.

Thankfully, the city is finally being recognized. Travel + Leisure Magazine listed Richmond, VA as #3 as one of the Best Places to Travel in 2016. Livability.Com ranked Richmond, VA #57 on their 2016 list of 100 Best Places to Live. American Express Traveler has ranked Richmond, VA #1 on their 2015 Best US Summer Travel Destination. National Geographic Magazine ranked Richmond, VA as one of their top six on Where to Travel for Food 2016. And, The Travel Channel added Richmond, VA as one of their top seven destination for Beer! The last two lists I find the most impressive as the city as a whole has brought a lot of new businesses that have been so successful in the food and beverage industries, and specifically Scott's Addition. If you are coming to Richmond, it is essential to check out Scott's Addition for not only its history but for the amount of economical boom that is happening in such a tiny neighborhood.

Scott's Addition is a great mix of older homes built around the turn of the 19th century, new loft-styled condos (from renovated warehouse spaces), breweries, restaurants, distilleries and businesses. It has flourished from its scarlet marked roots. It truly is a city within the city.

History & Beginnings:
General Winfield Scott 
Originally, Scott's Addition was a part of the Mayo Family plantation, owned by Colonel John Mayo, who also owned Mayo Island. He owned over 600 acres of land in Richmond. However, Scott's Addition was given to General Winfield Scott, who was a war hero in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, when he married his wife, Elizabeth Mayo. Scott's Addition bears his name as he was the longest serving general in American history at the time. Twenty-Five years after his death, Scott's Addition was finally developed and as homes were built, the railway was also being built, allowing the neighborhood to flourish. During this time, the city re-routed the railways around to the west and north ends of Scott's Addition.
When the railways became active for passengers and freight in 1919, with the creation of Broad Street Station, it created a boom in industry and Scott's Addition was developed for industry in 1927. Among the new businesses was the Dr. Pepper Bottling Company, Nabisco Biscuit Factory, James E. Crass Coca-Cola Bottling, Binswanger Glass, Pet Dairy Ice Cream Factory, Curles Neck Dairy and Stork Diaper Services. A great deal of those who worked in these businesses lived in Scott's Addition, and two main churches supported the neighborhood: Roseneath Presbyterian and Boulevard Baptist. Additionally, there was a skating rink, local grocer, fire department station, ice cream parlor and Moore's Baseball field (home to Richmond's Class B team, The Colts), which opened in 1943.
First and Foremost, however, Scott's Addition was a hardcore, blue-collar and primarily white neighborhood. During the time, it was a segregated neighborhood and minorities at the time were not welcome. But, Scott's Addition had a shady past. During the 1920's and prohibition, Scott's Addition was known for bootleggers and prostitution. It was home to about 800 total residents.


One of the most impressive points in Scott's Addition are its prominently Art Deco styled buildings and homes, designed by architect Henry T. Barnham. He designed the Jones Car Motor Company as well as the Cadillac & La Salle Showroom.  Most of the buildings, although altered, have decorative brick pilaster and concrete capitals, and each capitals are decorated with fleur-de-lis and leaves on the pedestals. He also incorporated the use of rounded corners, by using limestone, as well as chevron patterns in the designs of his buildings. The only classic revival styled building in Scott's Addition is the Boulevard Baptist Church. Its complex roof is metal spiraled, and uses concrete blocks with decorative elements. It lacks a lot of decorative elements in comparison to the other Art Deco styled buildings in Scott's Addition, with the exception of its tile coping used to line the roof.
The oldest industrial building in Scott's Addtion is the China-American Tobacco & Trading Company warehouse. It was constructed in 1920 and designed by Marcellus E Wright, and was sold in 1934 to the Morgan Brothers Bag Manufacturing Company. It's design is a blend of colonial revival and art deco. Another well blended building of these element is the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco), it as corbelled brick quoins, metal stringcourse and a flat roof with a decorative convex parapet. The Nabisco warehouse blends colonial revival and mission influences. However, one of the best examples of revival style is the Richmond City Stables (and future home of Blue Bee Cidery), which was built in 1920.


Today, Scott's Addition has become the new and upcoming neighborhood in Richmond, VA. It is a unique blend of commercial and industrial locations and is fast approaching the place to go and live in the city. With its growing population of residents, it has a new booming industry of breweries, restaurants, offices and gathering spots. Stop in for a beer as Isley Brewing Co, Ardent Brewery, or Buskey Cider. Pit-stop over to Urban Farmhouse Market & Cafe or Peter Chang's for a bite to eat and then hit up King of Pop's for a sweet treat. If you are looking at moving to the area, The Preserve or Courtyard Lofts are idea locations to make roots in this mini-metropolis.

I highly encourage you to come visit Scott's Addition if you are ever in the Richmond area. With its blend of history and architectural gems, it has its place in the history books of Virginia. If you would like to know more, visit The Valentine Museum for a walking tour.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Recipe: Easy & Quick Mushroom and Sausage Pasta

I have created the easiest recipe for a quick work week dinner. This can easily be doubled and increased for large families or potlucks! And, the ingredients are easy to obtain! It takes about 20 minutes to make (mostly to allow the pasta to cook so it will be quick to get it to the dinner table from the time you start! You can easily omit the sausage and have this as a meat-free dinner!
1 Cup of Penne Pasta
1 Tbsp Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cup of Mushrooms
3 Links Wild Mushroom Chicken Sausage
1/2 C Chopped White Onion (not pictured- chopped in advanced)
4oz Pinot Noir red wine
1 Tsp Dried Shallots (fresh shallots work well!)
1 Tsp Fine Herbs Seasoning
1 Tsp Sunny Paris Seasoning

You will want to start boiling the pasta first (add about 1 Tsp Salt to the water). Add the pasta as soon as it starts to boil. It will take about 20 minutes for the pasta to cook al dente, so you want to get this started first as it will take the longest time to cook.
Next, start a skillet with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil  on Medium Heat and start cooking the chopped onions. Let them lightly saute for about 2 minutes and have them cook first. Once they start to brown, place your sliced sausages in. Flip each one over before continuing on. You want them to be lightly browned (as shown in the picture) to ensure they cook well (they are pre-cooked however the slight crisp on each side makes for a better tasting dish i found). Once the onions and sausage are cooked well, place them on the outside and create a space in the center. ***IF you are omitting the sausage at this point that is fine, add other vegetables at this point like carrots, parsnips, or potatoes.***
Next, you are going to add the mushrooms (I lightly chopped them into smaller pieces prior). Also, add your shallot, fine herbs and sunny paris seasoning blends. You will continue to cook this about 2-3 minutes, lightly mixing until well mixed and cooked thoroughly. Mushrooms do not take long to cook (only about 2 minutes in total) so this step is fairly quick.
For the next step, you will start adding your wine. Start off adding 2 ounces of wine. Once it starts to boil and tossed well, add the other 2 ounces. The alcohol will cook off but the flavor will remain. This is an essential step for this dish, as it is french inspired you will need the flavor of the wine.
You will continue to cook the mixture until the wine liquid is reduced by half. You are essentially de-glazing the pan for all the flavors that cooked on while you were cooking the onions, sausage and mushrooms alone. So use your wooden spatula for a light scraping of the bottom of the pan to achieve this! It helps the sauce grab all those flavors.
Now that the wine sauce has been reduced by half, you are going to add your heavy cream to the pan. Continue to mix this well (you do not want the cream to curdle) so you will need to stir this well until well combined. Taste often and add salt and pepper to taste.
Once your mixture is well combined, it should look something similar to this. Remove the mixture from the heat and drain pasta. It should be fully cooked and al dente by this point. Once pasta is drained add it to your plate or bowl and place mixture on top. At this point you can add grated Parmesan cheese or toppings of your choosing.
I skipped the grated Parmesan cheese and opted for a glass of the leftover wine with dinner. Enjoy!!

FitBit: Fitness Tracker Collaboration Perks

I will preface this with saying, some of these perks are not just limited to FitBit. However, I am basing this on the fact that since I own a FitBit, I will review based on my usage with my FitBit.

Fitness trackers are huge and a lot companies are now collaborating with these companies to allow you "perks" to using their app with the tracker. In doing so, you can get a lot of discounts and I have come across a few really great ones I wanted to share to help you reach your fitness goals.

Dicks Sporting Goods:
Dick's Sporting Goods has started this really great incentive program for fitness tracker users. When you connect your Rewards account through their App, you can connect your tracker with their MOVE category and gain ScoreCard points towards a reward for discounted items in their store. For every 10,000 steps you gain, you are given points. After earning 300 points, you can get a reward on your ScoreCard towards your next purchase at Dick's Sporting Goods. So, start tracking and keeping up with this. New goals means new gear!

If you are an avid shopper at Walgreen's, this one is for you. If you connect your free Balance Rewards account on their App, you gain points towards discounts for items in-store. When you connect your fitness tracker, you gain points for achieving goals, daily exercise, and maintaining healthy numbers for fitness measures like weight, Blood Pressure and Blood Glucose levels. This is their Healthy initative, you can read more about here. Keep in mind, this is a daily update you need to connect your tracker with. Sadly, there are certain fitness trackers their app does not support. 

Crunch Fitness:

Crunch Fitness had partnered directly with FitBit to create a new class in their gyms called Acceleration. The class encourages attendants to watch their fitness stats during the class and week by week so they may reach their health goals. It also allows the gym, during personal training sessions, to adjust for each individual to allow maximum opportunity to meet goals. They do note you are not required to have a FitBit to participate in classes, however, it does help members reach goals a lot easier.

FitStar is a great app and one of my favorites on this list. It is a customizable exercise program you can create and by using their video workouts, create your own virtual personal trainer through this one app. If you are looking at doing new workouts to focus on certain muscles, this app is a video library you can do at the comfort of your own home. Each workout prior to starting, lets you know how long it will take. So, if you only have 10 or 20 minutes at a time, you can create your own "playlist" that will equal that time to get your workout in. I love it for their videos on Yoga, a great way to warm up and end a big workout day. This app connects with your FitBit to allow you to auto-transfer your workout to your FitBit tracking. 

Thermos Smart Lid:
If you are like me and struggle with getting your daily intake of water, the Thermos Smart Lid bottle is for you. Once you purchase the bottle, you can download their app and track your daily water intake. This app allows you to set water intake goals and reminders to reach those goals. When you connect their app with your FitBit app, once the app is updated and FitBit updates, your water stats will appear with your FitBit fitness goals/stats. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Recipe: Homemade Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Hey Everyone!! I am so excited to share this recipe I recently made. My boyfriend for his birthday requested me to make him a cheesecake. I told him I would agree to it if I could make it without telling him what type and of course he agreed. This cheesecake is very much a NY styled cheesecake with a heavier consistency compared to my summer cheesecake (will be sharing that recipe soon!) which is lighter in comparison. So, without further ado, let's get started!!

Crust Ingredients:
1/2 C Oreo Cookies, finely crushed
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Filling Ingredients:
3 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips (plus 1/4 C for topping)
1 pinch Sea Salt - optional

I already made the salted caramel sauce a day prior to save on time. You can find that recipe here!

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, grease a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.

For the Crust: 
Place 2 sleeves of oreo cookies in food processor and finely crush into crumbles. Move to bowl and add butter, mixing until well combined. Press mixture evenly into springform pan. Refrigerate until filling is prepared.

For the Filling:
Place cream cheese in mixer or mixing bowl and use electric beater to blend until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. I did it by hand and it took about 5 minutes - make sure the cream cheese is softened before beginning to blend or mix will not form correctly.
Beat in condensed milk until well blended. Beat in eggs, one by one, until well mixed. Mix in vanilla extract until well blended. Add in chocolate chips to bowl and fold in gently with a spatula until well mixed.
Remove crust mixture from fridge and pour batter into springform pan. Top with rest of chocolate chips.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until cheesecake is set and jiggles slightly in the center. Run a knife around the edge (leaving it in the pan) and place on a cooling rack. Allow cheesecake to cool before chilling the fridge in the springform pan overnight.

Before serving, heat caramel sauce in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds. Pop springform pan from cheesecake. Pour enough caramel sauce over the top of the cake to cover it. Top with more chocolate chips and sprinkle sea salt, if desired. Slice and serve immediately.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Recipe: Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

Hey All!!
I am back with such an amazing recipe that I just could not resist sharing. It is extremely delicious and perfect alone or as a topping. I give you my homemade caramel sauce.

First off, you have to have a bit of time to dedicate to making this. You have to constantly watch and stir the suace to ensure the consistency comes out correctly. This sauce takes about 20 minutes to make and with only 4 ingredients, it is fairly inexpensive. But, it is a must in my house as a topping!

1 Cup Sugar
6 Tbsp salted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1/2 C Heavy Cream
1 Tsp Salt

  1. In a small saucepan, heat sugar over medium heat. Stir sugar constantly until it starts to melt and form brown clumps (I used a wooden spatula since that was the most heat-resistant spatula I had on hand). Continue to stir - this is the longest part of the process and will take the longest but hang in there! Once the sugar is melted and looks like a rice consistency, you are half way there. Once it molds itself into a thicker texture, like a ball, you are ready to move on.
  2. Add the butter, one piece at a time. Be careful to keep stirring as the caramel will bubble as you add each piece of butter. Stir about 2-3 minutes between each cube of butter until well blended. Once all butter is incorporated, it should have the consistency of creamy peanut butter.
  3. Slowly drizzle in the heavy cream as you continue to stir. Just like the butter, the mixture will begin to bubble as you add the cream so keep stirring. 
  4. Allow the mixture to boil for a minute, then remove from heat and immediately stir in the salt. Set aside and allow to cool before using. Store the remaining mixture in glass jar for ease. Refrigerate and Enjoy