Creamy Mushroom & Rice Soup

Hi guys! I am coming at you this Friday with the perfect soup recipe for this chilly weather that is upon us. This super easy recipe is totally customizable and takes minimal effort. So pop open a bottle of wine, put a pot of this on the stove, and enjoy a cozy night in.

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The Ingredients 

1 cup of rice – I used Jasmine, but any type of rice would do!

1/2 cup diced onions

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 lb mushrooms

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup white wine

1 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons flour

Salt & Pepper to taste

Method of Prep

Cook rice until tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Cook until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and mushrooms to the pot. Cook until the mushrooms have released all of their liquid and turn golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Add the flour and stir until the flour is no longer visible. Add the white wine. Continue simmering until the wine is reduced by half.

Add the chicken broth, and bring to a boil. The soup will begin to thicken quite quickly. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add milk and cooked rice. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

At this point I wanted to add a little something extra so I added in about a cup of shredded rotisserie chicken. This step is completely optional, but I wanted to add a little something to make it even heartier. You can also add in some boiled potatoes or additional vegetables and sub chicken broth for vegetable broth and milk for almond milk to make a vegetarian version.

I am going to be honest with you, I ate the entire pot in three days. This is a recipe I will definitely be doubling the next time I make it.

xx Casey

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Hygge, The Coziest Lifestyle

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November 1st rolled around, we put away our costumes, and it felt like immediately winter was upon us. It was time to finally put on the heat, pull out the jackets and comfy sweaters, and succumb to the coziest time of year. But what if you could bring the happy feeling that cozy falls and winters bring into your life full time? Well there is a group of people who’s lifestyle is based all around that, and we need to catch up.

Hygge is the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures. There is no English translation for Hygge. It is a feeling more than a word. It’s a mixture of coziness, charm, comfort, kinship, simpleness, and contentment. To sum it up, Hygge is all about enjoying life’s simple pleasures and making the ordinary more meaningful.

Here in America we are always on the run. With information at our fingertips we tend to lose sight of the beauty in life’s simple pleasures. So let’s take a page out of the Danish way of life (who happen to be some of the happiest people in the world) and add a little Hygge to our everyday lives.

01 Create a Cozy Atmosphere. Lot’s of flickering candles, throw blankets in soft textures, and cozy rugs on bare floors all bring a feeling of warmth and coziness.

02 Warm Drinks. Mugs of hot chocolate (with a little peppermint!), hot coffee, and tea, all make you feel warm from the inside out.

03 Comfy Clothes. Thick socks, over sized sweaters, and fleece pajamas all add to the comfort of being at home.

04 Friends and Family. One of the best things about the holidays is being surrounded by friends and family and being in the moment. Bring that feeling all year long by planning cozy nights with friends full of movie nights, conversations by the fire, and dinner around the table. Hygge is all about togetherness.

05 Switch off. At a certain time of the evening turn off the phone. Relax by reading a book, listening to a podcast, or to music. And when you are with friends put the phone down and live in the moment.

To learn more about the Hygge lifestyle check out The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking.

xx Casey

Fall Favorites

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Good Morning and Happy Monday friends! Can you believe that we are already in November. We are moving right along into the second month of my favorite time of year. The leaves are still changing, the air is getting crisper, and the holidays are fast approaching. So I thought why not do a little fall favorites post to round up the best things about November.

01 Sweater Weather. And I am not just talking about the Bath & Body Works candle (which happens to be one of my favorites!). October is great, but the 50 degree mornings and 75 degree afternoons make it hard to pick what to wear. Especially when you have a closet full of cute sweaters and cozy flannels.

02 Vineyards. There is something about this time of year that makes the sound of walking around a beautifully landscaped vineyard with a glass of crisp wine in your hand so sweet. Diamond Hill Vineyard in Cumberland has a Cranberry Apple wine that I am just dying to try.

03 Starbucks Holiday Spice. Holiday Spice season is back at Starbucks! I make myself wait until after thanksgiving to indulge in a Peppermint Mocha or an Eggnog Latte, but the Holiday Spice is the perfect blend of Cinnamon and Nutmeg and all the flavors of fall.

04 Thanksgiving. A holiday solely revolving around eating a ton of food with your family? What better end to a great month.

xx Casey

Something Sweet Gift Box

Happy Friday friends! Is it just me or has this been the LONGEST week ever? I am so looking forward to shutting down and spending my weekend relaxing and binge watching Stranger Things. I also am planning on doing a little Bathroom remodel this weekend as well. Getting wild!

Anyway, today I want to share with you a super cute gift box idea perfect for the holiday season. Because who doesn’t like a little something sweet, especially this time of year.

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Let’s take a look inside shall we?

Sweenors Chocolate Shells & Gummie Lobsters.

Sweenor’s Chocolates started modestly more than 60 years ago as a home business in Cranston, Rhode Island.Now in two Rhode Island locations and online, Sweenor’s Chocolates is owned and operated by the third- and fourth-generation confectioners. Did I mention that they are AMAZING. Seriously, go in there and have some of their Chocolate Covered Vanilla Caramels with Sea Salt. Incredible.

Nettie’s Kettle Corn.

Joe Clemente and Linda Rossi, both of North Providence, Rhode Island, own and operate Nettie’s Kettle Corn. Not only do they have amazing Origional Kettle Corn but they have a ton of incredible flavors including Cayenne, Italian Herb, Vanilla, and my favorite Jalapeno.

Who doesn’t love receiving a perfectly crafted gift box just for them? It is like Christmas morning! Look out for more gift box ideas (and a special announcement) in the coming weeks.

Have a great (and relaxing) weekend everyone!

xx Casey

Spooky Favorites

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Happy Halloween Everyone! In the spirit of the holiday I thought I would do a fun Halloween themed post. Feel free to take these questions and share your answers- I would love to see them!

Favorite Halloween Themed Movie? I mean do I even have to answer this? It’s all a bunch of Hocus Pocus anyway…

Favorite Scary Movie? Okay this one was a hard pick, so I decided to pick my favorite serial killer instead. Who doesn’t love watching Mike Meyers and the Halloween franchise this time of year? However I do also love the Saw movie franchise as well.

Favorite Halloween Themed-Song? I put a Spell on You – extra points if it is the Hocus Pocus version.

Favorite Candy? It’s a tossup between Reeses and Twix

Favorite Halloween Costume? Last year I was Lt. Dan Taylor from Forrest Gump, and I am not quite sure I can ever top that one.

Favorite Supernatural Creature? I would probably have to say the Loch Ness Monster.

Would you Survive in a Horror Movie? Honestly, probably not.

I hope you all have a fun evening whatever you are doing. Me? I will most likely be spending it with some pizza and cider in hand, and finally start watching Stranger Things.

xx Casey

Creating a Business Plan

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One of my favorite quotes comes from none other than the infamous rapper Jay Z and it plainly states “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man.”

No matter what I am doing whether it is blogging or starting a new venture, I like to think of myself as a business. I am the brand and this “thing” is what I am using to represent that. Branding yourself or a business is a whole other post in itself that will be coming up very soon.

In my past two posts I have been teasing the idea of a new project that I am working on in addition to blogging and my day job. I am not ready to reveal this big venture just yet, but I am going to begin sharing little snippets along the way.

Today I am talking about the first steps of any new venture – what to include in a business plan. Now it may be tempting when you are first starting out to just jump into the fun stuff (guilty…), but there are some important logistics that need to be taken care of first. And of course, business plans will vary greatly based on your type of business and intentions with the plan itself. These are just some essential elements to get you started.

01 An Overview 

Before you can get into things like budgets and marketing strategies, you first need to provide the general overview of your business. This includes your business structure, mission and purpose, location, and type of business.

02 Products & Services 

Obviously your business plan needs to include the products or services that you are providing. Start by categorizing your products and services. Then include a brief description for each.

03 Sales & Marketing Plan 

How are you going to reach your customers? The marketing portion of your business plan will detail your strategies for marketing your business to a potential buyer.

The sales portion of the plan includes your pricing structure and how you determined that price.

04 Market Analysis 

Who are your customers? What is their age range, gender, and defining characteristics? You also need to describe the current state of your industry. What is the size of the industry, and what are the current trends? This will help you with the next section.

05 Competitive Analysis 

Who are your competitors? List them out. What are their pro’s and con’s and how will you do things differently? How is your business going to stand out in the crowd?

06 Budget 

A necessary evil of any business, the financial plan. First you need to establish the amount you require in order to start your business. Then factor in any ongoing business expenses including equipment, supplies, professional fees, etc. Next you need to look ahead. What are your projected revenues? How much do you need to bring in to break even?

A business plan can be intimidating. It takes a lot of time, research, and number crunching to put a successful plan in place. Once you finish though, you are one step closer to your goal – success!

xx Casey

Small State, Big Ideas

One of the most amazing things about Providence is that it is a city full of creators. From Chefs to Bloggers to Small Business Owners, Providence really is inspiring. And it’s not just Providence- this creativity spans throughout the entire state.

This past week I went to two awesome events and met some incredible small business owners. On Wednesday I went to Providence Monthly’s 20th Birthday Party at Hope Artiste Village, and Sunday was the last Providence Flea event downtown. So today I thought I would share with you some of my favorite local creators.

Blank Space Collection . Hallie is a Providence based illustrator and fiber artist, and the owner of the incredible Blank Space Collection etsy shop. She makes some beautiful, sarcastic, and hilarious embroideries and sketches.

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One Oliver. This shop sells beautifully “punny” illustrated cards perfect for any occasion. Sidenote – some of these also look super cute framed on your wall!

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Earth & Anchor Soap Co. is a hand made soap company here in Providence. Get ready to smell amazing with some help from their Cold Brew Coffee Porter Soap. Not only do they make soaps but they have Bath Salt Soaks, Face Masks, Essential Oils, Lip Balms, and more.

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The Backyard Food Company is a locally grown Food Company that specializes in killer pickles, spicy and sweet relish, fresh jams, and the most amazing salsa. If you are not putting their hot red relish on your burgers you are doing something wrong.

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Want to hear about more independently owned and locally sourced businesses? There are SO MANY incredibly unique ones like these to share, so I will be turning this into a new series here on My Nine Lives. It is so important to support local businesses such as these, and I am very excited to play a part in it (in more ways than one – I promise more on that soon!)

xx Casey