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    Sophie's Shoppe Blog

    At home with Zeen

    At home with Zeen

    What have you been doing at home?

    Cooking! We’ve had more time on our hands to start exploring culinary flavors, from around the world. I picked up a cookbook, from our shoppe, called “Bowls.” Ya’ll, this cookbook is a game changer for those who want vibrant recipes with endless possibilities! Last night’s yaki udon bowl (pg.115) struck me with memories of my travels to Southeast Asia. The sweet chili garlic sauce really sets it off! We’ve also really been mastering our Italian dishes- Spaghetti Carbonara, Shrimp Linguini and Fettucine Alfredo- Buon Appetito! Tonight, we’ll be going south of the border, for Mexican taco night; a simple, but flavor-punched meal. Dinners at our house have become a tribute to cultures around the world, as we pour our love (and spices!) into each of these dishes.

    What has been the best thing?

    I’ve really been getting to enjoy my front porch, as we transition into Spring. I have a slight plant obsession and pretty much turned my porch into a jungle. Our Spring+Garden section on the website definitely inspired me to ground down and dig into this season, with all the cool finds we have in store. I’ve now cultivated a serene sanctuary, where I enjoy cups of tea and my latest book, by the morning sun. Book Recommendations, you ask? 😉

    • “Becoming Supernatural” by Dr. Joe Dispenza
    • “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” by Vishen Lakhiani
    • “Dream Alchemy” by Ted Andrews

     Most challenging thing?

    It’s challenging to utilize your time at home in efficient ways; however, now is the time! I urge everyone to turn off the TV, put down your phone, and take time to turn inward. Make a list of goals and envision the future you want to create, after all this passes.  I encourage you to start a new hobby, to read your favorite book that has been collecting dust on the shelf, learn a new instrument, study a different language, or piece together a puzzle. We have more time on our hands than we are used to. Write a letter to a friend. Pull out watercolors or markers and just let your creativity take hold. The opportunities are endless! It’s important that we make use of our time and energy in positive ways.

    Stay well, humanity!

    Zeen

    Creating during Quarantine

    Creating during Quarantine

    As bizarre is it may sound, the quarantine for Covid-19 has been something of a dream come true. If you know me, you know I love being home, surrounded by my stuff, my dog, and maybe most importantly, my art supplies.  I have been so overjoyed with the ample time to work around the house and in my studio. I've loved the focused intention when preparing my meals...  Before the quarantine, I rarely cooked at home, let alone used more than one pan per meal.  Now I am happy to make a mess of the whole kitchen, dirtying up dishes and leaving a stack of pans in the sink while sipping wine and working on a puzzle.  Self-isolating has been so fulfilling for me. 
    What I'm most excited about though, is the art. 
    You may or may not know, but I've been painting these little blocks for the shoppe for two years now. I am so happy with their progression and I am so in love with each little building that I create.  Most I refer to as "barns", but some bring hints of church aesthetics and cabin-like architecture. 
    I get asked often if these are recreations of actual buildings or from my imagination and the answer is yes...both are true. I would say that most are from my imagination but I cannot deny that I draw greatly on my childhood memories and it's hard to say what my subconscious might be showing. Growing up, I spent a lot of time out in the country and the more barns I paint, the more memories I get of those times. The long car rides especially come to mind, aimlessly staring out the window watching the scenery roll by.
    It’s very possible that each barn I’ve painted has passed by my sleepy eyes after a long summer day on the farm.

    Flavor of the Week

    Flavor of the Week

    Recently I gave myself a personal challenge in hopes to gain some useful skills.  I want to be more comfortable in the kitchen and more knowledgeable about the ingredients I use.  The challenge was simple: find recipes that I can actually follow with ingredients that are easily attainable and realistic to have around.  None of this “1/2 teaspoon of cayenne paste” nonesene.... I mean, what even is that and will I really ever use it again or am I going to have a full bottle of ‘whatever it’s called’ expiring in my pantry?

    Despite the simplicity of my new challenge, progress has been slow because of social life, energy levels post-working all day, convienece, you name it.  But that’s the whole point...no more excuses and a lot more getting my pots and pans dirty! 
    I also personally believe that every cookbook should be filled with photos, if nothing more than to compare your own attempt at the dish, but half the appeal of food is in the presentation.  So as I was flipping through “Chloe Flavor” ($27.99) the image of the Corn Carbonara immediately caught my eye (pg 140).  I was sold after reading the recipe because I already had 9 out of the 10 ingredients in my pantry at home. Awesome!!!
    Seriously I fell in love with this cookbook because of how simple everything was laid out to be.  Such easy steps to follow all the way down to prepping the ingredients.  Everything was fresh which made it fun and felt good to cook with.  The only ingredient I had to buy was the cherry tomotoes and something about coming home with fresh produce already makes me feel more accomplished. 
    I used my stacking measuring cups to portion everything out and keep it simple to add one by one as the pasta cooked. (Hand-Painted Measuring Cups $24) I even puréed my own sauce to complete the Carbonara (and I’m definitely not the sauce-making type).  I mean it y’all...so easy!
    The finished product was nothing short of delicious.  I was very pleased to see a pot full of leftovers for my assured midnight snack and following lunches.  I recommend keeping a tea towel ($14) nearby to help with the handling of hot pans and the inevitable splash zone when straining the noodles.  I paired my pasta with potatoes and pan-seared salmon, because frankly, both needed to be cooked.  No complaints though, the combination made for a perfect dinner.  Who says you have to eat veggies everyday anyway? ....Don’t answer that.
    Anyways, I hope y’all enjoy and find something that inspires your next kitchen crusade!
    Check back to keep me accountable! :)

    Minty Fresh for Spring

    Minty Fresh for Spring

    Finally! The trees are full of leaves, the mornings are crisp and the days are warm. 
    It is FINALLY time for SPRING!
    I don’t know about you but for me, spring is all about being outside, taking in nature and its growth, and of course...cocktails. 
    I love this new self-watering herb kit the team discovered earlier this and started carrying here at the shoppe in time for spring! Choose your favorite...from mint, cilantro, basil, and parsley, each for $32!  These all-inclusive kits are not only super nifty and neat looking, they are spot on for the season!  Herbs need warm weather and lots of sunlight to be healthy so the timing is just about perfect to start growing some goodies.
    The setting up process is simple, but pay close attention to the directions.  Different seeds require different amounts of light and oxygen, so depending on which herb you are planting, you will want to heed the instructions to see which technique to use during the seeding step.  
       
    I LOVE plant life but couldn’t decide which herb to grow. With the weekend approaching, I flipped through a few cocktail cookbooks and got inspired by some of the yummiest looking recipes in a few of our new bar books. (“Forager’s Cocktails” $14.95) ( “The New Cocktail Hour” $22).  But if neither of those have any recipes to quench your thirst, we have tons more to choose from!
    Happy growing!!
    -jen

    Decorating your home with the natural benefits of plant life.

    Decorating with Plants

    Spring is in the air! With the sunshine out and warmer days ahead, it's always a welcomed transition to open all the doors and windows and feel the excitement of life bloom from those cold, dark winter days. It was our last new moon that I began weeding and tilling the garden, to prepare growing food for the Spring+ Summer. ....Snap peas, kale, swiss chard, lemon balm, bok choy... just a few of my favorites to add to any dish. I find that working and being around plants evokes a sense of serenity and oneness with nature.

    It's that sense of feeling that also has my house beaming with plants and bringing a liveliness to my space. House plants are good for your health; they release oxygen into your home, control humidity and purify the air. On top of all the health benefits, botanics are one of the hottest interior trends at the moment. One of my longest living plant babies is a standard Sophie's botanical: the Victorian Leaf Bird's Nest Fern ($21). This spider-like plant unfurls from the center up and brings a blooming brightness to any space. Mine loves the bright, indirect light it receives from the morning hours, in my kitchen. Moist soil is a must for these, so they require a little more TLC and in turn exudes a lot of life. 



    Other fantastic, and far less needy plants, are succulents! Everyone is talking about how these guys are making a come back. Listen y'all, they never went out of style! These low-maintenance plants are perfect for any smaller space that needs a pop of life and color. Avoid buying soft succulents; the hardier specimen, such as Echeveria or Sempervivum, are going to be much easier to keep alive. Did you know that most people kill succlents by over-watering them? The truth is, the more you neglect it, the more it thrives! Only water succulents when the soil is dry. Always *soak* the soil when watering; do not use a spray bottle. Most succulents do well in full or partial sun, but they love 30%-50% shade in the mid-summer heat. Indoors, they prefer a bright window, but if you see stretching or discoloration, they need more Vitamin-D. (aka: sunshine)... It might sound like a lot, but they truly tend to take care of themselves! Check out our 5-votive candle holder ($68) with the succulent+moss combo. This one is perfect for a dining room table or kitchen island!

    Looking for a plant that doesn't require much light or water? Check out the stylist ZZ Plant (Short for Zamioculcas Zamifolia) This African species is virtually industructable! Add it into one of our cute, small palm leaf ($28) or seagrass baskets and toss it on your desktop or next to the couch. It tolerates low light and minimal water well. This is the ideal plant for your low-light office. We know everyone is on the hunt for a plant like this.



    My all time favorite house plant is my tropical, birds of paradise plant. Well, it's more like a tree. I bought it at about 3'5" tall and it now towers over me at 6' ft. This one has what I like to call "elephant ear" leaves and sits like roayality in a bright, south-facing window, to receive optimal light. It's the focal point of my living room and is often the host of conversations.

    You find that living with plants will teach you how to create bespoke beautiful botanics for your home or even your office. It's perfect for those in an urban city, where outdoor space is limited and pollution levels are high; or for those who prefer to bring nature into their suburban homes. Caring for plants is a therapeutic and stress-relieving activity. I find that living with plants makes us more harmonious and brings life and stimulates creativity within the interior of our homes. Happy plants, happy home~

    xx,
    Zeen