My Latest Obsession: Veggie Noodles

Cooking

For the past year, I’ve been making a conscious effort to eat healthier. Not that I ever ate poorly, per say, but there was definitely room for improvement. On my mission to incorporate more vegetables into my diet and cut out “empty” calories, I came across one of the trendiest health foods: veggie noodles (or “zoodles,” if you will).

I’ve come to truly adore this alternative to traditional pasta (despite my Italian roots) and now use them quite often for quick week-night meals or bring-to-work lunches. This is how easy they are to make:

  1. Sauté the noodles in a pan for 5 minutes
  2. Add your favorite sauce
  3. Top with additional vegetables or protein, if desired

My favorite variation has been finishing the noodles with pesto and topping with lean protein, such as chicken.

You can also enjoy shopping for these noodles in a variety of vegetables (which equates to lots of color!)  and can find them made from zucchini, sweet potatoes or, as pictured above, beets!

Whether you’re a health-nut or not, I encourage you to give zoodles a try. I think you may be pleasantly surprised!

Wedding Dreams and Flower Crowns 

Art

In the midst of all the wedding planning, I keep finding myself coming back to the dress, the flowers and all the girly things you would expect a 23-year-old artist to come back to.

While my fiancé and I have been focusing on nailing down all of the large commitments first, it’s been all too fun for me to browse through image after image of flower bouquets, table settings and flower-inspired fashion – all of which remind me of one of my most recent drawings.

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Ever since I started drawing with the Premier-grade Prismacolor pencils, I’ve been particularly attracted to hair. I thought it would be fun to do a drawing featuring a hairstyle, excluding the face and featuring a whimsical flower crown. To me, this was perfect summer subject matter (and I am, if nothing else, a creature of the seasons).

 

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Even though we are planning a fall wedding, I’m very much still planning on a classic, “magical” vibe and hope to incorporate a lot of flowers into this theme.

And while the wedding planning has been temporarily put on hold due to home-improvement/moving ventures, I’ve still had plenty of time to daydream about the big day and wrap my mind up in flowers and all kinds of pretty things!

Don’t be too surprised if you see much more wedding-inspired artwork from this bride-to-be!

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FOR THE LOVE OF PHOTOGRAPHY: A NEW CAMERA FOR CONTINUED INSPIRATION

Art, Inspiration

It’s been over five years since I last bought a camera. Needless to say, it was time for an upgrade.

Looking to up my photo game with with our wedding and honeymoon in Hawaii coming up next year, and the possible sale of our home this fall, now seemed like a great time to invest in a better camera.

Although I had my eye on a top of the line machine, we decided to go middle of the road, investing in a DSLR without breaking the bank (or our wedding fund!).  After scouring the internet for products and reviews, I came across the Canon Rebel T6 and after reading positive review after positive review, decided to give it a try.

An extremely popular model, we went with a kit purchase on Amazon and, in return, received the camera body, two lenses, a camera bag, a table top tripod, cleaning supplies, three filters, etc. etc.

Overall, I am very happy that we went with the kit and am especially pleased with the camera body,  the Canon lenses and the Canon case, and have been using the camera to capture moments around the house.

For the past year, a large portion of my job has revolved around taking photos for my company and as a result, photography has become something that I associate with my job. Buying this camera was also a way for me to reconnect with my artistic photographer side and enjoy capturing moments in my free time.

Long story short, I would definitely recommend this camera to a friend – or readers! Especially those who are just getting into more professional-grade photography. Truly, the camera is very user friendly while still offering a wide range of settings and capabilities.

Stay tuned for more refined photographs! But for now, enjoy these photos of Andy with our dogs. (Would you expect anything less?)

👑 Mermaid Embroidery

Art

The inspiration behind this piece is entirely clear and one that I can easily direct you to: “Imagine a Forest: Designs and Inspirations for Enchanting Folk Art” by Dinara Mirtalipova. This book is simply lovely and an absolute must-browse for anyone that has an interest in Eastern European design.

Having worked in a public library for 6+ years, I’m very much inspired by books and this one drew me in the moment I saw the cover.

Taking in Mirtalipova’s illustrative style, I was inspired to get out of my comfort zone and create a piece based on the instructions in her book. While her recommended media is paint, I decided to try her style in the form of embroidery.

I was especially attracted to her take on mermaids, and thought that this sea queen would be a perfect summer project!

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While I was working on this piece I also developed a sketch to get a better grasp of the character. This can be a useful tactic when your subject matter is human or humanoid, and you’re looking to capture a specific persona.

Although tedious, embroidering the scales for the mermaid’s top was also fun and I’m in love with the end result.

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I would definitely recommend Mirtalipova’s book to anyone interested in design, illustration and folklore! I know that for me it definitely proved to be a successful source of inspiration.

ANNOUNCING OUR ENGAGEMENT!

Festivity, Inspiration

So ecstatic, excited and proud to be announcing my engagement!

You may or may not have noticed a lull following my last post but, as you can imagine, the past week and a half has been a complete whirlwind!

Andy totally surprised me with this one (as is the ultimate goal), treating me to a romantic dinner at the Brewster Inn in Cazenovia, NY. Little did I know that our post-dinner stroll down to the lake would end in him getting down on one knee and breaking out the perfect ring from his suit jacket!

The restaurant staff did an amazing job as well, going the extra mile to make the evening special and (just as importantly) helping to keep me totally oblivious!

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It was perfectly romantic and elegant (both the evening and the ring) and was everything I could have ever asked for. I’m a lucky woman!

Needless to say, the last 10 days or so have been full of celebrating with friends and family. We are truly blessed to have those of you in our life that have gone above and beyond to make our engagement a special time in our life and have gone the extra mile to make us feel loved and supported – we can’t wait to have you at our wedding!

Aside from celebrating though, there’s also been a lot of work getting done vis a vis  WEDDING PLANNING! And may I just say, I never had any idea just how much planning went into a wedding? I’m tired already! But in the best of ways.

✅ First wedding venue tour 💍😻#lettheweddingplanningbegin #fairytalelocation

A post shared by Emilee Smith (@emileejaysmith) on

Stay tuned for more wedding-inspired writings, artwork and DIY. This occasion has helped me realize now more than ever just how inspirational love can be!

Fantasticly Beastly Niffler Embroidery

Art

It’s been a little while since I’ve shown some Potter love, so today, in celebration of the first book’s 20th anniversary, I’m bringing the love back with one of my latest embroidery pieces.

A while back, I gave you a preview of this little guy and the painstakingly slow process I was undergoing to get him stitched up to completion.

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At this point, I am VERY happy to announce that this embroidery has reached completion and the niffler’s belly and feet are no longer devoid of thread! Despite the amount of time it took to get it done, it was well worth the effort. (It’s pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself).

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I mean, c’mon just look at that face…

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Aside from representing outstanding cuteness, the niffler also stands as a reminder to the future of the Potter universe. Those of you who, like me, grew up with this story know that it is so much more than just a book series; it’s an artifact of our childhood. For me, it’s also been a constant source of inspiration – showing me that magic is real in friendship, love and story.

It’s also amazing to see the love so strong after 20 years, with young fans all over the world now enjoying these books and films the same way that we did, as if they were just now being released for the first time all over again.

Here’s to the last 20 years and the future that Fantastic Beasts will bring us!

Fruit Kabobs!

Food

It’s that time of year again: barbecue season! And while we all love a good burger, bratwurst, and heaping serving of potato & macaroni salad, sometimes we find ourselves in the mood for something a wee bit healthier.

Fruit kabobs are a simple way to fill that health-craving void. All you need for these simple kabobs are wooden skewers, strawberries and a fresh pineapple (or canned pineapple chunks if you’re in a rush).

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Wash strawberries and cut them in half.
  2. Cut your pineapple by first cutting off the outside skin. Proceed to cut the meat of the pineapple into chunks.
  3. Spear your kabobs, rotating between pineapple and strawberry.
  4. Enjoy!

Wildlife Inspiration: Wolf Mountain Nature Center

Inspiration, Travel

IMG_3478Anyone who follows this site knows that I am inspired by nature and, more specifically, wildlife. I love animals.

This weekend I decided to go out with Andy and members of his family to find some wildlife inspiration, spending time exploring one of Central New York’s wildlife gems: the Wolf Mountain Nature Center.

Currently home to 13 wolves (plus two new pups!), four coyotes and handful of arctic foxes, I can’t say enough great things about this organization. The grounds are beautiful, hidden atop a picturesque hill in CNY, the staff is overwhelmingly friendly and their mission is honorable and strong, focused on protecting wolves and teaching visitors the beauty of wildlife and the importance of conserving it.

Our group spent a solid two hours exploring the grounds, walking to each enclosure where we were introduced to residents and given new tidbits of information by the awaiting staff members. Aside from learning a lot about the organization, its residents and the wild canine species, the best (although admittedly surprising) part of the visit was how friendly the wildlife was.

With most of the animals being born at the Center, they are all used to human contact, a trait that is critical in regard to medical treatment. Although you won’t get to pet a wolf on your visit, you will definitely get to see them up close and personal as they come up to the fences to check you out.

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Inspired by these encounters, I’m already in the midst of planning my next visit to the Mountain! There’s nothing quite like seeing the beauty of a wild animal, content in a humane and conservation-focused environment to warm your heart and inspire you in the best of ways.

If you’re an animal-lover such as myself, then Wolf Mountain is a resounding must-visit. To learn more about the Center and its residents click here.

Protein-Packed Spinach + Kale Smoothie

Food

smoothieThis Thursday I had the grand pleasure of having all four of my wisdom teeth extracted. Many of you out there can commiserate with the pain, odd looks from people who are staring at your enlarged “chipmunk cheeks” and your inability to eat just about everything.

None the less, while the past five days have been trying in their own regard, they have made me much more adventurous in the smoothie realm!

Following an oral surgery such as a wisdom tooth extraction, it’s vital that you don’t allow your inability to chew get in the way of your nutrition. As I discovered, smoothies are an easy, delicious and pain-alleviating way to get the nutrients you need when you are unable to chew or, seriously, even open your mouth.

While I tried several veggie smoothies over the past week, this Spinach + Kale smoothie has by far been my favorite. Check out the simple recipe below:

Ingredients:

2 cups spinach

1 cup kale

1 tablespoon peanut butter

3/4 cup milk or almond milk

1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use a vegetable-based powder)

1 frozen banana

Directions:

Blend spinach, kale, peanut butter, milk and protein powder until smooth. Add in banana and blend again.

Enjoy immediately or store in a mason jar for later!