Beantown Life Community Events: Week of March 23, 2015

Friday, March 27 from 3:00 P.M. -7:00 P.M.
FINAL Dorchester Winter Farmers’ Market
Great Hall in Codman Square – 6 Norfolk Street in Dorchester (Corner of Talbot Avenue and Washington Street)
Last chance for a farmers’ market in Dorchester until the summer market season starts in June. Featured vendors:

Sunday, April 1-May 20 from 6:30 P.M. – 7:45 P.M.
Earthseed Free Community Yoga (info and registration)
122 Dewitt Drive
Roxbury, MA

Would you like to see your upcoming event listed or invite me to check it out? Contact me!

Thirsty Thursday Tech Talk: Wine Apps

Remember that amazing bottle of wine at dinner the other night or the lovely champagne at that event but the name escaped your mind while at the wine shop? No more wondering or guessing because in this age of technology, there are wine apps! I know, I know,  more apps to download and clutter your phone BUT these are handy. In fact, it was how I was able to catalogue some of the wines I sampled at the 2015 Boston Wine Expo.

Drync (Free – Apple App Store or Google Play): Simple and easy to set up and use. Take a clear picture of the wine label and the app will find the matching wine name and vintage. You can rate the wine and write your own tasting notes you can share on FaceBook and Twitter. If you are a little shy about sharing your notes, this app allows you to write a private note for each wine in your catalogue. One of my favorite features of the Drync app is the option to add a wine to your wishlist or purchased list. More importantly, Drync includes a purchase and delivery feature!
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Vivino (Free- Apple App Store  | Google Play | Windows Phone): For the social wine lovers, this app offers more sharing options that includes Instagram and Google+ in addition to FaceBook and Twitter AND you can also follow other wine enthusiasts who use the app! Additional app features include wine ranking in the region/country/globally; where it is selling nearby; winery information; winemaker notes; serving tips; and vintage comparison. There is an option to write notes or review but no additional private option. For the more serious oenphiles, Vivino also has a premium option for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 annually.
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Are you using any wine apps? If so, which ones are you using? If not, how do you keep a catalogue of wines you sampled and like?

Beantown Life Community Events: Week of March 6, 2015

Thursday, March 5th 6:30-8:30pm
Franklin Park Boston2024 Olympics Meeting
Franklin Park Golf Clubhouse

Hear from organizers to learn about plans for Franklin Park. You will have a chance to ask questions and engage in a community discussion. Read more about the plans and see maps on the Franklin Park Coalition website.

Friday, March 6 from 3:00 P.M. -7:00 P.M.
Dorchester Winter Farmers’ Market
Great Hall in Codman Square – 6 Norfolk Street in Dorchester (Corner of Talbot Avenue and Washington Street)

Friday, March 6 from 6:30 P.M. – 10:00 P.M.
Dinner & A Movie (tickets)
Haley House Bakery Cafe
2 Dade Street
Roxbury, MA 02119

FILMS:

The No Name Painting Society
Maestra
Cowboys of Color

 Would you like to see your upcoming event listed or invite me to check it out? Contact: info@lifebyzen.com

Recap: 2015 Boston Wine Expo

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Wine lovers from all over came to Boston to attend the 2015 Boston Wine Expo on Valentine’s Day weekend despite feet-high mounds of snow, freezing cold temperatures and a forecasted snow storm. Thank you to my generous friend, The Passionate Foodie, I attended this year’s Boston Wine Expo and had a GREAT time! I made some great connections and found new wines I absolutely loved! I tend to favor full-bodied red wines, especially dry varieties but last year, I started to challenge my palate and ventured out to try other varietals because there are so many great wines out today to enjoy. Actually, it is how I first discovered vinho verdes last year.

At the expo, I discovered wines from the country Georgia (not the American state) and fell instantly in love! Georgia wine making dates back to 8000 BC using Kvevri also spelled Qvevry which are clay pots buried underground. The full grape, skin and stems are used that gives the wine a different character. My favorite Georgian wine is Kindzmarauli Marani Kakhetian Royal 2012. This gorgeous amber-colored white wine finishes with a lovely floral, citrus note.
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My other favorite are the sparkling wines from Bragationi Wines especially the Bragationi Rouge Sparkling Wine ($16). This is a an amazing surprise to my palate! This was fruity, fragrant and just lovely from start to finish. It is important to note that Georgian wines are one of the best wine buys for your wallet at under $20.
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Speaking of sparkling wine, another fave of mine at the expo is the Bortolomiol Ius Naturae Brut, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore ($15), an organic prosecco from Italy. This is delicious from the first sip and only gets better with each following sip.
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Also from the Bortolomiol winery, is Miol Prosecco ($10), an extra dry prosecco that is great in taste and such a bargain!
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Adega de Borba Alentejo Reserva Vinho Tinto ($15) is an incredibly delicious red wine from Portugal and easily one of my top favorites at the event.
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I also had the great opportunity to visit the Vintner’s Lounge and sample exclusive wines and champagnes. Here, I had the amazing chance to try The Monte da Ravasqueira Vinha das Romãs 2012 ($25) is a beautiful red wine from Chile, one of my favorite wine regions.
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Of the many great champagnes I enjoyed was the Henriot Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($50-$60) with lovely notes of citrus and honey.
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The food at the Boston Wine Expo included cooking exhibits, tasty samples from restaurants and vendors! In the Grand Tasting Room were delicious caramels made locally by McCrea’s Candies in Hyde Park, MA. I really enjoyed the Highland Single Malt Scotch Caramel. I only wish I tried some more!
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The Living Room was a crowd favorite with the Moroccan Spiced Lamb Meatballs and Haru served a mouthwatering seafood ceviche with octopus, scallops and shrimp.
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In the Vintner’s Lounge, The Palm served steak that was phenomenal!
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Sportello warmed us up with their Spicy Tomato Soup which was velvety and comforting on a cold day.
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Frigid temperatures and several feet-high snow did not dampen the great energy of wine lovers who attended including yours truly. I had such a wonderful time that hope to attend again next year.

Did you attend this year’s wine expo? If so, what were your favorites?

How I Learned My Seasonal Allergy Became Ezcema and How I Found Relief

*Non-sponsored post


In late July, out of nowhere, I had this sudden onset of severely itchy skin rash on my inner shin, thighs, and elbows. I was miserable because nothing seemed to help which stressed me out and the summer heat only made it worse. At first, I thought it was an allergic reaction so I eliminated some foods temporarily to identify a possible food allergen, switched to a dye-free, hypoallergenic detergent, and milder soap (sadly ditched my favorite Dr. Bronners) and lotion – no improvement. In my desperation, researched online for relief and found recipes for oatmeal-based concoctions which only provided temporary relief. The rash on my shin got worse and turned blister-like so I rushed myself to my doctor’s office. She was on leave and instead, I was by another physician in her office. He confirmed an allergy and suggested it is perhaps an environmental one like seasonal allergy which I do suffer from that may have changed and showing up on my skin. He prescribed a steroid ointment that can only be used for two weeks. Well, I did not need two weeks because I felt relief as soon as I applied it and the first 24 hours was the longest I went itch-free. He also recommended shorter hot showers and no rubbing either as it is still considered scratching. He stressed the importance of taking my seasonal allergy medicine (Allegra) regularly. I am not a fan of taking medications so I did not always take it daily. Stress and overheating are also major contributors to skin allergies aka eczema so he suggested staying cool and using ice packs to stop itching.

My skin healed began to heal and I still continued to find the right body cleansers and moisturizers after showers. In my search, I found Eucerin Skin Calming Dry Skin Body Wash. It contains natural omega oils and the consistency is that of an oil-based cleanser. It does not lather up but definitely cleans the skin well. Over time, no new breakouts appeared but the itching would still come on but not like before. A few weeks later at my monthly appointment with my esthetician, she recommended Cerave Moisturizing Cream as a body moisturizer and mix the cream with vitamin E oil. Still desperate to stop this problem and prevent it from returning, I heeded her advice and surprised at how quickly my skin recovered. When I returned for my appointment the next month, my esthetician, too, marveled at my skin’s improvement. A few months later at my annual physical, my primary care physician was back and we reviewed my visit without her. She started to recommend Cerave and I beat her to it and told her I have used it at my esthetician’s recommendation. Her last recommendation was to spend some time in the sun and allow my skin to get some sunlight with sunscreen, of course.

I have lesser breakouts now and able to stop it before getting worse by applying the ointment which I started to use less after my first major breakout. It is also important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water daily. Products I simply could not give up and overjoyed they are gentle enough to complement my new body skin care regimen are from LaBella Body Care.

Over the winter, I alternate my Eucerin oil body wash with LaBella Whipped Soap Souffle, a whipped glycerin-based cleanser with olive and almond oils that is a dream to wash with and leaves skin very well-moisturized. Also alternate the Cerave with LaBella What You Shea Body Butter, a mix of shea and soy butters with sweet almond, avocado and safflower oils. I previously reviewed other LaBella Body Care products here. If you have not checked out LaBella Body Care natural products, go now and mention I sent you!

One year later, no major breakouts at all. In July, I started training for a 5 mile race in September which involves running outdoors at a park nearby and sweating profusely and still no major breakouts. *throws confetti*

What skin issues are you or have been dealing with as an adult?

A Day in the LIfe of LifeByZen: Reflection on Self-Care

Self-care means different things to people. Lately for me it has meant letting go of emotional holds to things, situations and people that do not reciprocate my time and effort. No, I did not cut them off but simply stopped extending myself by giving so much access to me or being immediately available to others. I decided to give more time to me and my own joy.

I recently started running at the push of a coworker to run a 5 mile race in September. If you don’t count running after my daughter when she was a toddler, I have not run since high school where I was on the indoor track team. Wooo, that was eons ago! I signed up in July and still training with two weeks to go before the race. Training has been great and challenging with some good and awful days. With each run, I become more focused and learn so much especially about myself. One of my biggest challenges with training for this race is my mind is still on my old track team training which is go fast. I ran short distance so that’s my original programming which does not work with this 5 mile training which requires a different pace… and patience. Lots and lots of patience.

#running #bigbadwolfrun

A photo posted by @lifebyzen on

As I take more time training, doing more yoga and meditating, rebuilding myself sort of just happened eventually. It also has encourage me to be more social and share experiences with others I normally would shy away from before. The thing about self-care and rebuilding yourself, others notice before you do – some for better and worse. As for the latter, you have to let that go too because that is not your burden. Find your joy and revel in it, that is your responsibility to yourself.

So share with me, what do you do to bring yourself joy?

A Letter of Peace

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Dear Mike Brown,

We have never met and regretfully, no one will ever meet you in person again. My heart is in pieces as I write out these words. When I first heard about you, I learned you were set to start college the next day. I thought to myself how you were so young and full of promise. A full life was ahead of you… Was, were, all past tense that should have never been just yet. I want you to know that with all the chaos going on, I think of you daily and pray for your peace. Every day, I try my best to stay on top of the news but I find myself angry, disheartened, weary and frustrated. I feel like I can do more than just donating to bail funds or supplies for protesters speaking out on your behalf. Today, I realized, although small and insignificant to others, I have done something – Praying. Praying for your peace, the safety of the innocent people in Ferguson and the voices speaking on your behalf online.image

Mike Brown, may you find peace.

LifeByZen

Cooking with LifeByZen: White Chicken Chili

January in Boston means wintry mix of bone-chilling temperature, snow or cold rain. White Chicken Chili is a part of my winter meals rotation. It is simple, easy to make and a great alternative to beef chili. Ground turkey can also be substituted for the chopped chicken. If substituting with ground turkey, skip step three of adding water to the chicken to make the broth and add broth of  your choice as base for the chili. I use ground white pepper for presentation purpose but freshly ground black pepper can be used.

o   2 tablespoons olive oil

o   2 onions, chopped

o   4 cloves garlic, minced

o   4 cooked, bone-in chicken breasts

o   1 jalapeno pepper cored, seeded and chopped

o   2 teaspoons ground cumin

o   kosher salt, to taste

o   ground white pepper, to taste (If unavailable, freshly ground black pepper can be used)

o   2 teaspoons dried oregano

o   1-2 bay leaves

o   1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

o   5 (14.5 ounce) cans great Northern beans, undrained

Optional Toppings:

o   chopped green onions

o   chopped cilantro

o   lime wedges

o   cheese

o   sour cream

  • Directions
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chicken and brown on both sides then remove from pot.
  • Add the onions and garlic and saute for 10 minutes, or until onions are tender.
  • Add the chicken back to the pot and water enough to cover the chicken then bring to a boil. This will make the broth base for the chili. *Skip this step if using ground turkey. Instead, add 4-5 cups of broth or more as needed.
  • Once chicken is cooked through, take out from pot and set aside to chop.
  • To the broth, add the jalapeno, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Reduce heat to low and add the beans. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until heated thoroughly then add the chopped chicken.
  • For creamier chili, press some of the beans against a ladle then stir. Or, quickly pulse a ladle full  in a blender then add back to the pot.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour into individual bowls and serve with side of topping choices.

2014 Dorchester Winter Farmers’ Market Kickoff!

Mark your calendars for the 2014 Dorchester Winter Farmers’ Market Kickoff on Sunday, January 5 from noon to 4:00 PM!

The Dorchester Winter Farmers’ Market is open every Sunday from January to March at the Great Hall in Codman Square located at 6 Norfolk Street in Dorchester.

Participating vendors:

Visa and Mastercard are accepted. Also, get up to $10 of farm fresh food free when you use your SNAP EBT card.

LifeByZen’s Holiday Gifts of Giving

Gifts I enjoy giving for any occasion are ones with meaning or helps give back to the community. Proceeds from gifts purchased help some of the listed non-profit organizations to continue to offer key services such as job training or housing to those in need.

Haley House Bakery Cafe helps men and women by providing several transitional opportunities such as job-training and housing. The following gifts are available for purchase here: Haley House Holiday Gifts

  • Gingerbread Box with 20 Gingerbread Men
  • Cookie Variety Box with 4 Chocolate Chip, 4 Oatmeal, 4 Coconut Shortbread, 4 Gingerbread, and 1 Decorated Star Cookie
  • Pies are available in Pumpkin, Apple Crumb, Sweet Potato, Blueberry Crumble, and Pecan
  • Wild Flavor cookbook by Haley House Founding Chef, Didi Emmons
  • Haley House T-shirts available in green and brown

Rosie’s Place works closely with poor and homeless women. The Women’s Craft Cooperative has a great selection of pins, cufflinks, bookmarks, keychains crafted by women artists who earn salaries from their creative pieces. To view their wide selection of gifts, please visit: The Women’s Craft Cooperative

Pine Street Inn provides outreach, housing, and stabilization to almost 10,000 men and women annually. Holiday cards are available in individual boxes of 10 cards with envelopes. Customized cards are also available here: Pine Street Inn Holiday Cards

Another great holiday gift of giving is to donate directly to a non-profit organization with a cause close to the recipient’s heart. Non-profit organizations accept donations in honor or on behalf of family and friends.

How will you be gifting this year?

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