Tag Archives: food

Eating Lean & Green Cookbook

Hi there lovely people,

Okay, so I’m continuing my theme this week of celebrating the women around me and all the amazing things they are accomplishing!

Today, I wanted you to meet my dear friend, Katie Marreel! You know the friend that is just good at whatever she does…yeah that’s Katie! Creative, brilliant, kind, caring – you know that good to the core kinda person – well, Katie pretty much rocks and I feel super lucky to have had her in my life as a close friend and one of my best brain storming buddies!! Nothing better than another entrepreneurial girl to keep you going! So check this out…

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 8.38.25 PM

She has just launched her first cookbook and I couldn’t be more proud! Woo!!!

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 7.53.59 PM


I have witnessed her toil lovingly over this project for a looong time but the finished product is beyond gorgeous!! Go to her website to check out this beautifully written and photographed (by Katie herself) cookbook. Chock full of delicious, healthy recipes!

So you can get to know her a little better, I decided a little impromptu interview was in order! Just like her book, she’s bursting with great information and healthy tips for busy families and health minded individuals alike!

Okay here goes….So Katie…..


What is your personal relationship like with food and fitness? (hint hint…tell us about your story. ;)

My story begins nearly 60 lbs. and 15 years ago with a quest to transform my body into something healthier. The first several years brought many new diets and exercise programs, some of which failed, and others that made their own small contribution to weight loss. Nothing, however, came close to achieving the ultimate goal.  Then I discovered the Medifast 5 & 1 Meal Plan© through Take Shape for Life©. With guidance from my physician, I followed the program and experienced radical results. I lost weight beyond my expectations and built an entirely new relationship with food. Six years later, I’m still maintaining a goal weight. Eating Lean & Green has become a way of life.

My relationship with food and fitness is always changing and growing. There are so many ideas from experts in the field, I find that I am always studying and learning as much as I can. 

When it comes to food, I have learned to think about it as fuel to power my body, and I find deep satisfaction in eating things that are nutritious.  Old emotional eating habits, using food as a reward and a comfort, continue to fade away as new healthier habits take over.  There is no reward sweeter than the satisfaction of having made the right choices!

Fitness is something I have always been passionate about, and I am dedicated to keeping it a regular part of life. I like to change it up and try new things. From yoga and strength training to running and tennis, I’m always keeping my body moving.  Although it can be exhausting in the moment, I know that it does so many healing and restorative things for our bodies. It’s worth every drop of sweat.

What was your inspiration in creating this cookbook?

As a person who has struggled with weight for most of my life, my inspiration comes from a deeply-rooted desire to help others on the same journey.  I am passionate about sharing healthy and nutritious meals that are also incredibly satisfying and delicious.  Losing weight doesn’t have to taste bad!



What are your top three tips for incorporating healthy eating into your everyday family life?

#1:  Plan, plan, plan. It may not be the most fun task, but getting familiar with the nutritional value of your food and making a daily plan is the best thing you can to reach your goals.  I write down all the foods I plan to eat each day before I go to bed. If I’m going out to a restaurant, I will check out the menu online ahead of time and know ahead of time what I am going to order.

#2:  Don’t force it. Learning to be selective with your own foods while offering a few options for others will go a long way to getting them excited about being healthful. Forcing food choices on others will only drive them away from healthy eating.  Not everyone in my house eats on such a restrictive plan as I do, especially the kids who need more carbohydrates. The core of every dinner I cook is a healthy lean and green meal, but I will often serve a starch like beans or grains on the side to make it more satisfying for them. 

#3:  Make a daily habit. Whether you choose to read a book or magazine, listen to a podcast , or go online, spending an hour of time each day thinking about health and nutrition will make a big difference in your ability to incorporate healthy eating into your everyday life.  It will keep you focused and give you a better knowledge base to make wise decisions.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 7.57.09 PM

What changes have you seen within your life and your families by implementing these healthy practices?

One noteworthy change has been in my own sense of identity and being comfortable with my body. Losing weight and maintaining it has brought a great deal of self-confidence and has opened the door to trying lots of new and exciting things in life that I might have been intimidated by otherwise.

The most exciting thing to see is the effect on people around me.  By living out a healthy lifestyle, I get to be an example for others who have a similar goal, but may have lost hope or gotten frustrated in the process.  My conversation often falls into the topics of health and nutrition because it’s something I get really excited about. I love getting to share new ideas about food that show people being healthful can also taste incredibly delicious. It’s a win win!

She’s inspiring right? Katie is so passionate about helping others live a healthier life!

Now don’t be shy…you can visit her at her website or Facebook too! Go say hi! ;)

Thanks for chatting with us Katie! You go girl!




Filed under Beauty, Books, celebrate, creativity, entertaining, Food, Friends, Health, News, Stories

Art Night

Hello! How’s it going? Hope all is well in your world. My family enjoyed Halloween and now we are on the fast track to Christmas. This time of year always seems to zip by doesn’t it?

Many months ago, I imagined myself hosting an art night. A small gathering. Maybe 6-8 women, around my dining table, all creating. The idea both thrilled and terrified me. I talked about it with several friends and received gentle encouragement to do it. So finally, it happened. A couple of weeks ago, I sent out invites and began the planning of what this night would look like. I wanted to provide lots of fun art supplies, an inspiring atmosphere, delicious snacks and wine, of course!

My formal dining room is rarely used so it was a delight to move right in and create a playful, creative space! Stringing up bits of colorful ribbon in my crystal chandelier gave the room a whimsical feel!

art night1

I covered up the table in brown craft paper and draped the dining chairs in vintage bed sheets that I found at Goodwill.


To provide a little more structure for those that wanted it, I set up a still life in the center of the table.


and spread out inspiring art books




still life

Each lovely lady got a journal with their initial on it and a pencil as a little gift from me. I love having lots of pretty journals around to jot down thoughts and ideas.


A colorful, vintage tray and a bouquet of vibrant flowers in the corner created a sweet little wine bar. The guests each brought a bottle of something to share.


Once the table was set, it was time for me to pull out all my art supplies and display them for my guests! The ART BAR was born!

art bar sign


artbar1 artbar3

Then came the food! My dear friend Katie is an amazing cook and she volunteered to do all the food for the evening! LOVE HER! She did an incredible job…creating a 98% gluten-free spread of delectable dishes! (I apologize for the dark quality of the pictures…my low-light photography skills need work!)


This creamy brie, drizzled with a warm brown sugar, butter and walnut sauce was a huge hit!


These gluten-free cookies and pumpkin cake were completely addictive too!


food 3



As the night began and my guests mingled and delighted in all the gorgeous food, I could feel the butterflies in my stomach begin to settle.

Once everyone had a plate of food and a glass of wine, the ladies took their seats and I spoke (rambled) about the intention of the night and why I had wanted to do this. My heart-felt desire was to bring women together, to connect, share, grow, create and maybe even try something new. Art can really freak grown-ups out and I want to start breaking that down. I believe art is for everyone and that it is NOT about the product but the process. I believe Art can be healing, transformative and teach us a lot about ourselves. I believe that creating is something we are hard-wired to do.

After I briefly explained the different art supplies, the ladies bravely got straight to it. I was so worried that someone would become overwhelmed and shut down but nope, these girls boldly experimented and began creating! I was honored to look up from my place and be surrounded by these women who were all willing to be vulnerable with me and get outside their box.

art table 3

art table 2

There were several moments that night when the room fell silent. At a dinner party…that could be a disaster but at an art night…it was magical. Everyone was in their zone; concentrating, relaxing and centered in their creation. Loved that!


art table

All in all, it was a wonderful night! I can’t wait to do it again! Next time, I would like to guide everyone through a specific collage/mixed media project! I truly learned a lot about myself by doing this. I was scared but sharing my passion with others was so worth all the nerves. Thank you to my incredibly gracious guests for being so open and supportive of me. And of course a HUGE thank you to Katie for all the outstanding treats!

I highly recommend trying this out with your friends, family and neighbors. Gather up all those art supplies, share and explore your creativity!




Filed under Art, Art lessons, creativity, entertaining, Food, Home, Learning, News, photography, Stories

Parisian Sweets at Ladurée

image via

On the second day of my trip to Paris, we met up with my friend and she escorted us to the famous Ladurée bakery for a decadent afternoon of tea and macarons! This is no ordinary bakery.

image via

This is home to the original Paris macaron – those treasured confectionery creations, done in a rainbow of beautiful colors and inventive flavors.

Check out this lovely little video to get into a Ladurée mood…

With a line out the door for the bakery counter we slipped on by the crowds and were seated in their tea room. Decked out in shades of pistachio green with accents of red and an overall Chinoiserie theme, we were served with silver tea pots and pastel hued cups. I managed to capture a few images before we devoured our treats…

Unable to decide which macarons to order, we let our waitress bring an assortment…aren’t they lovely?

Delicious too! Being pregnant, I ate more than everyone. It was only fair that the baby get her fair share of these Parisian delights, right? I think the salted caramel one was my favorite but it was a close call with the raspberry…



Filed under Food, Paris, photography, Stories, Travel

Etsy Love: Macaron Magic

Lately, I’ve been wanting to buy macarons. Not because I have a craving, or I want to give them as a gift…I just want to take pictures of them. Yah…I know it sounds weird but I have seen the most gorgeous photos of macarons and I want to give it a try! I’ve almost ran out to Pix to get some…but I decided to head to Etsy for some inspiration first! My dear friend, Amy referred me to the beautiful work of Havilah…a local Portland photographer! Her Etsy shop – dearmachine has some lovely images!

Check out these delightful photographs of this most famous French cookie…

So pretty right? I love that something so simple as a baked good can look so special. Almost as enchanting as a cupcake…



p.s. want to try making them yourself? here’s a recipe from Martha. ;)


all images via dearmachine

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Etsy, Food, photography

Escape to : Provence

As promised, I’ve got a little Friday escape for us. Ready?

So, I’ve always wanted to go to the south of France…I mean, who doesn’t?  Rolling fields of lavender, fabulous French cuisine, fantastic wine and the warm, golden light of the countryside. Sounds pretty perfect to me.

So today, that’s where we are headed. I found us a tranquil estate just outside the little town of Cucuron.

Welcome to  the Le Pavillon de Galon –  a beautifully restored 18th century hunting pavilion, turned B & B, surrounded by vines, orchards, cherry and olive trees. Ahhh…do you smell all that lavender?

The gardens are simply superb…look at this field of irises!

Let’s head inside and check out our room…there are only two guest rooms on the property so you feel like you own the place!

Lovely…let’s go check out the kitchen!

You know very, very good things come out of a kitchen like this! The owners have regular cooking and wine tasting classes held here. Let’s grab some fresh, warm bread, a platter of cheese and a bottle of wine and dine al fresco…

Ahh…the perfect spot. Let’s picnic under these beautiful trees and enjoy the fragrant breeze. Oh. That rhymes…hee hee.

After our tummies are full we can take a little stroll into Cucuron to explore…. (click on photos for their links)

Cucuron © Valérie Loubet
Cucuron, la Place et la Grande Fontaine, August 2010
Coin de Cucuron
Cucuron street
Cat in CucuronHow charming is this blue door? So pretty!

Cucuron MarketIn the center of town there is this pond (Bassin de l’etang) that dates back to the 14th century. It was used to supply water to a mill but now is the backdrop for many of the villages’ events including a regular Market held every Tuesday morning.

Okay, well…we better head back for some R & R before dinner…I think a nap by the pool would do nicely. Yes, there’s even an infinity pool at this place.

That concludes our little Friday escape to Provence. Hope you enjoyed it and thanks for coming along.

Have a wonderful weekend!



Filed under photography, Travel

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…

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…

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.


Audio via freesound.org


Filed under Food, photography, Recipes, Stories, Travel