Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Home

Hello blogger readers!

I have some VERY exciting news to share with all of you. I have decided to register my own domain for Essence of Kate so my blog can now be found at:

I am in the process of making my page my own so please bear with me while I change stuff around. The content is the same (I promise), I just need to nail down the look I'm going for.

Thanks and see you over at!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Music of My Life - The World Spins Madly On

Music is a big part of my life - well HUGE actually. I love it and I feel like it really influences/accentuates/connects with me and whatever mood I'm in. A song can come on the radio when I'm having a great day and I will be on cloud nine. I'll sing and dance around and just live it up. There are other days when life doesn't seem so great and I'll hear a song that makes me realize I'm not alone and it will really pick up my spirits. I've also noticed that a song that sometimes makes me feel sad can other times make me feel completely content.

I have always wanted a soundtrack playing around in the background of my life, although as I write this sentence I realized I kind of already have that. I listen to music pretty much all day. I have my alarm clock set to a radio station, I then have another radio in my bathroom to play tunes while I get ready for work, I listen to the radio on my way to work, sometimes play my MP3 player on headphones while I'm at work, then listen to the radio on the way home, and play tunes on my computer all night unless I'm watching a movie or something.

I don't discriminate against music either. I love it all - from classical and orchestra to pop and rock and everything in between. I love finding new artists and songs that further add to my life :)

Due to all of this I have decided to incorporate a Music of My Life (MoML) series of posts. I will try to post one a week, but we shall see. :) Since I'm still new at this I'm going to try it out for a couple of weeks first before I firmly commit to it.

All that being said, today's/this week's song is: The World Spins Madly On by The Weepies. (If you click the link to their website and scroll to the bottom, The World Spins Madly On is #12 on their play list. You have to fast forward through the other songs to get to 12.) This is such a calm song (despite it's title!). I've been listening to it on repeat for the past half hour or so and it just seems to fit with the day. It's been such a nice afternoon with the warm weather and this song just reminds me of relaxing spring and summer nights on my parents' back porch.

The lyrics themselves are a bit depressing but the sound of the song is what I think is so mellow and calm.

Are you a fan of any particular kind of music, all kinds of music, none whatsoever?
If you have any songs you love I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dinner and a show...

Sorry about not writing yesterday - I had this great idea for a blog post but I lost track of time doing online blog research last night! Next thing I knew my night was gone and I needed to hit the hay. I stayed in CT one last night and drove back to NY this morning. What a long commute! ;)

Anywho - you're probably wondering about this post's title. Well! This evening I am having dinner with my good friends Emily and Jason! They are having me over for dinner (we try to swap back and forth every month or so) and I am PUMPED! I LOVE eating at their house because they are some of the best cooks I know! On top of that, they are also home owners knee deep in projects so I like to swap stories, hear about what they're doing, and get some new ideas!

The show part of the evening comes into play with their puppies! (Well, full grown dogs but I still call them puppies). I love getting my dog fix and watching them all play around. It's so fun and hysterical! I used to live with Emily when I first moved to the area and many nights our entertainment would be to watch her dog and our other roommate's dog run around chasing after toys. It sounds really strange, but it is such a good time!

On top of all that, since Em and Jason are such good people they are a foster home for dogs and currently have the most adorable dog staying with them. I was this close to adopting him but my life is too busy right now and I know I wouldn't be able to give him the type of commitment he deserves. I will, however, be sure to take lots of pictures to share with you guys!

I can't wait to come back and report on all the great food and fun we have! I also am excited to see how they feel about the Orange White Balsamic Vinegar I picked up for them this weekend. I know we're having salads on the side so maybe we'll even crack it open.

I have to rush off now because I need to grab a bottle of red wine and head on over! Have a great night and I'll be sure to post a full evening report (and my missing post from yesterday)!

When it comes to wine: are you more of a white, red, or other fan?
I am a white wine fan, hands down. It's so much sweeter - and I like sweet!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Weekend at (My Parents') Home

Today was a really great day. I slept in which felt amazing since my sleep tank has been running on empty for about two weeks now. Since I kind of slept through breakfast I started my day with lunch. That was OKAY with me considering my dad had just arrived home from the grocery store and included in his bag were bread and American cheese!!! ;)  Well you know I had to request a grilled cheese sandwich!! They are my favorite after all AND it is National Grilled Cheese Month to boot!


Well as soon as I started eating, one of my little friends came to visit.

Miss Samantha!
She doesn't like to stay put too long so the pictures are a little blurry but she is so adorable! I love her so much!

I thought she wanted to be my friend because she loves me too....but I can see (from the picture below) that she really just wanted some attention!

Tummy rubs

Not too long after this picture was taken her brother came to visit. I tried taking a picture of both of them but as you can see that didn't happen so successfully.
They think I have a treat...but nope

After I finished snapping photos and eating my oh-so-good sandwich my mom and I headed out to do a little shopping. Included in our stops were a place that specializes in gourmet cooking oils and balsamic vinegars (and OH MY GOODNESS are they delicious!); Bed, Bath and Beyond; and Lowe's. 

From the first stop (O'Live A Little) I picked up a bottle of this yummy stuff:

The card says it all

I didn't get anything from Bed, Bath and Beyond but at Lowe's, in honor of Earth Day they were giving out one million free tree saplings. Since my mom and I both picked up stuff we each got one! I'm psyched! They are white spruce trees that grow up to 45' tall by 15' wide. I'm thinking if I'm at my house long enough maybe one of them will become a future Christmas tree! How COOL would that be?!

I also picked up a wireless thermometer to put outside. My friends Emily and Jason have one almost identical to this and I think it's so cool! The little person on the side tells you how to dress based on the temperature outside.

My last fun 'Yes, I am a homeowner' goodies included brochures on sheds and patio stones. Woo Hoo! I'm sure I'll have a fun night sometime in the near future going through all the possibilities that lie ahead of me in those two pamphlets.

On the way home we needed to stop off at the Creamery to pick up some ice cream to go with the bunny cake tomorrow. Since the flavor I wanted doesn't come in a half gallon we got a quart of Cow Tippin (coffee and peanut butter ice cream with oreo pieces - YUM!!) and a quart of toasted almond (also YUM). Since we were already there I also got a small dish of Cow Tippin because it was SOO good last night!

Things were pretty low key for the rest of the evening. We had dinner and chatted for a while before heading out to the 8:00 Easter mass. It was such a great service! I love the candles and singing and everything about it. 

When we got home, the three of us finally dug into the desserts I bought Thursday night after the concert. They were just as good as I imagined they would be and I'm so happy I waited to share because my parents loved them too. :)

Now it is late and I'm getting sleepy so it's off to bed for this little camper. I hope you all have a wonderful Easter tomorrow! I'll be sure to stop in and tell you all about the Bunny Cake and delicious food! MMMmmm!

It's Earth Day!!!


I LOVE Earth Day. I think it totally rocks. Being the Earth Chick that I am, this is a day I love to celebrate. A few years back I had an Earth Day party and went all out - I had goody bags (reusable bags from a couple of local grocery stores with an Earth Day booklet inside that I created and put together), we played outside all day, and I made an Earth cake - no joke.

[I intended to include a couple of pictures of the cake BUT I seem to have moved them to my external hard drive. Since I am currently out of town, and therefore away from my external hard drive, I will update this post with pictures when I return]

I purposely chose chocolate cake to represent the dirt/earth and dyed the frosting blue and green. I even filled it with a mixture of frozen cool-whip and strawberries to represent the lava. I'm just good like that ;)

The year after I was one of the co-chairs for my company's Earth Day festivities. We had a farmers' market on site, a lunchtime bike ride through a nearby park, a bunch of renewable energy technology demonstrations, and our fleet of hybrid and plug in vehicles was showcased - it was the place to be that day.

This year was a bit more low key - or at least today was. Next week, however, there will be another Earth Day festival at work and I am completely pumped for that. I have already heard of a few vendors that will be there and I can't wait to check out all their goodies.

Even though I didn't do anything out of the ordinary today, there were a couple of press-worthy events taking place that I read about and had to share:

Albany prepares to become one of the first US cities to build an electric car infrastructure. This is HUGE, not only for the future of electric vehicles but for the economy of New York as a whole. There are three articles that all talk about this but each gives a few details not found in the others. They can be found here, here and here.

For the downstate portion of New York:
New York City looking to bring the heat with solar panels on top of landfills (from the NY Daily News website)
Dramatically Cleaner Air Within Reach For New York City (from the Environmental Defense Fund's Energy Exchange blog)
These two kind of talk about the same thing but I thought it was worth sharing them both.

Now to leave on a fun note, I have heard "Green"-minded people sometimes referred to as granola crunchers. I'm not entirely sure where the term comes from but in the name of Earth Day and fellow granola crunchers out there I leave you with a recipe for my favorite granola recipe. :)

Cherry, Almond and Cinnamon Granola
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
2 cups sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup good honey
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss the oats, coconut, almonds, and cherries together in a large bowl. Pour the vegetable oil and honey over the oat mixture. Add the cinnamon, and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated with the liquids. Pour onto a sheet pan (cookie sheet). Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown. (About 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.

The fun thing about this recipe is you can really swap in whatever kinds of dried fruit and nuts and spices you like. If you prefer dried blueberries, or a mix of berries, or pineapple, etc. then go for it! You could put in some vanilla or nutmeg. It's a super easy recipe so it is easy to play around with. 

Did you do anything exciting for Earth Day? Do you consider yourself to be a granola cruncher/Earth Chick, etc? Did any press-worthy events happen by you today?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wardrobe Issues, BBQ and Some Tunes

Does anyone remember my 'week ahead teaser' from Sunday night? I mentioned the band Thompson Square. (Love them!) Well here in the capital region, a local country radio station hosts a series of concerts called the Country 107.7's Rising Star Concert Series. On March 10th I saw Thompson Square and they ROCKED! Tonight I went to see James Wesely.

James Wesley's in the middle

He has such a good voice and it was a great concert! But before I get to that let me rewind.....<<

On my way home from work I reached a personal best. Lately with the insanely high gas prices I've been playing a little game with myself; I guess you could call it a goal or challenge. I kept striving to get over 400 miles per tank of gas before refilling. The past few tanks have been really close but I always have to fill up before I get there.

405.2! Eek!

Well today I did it!!! This was my dashboard shot right after I pulled in my driveway after work. My next trip out though I needed to fill up. The gas light hadn't come on yet but I knew it would be making an appearance very soon.

Hopefully this all make sense soon!
Once I got home I started organizing. I don't know where it came from but I had an overwhelming urge to just get things in order. I probably could have kept going all night if I didn't have plans already. One of the lucky winners of this mood was my collection of random recipes and Food sections of the newspaper. I sorted through them and gathered them all together to bring home (to my parent's house) this weekend. I want to take some time to make sense of it all - consolidate it into a binder and notebook. I'm hoping it will inspire me to actually consult my recipes more often, although cooking for one always stumps me, so who knows.

NY Maple Syrup for my parents and uncle. YUM!
Then I snapped a few shots to make up for my lack of photos yesterday. I didn't mention the NY Maple Syrup because it was a side note to my day but it's good stuff so I thought I'd throw it in. Who doesn't love maple syrup?!  ;)

Below are my Borders purchases from yesterday. The snacks cookbook has so many good recipes and it was only $3.99! I definitely hope to be scoping that out soon. I'm also pretty pumped about the one-day backyard projects because it looks like there are a lot of good ideas in there to get my creative juices flowing on my landscaping.

The cookbook and magazine I bought yesterday

After about an hour of buzzing around my house I decided I should probably get changed since I was still in my work clothes. I had the perfect outfit ready to go in my mind but, as often happens with me, I ran into a bit of a wardrobe snafu. I originally planned to wear the top half of my outfit that I wore to work and just switch out of work pants into brown leggings and a jean skirt. WELL. I apparently don't own brown leggings. This struck me as odd because I could have sworn I've worn them before. ..... Hmm...I'm going nuts. Awesome. :) This encounter did, however, make me realize that I think I've done this before and should probably go buy some brown leggings AND that I really need to organize my legging/tights drawer :-O

Yes those silvery things ARE leg warmers (and I do wear them)

I finally wound up wearing something totally different than what I had in mind, haha! Oh well. Maybe next time. By the time all of this worked out, Kevin and Amanda were at my house to head out to dinner and then the concert.

So excited for the fun night ahead!

Amanda heard about this BBQ place by my house called Rubbin Butts BBQ located in Schenectady. We were all really pumped because who doesn't love a good barbecue joint?! She got the pulled pork, Kevin got a half a rack of ribs and I got a grilled chicken breast. We all got sides of mac and cheese and I believe all had the same honey bbq sauce on our various meats.

Well, I'm sorry to report we overall gave it a 'take it or leave it' review. The chicken was alright, nothing that I couldn't make myself and the mac and cheese was kind of eh. The other two didn't seem overly enthused about their meals either and after talking about it, none of us are in a huge hurry to head back. Maybe I'll give it a shot again later but there are a lot of other places I want to try first.

After dinner we were off to the concert.

As I mentioned above; James Wesley had a GREAT voice and it was a really good concert. He was really funny (or at least I thought so) and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he comes out with in the future. I think he really has the potential to go far. Good luck to him!

After the show, the three of us headed over to my favorite bakery to pick up some goodies.

The yellow pastry is a lemon roll made with lemon sponge cake and filled with lemon creme and drizzled with chocolate.

The chocolate roll looking thing is a chocolate cannoli. I'm not entirely sure what it's made of but it tastes/looks like a chocolate wafer filled with a chocolate pudding type thing, dipped in chocolate, with chocolate sprinkles and drizzled with chocolate. It sounds like a chocolate overload but it isn't - it is just right and phenomenal! YUMMO!

The last one is a tricolored cookie/cake. I love these and this place makes the BEST I've ever had!

I am trying really hard to be a good daughter and bring them home to my parents tomorrow but staring at this picture while I'm typing is making that very difficult. Haha.

Once we finished our little treat trip we headed back to my place where my adorable little (kitty) niece was waiting for us.

Pickles! Love her!
She stayed at my place while we were at the concert since both her parents are heading out of town for Easter and she had to travel with them. I'm not normally a big cat person but she is a sweetie and isn't a mean snarly cat so we're friends. :)

That about wraps up my night! Have a great Friday and for everyone traveling this weekend - be safe! And watch out for all the candy - I had quite the sugar hangover after Halloween and let me tell you - it is NO fun. ;)

Is anyone doing anything exciting for Earth Day tomorrow? 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Short and Sweet

My post tonight is going to be quick :)

Today's work day was normal although I learned I'm going to be acquiring some new tasks so I'm pretty excited about that since they seem to be right up my alley. After work I ran over to the mall to kill some time and grab dinner. I stopped into Boarder's and bought a cook book on the bargain book shelf for $4 and a magazine all about outdoor projects. Since this will be my first spring in my house I figured I should start to get landscaping ideas.

For dinner I went to Hana Express and got the Chicken Teriyaki dinner. I really just wanted the fried rice but I told myself I needed something more substantial than that. It was good but since I was craving the rice it tasted much better than the chicken. Oh well, I'll listen to my body next time.

After dinner I went to a CAYP (Capital Alliance of Young Professionals) networking social. I love going to these events and today's did not disappoint. I normally do a lot of networking and meet a bunch of people, however as soon as I walked in the door today one of my friends from college that I haven't seen in the LONGEST time was there with his wife and some co-workers. I wound up chatting with them the whole time which was great! I was so happy I ran into them - and there's always next month for networking. ;)

That pretty much wraps up my day so have a great night and I'll catch you on the flip side.  :)