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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Contributions to New Year Resolutions

It feels like just yesterday I asked the Village Shoes girls to write down their resolutions for 2012 so I can post a blog about 'em. I'd like to announce that I did a HORRIBLE job keeping my resolutions last year of eating healthier and saving money to travel. Like, it didn't happen. At all. In fact, I think my diet has worsened. I'm pretty sure I mostly ate pizza this year, but whatever. It tastes good. So, this year I think I'm going to set some fail-proof resolutions...

  • Convert Oxygen into Carbon Dioxide regularly.
  • Order more veggies on my pizza instead of just extra cheese and pepperoni.
  • Save money. (Actually try this year.)
Pretty realistic, right? I think my 2013 resolutions are going to be a cinch!

The other ladies at Village Shoes took a more serious approach to choosing theirs...

  • Go to bed earlier.
  • Drink more water.
  • Make more time for singing.
  • Save money out of each paycheck and stop using credit cards.
  • Move out of my little, tiny house into a more spacious home.
  • Edit my possessions...clothing, media, junk!
  • Continue to heal my body and make my health my first priority.
  • Enjoy life more and have more fun. Do things that bring about joy.
  • Meditate on a daily basis to bring about peace and relaxation in my life.
  • Reacquaint myself with music. (Flute and piano)
  • Become a better tango dancer.
  • Get into better shape.

So, what do you resolve to do differently in 2013? How do you plan on spending New Year's Eve? Whether you plan on having a quiet night in, or intend to rage hard with friends, have a fantastic time! Wear your favorite shoes. Kiss the one you love. Dance in the street. Play your favorite song. Embrace the new beginning.

Lastly, to our wonderful customers, thank you so much for your support this year!

post by Amanda

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Somebody Make Me: Broccoli Gouda Soup

Brrrrrr! On a chilly day like today, I'm pretty sure all anybody wants is to sit somewhere cozy and enjoy a delicious bowl of soup. I stumbled upon this recipe on TasteSpotting.com and thought I'd do everyone a solid and share!

Use a fairly young gouda, aged no more than a year, to keep the soup from becoming grainy.

for the soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 to 3 broccoli heads (about 12 ounces), florets only
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup orzo pasta (I used orzo corn pasta)
salt and pepper to taste
for the veloute
3 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons flour (or 2 tablespoons coconut flour)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 cup gouda, grated
1/2 cup melting cheese, such as fontina, sliced into small cubes (or grated, if it can withstand the grater)


Prepare the soup:  Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium until shimmering. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, and saute until soft. Stir in the broccoli and heat for several minutes, until the florets turn bright green. Raise the heat to medium-high and add 3 cups of a vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, stir in the orzo, and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer.

Prepare the veloute:  Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium. Stir in the flour to create a thin paste. Begin adding the 1 cup of vegetable stock, a little at a time, stirring all the while to incorporate and smooth out the flour paste. Continue heating until the sauce thickens and is creamy. Add the Worcestershire sauce and the mustard, combining well with the sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese. Stir until melted and completely incorporated into the sauce.

Use an immersion blender to smooth out the soup to your desired consistency. (I like to leave some large bits of broccoli florets for texture.) Pour in the veloute and stir well to combine. Taste, and add salt and pepper to suit.

Prep Time: 15 minutes      
Cook time: 20 minutes       
Yield: 4 generous servings
Looks pretty yummy, right? Now all I need is a hot guy to make this for me and then be totally down to snuggle after, while I'm in the midst of a food coma. Any makers and takers?

post by Amanda
photos and recipe courtesy of SoupAddict.com

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Unique Holiday Cookie Recipes

Plan on baking treats to gift to friends and family this month? It might be time to set aside your famous chocolate chip cookie recipe and give one of these unusual recipes a go...

Black Pepper and Balsamic Cookies

"Eat them with fresh strawberries for a perfect blend of flavors."

 Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

"It's the addition of ground chile that lends it its name -- and moves it into the adult cookie jar."

 Italian Polenta Cookies

"Use imported polenta, which is available in most Italian markets and specialty-food stores."

 Rosemary and Pignoli Cookies

"The cookie dough can be made and formed into logs ahead of time and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Thaw in refrigerator when ready to bake."

Savory Parmesan Shortbread Rounds

"Serving suggestion: with pre-dinner drinks or on a salami platter."

Jalapeno Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

"When you first bite into these, you won't taste the jalapeƱo, but after a few more bites and after you finish swallowing, you'll feel some heat linger around. It's a pretty neat feeling and taste."

 Dark Chocolate Avocado Cookies (gluten and dairy free!)

"Now if you just can’t stand the idea of chocolate cookies tasting like avocado, don’t worry! You can’t taste it."

 Lemon Cilantro Cookies

"There’s a lot of cilantro in them, but it doesn’t really over power the cookies, it’s very subtle."

 Rosemary Lime Cookies (vegan, gluten & dairy free)

"The rosemary and lime in this cookie are wonderful together. Lime takes center stage and rosemary is just a subtle accent."

Curry Coriander Shorties

"The most intriguing and delicious recipe for cookies I've seen in ages!"

Pretty interesting, right? I'm dying to try some of the more savory recipes like the Parmesan Shortbread Rounds and the Lemon Cilantro cookies. What cookie recipes do you have in your arsenal that never fail to wow?

post by Amanda

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Holiday Gift Ideas for Me...I Mean...Her

Not quite sure what to get your girlfriend, wife, sister, or mother this holiday season besides a gift certificate from Village Shoes? I found some goodies for you that will appeal to most women and won't break the bank.

These made to order Barkboard Chalkboards would be a unique & lovely addition to any home. $68
This Lilac Rouge lip and cheek stain by Isa's Restoratives is handcrafted in Brooklyn, NY using herbs that are prepared in small batches of 100 proof vodka. I find that stains provide more of a natural color than any lipstick, gloss, or blush. $22
Khrio's Dandi boot would give a fun, western flare to any outfit. The dark green suede serves as a neutral and would look fantastic with all of the rich colors that we have in our fall and winter wardrobes. $199

How cute are these Daisy Eyelet Gloves? I think any girly girl will find that the fun pop of color and the playful flowers will serve as a reminder that Spring is hiding just around the corner. $78

What applies for the men when it comes to Smartwool, goes for the ladies too: Nobody complains about receiving anything from Smartwool as a gift.

Be subtle about your affection with these Secret Message Lanterns by Baba Souk. The engraving of "U light me up" is available in English or in French. See these babies in action! $18
The rDot by Yogi Toes is supposed to be a step up from the block you typically use "...because the rDot rolls, the practitioner must engage stabilizer muscles which helps develop strength and balance and prevents over-reliance on the prop." If turned on its side, it serves as a normal block as well. The rDot would be a cool new tool for that special yogi in your life. $17

Now, can't you picture some ladies in your life that would love some of these items? Actually, better yet, can't you picture yourself with some of these items?

post by Amanda

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Gift Ideas for Him

The holidays are quickly approaching and since last year I was a total doll and hooked you up with fantastic and affordable gift ideas for a special man in your life, I decided to do that again this year.

Send your man to his own little Valhalla with a Das Horn! I seriously can't think of a better way to consume mead during...life. $25
This is a BLT (by John Fluevog) that every man should order. $259

Bacon shaving cream. 'Nuff said. $15

Just because your fella's hands are cold doesn't mean they should be unable to use their touchscreen phone. These Leather Touchscreen Gloves are fancy as hell and he'll have ZERO excuse for not texting you back. $168

When in doubt, buy Smartwool. Nobody, NOBODY EVER will complain about receiving anything by Smartwool as a gift.
The Hemingway Cookbook offers 125 recipes from his life and works, along with other goodies such as passages from his books and personal correspondence. I know I'd like to taste what the king of joie de vivre enjoyed in his adventurous life. $14

It gets incredibly chilly in Oregon at times, and I find myself wondering how the year-round outdoors man keeps himself remotely warm during the cold season. ThermaCELL makes heated insoles that have rechargeable batteries and that is operated using a wireless remote control. You can get up to 5 hours of warmth on one charge, and they can be recharged up to 500 times. That kind of comfort when you need it most has to be worth every penny. $130

What are some of the more interesting or unique gifts you plan on giving to a special feller this year?

post by Amanda
images provided by uncrate.com

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Gratefulness

The Village Shoes gals would love to share what we are grateful for this year...

  • Music
  • Friends
  • Humor...laughter
  • Teachers- anyone dedicated to educating others.
  • The amazing and inspiring people in my daily life.
  • The constant opportunities to learn new things.
  • Vodka tonics
  • Homeland
  • The truly wonderful friends and family in my life. Too much love to handle sometimes.
  • My successful business and great employees.
  • Family
  • My health
  • Argentine Tango
  • My amazing family and friends
  • The opportunities and lessons Ashland has given me.

What are you grateful for this year?

post by Amanda

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beautiful Centerpieces for Your Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I couldn't be more excited. Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday. Growing up, it was the one time of year that I was able to see a lot of my favorite family members, so it doubled as a sort of a family reunion. Oh, and the food! The food! My family can seriously cook, so Thanksgiving was the day I seriously gorged myself. I mean, I'd eat as much as I possibly could, and then sometime later that night the family would regroup in the kitchen to enjoy pie in our pjs. The tables with their decorations always looked pretty magical. I believe that a meal that takes that much time and effort to prepare deserves a beautiful table for it to be enjoyed from.

If you're short of ideas as to how to decorate your dining table for the holiday, I found some ideas on the interwebs that I'd like to share...

Of course Martha Stewart has 15 ideas for us!

Pine Cone Flowers!

Corn Kernel Candle Displays

Found a blog with 10 simple ideas!

All you need are apples and tea lights! Easy peasy!

See anything you like? How do you typically decorate your dining table on Thanksgiving? We'd love to see what you plan on doing...feel free to post pictures and links on our Facebook page!

post by Amanda

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Somebody Make Me: Tomato Basil Soup with GRILLED CHEESE CROUTONS

It's cold. I'm wearing a sweater and a jacket right now...indoors. I feel like I should be at home, sitting on my couch wrapped up in a warm blanket with a fire going, watching a horrible chick flick while sipping hot chocolate...or maybe a spiked hot chocolate. (It's my fantasy, and I'll day drink if I want to!) Instead, I'm working and as many of you know by now, if the Village Shoes girls are working, they're eating, and if we're not eating, we're finding recipes. Halle and I came across a fantastic soup recipe on TasteSpotting.com that we think is worth sharing...

Tomato Basil Soup
3 lbs Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-oz) can plum tomatoes, with juice
1 cup  fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 cups chicken stock or water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock.

Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet.

Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Transfer to a blender or food processor and pulse until it is the texture you like. Season if needed and serve with the grilled cheese croutons.

Grilled Cheese Croutons
4 slices country white bread
Butter (enough to spread on each slice of bread)
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, sliced

The directions for this say to use a panini grill, but I don’t have one so I just used a grill pan and pressed the sandwich down with another pan on top. Butter one side of each slice of bread and place cheese slices on the unbuttered sides. Grill the sandwiches, buttered sides down, for about 5 minutes until nicely browned. Let sit on a cutting board for about a minute before cutting into 1-inch squares. Serve with tomato soup.

Doesn't that look really good? What is your favorite soup to warm up with on a cold day?

recipe and photos provided by phenomenalphoods.com
post by Amanda

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Parade In Ashland

It might have been raining in Ashland but that didn't stop people from coming out and enjoying the Halloween parade. The kids were adorable as always and it's so much fun to see how creative people are. Click here to see more photos on our facebook  page. Have a safe and happy holiday everyone!

post and photos by Stacey