Sunday Hiking Adventure

To close the long holiday weekend, I took the liberty to stop everything I was doing and to escape the city, even if only for the day. Life has it's unexpected twists and turns in every chapter of a person's story, and since we haven't been able to get away for a while, we just wanted, and more importantly, really needed the break.

Yesterday we went to Harriman State Park, the second largest state park in New York. With over 200 miles of hiking trails, it is a haven for hikers and paradise for dogs! We've been up to Bear Mountain last year and wanted to mix the trail up with a new path, taking the Blue Disc Trail. 

The trail climbs two mountains (!), Almost Perpendicular and Pound Mountain, and passes two major rock formations, Elbow Rush and Claudius Smith Rock. It's crazy, the trail dates back to the 1920s! It wasn't the hardest hike I've ever done but it was steep and all together we trekked around 7 miles! We played with MaQ's Hawaiian Flyer Frisbee, and of course, he chased around one of his Chuck It balls, his ultimate favorite toy. All the exercise was a great way to burn off all the turkey from this weekend. :)

Take a look at our photos from our hiking adventure below! I love when my hubby and I go somewhere because the photo results always speak for themselves, but the making of memories are what are instilled within us forever. And for every day I'm alive, I'm am utterly grateful. And, any time spent with those two hooligans is always a plus! At least to me it is! ;) ♥

How 'bout it, New Yorkers? What are some of your most memorable scenic trails in New York? There's so many to choose from, I know! What are some of your ways of staying fit with all the Holiday food ready to entice you? 

Love & xxs,

maQ + suz 


Our Thanksgiving Spread

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your day was filled with warmth, love & full bellies! I am thankful for every day. Every sunrise or sunset I get to see makes me filled with gratitude. However I'm thankful most for my husband, Gilles and our fur baby, MaQ. They are my family and without them I'm not sure where I would be today. Their love makes each day worth getting up for. I love these two more than anything else in the world. Thank you both for always having my back.

Today's post is all about my cook-a-thon from yesterday's feast! I've been cooking our turkey's for the past 7 years and I must admit, this year's turkey was the best yet! I got a decent-sized bird to last us for days, just shy of 14 pounds! I panicked the first time I handled a turkey. The idea of cooking the darn thing was intimidating enough, let alone preparing all the side dishes and appetizers, cocktails, etc. Secondly, I was honestly grossed out. But now, with persistent practice in the kitchen, I prep faster and with more confidence, therefore with much more ease. It's a breeze now and I relish the idea of cooking a 20+lber one day, ha ha! This year was also the first time where I never felt overwhelmed! My cooking skills are improving, and I'm so happy to share with you my progress thus far! Here are a few tricks of the trade I've learned from the many Thanksgiving dinners I've made in the past years:

ALWAYS PREP IN ADVANCE! I can't tell you how many times I was that dingdong who'd rush to the market on the day of Thanksgiving. BAD Suz! BAD. Life is continuously hectic in New York, and I never could seem to manage to prepare anything beforehand and made everything on the actual day! This year in particular, I bought everything I needed the day before. Lol. I also made the pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Eve, which definitely helped take off a little pressure from all the cooking on the day of.

BUTTER, BUTTER & MORE BUTTER. What's the secret to French cooking? That's right, folks, the more the better. If you want your turkey to have a super moist, rich taste, the key is where you put the butter. I like to season mine first with a variety of herbs & seasonings, then take the mixture and place it under the skin. The trick is to not to rip the entire skin off though. I will poke a hole through each end on both sides, and will especially be generous with the butter when it comes to the breast. I put most of the butter in this section because this part of the turkey has a tendency to be the most dry.

COVER TURKEY WITH FOIL. Remove the foil when there is only 1 hour left to finish cooking the bird. This is the time to baste the turkey from the cooked juices, I usually try to do this every 10-15 minutes (for an hour), giving it a nice brown on the skin. Doesn't it look delicious?!

USE UNFLAVORED DENTAL FLOSS TO TIE THE LEGS. It's easy to remove and even easier to tie if you have an extra pair of hands. (Thanks, hubby bear for the awesome teamwork!) I'm not sure what everyone else uses, but I've been using this method for years and it's never failed to secure them tightly!

A VARIETY OF SIDES GOES A LONG WAY. Some of my favorite trimmings are mashed potatoes and stuffing (or dressing as the South calls it). I could literally survive on the stuff! But you never know who's going to show up, so it's a good thing to mix it up and try different and new recipes. I also made my version of candied yams & apples, which is on the sweeter side comparatively to the other dishes. Salad is also a great starter. I mixed mine with mushrooms, red & yellow peppers, onion, cucumbers, tomatos and shredded carrots. I also will normally have some kind of bread at the table but I totally forget about it in the photo! Last are the cranberry sauce and green beans which are always winners.

HOW TO GET THE FLUFFIEST MASHED POTATOES. A whisk! Just whip those taters up like you're whisking eggs and it'll be the airiest potatoes of your life! Secret's also in the right amount of butter and milk. Don't forget the salt too!

APPEARENCE DOES COUNT. Any kind of decorative effort brings liveliness to a place/setting. Whether it's flowers, funky-looking squash and pumpkins, or a fabulous table runner, I try to keep the spread looking simple yet appealing. Plus, you'll still have all your decorations after which will still keep your place looking fun and festive, unless you like to jump into Christmas right away.  :)

What are some of your favorite tricks for Thanksgiving dinners? Favorite sides? What about your least favorite dish you still come across? Like fruitcake during Christmas? Ha ha! Have a safe rest of your Black Friday and enjoy the Holiday weekend! <3

Love & xx's,

maQ + suz

The Writer's Desk

I don't know about you but I am so glad it's a 3-day work week. Life has been busy and stressful, so the idea of a cook-a-thon of some of my most favorite eats is more than thrilling. Yes, I mean this in the most non-sarcastic way. It relaxes me. And by celebrating and giving thanks, though we should be thankful every day, it's always so nice to reflect during this time of year. Because we do have so much to be grateful for.

New York City is pretty chilly today. The perks of working from home as a writer and blogger has it's pros and cons, and I will still take a break and get out of the apartment. I'll go for a run or a walk with MaQ and some of his other dog friends, or grab something to eat, or just to people watch. These daily activities are constant but today, I don't know; maybe because it's awfully cold (supposedly these are normal temps for Nov, or is it? Can't keep track anymore thanks to global warming) or because in my mind it's already Hump Day, but it was one of those days where it felt like Sunday. A case of the Monday's if you will.

So I stayed in my Calvin's, or rather PJ's I guess, and wrapped myself up in one of my hubby's shirts, then went to work. Can't get cozier than that! Along with comfort, as a writer, I also need seclusion. Here are a few more of my daily essentials I always need at my desk - the writer's desk.

My Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet. This little guy packs a mean punch. I do all of my blogging, writing, research, editing, and even conference calls on it. It is vital in my every day life. Without out, I don't know how I'd be organizing my crazy life!

Paper. Lots of paper. Sometimes I'll use my trusty ole' typewriter, but it's for rare occasions. I use paper to jot down ideas, timelines, research/case studies, or just to make a checklist or to-do list of some kind, whether it's blog-related or a simple grocery list, as a writer, I've always been constantly around the stuff.

Music. Not just any type of music. If it's just getting the day started or building a rough draft of a blog post, I'll usually listen to what's new in the music world. I do, however, appreciate every genre in music. When it's time to buckle down and work on my novel, it'll always be a certain theme in tune with what I'm writing about. I have a deep passion for Classical music, but also go for original soundtracks or instrumental music. Lyrical music while trying to write a chapter doesn't work well for me.


Candles. Any time of the year, I adore candles. I think aromas and scents can set a tone or deliver a certain essence in the environment you want to create. Plus, they bring warmth and light to any room, which is always a good thing especially being a writer. We spend a lot of time alone! ;) All kidding aside, I have been using Yankee Candles since college. They're my favorite besides Diptyque.

My Leica Coffee Mug. We received this as a gift in our first year of marriage from a dear friend. I love the size because it holds more coffee than any other mug we own. A writer's dream, or rather, fuel to burn the midnight oil! Ha ha!

Greenery or Flowers. Visually they are pretty to look at. I write a lot about how to kill people. I need something that'll bring me back from those sometimes dark places. Plus it's the girly girl in me. Now older, I've become quite fond of plants and the idea of growth. It's also just another great way to style up your place without looking like you're trying too hard.

My i-Phone 6. I know... BAD idea to ever have a phone near you while trying to get some work done. But it's my way of staying in touch with the world. And I do give myself time intervals. Every two-three hours, depending how much writing I do, I'll take a small 15 minute break.

My Ray-Ban eyeglasses. What can I say. I'm getting older. I need these around me more and more. I'm near-sighted, so it's not a matter of not being able to focus at a close object but rather one that is at a distance. I leave CNN on mute in the background. I'm addicted to what's going on in the world because I think it imperatively matters. So, from time to time, I'll need them to see what's going on the TV screen. :)

I would've asked MaQ to join me in the photo but he was far too busy sunbathing closer toward the windows. I didn't want to wake up my angel bear. He sends is love though! <3

Have a short and happy work week everyone!

Love & xx's,

maQ + suz

Parsnip Risotto With Beets And Walnuts

We're less than a week from Thanksgiving! It's my favorite holiday and my love for cooking is at it's ultimate height this month! Lots of turkey, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, cranberry everything; I'm drooling over my keyboard as I type!

Every year for Thanksgiving I try to come up with a different dish in addition to my more traditional dishes. This week, I tried out a recipe I discovered on Pinterest through the Love With Food website. A risotto lover (hubby included), I was excited with the idea of putting more earthy flavors and tones with the rice component. Parsnips are naturally sweet and have always paired well with the pungent taste of beets, in my opinion.

Parsnip Risotto With Beets And Walnuts

Serves 4


  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 medium large parsnips, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 1 & 1/2 cups risotto rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 cups vegetable bouillon
  • 100 grams walnuts, chopped
  • 4 large beets, peeled and boiled
  • 10 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tablespoons vegan margarine
  • 1/5 cup soy yogurt or soy cream
  • salt & pepper to taste


  1. Peel the onions and cut in small pieces.
  2. Peel and cut parsnips in medium bite-sized chunks.
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and saute the onions until glassy.
  4. Add the risotto rice and mix to coat the rice with the oil.
  5. Add the white wine and cook until the wine has been absorbed.
  6. Add the parsnips and half of the vegetable bouillon and cook, stirring until the bouillon has been absorbed. Add other half after, stirring continuously.
  7. Slice the cooked beets.
  8. Heat the vegan margarine in a second frying pan.
  9. Add the chopped walnuts and lightly toast.
  10. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs and add to the walnuts.
  11. Add the beet slices and cook at light heat to warm the beets.
  12. When the risotto is soft, add the soy yogurt and mix well.
  13. Serve the risotto on a large serving platter with the beets and walnuts on top of the risotto and garnished with a dollop of soy yogurt (optional), a few walnut pieces and thyme leaves.

I love thyme and it perfectly goes well with the walnuts, though next time I would love to try this recipe with actual butter and cheese (mmmm... fatty alert) because the soy yogurt was really not my thing! I didn't even bother to add the dollop on top, though the recipe calls for it.

Are you a risotto fanatic like me? What are some of your favorite risotto recipes? Whatever plans you have for this weekend, we hope it's a relaxing and enjoyable one!

Love & xx's,

maQ + suz