Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tattoo Tuesday - Infinity

So, I was hanging out with a few girlfriends and we got to talking about tattoos. The idea was brought up to get an infinity symbol tattoo representing our friendship. Being friends forever. To infinity. And beyond, if you may. I really got to thinking and I just love the idea behind this simple symbol. Now, when I was in Calculus that was a different story. We all know infinity, the sideways looking 8, refers to a number or variable that doesn't have a limit, being limitless (I think? Math was not my favorite). Nevertheless, this symbol can be translated in many different ways and uses.

I look at it this way - Infinity is a quality of being. It is a characteristic representing never-ending possibilities, eternity, and an everlasting state of existence. The symbol itself is, in my opinion, a great representation of balance, harmony, and unity. Both sides of the infinity symbol are the same and equal. The double infinity symbol is said to stand for combining two everlasting concepts and joining them together to create an even larger amount of endless possibilities.

Infinite [in-fuh-nit] - adj: unbounded or unlimited; boundless, endless, unmeasurable & exceedingly great

Infinity [in-fin-i-tee] - noun: the state of being infinite 

One of my favorite quotes from one of my all-time favorite books deals with the concept of infinity. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a great book about growing up, finding yourself, and the ups and downs of life. If you haven't read it, I encourage you to do so. It's an easy read, but it is so moving. Although I have many favorite quotes from that book, this is still one of the best - it brought me to tears when I first came across it in my book. It's not as touching unless you read the book. So read it! :)

"...and in that moment, I swear we were infinite."

Happy Tuesday
<3 oohv

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Instagram = Instalove

I'm sure many of you would agree that Instagram is one of the greatest apps for both the iPhone and Android system. I have been using the application since it was first created and as more and more people jump on the bandwagon, there are better updates and features added to the program (which I just love!) Being a photographer, Instagram is an awesome way for me to capture moments when I just don't feel like lugging around my big camera and all of my equipment. Although it does not replace my love for traditional photography, I really really enjoy this app!

Something else that is awesome about Instagram is that you can actual link up your photos to another app, which allows for prints and other fun options. I know there are many out there, but my personal favorite complementing application is called PostalPix. It is really simple, affordable, and most of the time efficient, too. It doesn't take long for the prints to be shipped to you, and they are great quality. I have ordered from PostalPix many times and have never had a bad experience. They allow you to choose from print sizes such as 4x4's, 5x5's, 8x8's and even have them printed on aluminum squares! My favorite size is the 5x5 square.

With that, I'm going to do an Instagram Photo Dump of what's been going on lately! Enjoy :)

 1. Fresh Local Veggies / 2. Bike Riding / 3. First Record Player / 4. Rivers and Roads / 5. Cute Boy / 6. Cucumber & Tomato Salad / 7. Lovely Ladies / 8. Many Glorious Miles Later / 9. Addicted to Teavana / 10. Homemade Vegan Black Bean Burger / 11. Blonde Me / 12. My Twin / 13. Climbing / 14. Miss Madison / 15. Photobooth

If you don't have this app, try it out! It's free and it's fun.
<3 oohv

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tattoo Tuesday - Locks and Keys

Locks and keys hold many meanings in the tattoo world. They can speak the value of what is locked away, and imply restricted access to a certain aspect of a person and their life. A heart-shaped lock with a keyhole can stand for a person's search for their one and only true love - a person that will possess the key to unlock their heart. It can represent freedom after a time in time in your life when you’ve felt imprisoned. It could also represent the act of unlocking a new chapter in your life. Whatever the reason for a lock and key tattoo, I have always admired them.

 <3 oohv

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Food Feature - Vegan Summertime Sorbet

What a hot summer we are having here in Northeastern Ohio. We seldom see 90 degrees and above, but this year two or three days each week are going beyond this mark. We have even experienced triple digit temperatures (including heat index)! This is not me complaining, as I love warm weather and summertime. The key to enjoying the warmth is finding different ways to keep cool. One of my all-time favorites is to enjoy some type of frozen treat. In this case, I am referring to a delicious and refreshing fruit sorbet. Sorbets are very much like smoothies, but in my opinion, are more delicious. There are so many combinations of fruits and flavors that can be mixed, but I chose three of my favorites and began experimenting! Feel free to use my recipes, or create your own.

Mixed Berry Sorbet
3 cups of frozen mixed berries (I used strawberries, blueberries, black berries and raspberries)
1/4 cup organic maple syrup
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup soy yogurt (I use Silk Live vanilla soy yogurt)

Mango Pineapple Sorbet
1 1/2 cup frozen mangos
1 1/2 cup frozen pineapples
1/4 cup organic maple syrup 
1/3 cup lemon juice
(Note: Soy yogurt is optional as it will add more of a creamy texture. I excluded it from this flavor combination)

Spiced Orange & Peach Sorbet
1 1/2 cup frozen peaches
1/2 cup of fresh orange slices
1 cup of banana slices (Bananas create a creamy texture, just as the soy yogurt does)
1/4 cup organic maple syrup
1/3 cup lemon juice
A dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cayenne (or a tiny bit of all three)

Preparation is the same for any and all flavor combinations.
  • Let the frozen fruits defrost for a few minutes. You want them to be easy enough to blend, but not thawed enough that they don't create a "froth" when mixed.
  • Combine all ingredients into high speed blender and blend until you have a smooth mixture.
  • Be careful not to over blend! Don't let it melt completely, try to keep a thicker and frosty texture if possible. 
  • Pour into a freezer appropriate container and let freeze. Pouring the mixture into already chilled metal containers will reduce the time it takes for the sorbet to solidify.
  • Once frozen, scoop, serve, share and enjoy! 

*Substitutions - Soy yogurt can be replaced with creamier fruits such as bananas and mangos. If you want an icier treat, then disregard the soy yogurt all together. The maple syrup may also be substituted with agave syrup as well. It is just as tasty and sweet! Lime juice can replace lemon juice as well.

*A Few Notes - It takes a few hours for the sorbet to completely freeze. I know, I know. I was anxious to taste it, but it was worth the wait. Also, as you can see in the pictures, it melts rather quickly. So eat fast, but beware of brain freezes! :)

Feel free to comment and share the flavors you decide to try out!
<3 oohv

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nail Tutorial - Marmalade Mint

There so many bloggers out there who post the most awesome nail tutorials. I always envy the creative skills these ladies possess! My nails are usually painted one solid color at a time (boring, I know), but every once in a while I step out of the box and go crazy. It takes a little bit of time to put one of these tutorials together, but it was fun and I plan on doing more in the future.

You need two solid colors and one glittery polish. I chose Miss Marmalade (Yellow) & Smush Mint (Teal/Turquoise Blue) and a golden glitter. I also did used a clear topcoat at the end for shine.

Step One - Paint your nails one solid coat and let it dry completely.

Step Two - Paint a diagonal line across your nails with the other solid color. Fill in the bottom portion of your diagonal with that same color. You should be painting from the diagonal down to your cuticle. I did this free-handed because once you add the glitter stripe you can't tell if it was a little bit crooked. (Note: If you feel more comfortable using tape to separate the colors, then do so) 

Step Three - After the second color has dried completely, it is time to add the diagonal glitter stripe to separate the two colors. I also free-handed this stripe, but you may want to pour some nail polish onto a paper plate and draw the diagonal stripe with a toothpick. Let the glitter stripe dry.

Step Four - This is optional, but if you want a shiny look just add a top coat. 

I think this look could be worn both dressy and casually. 
It just depends on the colors you choose!
Have a lovely Wednesday.
<3 oohv

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tattoo Tuesday - Buddhist Symbols

The act of getting a tattoo means many different things to many different people. For this week's post, I want to focus on the spiritual connection felt from this form of body art. The overall process can be a powerful experience: a deep level of commitment, offering of one's body, physical pain, emotional endurance, etc. Done purposely and consciously, having symbolic icons and patterns incorporated onto your body is your way of making a quiet agreement to accept these meanings into your mind, being and spirit for life. It is a permanent and visual reminder of your devotion, power and beliefs. Specifically, I would like to focus on Buddhism and symbolic Buddhist tattoos.

Gautama Buddha, or just Buddha, was a spiritual teacher and leader from India. His teachings brought about Buddhism which is a religion and philosophy mainly practiced in Southeast Asia, specifically parts of India. Buddha means "the awakened one" or "the enlightened one."

  The Bodhi Tree is the tree under which Buddha was said to achieve enlightenment. Tree worship was already present in Indian culture, so using the Bodhi Tree as a devotional symbol was a natural occurrence. This tree can symbolize being grounded - rooted to solid ground personally, emotionally, spiritually and professionally. There's also the idea of a cycle, with the falling of leaves meaning an end and regrowth beginning all over again.

Ganesha is one of the most-known and widely worshiped deities in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India and all Hindu sects worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to this deity extends to Jains, Buddhists and even beyond India. Although he is known through other attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify.

Every stupa, or Buddhist shrine, contains pairs of eyes staring out from all four sides of the main tower. The mysterious eyes represent the eyes of the Buddha and face the four cardinal directions to symbolize the omniscience mind of Buddha. They are also known as the Wisdom Eyes.

"Om Mani Padme Hum" (roughly translated: 'Hail the jewel in the lotus') is a six syllable mantra popular among Buddhists. It is claimed one who recites this mantra will be saved from all dangers and also protected.

This symbol is actually a conveyance of sound - the sound of life. Emitting the relaxed "aaumm" sound from the vocal chords, is mimicking the harmonic tone of all creation. Theories argue that the core of existence vibrates at a set-point. From an abyss of nothingness a divine call is uttered. To be sure, the Om tattoo symbolism (tattoo above) conveys a reverence for life, an honor for creation and an understanding of the universe. Om is one of the most sacred of sounds to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains. Om is a truly universal sound and is used in chants and during meditation.

 Lotus flowers are a symbol of purity and spontaneous generation, symbolize divine birth. According to Buddhism, the heart of a person is like an unopened lotus - when the virtues of the Buddha develop, the lotus blossoms. This is why it is common to see Buddha sitting on a lotus in bloom.

 The Dharma Wheel represents the Wheel of Buddhist Law and the endless cycle of birth and rebirth. Modern versions of this wheel have four spokes that symbolize the Four Jinas, or moments, in the life of the Buddha. They are also depicted with eight spokes, or octagonal, symbolizing the Noble Eightfold Path. The spokes can even extend beyond the circle, in points.

This Buddha is most commonly known as The Laughing Buddha. He is usually depicted as a smiling, bald man with a largely exposed pot belly, representing happiness, good luck and plenitude. Placing a Laughing Buddha statue or figurine in your home can bring wealth and fortune. He serves as a reminder to not work too hard or get greedy. 

The auspicious drawing, or endless knot, represents the union of wisdom and method. The inseparability of emptiness and dependent arising at the time of path. Also, at the time of enlightenment, the complete union of wisdom and great compassion.

Buddhist inspired tattoos have always been intriguing to me.
I see them a lot and I never took the time to look into their meanings, but I sure am glad I finally did.
Take it easy,
<3 oohv

Monday, July 16, 2012

Opening the Doors to Health, Wisdom and Happiness

I have never been a "tea drinker" because coffee has always been my thing. My pick-me-up. My go to beverage. Nothing cures my morning blues like a cup of coffee. Late night studying is usually paired with a sweet and caffeinated something or other. Undoubtedly, I am not alone. Caffeine is the most popular "drug" in the world and can be found among all cultures. Whether the dose of caffeine comes from coffee, espresso, energy drinks, or soda, everyone is so strung out on this stuff. Me included! I have been slowly trying to decrease my dependency on coffee by drinking tea. I'll be the first to admit that tea never enticed me the way coffee did, but it's finally growing on me.

Excessive caffeine consumption is a problem for me, as well as many others. Unfortunately, day after day, people continue to devourer their cafe lattes like there's no tomorrow. Asking for extra cream and extra sugar, not really giving thought to what they are putting in their bodies. Too much caffeine can stress out the immune system and your heart, making you feel anxious and on edge. There is even research that supports caffeine increasing the chance of wrinkles, chronic heartburn, breast cysts, heart palpitations, and fertility problems. No thank you!

So, say you are a casual coffee drinker. Or you like decaf coffee. And maybe you don't add mounds of sugar to your drink. There really are no horribly related diseases or effects of drinking coffee in a social way. But, there are really no benefits either. Sure, there have been studies that loosely link coffee to reducing the risk of Type II Diabetes and increasing your metabolism, but generally coffee does not leave you feeling good all day long. When I drink coffee, I notice myself fully alert and fidgety for a few hours and then crashing shortly after, craving yet another cup. And my cup of coffee is not always the healthiest, as I can taste the difference between decaf and regular, and love my cream and sugar. With this dilemma and my new quest to take care of my mind, soul and body, I looked a littler further into becoming a tea drinker.

I can definitely say a recent trip to Teavana contributed to my growing interest in tea. Though their mission to provide the highest quality loose leaf tea, I have found myself actually enjoying my morning cup of tea rather than forcing it. Teas in bags (the supermarket brand tea bags) originate from the same plant as loose leaf teas from Teavana, but the way they are packaged affects the quality, taste and longevity of the tea. Loose teas are made from hand-picked buds, whole leaves or large pieces of leaves. Tea in prepackaged bags contain smaller pieces of these tea leaves but lack the full flavor of the loose leaves. When I drink loose leaf tea, I can taste every ingredient in the blend. It is rich and full-bodied and most times, I don't even have to add any sugar. Tea bags, on the other hand, taste watered down and bland. I usually add a teaspoon or more of sweetener to this type of tea.

After debriefing myself on the history of tea, I learned that tea is the most popular beverage in the world (second to water) and is also one of the healthiest. Tea plants are native to East and South Asian and are said to have originated in India and China. For several hundred years, people drank tea because of its herbal medicinal qualities. Consumption of tea, especially green, is beneficial to health and longevity because it contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Throughout the years, tea was used as a religious offering, a high rank of status, a healing agency and as a social aspect. All tea comes from a plant called Camellia sinensis and is produced in thousands of different varieties.
  • White Teas - The purest and least processed of all teas. It contains very little caffeine and has a light flavor. Healthy antioxidants included in this tea are best for skin and complexion.
  • Green Teas - The most popular type of tea. It can be mixed with fruits or scented with flowers. It only has 5-10% of the caffeine found in a cup of coffee. The antioxidants in green tea help maintain cholesterol and are good for skin and teeth. It also helps maintain a healthy blood sugar level and overall, a strong immune system.
  • Oolong Teas - A flavorful tea with a sweet aroma. This is a healthy tea to incorporate into a weight loss plan.
  • Black Teas - The tea most people know. It is fully fermented and has 20% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee.  Black teas help maintain cardiovascular functions, cholesterol levels, and improve the circulatory system. 
  • Herbal Teas - Do not contain any leaves from the Camellia plant family and consist of pure herbs, flowers and fruits. Typically caffeine-free and rich in vitamin C. 
  • Roobios Teas - Red tea that is a healthy source of vitamins and minerals. It can help promote digestion, support the immune system and contribute to healthy skin, teeth and bones. '
  • Mate Teas - The coffee lover's favorite. It tastes very similar to coffee because it contains nuts and coca leaves. It contains the same amount of caffeine without the jitters. Mate tea can also curb an appetite.
Overall, I feel more relaxed and balanced when I replace my morning coffee with a cup of tea. I am still new to this tea drinking thing, but already I found that I enjoy the process rather than needing it - like I did with my coffee. With the right type of fuel , I have come to realize that my whole body works better. This is just one more step toward healthy living. I can't wait to take more.

<3 oohv

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chicago-Style Living

It would be effortless for me to be happy living in Chicago. There's something magical about that city that makes me feel alive. The buildings. The lights. The noises. The smells. Everyone and everything is so full of life. Earlier this week, I took a mini vacation with my mother, sister, and cousin to this glorious place. My visit to The Windy City back in November left me wanting to return as soon as I could. The past few days were amazing and I wouldn't have spent them anywhere else with anyone else. Thank you Mom, Megan & Kelsey for an exciting and fun time! Never ever a dull moment with you ladies :)

Of course I took a million pictures like I did during my last visit to the city. Luckily, I made a college of some of my favorite memories to share with everyone. For those of you who follow me on twitter/Facebook/instagram, I bet you feel like you were on the trip with us! For everyone else, now is your chance to enjoy Chicago from my point of view.

1. The Navy Pier / 2. View from our Hotel / 3. TEAM FINISH (they were determined to finish reading their books in the car, eat all of their meals, and finish anything they started!) / 4. Sprinkles Cupcakes / 5. Girls Night Out / 6. Bought my 1st Coach Purse / 7. Making Chocolate at the Hershey Factory / 8. The Bean / 9. Giordanos Famous Chicago Stuffed Pizza / 10. Made-to-Order Molten Lava Cake / 11. Cityscape / 12. Sangria Overlooking the City / 13. Goodmorning Chitown / 14. Not Deep Dish, but Still Amazing / 15. Our Reflections at Millennium Park

Until we meet again, Chicago...
<3 oohv

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chelsea, Alex, and Soon-to-Be Hayden

Today I was given the opportunity to take maternity photos for two of my friends. I am honored that Chelsea and Alex chose to share such a special occasion with me. They truly are such a lovely couple and I know they will make awesome parents! They are expecting their little girl, Hayden, in September. Their love for one another is apparent and with their spontaneous personalities, it's never a dull moment around these two. I'm so excited to meet this little lady when she is finally born! There were so many amazing photos captured today, but here's a sneak peak :)

Hayden is one lucky girl to have Chelsea & Alex as parents!
<3 oohv