photo icon1_zpseff71810.png 365 Days With Sara Style: 2015

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Food Glorious Food

If you follow me on Instagram, you will quickly see that I could be considered a "foodie" I don't just look at food as something I eat out of convenience or hunger.  I consider food a hobby.  I like to try new restaurants. I like to read restaurant reviews on Yelp.  I like to cook at home. I like to try new recipes. I also like to post photos of what I eat.  

When my boys were young, I started an easy way to make dinner plans for the month.  Starting with the youngest, I asked for five meals he would like to have for dinner. Then I asked my oldest, my husband, and finally added my own choices.  The one rule was that you could not duplicate anything already on the list.  With 20 meal ideas now on paper, I was able to use the four lists and have an idea from each person each week of the month.  In a typical month of 30 days, having 20 meal ideas on my list made figuring what things to make the other 10 days seem like a breeze.  I would always add one new recipe every week (and many times these became family favorites).  Typically we would plan on eating out or getting carry-out/pizza one time a week, so I was now up to 28 days out of 30 days with no stress of "What's for Dinner?".  It made grocery shopping easier, it made meal preparation easier, it made sure we had a variety of food every single week, and it made sure we didn't get in a rut of having the same thing every single week.

Do you meal plan?  If so, do you plan a month or a week at a time?  Do you prefer to figure out what you are going to eat for dinner that morning (or maybe just decide what to eat when you are ready to eat)?  Do your family members help in figuring out what you are going to do each night for dinner, or does one of them do the planning and preparing and you just eat what they fix?

One of the meals that I added in as a new recipe one month became a family favorite.  There are several reasons I like this particular recipe.  Of course it tastes great, but it also is a great meal in the hot summer months and cold winter months too. It is easy to throw together in a few minutes, makes the house smell fantastic, and it is good as leftovers (if you have any!).  I hope you try this and enjoy it.  Please let me know if you do!

French Dip

3-4 lb chuck roast
2 cups beef broth (I like to use the lower sodium version)
1 package Au Jus Gravy Mix 
1 package Italian Salad Dressing Mix

Place the roast in crock pot.  Warm the 2 cups of beef broth in microwave for 30 seconds, add the two mix packages to the broth and stir. When the powders are mixed in, pour over the mixture over the
roast.  Turn on low for 6-8 hours.

When ready to serve, take the roast out of the crock pot and place on serving plate.  Shred the meat with two forks, and place on submarine buns.  Serve with a side of the juice from the crock pot.  Dip the sandwich in the au jus to eat.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Work of Art

In the hills of the Berkshires, known for its picturesque small towns, there is a rich art scene where you can browse cutting edge art, music, dance, theater, film and video exhibits at Mass MoCA, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (, in North Adams.   Mass MoCA has been open since 1999 in what was once a factory, but now houses memorable artwork that is both fresh and thought-provoking,

A street map outside of the museum shows what delights await in North Adams.

As you walk towards the museum, you will be struck by one of my favorite works, "Tree Logic".  "Tree Logic" is Natalie Jerimejenko's tree 'experiment' and is located at the museum entrance.  One of the original displays at Mass MoCA, Jerimejenko's six trees have hung upside down since 1999, growing downwards and upwards at the same time.  Over the years, Jerimejenko has continually collected data about the trees' growth. 

Currently on display, Jena Priebe's installation, "The Secret Lives of Books" is part of the exhibition "Bibliothecaphilia".  This particular piece is another of my favorite things at the museum (so go soon so you can see it!)  This particular piece is about the books we read and their potential.  A book has so much power with an endless supply of knowledge and adventure.  I really felt this work related how we can experience many lives through the pages of books, and that was part of the attraction of this piece for me.  

No mention of Mass MoCA would be complete without a nod to Sol LeWitt's  "A Wall Drawing Retrospective".  Opened to the public in 2008, it will be on view for 25 years.  The exhibition consists of 105 large-scale wall drawings that LeWitt spent nearly 40 years creating.  Taking up nearly an acre of specially built interior walls that were installed per LeWitt's specification, this is the closest thing that MASS MoCA has to a permanent collection. 

Walking up the ramp toward the LeWitt exhibit

Just a part of one of the pieces

For the first time ever, all six of artist Francesco Clemente's exquisitely detailed, embroidered, hand-painted canvas tents have been assembled in one single and dynamic exhibition.  "Encampment" is only up until January 2016.


Ran Hwang "Untethered" was one of the most gorgeous installations at MASS MoCA.  Using thousands of buttons and pins to create a 140-foot sculpture, the representation of birds was simply stunning.  

A visit to Mark Dion's "Octagon Room" is the chance to browse through an abandoned office.  But not just any office, this installation is equal parts Victorian sitting room, military bunker and a cabinet of curiosity.  The 19th century mania for octagon buildings was the inspiration for this work, and you could visit this room over and over and see something new every time.

Marko Remec:  "Totally Totem" is one of the outdoor installations that MASS MoCA is known for.  Over 500 convex mirrors wrapped around a massive water tower.  

What looks like part laboratory and  part library, Michael Oatman's "All Utopias Fell" gives the appearance that an occupant stepped away for a minute, but now it's 30 years later.  Although you can see part of the work from the ground, you really need to climb the stairs in the old Boiler Plant so that you can enter and take in the entire piece.

Depending on which way you enter the town of North Adams, one of the things you will possibly see is Franz West's  "Les Pommes d'Adam".  An outdoor sculpture that takes it's name and inspiration from Adam's apple, most of the public takes it as a different part of the male anatomy.

The Anselm Kiefer's exhibition at MASS MoCA includes "Narrow are the Vessels", a sculpture made of cast concrete, exposed rebar and lead that looks like waves, and "Velimir Chlebnikov", 30 paintings that deal with nautical warfare.   

Hopefully you have made it this far, because I have saved my favorite thing for last. An installation that combines video, sound and text, "Eclipse" by Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris is about species extinction.  It was one of the most intense art experiences I have ever had.  I can't even begin to describe it, but if you ever have a chance to see it, make sure you do!  It was fantastic!

If you have a chance to visit the Berkshires, and I would recommend you find your way there, definitely make time to visit North Adams, Massachusetts and stop by Mass MoCA.  What museum have you been to that you would recommend to others? 

Sunday, July 26, 2015


I attended a training class for work this past week.  I have always had a love of learning and getting paid to go to class seems like a dream come true!  (Of course, it's only a dream if the person conducting the training is good, and fortunately I thought this person was good).  I  especially like those times when I learn something new, or I hear something that really makes me think.  This type of learning makes me happy.

One thing I made a note of during my class was a question the trainer asked about complacency - 'Does anything great happen when you are complacent?'  I felt I knew what complacent meant, but I wanted an accurate definition. Just in case you were wondering, the best definition I found for complacency  was "...a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better."

After looking at the definition, this question is one of those things that I really thought about a lot more. Some of those thoughts include:

"Being satisfied is not a bad thing."
"But, wanting to make things better is also a good thing."
"What's wrong with being satisfied?"
 "Why isn't satisfaction a great thing?"
 "Are people ever satisfied?"
"How can you make things better if you aren't satisfied with the way they are?"
"If you are trying to make things better, but fail, will you ever be satisfied with what you already have?"
Being satisfied and being content don't necessarily mean the same thing.

So, even though I think my teacher simply meant to get people to try to achieve more (it was a work related training after all), the more I thought about what she asked, the more I have thought about what she said.

I'd love to know what you think!  I'd love to hear your thoughts on being satisfied.  Is it a good thing or is it not challenging you to be better?  What do you think about her question?  Does anything great happen when you are complacent?  Is being satisfied different from being content to you?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Trainwreck of Emotion

Trainwreck, the movie, is by no means the disaster implied by its title. A raunchy romantic comedy written by "it girl" of the moment, Amy Schumer, Trainwreck is somewhat of a traditional romance movie with a happy ending.

Rated R (and deservedly so), this rom-com is anything but old-fashioned, with unapologetic sexual humor.  Amy Schumer not only wrote, but also stars as the adult daughter of a father who taught her that monogamy was unrealistic.  Taking his advice, Amy has become as promiscuous as her father, while her younger sister took the opposite path, marries and wants to have a family.

Working at a men's magazine that is exploitive and sexist, Amy, who has no interest in sports, gets assigned to writing an article on an important sports physician.  It turns out that this physician (played by Bill Hader) is charmed by Amy with her uninhibited spirit.  He is even more intrigued when she has no idea who his best friend, Lebron James, is.  Despite herself, Amy finds that she is attracted to this decent guy as well.

The developing relationship, how Amy grows up and learns to love herself is at the heart of the movie, but the story of Amy's father,  Connor (Colin Quinn) ends up giving emotional depth to the film.  In a crude and blunt movie, the touching story of having an ill parent gave the movie a chance to show a sweeter side.

The movie does get off-track toward the end, but like any good happily ever after story, the finale does give the movie goer the ability to leave with a smile.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Do The Funky Chicken

Pasta has always been one of my favorite things to eat.   When I say pasta, I do mean any kind of pasta and every kind of pasta.   I like marinara sauce, alfredo sauce, vodka cream sauce, sage cream brown butter sauce, pesto.   You name the sauce, the chances are, I've tried it and I've liked it.  As for the different types of pasta, I like them all too, whether it is spaghetti, fettuccine, lasagna, manicotti, penne, farfalle, or ziti.

Fortunately, I passed on the love of pasta to my children.   Now that they are adults and only home for a meal or two, it is still not unusual for me to make some type of pasta for them when I can.   Instead of making a turkey or ham for Christmas dinner, I now make homemade lasagna.

When it comes time to plan meals at my house, I will include at least one pasta dish every week.   I definitely include our favorite regular dishes in these plans, but I also like to try new recipes and occasionally these become our new favorites.   This is what happened with the recipe I'm including here.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta


2 chicken breasts

salt and pepper

1 box of Farfalle pasta

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons flour

1 envelope ranch dressing mix

2 cups milk

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1 package bacon bits

This can be made in one pot from start to finish.  First, boil the chicken breasts in large pot of water with a good sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Drain the cooked chicken, chop and set aside.

Using the same pan, bring salted water to boil and add farfalle.  Return to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside while assembling sauce.

Take the same pan, add 2 TB of butter, melt over low heat and stir in 2 TB flour.  When mixed together, add 2 cups of milk and one package of ranch dressing and stir until dissolved.  Add 2 cups of cheddar cheese (I like the Velvetta shredded because it melts very quickly).  Once the cheese is melted, add the cooked chicken and bacon bits.  After mixing well, stir in the cooked pasta.  Serve from the same pot.

Serves 4.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Talkin' Baseball

This year, Cincinnati hosted the 2015 All Star Game for Major League Baseball.  Whether you were a baseball fan or not, it was hard to ignore the excitement that overtook the city as it was preparing for this major sporting event. Everywhere you looked, everywhere you went, you saw signs of the city getting ready - the buildings were decorated, stores were full of merchandise, and mustaches were popping up all over the region.

Now you may be reading that and saying, "Mustaches?  What do you mean, mustaches?"  Well, one way the city of Cincinnati prepared for the visitors to the area was to place statues of  handlebar mustaches, decorated with  All Star or Red's inspired art and words, at some iconic locations in the area.  These statues are 8 feet long, 2.5 feet high and weigh about 850 pounds.

And now, you may be wondering exactly what a mustache statue has to do with a baseball event?  Because, Cincinnati is the city that was home to the first professional baseball team, The Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869. If you were to look at a photograph of the 10 men on that baseball team, you would see most of them were wearing mustaches, and most of those mustaches were of the handlebar variety.  The Cincinnati Reds (the name that the current professional baseball team is called) now has a mascot called Mr. Redlegs, and Mr. Redlegs sports a handlebar mustache.  

As soon as it was announced that 20 of these mustaches were going to be placed around the area, I decided it was a great idea to go to the 20 locations and get photos!  I wanted photos of the mustaches, but I  also wanted some photos of the area that the mustache was located at.  These locations are a real "where to go" list for visitors and also for residents, who may not always take the time to see the beautiful city they live in.  I was not alone in my quest to find these mustaches, it actually became quite the thing to do in the area.  Not only were visitors and residents seeking to go to these locations, brides and grooms were having their pictures taken at a mustache, a hashtag #getyourstacheon  became a popular tagline, and instagram feeds were getting filled with photos of the different mustaches.

Cincinnati is not alone in putting statues around town to highlight an event.  In 2004, Houston placed giant cowboy boots around town.  This is not even the first time that Cincinnati has had large statues located around the city. In 2000,  and again in 2012, large pig statues were decorated and placed around the city.  

Have you ever been to a city that had their own statues or markers placed around to coincide with a major event?  Did you try to find these markers?  If you haven't had the chance to do a hunt like this, would you do it if you had the opportunity? 

If you live near or can visit Cincinnati, I highly recommend looking for the mustaches.  In case you don't get to visit soon, I am adding photos of the 21 mustaches.  Yes, I originally said 20 mustaches, because all official lists and maps show 20.  However, there is an unofficial mustache, and it was a must see to me!

Our first mustache, this spot is a great one to visit anytime.  It is an overlook in Eden Park, and a beautiful view into Northern Kentucky.
This mustache gets you across the Ohio River into Newport, Kentucky, where an aquarium, shopping center and restaurants are located.  It also gives you the chance to look back across the river into Cincinnati.

This location is one of my favorite views on the mustache map.  It sits next to the Roebling Suspension Bridge, which was the suspension bridge that came before the Brooklyn Bridge.  I didn't include a photo with the bridge in it, because I want you to go see it in person!

This is another must see spot.  Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is not only a gorgeous building, it is the home to three museums as well as an IMAX theatre and other organizations.

The most Northern mustache location is at a recently renovated baseball complex.  If you visit this location on a weekend, the chances are good that you will see some baseball games in progress.

We started our second mustache hunt at Paul Brown Stadium, the home to Cincinnati's professional football team, the Bengals.  

This mustache sits at one of the entrances to Smale Park, and across the street from the Great American Ball Park, the current home to the Cincinnati Reds baseball team.  Smale Park is a definite place to visit!  It has a large, unique carousel, a giant foot piano, colored water fountains and large family swings, just to name a few things that you will see.

This location at Yeatman's Cove is down the path from Smale Park, and has a great view back across to the Newport Aquarium.

After you pass the view at Yeatman's Cove, you will come into Sawyer Point, and see the statue of Cincinnatus.  The city was named after this civic leader that gained fame for his selfless devotion to the Roman Republic.

A busy spot, this location is outside the front gate to the home of Cincinnati Reds, the Great American Ball Park.  

Located at a popular area called The Banks, this mustache has a great spot across from the Roebling Bridge entrance on the Ohio side of the river, as well as across the street from the beautiful new carousel at Smale Park.

Not many statues of a beardless Abraham Lincoln exist, but this one is located in Cincinnati at Lytle Park.

Located at a busy intersection, this mustache carries that now famous tagline #getyourstacheon

Another beautiful spot that I had never been before my hunt, was City Hall.  Yes, it is a beautiful building listed on the National Register.

This mustache was unique in that it was the only one that shows all of the professional baseball team logos (the other half are on the reverse side), and is located at the convention center.

This is the mustache that was furthest away from most people, because it was at the airport. It was such a beautiful setting - and the closest to a Starbucks!

Located inside a hotel lobby in downtown Cincinnati, this mustache was located across from Fountain Square, the symbolic center of the city.

Found in an area of the city called Over The Rhine (OTR), this mustache gets you into the trendy and historic part of Cincinnati.  Notice the mural in the background?  The entire OTR area is covered in awesome works of art, and is a great place to visit for food, shopping and sight-seeing.

This mustache is located inside of Washington Park, an 8 acre park inside the city, and has the beautiful Music Hall across the street.

 Located at Findlay Market, the state's oldest continuously operated public market, this is a great place to find your groceries, a good meal and unique items (as well as some awesome gelato!).  

Finally, the "unofficial" mustache.  This photo doesn't even begin to show the amazing view that you will be seeing if you visit the Incline Public House restaurant in the background.  Just go!     


Sunday, July 12, 2015

I'm Back

I decided to come back to the blogging world.  There.  Now that I've said it out loud and typed it, it is real.  I've debated for a while whether or not to return and write on this website.  I am changing it up though.  No more photos of just me and what outfit I put together all of the time (that's really just not me).  I want to be more genuine, more true to who I am.  I still like clothes, in fact, I wear them every day!  So, there may be occasional photos of me in them, but there will be other things - maybe places I'm at or been to, maybe food I'm eating or ate, maybe things I'm doing, reading, seeing, challenges I'm undertaking.  I am a woman of many interests, and I love the variety of our world, getting to see what is out there in this wonderful world (even though I don't really get to travel to a lot of awesome and cool places).  So, if you're up for it...I'm like Eminem - I'm Back!

For my first post, I want to post the cool plaque I saw at SteinMart.  I  either need to go back to buy it, or recreate it myself - which do you think I should do?