Local Women ROC-ing Fashion

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Today’s Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) post is dedicated to fashion. While I certainly enjoy fashion and retail therapy, I don’t write about the topic often. I’ve decided to focus this post on the Rochester area and four young professional women who are making an impact on local fashion through their work and various social media outlets.

Tanvi

Tanvi Asher of Peppermint

Let’s start this off with the clothes, shall we? Meet Tanvi Asher, designer and owner of Peppermint, a boutique located at 121 Park Avenue. Tanvi received her MFA in Industrial Design from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and worked in packaging design before eventually opening the shop that would house her clothing line. Last spring, she presented exclusive looks at her Sewn Seeds runway show alongside other local designers, Andrea Geer and Josean Vargas. Most recently, she was featured in the RIT Design Autopsy show in early November; and will be at the annual Holiday Bazaar hosted at the Rochester Museum and Science center this coming weekend. ¬†Peppermint offers stylish, contemporary clothing at an affordable price point. ¬†Stop by often, since Tanvi stocks¬†new, “minty fresh” items frequently.

Peppermint designs from the Sewn Seeds Runway Show

Peppermint looks from the runway show

In addition to her own clothing and scarf designs, Tanvi stocks other brands in limited quantities. She also features accessories created by local artists and has hosted trunk shows for those artists to debut their work.  She has participated in Fashion Week of Rochester events for the past few years. Tanvi occasionally does custom designs for weddings and other special occasions.  Check out the dress she made for me for a fundraiser in September below.

Custom dress by Peppermint. Photo by Christopher Cove

Custom dress by Peppermint. Photo by Christopher Cove

How we met: I went into Peppermint for a gift certificate for a friend’s 30th birthday and continued to go back and shop for both myself and others.

Social: In addition to word-of-mouth referrals, and a newly redesigned website/ online store, Peppermint has a very strong Facebook,¬†Instagram, and Twitter presence. Follow along for info on upcoming trunk shows, events, promotions, contests, and of course, pictures of Tanvi’s adorable pup, Cooper, who is often at the shop.

Cooper Next on our list is vintage clothing store owner, Morgan DeLapa, of Treasure Trove Vintage which is conveniently located around the corner from Peppermint at the same address (entrance is on the Meigs St. side of the building). ¬†I think the most impressive thing about Morgan’s selection is the quality of the clothing she offers. Everything is in excellent condition and she has pieces from almost every decade. She also offers some unique vintage shoes and accessories.

Morgan DeLapa: Serious and silly about vintage

Morgan DeLapa: Serious and silly about vintage

How we met: Morgan had several pieces from Treasure Trove stocked at Peppermint during the Fashion Week Boutique Crawl. ¬†I spied a fabulous coat that I liked and she encouraged me to come back the following week with my Fashion Week coupon which was super nice of her! This coat is a huge hit wherever I go. Unfortunately, I don’t have a decent full length shot yet so that you can bask in all its glory but you can get a sense of the color and pattern here.

I like my coat big time

I like my coat big time

Social: Morgan makes excellent use of her blog, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to showcase new arrivals as well as her great sense of humor.  I actually found her on Instagram before I met her in person. She is a joy to follow and you can tell she really enjoys vintage garments and working with fashion by how much fun she is having in the pictures.

"Master Flairista" Claire Albertson

“Master Flairista” Claire Albertson

Continuing on the vintage side of things is another local gal named Claire¬†Albertson, also known as¬†ClaireFlair. ¬†She creates her unique, one-of-a-kind accessories by integrating pearls, metal, and vintage “flair.” ¬†In addition to designing jewelry, Claire works a full-time job as a vice president of marketing and is also a dance instructor.¬†She has an¬†online shop¬†but can usually be found the second Saturday of every month at the¬†Rochester Brainery¬†Bazaar at the Village Gate. I haven’t picked out my first piece of ClaireFlair yet, but I’ve been eyeing some of very recent designs with braided pearls and spike accents. I’ve always been a pearl girl but I seem to have a bit of the spike fetish these days.

How we met: At a housewarming party for fellow advertising friends. As it turns out, she was an intern at a a local non-profit where I volunteer, the Ad Council of Rochester.

Recent ClaireFlair designs

Recent ClaireFlair designs

Social: ClaireFlair can be found on Etsy, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. She will often promote when she will be at the Brainery Bazaar and post pics of new designs that get snatched up rather quickly, so you need to move fast if you spy something you like!

Flower City Fashionista, Jenny Sanzo Photo by Sweet Pickle Photography

Flower City Fashionista, Jenny Sanzo
Photo by Sweet Pickle Photography

Last but not least, meet the Flower City Fashionista, Jenny Sanzo. She is married and has two adorable little boys and manages her fashion blog and her own personal shopping and styling business. She’s an accomplished writer and originally had goals to be an English professor before life took her in a different direction. In addition to that, she is the co-founder of Rochester Blogger Network and also manages their Facebook and Twitter accounts. What is refreshing about Jenny is that she’s down to earth and presents looks that are both trendy and friendly on the wallet. ¬†She can also transform looks from what you already have in your closet. A big proponent of shopping local, she has featured the above ladies on her frequent shopping excursions around town.

How we met: In the ladies’ room at a local fundraiser while I was hanging with two of my favorite drag queens. She complimented me on my dress and then found me on Facebook after the party.

Jenny at the Cocktails and Couture event

Jenny at the Cocktails and Couture event

Social:  Jenny posts daily on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can usually find her out and about at local fundraisers, fashion shows, and networking events sporting something fabulous and likely from a shop in Rochester. Sometimes she manages to get her son to take photos of her outfits which is pretty cute.

So there you have it: four local ladies making their way in Rochester fashion through hard work, word-of-mouth referrals, and amazing social media efforts. Do yourself a favor and check out what stylish gift ideas they have to offer for someone special this holiday season!

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Blogging: My Two Cents

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2 CentsThe topic of the day for Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) is (get ready for it): blogging. We all know I’m on a fixed income right now, but this is an area where I can afford to offer my two cents.

I started this blog almost two years ago after returning home from a trip to Nevis and St. Kitts with stories about a confiscated conch shell and a scorned ginger pilot. ¬†I had been prompted by friends for some time to start a blog and thought it would be a good opportunity to put my anecdotes out there. ¬†I was also writing all the time about work-related topics and felt like I needed a place of my own to test the literary waters. ¬†I came up with the blog name and corresponding pen name from an experience during one of my ‘previous lives.’ ¬†I knew there were a variety of things I wanted to write about and couldn’t think of a descriptive metaphor more fitting than that weird sensory cart I used to push around a skilled nursing unit.

It quickly turned into something more like the cookie cart I had also pushed around the nursing home back in the day, with people requesting me to put recipes online for easier sharing. ¬†I did so with mixed feelings. I’ve never been a recipe girl – most of the time I simply throw a little of this and a little of that together in the kitchen. However, it was a way to keep my dishes organized and a lot easier to share a link than trying to remember what I did and sending an email every time someone wanted to know how to make something. Plus, I could incorporate a funny story here and there.

Truth be told, I’ve had and still do have mixed reservations about this blog becoming just another food blog. ¬†There¬†are already so many cooking blogs. What would make mine different or special? How will I become the next Joy the Baker and do I really want that? Do I have enough time to devote to a blog in general? I eventually had to take a step back for both personal and work-related reasons. I was getting burned out and it was becoming more of a challenge to come up with good content. ¬†As a marketing person by trade, I’m a believer in quality writing and staying on brand – whatever that brand, personal or otherwise, might be. ¬†While¬†it might work very successfully for others, I’m not an outfit-of-the-day (#OOTD) selfie-taker or makeup-tutorial¬†kind of gal. And don’t get me wrong – just because I don’t particularly want to cover those topics, ¬†it’s not to say they don’t provide value.¬†I’m not walking around nude and I occasionally need to slap on the war paint.

I don’t have a lot to say about tips or lessons learned since I did take a break for a bit and lost track of what was driving traffic to the site. ¬†I will say that I was a runner-up in a St. Germain¬†cocktail recipe contest this past year which was kind of cool. ¬†I will also add that it seems the more time you have to read and comment on other blogs and posts, the better. While I was working, I didn’t have as much time to devote to that. It’s something I’m trying to improve upon now in between perusing the job sites. I’m starting to view blogging as long-format social media, so the more engaging you are as a writer and engaged you are as a reader, the better. As a result, I’m also trying to have a little more fun with it. I can tell you what drives me bonkers about blogging: 1) weird spammers and 2) bloggers who don’t proofread their posts. I’m as guilty as anyone of a few typos in this lifetime, but there are people out there¬†committing¬†the ‘cardinal sins’ of grammar on the regular. Spellcheck and ‘preview post’ were invented for a reason, so use them to your advantage!

What do I love about it? Well, this was originally intended as a literary outlet for my personal rants or as Virginia Woolf might put it, A Room of One’s Own. While it would be nice to garner paid advertisements (especially now), what I like most about it is that I have a place to speak my mind, use my authentic voice, and share my sense of humor. So whether I’m posting about my latest kitchen concoction or some ridiculous ornament¬†I crafted, you’re getting the real, uncensored, non-PR-spun me. And I intend on keeping it that way.

Bad Jingles and Parsnips

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It's parsnip time!

It’s parsnip time!

Look at these chubby little guys. It’s getting colder and that means it’s getting close to parsnip season! I love parsnips. Not only do they provide a lovely flavor nuance in soups and stews but they are delightful roasted on their own, which is basically what we are going to wind up doing.

Today’s¬†Blog Everyday in November (#BEDN) topic is: Food, Glorious Food. ¬†This post is a no-brainer since I write about what I’m up to in the kitchen quite often. ¬†However I must disclose that I can’t hear this tune from the musical, Oliver, without thinking about one of my ‘previous lives’ and a program we used to promote called, “Dining for Wellness.”

Once upon a time, I worked for a senior housing company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.  They managed communities across the country, including two in upstate New York.  During my tenure they implemented the national dining program which was supposed to encourage a fine dining experience that was both delicious and healthy.  The program came complete with marketing materials that talked about the ingredients in each dish as well as nutritional information.  We were supposed to provide both the residents and referral sources with this information as a selling point.

The problem was, we were dealing with older people – older people who had worked their whole lives, and many were in their 80s and 90s. You know what they wanted to eat? Hamburgers. Grilled cheese. Bacon. Basically whatever the eff they wanted from their usual menu, and said menu wasn’t offered on Dining for Wellness evenings. ¬†To promote Dining for Wellness, the national sales team decided to come up with a jingle to the tune of Food Glorious Food. ¬†We were then instructed to go out in the community and sing to the hospital and rehabilitation unit social workers. I can’t sing. Really. I’m awful. Did they really think I was going to use my lack of talent in this area in an attempt to close a sale? I only wish I could remember the entire jingle because it was comedy gold, but I’m pretty sure I repressed that memory the second I read the lyrics. However I do remember one line ending in the word, “Snacky.” Yes indeed.

The residents’ dispositions on Dining for Wellness night finally changed when the former executive director and I decided to implement wine pairings with the meal. Don’t judge. Wine has antioxidants. Yes, In true Lady Sensory form, the moral of the story is: you can’t sing to people and expect them to eat healthy. No. But you can get them drunk and they’ll pretty much eat anything you put in front of them. Heck, they might even sing to you in return.

Lady Sensory’s Healthy Parsnip Snacky Fries

This is a modified rendition of a recipe I found on epicurious, based on what I had in-house and personal preference. The result was delicious, but you can use whatever recipe, seasoning, or technique works for you.

3-4 parsnips, peeled and cut into sticks (about 1/4 -1/2 inch thick and 2 1/2- 3 1/2 inches long, like French fries)

2 -3 tbsp garlic & herb infused oil (I use the Wegmans basting oil and believe that has garlic, basil and parsley in it).

1 tbsp dried rosemary

1/4 tsp ground cumin (more or less depending on your taste)

Salt and cracked black pepper, to taste (I recommend being liberal with this – the salt really enhances the sweetness of the parsnips)

Place two racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with foil. Grease the foil with a little olive oil to help reduce sticking. Place the parsnips in a large bowl. ¬†With a mortar and pestle, mix the dried rosemary, cumin, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the parsnip slices. Drizzle the slices with the flavored olive oil. Toss and rub the parsnips to distribute the oil and seasonings well. ¬†Position on cookie sheets in one layer so the parsnips aren’t touching. ¬†Bake for about 15 minutes, turn the parsnip slices and rotate the trays and bake for another 15-20 minutes. You want the parsnips to be tender with crisp brown edges, but not burned. Toss into a bowl lined with paper towel (helps absorb the oil) and season with more salt and pepper, if needed.

Kick back and enjoy this healthy fall “snacky!” You might even trick someone into liking them better than real French fries!

Parsnip fries

Parsnip fries

Hello. Is It Me You’re Looking For?

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Lionel Richie pic -www.musicstack.com

Lionel Richie pic -www.musicstack.com

Yes, I know it’s been a while since we’ve chatted. ¬†Allow me to summarize the past 6 months for you in a nutshell: ¬†I rebranded my former organization, broke my foot (while cooking) the night before a major press conference, dropped the lid of a Le Creuset pot on the same foot two months later (again, while cooking), and now I’m presently pursuing a career change. Yes. It’s been quite an interesting time in the land of Lady Sensory.¬†I can’t really tell you what my next move will be just yet but I’ve received several wake-up calls (or shall we say, “several swift kicks in the pants?”) over the past several months that will undoubtedly put me in the right place, both physically and mentally.

Despite all of this, I have dabbled at some new local dining establishments, continued to cook and beverage accordingly, and managed to avoid any further injuries. ¬†On the cooking end – this past summer I signed up for a local CSA share called the¬†Good Food Collective (GFC). This share supports local farmers and provides seasonal offerings. I liked it so much that I continued it during the fall months. ¬†I also enjoy that it’s kind of a crapshoot and I’ve had to contend with several culinary challenges in the form of vegetables that I wouldn’t ordinarily pursue while shopping at a Wegmans. ¬†Nothing like breaking out of your comfort zone, right? I will say that if I never get another kohlrabi again it will be too soon!

So I had a few surprises in my share this past week, one of which was in the form of collard greens. ¬†I’d never used them before¬†but was told by one the GFC staff that I could replace kale for collard greens. ¬†I found this highly amusing. ¬†Here’s the reason why: my old co-worker/friend used to make fun of my kale chips, complain about how they smelled up the office, and claimed that she tried to like kale but just couldn’t get into it. ¬†She even bought me kale chips for my birthday as a joke. Fairly recently, another friend of mine has been dealing with both gallstones and a kidney stone. ¬†When this was discovered, the same co-worker told me all about her kidney stones how her doctor informed her she needed to avoid dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens. ¬†When collard greens were mentioned she promptly responded to her physician, “Now you wait. No. Just no. I am a black girl. I will give up all of that other green stuff. ¬†But collard greens? Not negotiable.”

True story.

Collard Greens: before shot

Collard Greens: before shot

As a result of her hatred for kale I was a bit skeptical of substituting collard greens. However, I decided to give collard green chips a whirl. ¬†I rolled with a slightly different recipe than the one that was featured on my friend’s blog, but those who like a little kick will find these chips to be a very flavorful and fun addition. I also added some chipotle for a spicy and smoky-bacon-type note. These came out rather delicious. ¬†And certainly, feel free to substitute with kale if that’s your bag.

Lady Sensory’s Kick in the Pants Collard Green Chips

1 bunch of collard greens

1 1/2 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil (I used Wegmans Basting Oil)

Do you need a kick in the pants as well?

Do you need a kick in the pants as well?

1/2 tsp salt (or more, if you prefer – I used the pink Himalayan variety)

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

1/4 tsp chipotle pepper flakes

1 pinch Р1/8 tsp of the following:  cumin, cayenne, red pepper flakes, and Hungarian paprika

Place two racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Chop collard greens into bite size pieces, rinse well and dry or spin in a salad spinner.  Place greens in a bowl. Combine salt, black pepper, chipotle flakes, and desired amount of cumin, cayenne, red pepper flakes, and paprika with a mortar and pestle.  Sprinkle mixture over the greens. Drizzle the greens with the garlic-infused oil and massage well.  Place the greens on the parchment-lined cookie sheets and cook for approximately 10 minutes, rotating the trays at 5 minutes. When greens appear crisp and slightly golden, remove from oven and place in a bowl to serve.  Make sure you have a tasty beverage or two on hand since these have quite a spicy kick.

I have another “surprise vegetable” post on the way so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’ll continue to spread the word about my availability:

Will work for food

Strollin’ With My Homies

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My mother, who lost her battle with colon cancer in March of 2000.

My mother, who lost her battle with colon cancer in March of 2000.

This post is going to be a little different from the usual, but it’s a very¬†important one.¬† You may recall from a post I wrote¬†last year that March is not my favorite month.¬† It’s the month of my mother’s birthday as well as her death. Ironically, it’s also¬†National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the disease that took her far too soon.¬† This year will mark 13 years since she passed away. She was born on the 13th and it was her favorite number.¬† Blue was also her favorite color and¬†it happens to be the color of the colon cancer ribbon. Where am I going with all of this?¬† Well, this past year I learned that several of my friends have also been touched by this disease.¬† So we’re on board to do something about it.

After¬†one friend’s mom was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer this past summer another¬†friend who has a blog over here¬†did some research about a race called the UNDY 5000.¬† She wanted to bring it here but there’s a pretty hefty sponsorship commitment. So after doing a little more research she got¬†our crew hooked¬†up with the University of Rochester’s division of Gastroenterology¬†and Hepatology¬†department because they did a¬†successful run/walk last year just outside of Rochester in Geneseo, NY.¬† The 5K is called Strollin’ for the Colon and it will take place on April 20.¬† In addition to the run/walk, there will be a chicken barbecue, live music and auction items.¬†¬†But, the¬†most exciting part of the event will be Coco the Colossal Colon ¬ģ!¬† Coco is a 40-foot ginormous model of the human colon and people can actually walk through it.¬† Coco is¬†designed¬†as an educational tool so people can learn¬†about colorectal cancer and other diseases of the colon.¬† We’ve been having a lot of fun promoting this run¬†with Coco and spreading the word about the importance of early screenings.¬† Colorectal¬†cancer is the¬†second leading cancer killer in the United States¬†and it’s one of the easiest to¬†treat if¬†detected early.

One of many fun campaign ideas to promote the run

One of many fun campaign ideas to promote the run

Obviously, ¬†I would love it if as many people as possible could¬†attend this event for a great cause. We are raising awareness about the¬†disease and proceeds will benefit colon cancer research.¬† People can register to run at www.active.com.¬† But more importantly (because I realize people from near and far are reading this), I would love it if people would try to do one thing in their own town to help increase awareness about this disease and how treatable it is if caught in time.¬† Additionally, March 1 is¬†National Dress in¬†Blue¬†Day in recognition of colon cancer.¬† So if you don something blue today you’ll already be taking a step in the right direction.

Of course, non-locals are more than welcome to donate to the cause online. The website for donations is www.gastro.urmc.edu.¬† Any checks should be made out to “Strollin’¬†for the Colon” and sent to the attention of University of Rochester’s division of Gastroenterology¬†and Hepatology at 601 Elmwood Avenue Box 646 Rochester, NY 14642. For local folks, my friend has also planned a fundraiser specifically for our friend’s mom¬†that will take place in March. I’ll be¬†donating¬†this piece to the auction at that event.¬† More info can be found on the Strollin’ for the Colon Facebook page.¬† Thanks in advance for anything ‘blue’ you can¬†do!

Block print I'll be donating to the fundraiser for our friend's mom.

Block print I’ll be donating to the fundraiser for our friend’s mom.

Fruits and Nuts: An Open Letter to Quinoa

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Dear Quinoa,

The first time I met you, you were red and I bought you on impulse (like many other things I own).¬† I didn’t quite know what to do with you so I gave you a quick rinse and cooked you plain and like Greek yogurt, thought you were the most vile thing I had ever encountered.¬† Bitter, strange, and inedible, you met my garbage can quickly and without abandon.

Since then, I’ve given you a few other tries because you are a healthy whole grain loaded with protein and fiber.¬† You are like that guy or gal that everyone wants¬†one to date and yet¬†one continues to chase after the douchey¬†love interest¬†thinking¬†one can love him or her¬†into being not-so-douchey.¬† I found out that I need to rinse and clean you thoroughly, like a skunk-sprayed dog, to eliminate those soapy saponins¬†that make you taste so awful.¬† I realized you need a lot of extra coaching ingredients, so¬†I made¬†a tasty salad with you¬†out of¬†mango, bell pepper,¬†black beans, and kicky spices and I¬†admit,¬†I kind¬†of liked it.¬† I tried you in different colors like white and black and learned that white is the least bitter and black requires some extra rinsing and TLC, much like that first¬†red version of you.¬†¬†Last fall, I¬†even made you into¬†flavorful and delicious patties thanks to Joy the Baker.

Shortly before I embarked on my big cleanse I enjoyed you as an accompaniment to my lamb dish¬†at Trata, a restaurant that recently opened here.¬†¬†I knew I had to somehow replicate this version of you at home.¬† I searched online for apple and onion quinoa recipes, finding many that featured almonds, pecans or walnuts.¬†¬†These recipes¬†reminded me of a funny story that happened some time ago at a work event.¬† I believe I’ve mentioned that I work in marketing and public relations for a local non-profit that provides medical care and supportive services for people living with HIV.¬† We are now exploring offering services to HIV-negative individuals.¬†¬†As¬†one can imagine,¬†it¬†is a very LGBT-friendly and affirming¬†organization, and many of my co-workers are gay.¬† While setting up for¬†one of our¬†fundraising events,¬†one of my gay male co-workers and I were laying out granola bars in several varieties.

“Look, So-and-so, we have ourselves some almond and some fruit and nut bars this year,” I said.

My colleague was a bit ornery due to the lack of coffee but in typical quick-witted fashion, he¬†replied, “Fruit and nut.¬† Great!¬† Something for both¬†me AND you!”

Lady Sensory’s Autumn Fruit and Nut Quinoa

I came up with this based on what I had in the house and it turned out to be delicious.  I highly recommend that if you are new to quinoa, use the white/natural variety because that seems to be less bitter than black or red.

3 tbsp butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 pear, peeled, cored, and diced (I used a Comice pear)

1 small apple, peeled, cored, and diced (I used a Honeycrisp apple)

1/4 cup dried currants

2 tsp raw honey

1/2 tsp dried thyme

salt and black pepper, to taste

2 cups quinoa, rinsed very well and drained (I used a combination of black & white quinoa)

2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup chopped pistachios (I used the ones already shelled in the bag and they are salted so reduce the added salt if you have sodium restrictions)

1 1/2¬†tsp dried parsley (only because I didn’t have fresh – use 2 tbsp of¬†fresh, finely chopped, if you have it)

Rinse the quinoa really well.  I mean it. Like, put the colander in a bowl and soak and rub the grains together, changing out the water and repeating for about a half-hour. This really helps in getting all the bitterness out and you can do it while you chop up your onion and fruits.  In a 4.5 saucepan or fancy pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add the pear, apple, honey, thyme, salt and pepper and cook until slightly softened (about 3-4 more minutes).  Add the dried currants and then add the rinsed and drained quinoa and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, cover, and cook for another 15-20 minutes.  Remove the cover and stir. Continue to cook, uncovered, over low heat until remaining liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and fold in the pistachios and parsley. Cover and let stand for about 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.

Quinoa, I swore that after my detox you would be the very first grain I ate and yet, I betrayed you with a piece of garlic bread at a restaurant.¬†¬†Oh, quinoa,¬†I should have known better.¬† When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with quinoa, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.¬† You sure as hell¬†didn’t have me at hello, but you complete me.¬† Yes, that was an odd mix of When Harry Met Sally and Jerry Maguire quotes. Sorry about that, but¬†I¬†told you I’m¬†a nut.

Love,

Lady Sensory

P.S.¬† While we’re on the subject of my day job, here’s a shameless self plug of an awesome new video testimonial project that we unveiled this past week.

What A Friend We Have In Cheez-Its

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Cheez-Its love me, yes I know…because my thighs tell me so….

I bet you think I’ve fallen off the wagon with the detox and that I’m shoving my face with Cheez-Its and wine after the day I’ve had.¬† This is not the case.¬† Tonight we’re talking crafts, not food…even if the crafts are food-inspired.¬† You may recall that in addition to my fine¬†art background that I enjoy me some good old-fashioned arts and crafts.¬† About a month ago, one of my friends was turning thirty and decided to throw a Mustache Bash instead of a Dirty Thirty.¬† In case you haven’t noticed, we like themes.¬† I figured everyone would be bringing her a mustache something or other so I decided to make earrings of her favorite snack cracker out of Sculpey¬†(polymer oven-bake)¬†clay.¬† They¬†have been a big hit. I have a way with Sculpey creations.¬† I’m already plotting what I’ll make for this year’s ornament exchange.

Enough about my awesome Cheez-It earrings.¬† You know what I really suck at doing? Knitting and crocheting.¬† When I was¬†little I used to visit my grandmother in Rochester (ironically, where I live now) and beg her to teach me how to knit.¬† She was an amazing knitter so she had little patience for¬†my clueless seven-year old attempts. But man,¬†she could¬†really whip off some creative placemats, sweaters and scarves.¬† Just after graduate school, I was working at the place where I pushed The Sensory Cart around and met a woman who offered to teach me how to crochet.¬† We spent¬†three painful lunches together while I struggled with a few stitches. Nothing. How could a woman with so many “She’s Crafty” talents, genetics, and a strong aptitude for friendship bracelet-making¬†fail at this handiwork?

So it’s that time of year again: ¬†the time where my organization collects handmade red scarves and sells them on World AIDS Day to benefit the many people¬†for whom we¬†provide medical care and supportive services.¬† Yes, it’s Red Scarf Project time – and I feel¬†sad that I can’t make any. The¬†Red Scarf Project began several years ago when my predecessor and her mother had strong ties to the church and local community knitting groups.¬† They came up with the idea of red scarves because it was very similar to the AIDS Red Ribbon, promoted among their close-knit¬†group (ha!),¬†and received donations of scarves year after year.¬† I like to promote this project because it’s a nice way for people to give back to a greater cause¬†through the use of¬†their own talents.¬† Our organization primarily receives scarf¬†donations locally, but last year we had a¬†bunch of¬†scarves come in from Nebraska which was kind of exciting!¬† Scarves can be any shade of red (variegated yarn is fine) and we are collecting them the week before Thanksgiving.¬† The sale will start December 1 and scarf prices (suggested donation) will be set between $10 and $25, depending on the detailed work involved in making the scarves.¬† Those interested are welcome to participate and more information including can be found here¬†and images of last year’s scarf collection can be found here.

So if you’re hooked on crochet and have some red yarn around, consider getting creative for the holidays.¬† I promise not to needle any more of you knitters with my pitch.¬† Seriously,¬†how many annoying puns can I put in this post?

Scarves from last year’s collection – as you can see, we welcome a variety of red shades!