Monthly Archives: December 2013

Getting creative with almost expired produce

I love a well stocked fridge. It makes me happy to come home with a load of groceries and fresh produce and fill the fridge up. No need to scrounge around opening and shutting the pantry and the fridge to see what’s left in the house to make something that resembles a meal. Oh, the possibilities of meals for the week on grocery shopping day! But one of the things I DISLIKE about a well stocked fridge is the limited shelf life of fresh food and produce. Yep, I’m guilty of food waste… When it comes to produce, I try to only buy what I think I’ll use for the week but sometimes meal plans go awry when a friend wants to catch up over happy hour or I decide I absolutely don’t want to cook (mostly because I don’t want to clean up after) and order a pizza instead. It drives me crazy to have that cucumber in the fridge for days and weeks and I can’t come up with a good way to use it in a meal. It drives me even crazier when the said cucumber finally succumbs to the passing of time and starts revealing mold spots and I have to toss it.

So the other day, I had a couple of avocados, lemons, and a tomato as well as a rapidly deteriorating container of greens in the fridge, all of which I knew I had to use within days or they were all set to become food waste (eeeeek…).

Unfortunately, one of the two avocados had already crossed over to the dark side… Yuck.

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But thankfully, the rest were still usable.

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I’ve been wanting to eat “healthier” lately and this was the perfect challenge. This is what I came up with:

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The weekend I turned 30

What an amazing weekend…

Some highlights in photos:

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Yes, our wedding is featured in The Knot Pennsylvania & Delaware Spring/Summer 2014 issue! One of The Knot’s editors emailed me months ago saying that they wanted to feature our wedding as one of weddings in the “Real Wedding” section and I found out this Thursday that the issue was finally out! It was (still is) surreal seeing our wedding photos in a major wedding magazine! The issue is in all major bookstores in the Philly/Delaware area if you want to see it for yourself ;)

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I made this apple tart for a Christmas party. It’s one of my go-to holiday desserts since it’s so pretty and is always a crowd pleaser. We had it with vanilla ice cream and it was gone within minutes. Even though it looks super fancy, it’s actually pretty easy to make. I used a mandolin this time around and it cut down the prep time by half. I’ll post a “tutorial” one of these days :)

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And yes… I turned 30 this weekend… I’m one of those people who hate their birthdays and want to pretend like it never happens but since it was the big 3-0 this year, I couldn’t quite ignore it. It was actually great being able to celebrate it with some of my favorite people. Continue reading

From a ripple to a (non-trash infested) wave

Recently, I saw an article that made me really mad and made me remember why I wanted to start this blog in the first place… It was an article about sperm whales washing up on shore dead with their stomachs full of plastic and trash. Among the contents commonly found in the intestines of marine mammals include various types of plastic and plastic bags, fishing ropes and nets, and various garbage including the likes of towels, surgical gloves, duct tape, clothes, plastic canisters, and the list goes on. It’s not just marine animals either, it’s all wildlife that is affected by humans creating too much trash and not disposing of it responsibly. Like mama birds feeding their babies plastic pieces because they think it’s food… The full article about plastic/trash and the impact on wildlife here.

I know some people don’t care about any of that. Not everyone cries when the SPCA commercial is on (yeah, that’s me, animal lover). And that’s fine. But this affects us humans too. Do you really want to live in a world that looks like this?

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Actually, too late, we do. A trash wave in Indonesia, which once was pristine waters.

This isn’t an environmental blog. I’m not pleading for the sperm whales and the polar bears of our generation. I just know that everything I do in my daily life, every choice I make, big or small, has an impact. Even things I didn’t think twice about, like doggy-bagging leftovers in a Styrofoam container at a restaurant or accepting a plastic bag at the drug store for one candy bar. I didn’t really think about those things before; they were just things that were a part of daily life, things that I took for granted. But when I really think about it, I’d rather not make decisions that might lead to sperm whales ingesting the plastic bags or Styrofoam I used one time and threw away. I’d rather think a little bit more about what I do, use, and buy and its consequences.

Yes, there’s more to it than that of course; there’s political, economical, societal, and cultural forces at work that I cannot control. That’s when I get discouraged, when I start dwelling on the things out of my control. But MY life I can do something about. MY habits I can change. MY consumption decisions I can think twice about.

To me, this blog is about being less on auto-pilot of what I’m used to and being more thoughtful of how my everyday decisions make an impact. What it’s not about is depriving myself of what I love. Or judging others for their decisions that don’t align with my own. I love eating out, cooking at home, buying clothes and prettying things, DIY-ing, traveling, and lots of other stuff. I see the potential to still enjoy the things I love but with a thoughtful “twist.” If I consider myself an average American consumer and all 7.1 billion people lived like me in this world, supposedly there needs to be five earths to support all of us. I don’t want to be an average American whose lifestyle requires such a ridiculous amount of resources (most of which Americans take for granted). I’m pretty sure I can be perfectly happy or even more fulfilled and happier by consuming less resources. Less stuff to buy, less clutter, more closet space, more $ to invest in things that really matter such as experiences and relationships.

If you changed one little habit and it had the potential to make the world a cleaner and better place, would you do it? Even if you couldn’t see the results immediately? What if you changed maybe a couple more habits and inspired (inspire, not force!) your close family and friends to do the same and they in turn inspired more people around them? When the ripple becomes a wave, I believe the potential for a cleaner and better world–a world where whales and birds don’t die from ingesting wayward plastic–could turn into reality.

Food. Then came the blog

After some agonizing over the subject/content of my first blog post, I’ve decided to post about what I’ve been doing a lot lately: cooking. Ever since discovering the Food Network in college, I’ve been trying out recipes here and there but ever since getting married, I’ve been cooking a lot more, because let’s face it, cooking for two is so much more rewarding than cooking for one. Plus I get to use all my fancy schmancy kitchen gadgets from our wedding registry which makes cooking so much more fun and convenient. Not to mention, it helps to have a husband who loves to eat!

To get this blog off the ground, a good friend volunteered to help me with the technical stuff. So of course I had to feed him a good meal since he was doing me a huge favor (I’m not tech savvy. AT ALL.) So without further ado, this is what I made the day caraparkliving.com was born. (Sorry for the atrocious photo quality, courtesy of the iphone, unsteady hands, and eager stomachs. Hoping for a better camera soon and therefore much better photos on the blog in the future!)

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Pasta bolognese and my specialty pizza, arugula pesto. Recipes below.

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