Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Simplify Summer

Hi friends! I'm simplifying my Summer ....  but only with technology. Facebook, Blogging etc. are being put on the shelf to enjoy all that my favorite season has to offer. I'll be on Instagram though to keep all my memories in one place photo wise, so if you have an Instagram and would like to join me, head on over! I'm at: Cynthialaurensperin. 

While technology will take a back seat, I'm hoping to fill my summer with a long list of goals and to-dos..... So here it is:  I like to write things down so I'm more certain to fulfill each one. :)

* Visit with friends as much as possible is first... {Family is a given because they are home from college or they hang around more lol} * long evenings with dinner at the beach * leisurely shopping at local farmers markets and antiquing * spending nights starring at the stars on the patio * sunset dates with cocktails * evening boat ride buffets * North Fork wine country Vineyards * long village lunches * dinner alfresco tuscan style * clam bakes * long walks in the shade * shopping in the Hamptons * collecting sea shells and creating a few crafts with them * find a few fabulous page turning books to read on the deck * create new grilling recipes * make lots of berry pies * make homemade Jams and canning * yoga at our local beach * tend the garden * picnics in the cool shade * attempt kayaking * Dinner under the Brooklyn Bridge * visit NYC * ....  I think I've about covered it. Taking it slow, and lots of outdoor time is a must for everyone's spirit. I hope you enjoy yours and make memories that will last a lifetime!

Next summer I'll aim for Italy or Greece. :) 

I wish you all a wonderful Summer filled with blessings and good health!! 

Love, Cynthia xo 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Healthy Summer Lovin

My new love....Chia pudding. So good you'll think it's dessert!

I have to start this post with a huge thank you!! Thank you to everyone who purchased our newest issue of Mini-ologie, it means the world to us that you share in the joy of our miniature decorating magazine! From the bottom of our hearts, thank you! 

Now I'm fulfilling a promise to post about my dive into new health. As I've said before , I really thought I ate pretty healthy. But, in truth, I was consuming way too many meals with added sugar, eating too many packaged and non organic items and definitely not eating enough vegetables. My vegetables would (in the past) consist of a salad at lunch , and maybe one side veggy a day (if I was being good) with a packaged side dish of some sort and what I considered a healthy chicken cutlet with panko bread crumbs. I've come soooo far ;) And as a side effect I've lost weight I wanted , but most importantly my doctors say all my numbers have went down hugely! And in a quick 2-3 months too! I didn't think I had bad numbers till I went to my doctor (at the time) and wasn't feeling well all winter, he said he wanted to lower my cholesterol with medication because it was higher than it should be, and that that should do it. Well, needless to say, after hearing about how medication is thrown around these days, I ran home, made an appointment with a new doctor, and went to google like a crazy woman looking for a natural cure , and enough fear if converted to energy that would have lit up a small planet. 

Enjoying fresh flowers in the summer, right by the cooking area, remind me to stay natural and healthy while cooking.

The first thing I came across, sort of by accident, was when I actually googled something to the effect of "should I be scared?" .... Secretly hoping google would yell back and say "you're perfect, have no fear"!!!. Well, if you've done this before, you probably know what happened to me. Suddenly I had every disease known to man and didn't have much longer before I was in the hospital. So long story short, I felt I honestly had every symptom , of every thing. Ok , some of my symptoms WERE  because I wasn't internally perfect, but others, were fears run rampet. So after seeing many new doctors and finally finding one that asked me to consider changing the way I go about my day with food and exercise, I felt that was number one: The right way , an easy way, and most importantly the healthy way. So, I began my little journey. 

Lots of berries, coconut flakes, seeds and nuts, and deliciousness make breakfast sweet!

So back to google I went, but this time, with a new "entry" in that fabulous rectangle box that's replaced a library these days. What I came upon was actually a movie (documentary) that began my life changing habits. You might say it was there all the time , as most people I talked to have said "oh that movie?, yeah saw it years ago", but for me it was pretty new. Now this is very important to remember , I did not decide to convert everything in my life and join in some huge new movement (although lol, that's still a possible) but I took what I needed to hear and off I went to the organic vegetable isle with much more conviction and excited confidence. I'm talking about "Food Inc." I don't have time to tell you the whole movie, (you might have seen it, I think I'm the only one who didn't ) but if you need motivation or are looking to see something to help you change your ways, this is a good one. That one on Netflix, led me to a full rainy day of health and "food as medicine" documentaries. After that, it was Forks over Knives, Vegucated , and Food Matters. All amazing and eye opening. So I think it's proper to say that's where my change began. 

If someone had told me I could have pancakes every week or day for that matter, lol, I'd be right there! Now I can, just made a little differently :) Oat flour, banana, and almond flour does the trick. See my "Healthy Life" board on pinterest for the recipe!

Important side note: This blog is usually about my creative side, but like all woman , I have lots of sides. And after a few mentions of my new love of healthy eating and mentioning it here, I received so many emails asking what I "do" or "did". And since I'm one of the women who love to know myself, I decided to make a post specifically about it. Most importantly, I think it took me an entire month of full time work to weed out the wacky food diets and fads, to find what worked for me. So I wanted a place where if you're looking for advice, you won't be yelled at , or felt poisoned by eating bread or something new they come up with to write about this year and lead you to so much confusion you give up. That had happened to me too many times to count. Having said this, there ARE people who are learning they cannot eat gluten (or have allergies to foods) and their journeys will have to be slightly different. Only your doctor and nutritionist can help guide you in that direction if you have food issues as such.  

Planting my own vegetable garden was both rewarding and economically perfect for organic veggies!

So basically , for me, a couple days of watching the documentaries, then researching online for a food plan and recipes that took some of that advice, turned into 3 months later and I'm finally here. My skin has never felt so good and glowly, I have never felt so healthy and had so much energy, my weight is where I'm happy,  my doctor loves my numbers, so all is good. Finally, I get it :)!! 

It's really simple after all. Eat healthy, not too much, lots of veggies a day, organic, not too much meat (for me) , get lots of vitamin D, (the real way. I was very low), add some nuts and replace high glycemic foods with lower ones, stick with a whole foods diet, add some "super foods", and try yoga and exercise that gets you moving every day! 

Because I'm not a nutritionist (yet lol), I am not going to do a verbatim diet of what anyone should have daily, but because you've asked and I want everyone to feel as good as they can, I've given links to the ones I live by and cook by now. 

Lots of Italian Arugula and baby lettuce this week! 

The way that I came to my basic eating plan is, I used a little common sense mixed with a lot of research and weeding out fads. For instance, because I'm not allergic to bread, or gluten, or anything for that matter, I knew better than to cut them out. After all, my ancestors in the Mediterranean have been eating bread (not wonderbread lol - enriched white flours overly processed) for centuries and living till a ripe old age, for a very long time! So I'm not giving up bread darn it lol. Unless of course, I had to. And I knew while I didn't eat a lot of meat, that I wouldn't say no to it forever either. So after all my research, it seemed the "Mediterranean way" was going to be it. It would also have to include a few new "super foods" too. Like flax seeds, chia seeds, and wonderful ways of using coconut oil etc. ;) But that's because I love how I feel when I eat them, and what they do for me. Dr. Weil seemed to have the easiest to follow plan and advice. His version of the food chart worked perfectly for me. I'll leave the link here because even though I have the pyramid here (scroll down) , he goes into great detail about each section in the printable link... Then I've also studied Dan Buettner's Blue Zones. Which are a collection of studies that showed the diets and habits of places where a large (the largest actually) of centenarians live and live healthfully. Which, the Mediterranean diet fell into also. So that's how I came up with my own plan. 

All diets and food plans only work in conjunction with finding time to enjoy ourselves and take a little time each day to be at peace.

What I found and researched that was most important to me, was the amount of cookbooks and recipes on Pinterest etc, that provided delicious (and I mean hugely delicious) food ideas that I could eat often and love too. So after I knew how I wanted to eat, I filled in the blanks with yummy ideas. And trust me, there are a ton! 

Yes ice cream comes in many healthy forms! :)

If you want to see a collection of some of my favorite recipes I live by now, head over to the link on my side bar for my Pinterest account. My A Healthy Life board has so many great recipes and perfect motivation and it's another go-to of mine when I'm looking for something to cook or bake.

Even my miniatures lately have started reflecting my love of hearty breads, fruits and veggies! ;) 

I also take "regular" fabulous cookbooks, and just change a few ingredients if I have to... I love this cookbook below (and have adored the style of Ralph Lauren forever!) but I'll replace some white flours with hearty ones like sourdough, or seed and nutty flours. And because of all the new proven research that some of the healthy fats are good for us, I'll use those oils in place of some of the ones suggested in my older books. This book below is wonderful for many reasons, but I plan on some wonderful Clam Bakes this Summer, so it was just want I needed. Remember, "whole foods" made as much as possible from scratch and you'll be feeling so much healthier for it!

I bought a few vegan friendly cookbooks lately, I happen to love "Clean Eats" (below) and any cookbook with vegan choices. It's not because I'm a Vegan either, but because I want the "majority" of my choices to be plant based. So I need to keep up the interest with menus and learn fun and delicious ways to cook them. Having the organic garden right off the kitchen really helps, it's not huge, but you can pack a lot if greens into a small space when you want! Plus, that helps with organic prices too ;) 

"Clean eating" fits right in there with all the things I love to read about too! And keeping a "Food Journal" has helped me be accountable to my eating habits.

Here's a copy of the chart and link to Dr. Weil's site. I really love almost everything he has worked for and towards. And agree with 99% of it. But again, everything has to fit your own life ,like for me, I've found I can't eat too much Soy. (Without tmi, it messes with my estrogen in a negative way). So I have very little in my diet. Plus, I'm not not a tofu kinda girl either. So that worked out lol. 


Here's another chart below that interestingly and simply , shows the habits of Dan Buettner's BlueZones and what the common factors (in the center of the circle) were that gave them longer lives that were lower in heart conditions and disease. If you get a chance, read about them with the link. I found it very interesting and fascinating! 

And finally last but not least, here (below) is a quickly put together chart of what I like to eat. I love cooking and preparing meals from scratch, so that was already on my side, but as you can see, sometimes the best thing for me is a "quick" healthy meal. I'm not a fan of eating a big lunch, so personally I want as little time spent as possible on that and my choices reflect that. I like to make my own bread from scratch, but certainly a local baker can make my favorite bread (sourdough) and I would buy it there too. Btw, I read a lot of "anti-grain" books, pro-carb, against-carb, pro-protien, etc books...and after a lot of research  I found that sourdough bread was going to be my healthy bread of choice. Make sure any bread you buy is made from very few, all organic ingredients if you're buying it.

I wish I could say that organic isn't important, but it really is. And thankfully, finally, big chain stores are starting to realize we want what goes into our bodies to help them flourish, and not work against us. So I hope and pray we are on the verge of a big food revolution and this will become a more affordable norm.  In the meantime, I water my little garden, find local farmers markets, and cook like my Grandmother did way back when everything had 3-4 ingredients. And , I get my fanny up and moving as much as possible. And that my friends, is how I've decided it's best to roll. :)

My printable , very simple , food chart

One last note, my little chart above is again, put as simply as possible. Very basic. But one of the ways I vary things, and create interest is, I look up a fun way to make the "basics" when I have time. Meaning if it says: "Dinner: Chicken, veggies, and a new potato", I'll go to my Italian recipe box or Mediterranean cookbook, and look up a chicken and veggy dinner and cook it as they do in the book as long as it follows my way of eating. ** They say that people buy lots of clothes, and end up only wearing a few of those pieces in all different ways.  It's what we become accustom to..... That's how I feel about food and cooking. Considering "time" , I tend to make the same basics. Or eat a common lunch or breakfast a lot. But I change it up (from the basics in my chart above) when I want and just keep the idea somewhat the same. That's easiest for me and hopefully less time consuming. I've also found that months ago when I wasn't feeling good (which started this journey) and I took this change on, that keeping a food journal really helped! That way, when I ate something that made me feel good,  I could find it again and go back through my pages. That has been a wonderful way to keep everything in one place! Try it, I think you'll find it helps too!

So there you have it.....I hope I've helped those who emailed and even friends I've seen in person who've asked. Now it's all in one place :) Now it's on to a wonderful healthy Summer, I hope you all are having a great week! Thank you again for always being such wonderful friends!

Hugs and love, Cynthia xo

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mini-ologie is here and on sale today!


The Spring/Summer 2014 issue of Mini-ologie is finally here!! Yippee!! 

If you're looking for the perfect inspirational decorating issue, this is it! Maritza , Kim , and myself have been working so hard to bring you our prettiest magazine yet!  We're so happy to get you in the mood for the beautiful season ahead... We are also so honored to have featured 3 gorgeous flower ladies with us this time also! Thank you Marie, Jeannette, and Martha!! Your work is amazing and we're so thrilled you could join us!! 

Visit us at www.miniologie.com to get your copy today!

Thank you to our friends and supporters for being such amazing people and making our first year in the magazine world such a wonderful experience! We couldn't have done it without you! We look forward to our future issues and growing as we go along! 

Love and appreciation, Cynthia xo

Friday, May 16, 2014

Spring fever with Inspiration

Yes, it's finally officially Spring! Other than a few days of rain, it's been absolutely beautiful here and I couldn't be happier. We are busy finishing up our Spring/Summer issue of Mini-ologie so stay tuned, we are hoping it's just a matter of a few days now. It's coming along beautifully and we are so excited for you to see how inspiring and uber pretty it is! I'm short on time today, but here are a few photos of what I've been up to... and what's been inspiring me!

A few photos from Pinterest and other home and garden magazines are the perfect places to get my creative juices flowing...

A sweet Spring picnic...

Create's a picnic in Mini...

And makes me crave pie in real life too... :)

Seeing images of Spring and Summer...

Makes me excited to create Miniature Spring/Summer sweets...

Seeing a real dresser used as a buffet...

Made me create one in my backyard for a brunch filled with delights..

Visiting our NY bakeries...

Had me swooning over the basket of muffins...I had to make
something similar in Miniature...Can you tell which is which?

Jennifer's Way Bakery is a vintage styled, your grandmother's kitchen inspired , dream come true for the actress Jennifer Espesito. It's located in NYC on the east side and is completely gluten-free, whole
food based, all natural, made fresh all day long Bakery and just fabulous in every way!
If you come to NY or live here, you must go!

Here's my little version... :)

Speaking of super healthy and delicious, besides working on Miniologie
and my miniatures, I've been working (as I said it the previous post) full time
on my own health.

I'm happy to say I'm very close to my goal weight , and the "numbers"
I cared more about are all now perfect and I couldn't feel more blessed and happy
about that. I feel like if I can do it, anyone can! I'm a food lover and I love the process
of sitting down to a delicious meal with family and friends and not feeling deprived!
That has never been easier than it is now. We have so much information out there and
recipes, and books too. The trick was finding what worked for me. And I must say, more
importantly, I wanted to weed out the "fad diets" and over the top extremists and just find
something that was the most healthy way to eat.

Basically, that's whole foods, less sugar, no processed foods and white flours,
lots of plants and veggies and organic foods.  I'll be sharing more about my life
and health changing decisions and details, in upcoming posts, but if you'd like to
follow along or start on your own journey, my Pinterest board is full of recipes and
motivation: Just go to my Pinterest: Cynthia Lauren Sperin and the board is "A Healthy Life".
In a couple weeks after our Miniologie is out , I will be posting much more about what
I eat and how this has made everything in my life even more wonderful!

Here's a little sneak peek at my board...

Taking care of yourself makes everything in life so much richer. Besides
having something to keep passionate about such as hobbies with Mini's , or  hobbies
in basically anything, we all need to make sure we come from healthy places
in our lives so we are the best we can be. I'm so happy I found a way to make
that delicious and fun too!

Here's one of many delicious green smoothie's I love...

Just add to blender in this order: 1/4 cup water, 1 carrot, 1/2 cucumber, 2 tbs. Greek yogurt,
1 cup fresh spinach, 1 apple. Delicious and so fresh! Enjoy!

We'll be letting everyone know when Mini-ologie is out in a few days, so thank you for
your patience everyone!

Enjoy your weekend and I hope it's filled with beautiful weather and great health! 

Hugs and kisses!! 

Cynthia xo

Monday, March 10, 2014

Is it Spring yet?


Hello friends! Yes it's been awhile, that's for sure. Our winter has been way too long for my taste, but the last couple of weekends we've had some nice weather finally , and I can see Spring around the corner! It can't get here soon enough though. :)

 The best thing to do while waiting for the lush green grass and buds to sprout , is keep busy preparing for it...  That's exactly what I've been doing ;) Preparing. 


I've been busy in the mini kitchen baking up lots of sweets for a Bakery I'm working on for the Spring issue of Mini-ologie. And here's a little peek of some "fresh from the oven" cakes that will line the counters. 


I've also been working on a little kitchen with a laundry room. (ps: Thank you Diane Melcher!)


I've been trying my hand at a few new techniques also. Some of my mini cakes will be a smooth dense surface and others will be flaky , deep with delicious buttery moistness like below. I call it the Duncan Hines look ;) 


This is my little inspiration board for the Bakery below... It'll have some of the aspects of a favorite bakery of mine. Sweet Melissa's. Which closed it's doors in Brooklyn, but still has a website. I sure do miss walking in there! 


I've also been playing with air-dry clay (below) and Copic and Distress markers. It's been so much fun learning new ways to design miniature food! I love experimenting and playing scientist. I never want to stop learning because to me, that's half the fun. I'm not sure I'd switch over from polymer to air dry clay, but it's fun for certain items. 


                               Well the past month hasn't been all about minis. It's been about finding time to be good to myself and get as healthy for the new year as I can.  I've always appreciated good wholesome food , with little processed food in my diet. But now, I've taken it a step further by switching over to all organic , very plant based , much less meat, etc way of eating. I love my pies /sweets as most of you know, lol, but there is room for everything if cooked and baked with my health in mind. I've grown to love a daily green shake, fresh whole organic milk, and so many amazing new foods. So far my body has thanked me by shedding 20 pounds (that I've wanted off for years lol) and it's like my insides are much happier. :) Which btw, over the winter, I was sick so often with one thing or another, that I did this diet/lifestyle turn-around just to finally get well! So it was sort of by default, lol, but however I got here it was worth it and I've never felt better. 

As a miniature artist, a lot of time is spent on creating and sculpting and I'm afraid I wasn't balancing that with enough exercise throughout the day, so now my running shoes have a lot more worn out treads on them and that's been a great change for me. It's great to love working on miniatures, but I've got to remember to make myself a priority too! 

Be good to you!! ;) 


Here are a few photos of some delicious and healthy foods I've fallen in love with. I plan on starting a recipe collection and tips board on Pinterest, so stay tuned if you'd like some great ideas for meals, organic gardening, and easy life changing ideas. Who can refuse a chicken pot pie that is guilt free?! Or how great is it to learn that whole milk is allowed in a healthy diet? I was so used to skim milk, I actually didn't think I'd love "whole" again, or even want to drink it. I'm not even a big milk person, but it's just delicious! And of course, being a vintage style loving girl, who doesn't love an old fashioned milk bottle? ;) Honestly, milk tastes better by a mile when in glass! 


I spent a little time enjoying our local farm markets this weekend. I was actually out shopping for seeds for my garden this Spring, but I got very side tracked at a new farmers market on Long Island.  I loved that I didn't have to drive out east on the island to get there either,  it was practically right around the corner! 

Thank you Kerber's Farm , for having such a fabulous bakery filled with fresh baked beauties and the best apple crumb pie (and gluten free to boot) that I've ever eaten! (and that's including a regular flour based one!).

Here's a little tour... I can only imagine how great it'll be when your garden vegetable shop is filled , and the flowers are blooming! I'll be back often! 


They also sell wonderful kitchen accessories too!!



And of course, I can't wait till your cases are filled with fresh eggs daily. I hope they start over flowing soon, or I might have to start raising chickens myself  :).   I say that with a giggle , but honestly, I've been researching chickens a lot this week.  I found out my township allows up to 8 in our backyard, so I got all excited and I've been trying to convince Mr. Cottage that they will fit right in! If anyone has "raising chickens in suburbia"  tips or thoughts, I'd love to hear! 


I wanted to bring home this salvaged door from Kerbers with me, perfect as a kitchen island or coffee table! ;) 




I stocked up on some delicious Jams, homemade sweets , and just had such a nice time visiting this sweet little farm. 




After our visit, my girl gang (Mom and Melanie) and our driver (Mr. Cottage) were off to get what we came out for.... Garden goodies: Seeds, books, ideas, and fresh veggies from another local farm: Makinajian's. 

I love this place too! And being that we've only had pockets of 50+ degree days here and there, when it's nice out, you've got to keep going lol! 


I'm hoping when I'm all finished "preparing" for Spring/Summer, the end result will be something like this kitchen garden photo below. (Ellen Ecker Ogden- The Complete Kitchen Garden book


One of each below....and more inside   :) 


But for now, it's veggies from the market.... 



So while the snow keeps melting..... you'll find me reading garden books, researching backyard chickens, making miniatures and scenes for Spring Mini-ologie and .... last but not least..  Eating a tiny slice of healthy pie :) 


I hope the beginning of Spring is coming your way too!

Oops, I almost forgot... I also got rid of my non-stick cookware this winter. I've cooked with both iron and non stick for as long as I've been cooking, but now I've decided to go to all Iron. Food just tastes so much better cooked the old fashioned way, not to mention how much healthier cooking in 
Cast iron is! If you haven't tried it yet, I highly reccomend it! 


I couldn't resist a little lamb cookie cutter when I ordered my new pan set. :) 


                          I wish you all ...a beautiful , charming , and healthy week ahead! 


"Enjoy the simple things..... like the quiet time of day when the sun streams onto the kitchen counter, and the smell of Spring is in the morning air".

Hugs and love, 

Cynthia x0