Recovered Delights Exhibition at Snyderman-Works Galleries

A Waste of Time by Randall Cleaver

A Waste of Time by Randall Cleaver

I recently attended Snyderman-Works Galleries’ opening reception for the exhibition, Recovered Delights: The Inventive World of Found Object Sculpture.  I was really impressed and inspired by all of the whimsical, esoteric, and unique work that I saw.  All of the beautiful creations displayed in the show were created out of trash and found objects that originated from junkyards, the street, flea markets, and the great outdoors. The show really made me look at trash and found objects in a completely different way.  I hope to one day light up with the same level of inspiration and joy that the artists in this exhibition did over someone else’s discarded and unwanted trash.

Big Brass Babe by Leo Sewell

Big Brass Babe by Leo Sewell

Charge by Linda Lou HornCharge by Linda Lou Horn

A flea market lined the streets of Old City on the same night that I visited the Recovered Delights exhibit and I was able to practice training my eyes.  Finding treasure amongst a plethora of scattered old odds and ends was no easy feat.  Therefore, my novice eyes (and ears) found the most obvious thing possible: a big working Edison Home Phonograph.  I listened to the record playing on the phonograph for a while and chatted with a friend that I bumped into on the street about what it would have been like to live in a simpler and less technologically advanced time. Ironically, I managed to Instagram a picture of the phonograph during our conversation…Phonograph

I luckily was able to find some really awesome antique skeleton keys at the same vendor that was showing off the Phonograph.  I’ve been seeing skeleton key necklaces in stores a lot lately, and they haven’t been cheap.  I’m really proud that I was able to pick up two keys for only a fraction of the cost.  I can’t wait to string them on leather cord and wear them around my neck!  They will definitely create a great statement with a cute summery dress or edgy jacket.

To see more pictures and read my Side Arts article about the Recovered Delights exhibit, please read, Recovered Delights: The Inventive World of Found Object Sculpture Exhibition at Snyderman-Works.

108 Sun Salutations for the Summer Solstice!

Dhyana Yoga Summer Solstice Yoga MalaI participated in Dhyana Yoga’s Summer Solstice Yoga Mala yesterday to celebrate the longest day of the year.  This event required a lot of determination, sweat, strength, perseverance, water, and sunscreen; doing 108 sun salutations outdoors during a heat wave was seriously hard work and I loved every painful and joyous moment of it.

The meditative and repetitive nature of this challenge created a very intense physical and cerebral experience.  It was physically draining at times and there were moments where my wrists, triceps, low back, and hamstrings wanted to break down and call it quits.  The harsh sun and 95+ degree weather didn’t help matters either.  However, despite the intense physical and environmental challenges, I found the strength to muscle and breath through it.  By sun salutation 40, my brain literally stopped registering how uncomfortable I was.  I suddenly felt a deep sense of inner piece while I flowed through each movement.  I also started to really listen to my body more.  Whenever I felt my back or shoulders start to hurt, I adjusted or modified my poses and activated my core.  When my wrists started to scream, I took a break in child’s pose and gave them a stretch.  I suddenly realized that I didn’t have to do every single sun salutation to feel like I accomplished something.  As long as I made it through the journey and learned something, that was really all that mattered.  Dhyana Yoga Summer Solstice Yoga Mala, Downward Facing Dog

Sun salutation 108 felt amazing.  All of my fellow yogis cheered and I could literally feel the joy, love, and appreciation in the air.  We not only perspired our sweat, but we let go of all of our emotional baggage.  Our final chorus of “Om’s” lit up the park outside of the Liberty Bell Center.  We rocked it for sure!

I am embarrassed to admit that before this yoga mala, I had no idea what the significance was of having to do 108 sun salutations.  108 seemed like such a random number.  I googled it and found some interesting facts from Huffington Post’s yoga blogger, Lauren Cahn.  Cahn’s article, “Get in Shape for 108!  108 Sun Salutations, that is…,” lists some pretty cool facts about the spiritual significance of the number 108:

  • 108 is the number of “Upanishads” comprising Indian philosophy’s “Vedic texts”.
  • 108 is the number of names for Shiva (a really important Hindu god).
  • 108 is the number of names for Buddha.
  • 108 is the Chinese number representing “man”.
  • 108 is the number of beads on a Catholic rosary.
  • 108 is the number of beads on a Tibetan “mala” (prayer beads, analogous to a rosary).
  • 108 is twice the number “54”, which is the number of sounds in Sanskrit (sacred Indian language).
  • 108 is six times the number “18”, which is a Jewish good luck number
  • 108 is twelve times the number 9, which is the number of vinyasas (movements linked to breath) in a Sun Salutation.

Happy belated Summer Solstice Everyone! Namaste :)


Spring Greek Salad

Spring Greek Salad by Cassandra HooI’ve been really obsessed with olives lately.  I can’t seem to get enough of their salty, sour, briny goodness.  They really brighten up any dish and are also fun to eat on their own. When my olive craving became unbearably strong the other day, I decided to gather up a handful of ingredients at the local farmer’s market and grocery store that I thought would make the perfect Greek salad.


  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (heirloom, beefsteak, cherry, etc… whatever floats your boat)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber slices
  • 1/4 cup thinly diced onions or shallots
  • 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • A handful of basil microgreens (if you’re feeling fancy) or 2 tbs. of fresh chopped basil
  • A handful of any type of sprouts
  • 1/8-1/4 cup of olive juice (I make sure to get a couple of generous spoonfuls of olive juice whenever I get my olives from the olive bar).
  • 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (nonfat or 2 %)


  • Chop up the tomato(s), cucumber, onion or shallot, and olives.  Combine all of the ingredients into a large bowl.
  • Add a handful of basil microgreens and sprouts to the top of the chopped veggies.
  • Whisk together the olive juice, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a separate bowl.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss.
  • Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt.


So Delicious Dairy Free SO Much to Love Giveaway

Creamy Pumpkin and Brown Rice Risotto by Cassandra Hoo, Searching for Root 101I’m so excited to announce that my Creamy Pumpkin and Brown Rice “Risotto” recipe was entered into the So Delicious Dairy Free SO Much to Love Giveaway contest!  Please vote for my recipe in this week’s So Delicious® Dairy Free SO Much to Love Giveaway!  You’ll be entered to win daily prizes just for voting, and if my recipe gets the most votes, you’ll be entered to win a great weekly prize!

Please click here and vote for me!  I will be forever grateful for your love and support :)

SO Much to Love logo


Doctor Up Your Boring, Plain Yogurt Into Something Extraordinary

Doctor Up Your Boring Plain Greek Yogurt

I am a yogurt junkie.  I can barely go a day without eating the stuff.  After many years of eating every flavor that I could get my hands on, I decided to actually look at the label more carefully. Low in calories, check.  Low fat, check.  Low in sugar… NO??? I quickly realized that I would need to eat boring plain yogurt if I wanted to continue to load up on granola, nuts, dried fruit, and fresh fruit (which are all not conservative when it comes to sugar). Luckily, this discovery happened at the same time that Greek yogurt became the new “it” yogurt in the dairy section.  Greek yogurt’s thick, rich, and creamy consistency definitely made the transition from flavored to plain much more bearable. However, sometimes, there are still moments where I want a little bit of a kick to my yogurt.  On days when I want to indulge, I mix in a tablespoon of peanut butter or a drizzle of honey.  The other day, I tried mixing in a little bit of blood orange juice and the results were absolutely divine. Here’s a recipe that I hope inspires you to give a little pizazz to your plain yogurt.


  • 1/2 of non-fat or low fat Greek yogurt (I like Fage and Chobani the best)
  • 1-2 tbs. of blood orange juice
  • 1/8 cup of roasted, unsalted almonds
  • 1/8 cup of dried cherries
  • 1/2 a banana


  1. Place your yogurt into a dish.
  2. Add 1-2 tbs. (or more) of blood orange juice.  Add less if you like your yogurt on the thick side and add more if you like it on the thinner side.
  3. Garnish with almonds, dried cherries, and slices of banana.


Turning 27 and the 6 Course Meal at Pumpkin Restaurant that I Will Never Forget

Cassandra Hoo in front of Pumpkin RestaurantI just turned 27 on April 19th (eek?).  I treat my birthday a lot like I treat New Year’s Day.  I try to do some physical activity to cleanse my mind and body, eat a lot of food that is usually not so cleansing for the body (but who can refuse birthday cake?), and I do some type of introspective ritual in which I reflect on the past year and make plans for the year ahead.

This year I started my day off right by taking a vinyasa class at Anjali Power Yoga.  I have never taken any classes there before and I decided to try it out because they had a great new student special ($20 for 10 days of unlimited classes) and it was close to my new house.  I really enjoyed the fact that they crank the temperatures up to 90 degrees.  I definitely sweat it out while I flowed in and out of poses and I felt really refreshed and detoxed by the end of class.  I also felt that I had worked hard enough to eat my birthday dinner and dessert without any guilt.

Although my boyfriend, Travis, is usually horrible at keeping secrets (as am I), he managed to not reveal where he was going to take me for my birthday dinner.  I’m really glad that he ended up taking me to the one place where I really wanted to go: Pumpkin Restaurant.  We went there only once before for Valentine’s Day and I have often caught myself daydreaming about some of the dishes that I had there over the past couple of months. Travis and I have been to a lot of amazing and upscale restaurants in the city (like Vetri, Le Bec Fin, Buddakan, etc) and I think Pumpkin has become our new favorite.

What makes Pumpkin Restaurant so special, you ask?  The farm fresh ingredients, their ever changing menu, their creative combination of ingredients, the way in which they take many cooking cues from molecular gastronomy, and their beautiful plating.  The reason why I bolded, “their beautiful plating,” is because that is the key component that I think makes them stand out from the rest.  The way in which they plate their food causes every bite to be a completely new and different experience.  The flavors and textures that marry together and tickle the taste buds with every bite creates an interesting narrative that involves all of the senses.  If these pictures below don’t make your mouth water, you are either vegan or need a pair of glasses (no offense).

Pea Soup at Pumpkin RestaurantGreen pea soup: This green pea soup was beyond amazing.  I love how the servers at Pumpkin always come to the table with an empty cup or soup bowl with all of the fixings artfully pre-assembled. The tasty treats somehow become more inviting once they are covered up by the soup.  I was able to scrape off a bit of the rye bread crumbs from the bottom of the cup with every spoonful of soup.  Mmmm-mmm!

Escargot at Pumpkin RestaurantEscargot with creamy polenta, pesto sauce, fiddlehead ferns, and a coddled egg: This escargot dish was unlike anything that I’ve ever had.  The coddled egg and creamy polenta were cooked to perfection and I thought that they were the two highlights of the dish.  I also liked how the snails were already out of their shells.  Their meaty, briny presence complimented the dish very well.

Foie Gras at Pumpkin Restaurant Foie gras with pesto sauce, crushed almonds, beets, and passionfruit chamomile jelly: I’m not really the type of person who would be compelled to order foie gras off a menu.  The whole idea of it kinda of disgusts me.  However, I figured that since everything at Pumpkin is ridiculously good, I should probably try it and not miss out on a good thing. I’m glad I took the plunge, because the foie gras was to die for!  It was so smooth and rich that it tasted like butter.  I smeared every last bit of it (as well as all of the condiments and garnishes) on lots of crunchy bread.

Beet Sorbet at Pumpkin RestaurantBeet sorbet: This itsy bitsy spoonful was so refreshing and a perfect palette cleanser.  I would seriously eat a pint of this stuff.

Scallops at Pumpkin Restaurant Scallops with asparagus puree, black truffle, squid ink rice cake, and rhubarb: These scallops melted in my mouth.  If I wasn’t so full, I could’ve imagined myself eating ten of them.  The asparagus puree was out of this world and the squid ink rice cake added a crunchy and salty element to the dish.  I also really enjoyed the powdered coconut that was sprinkled on top of stacked slices of radish.

Duck Served 2 Ways at Pumpkin RestaurantDuck served two ways: Duck breast with carrots, ginger, and chamomile (top) and braised duck leg with farrow and potato cream (bottom).  I was already pretty stuffed to the gills by this point, so I was pretty shocked to see not one — but TWO — plates served in front of me.  It was very cool to eat two different cuts of duck meat that were prepared completely differently.  The breast was light and refreshing while the braised duck leg was pure heavy comfort food.

Dessert at Pumpkin RestaurantThe big finale – dessert: Flourless chocolate cake with mint ice cream (top) and chocolate whiskey banana mousse (bottom).  After eating the braised duck leg, I really thought I couldn’t eat anymore.  When the two beautiful desserts came out, I knew I had to mentally find a place in my stomach for them — since it was my birthday, after all!  Both of the desserts were amazing, but I really only had a bite or two of each of them before I had to hang up the white flag and surrender.  I definitely will need to come back to Pumpkin Restaurant just for dessert sometime so that I can really enjoy them without feeling so uncomfortably full.

The six course dinner at Pumpkin will truly be one that I will remember and talk about for a long time.  Thank you Travis, for making my 27th birthday extra special!


Sustainable Fiber Art at 3rd St Gallery’s “Strings + Things” Exhibit

“i cannot go on like this” by Melissa Maddonni Haims (left) and “Rest” by Carol Wisker (right)“i cannot go on like this” by Melissa Maddonni Haims (left) & “Rest” by Carol Wisker (right)

Last First Friday I had the pleasure of attending the opening reception for “Strings + Things” at the 3rd Street Gallery in Old City.  This show, which is being held in conjunction with FiberPhiladelphia 2012, features work by Melissa Maddonni Haims and Carol Wisker.  Like many fibers artists, both of these talented women incorporate a variety of sustainable, reused, repurposed, and recycled materials in their artwork.  For instance, Melissa Maddonni Haims used vintage cloth scraps in all of her art pieces for “String + Things” and busily knit handmade plarn (yarn that she pieced together out of old plastic trash bags) while she mingled with people at the show.  Carol Wisker incorporated shoddy (a material made out of ripped up recycled fibers), bamboo, silk cocoons, metal, bones, and many other interesting and eco-friendly materials in her eclectic body of work for the show.  Please take a look at the pictures below to get an idea of how they used sustainable materials in their innovative and highly creative artwork.  Please also read the Side Arts article that I wrote for more information about the show.

 “Are you kidding me?” by Melissa Maddonni Haims  “Are you kidding me?” by Melissa Maddonni Haims

"Sage" by Carol Wisker“Sage” by Carol Wisker

“You repulse me” by Melissa Maddonni Haims“You repulse me” by Melissa Maddonni Haims

"Fall" by Carol Wisker“Fall” by Carol Wisker

Melissa Maddonni Haims’ knitted plarn creation

Melissa Maddonni Haims’ knitted plarn creation
"Ecophagy" by Carol Wisker“Ecophagy” by Carol Wisker
“and i thought i was a HOT Mess” by Melissa Maddonni Haims“and i thought i was a HOT Mess” by Melissa Maddonni Haims
"Density" by Carol Wisker“Density” by Carol Wisker


Eco-Friendly Fiber/Textile Art at FiberPhiladelphia 2012

Last First Friday I went to the Crane Arts Building to check out some of FiberPhiladelphia 2012‘s exhibitions.  All of the artwork that I saw was absolutely amazing.  Many of the artists used repurposed, reused, or recycled materials in their work, which I believe is a positive attribute and trend in fiber/textile art.  If you would like to learn more about the shows that I saw at the Crane Arts Building, please read the articles that I wrote for Side Arts: FiberPhiladelphia 2012 Opening Night with Amy Orr and Bruce Hoffman, “Distinguished Educators” and “Outside/Inside the Box” are Two Extraordinary FiberPhiladelphia 2012 Exhibitions, and “Modified Familiarities” and “Into the Woods” at the Crane Arts Building.  I have complied together a collection of my favorite eco-friendly art pieces from “Outside/Inside the Box” and “Into the Woods.”  Enjoy!


Presented by FiberPhiladelphia 2012

“Formal Argument” by Diane Savona

Diane Savona’s artwork is primarily made with salvaged linens that she finds at garage sales.  Since her artwork is so detailed and intricate, I have a good hunch that her garage sale treasure hunts are just as heartfelt and dedicated.

“Eye of the Beholder” by Emily Dvorin

Emily Dvorin weaved together oxygen tubing, plastic lids, gutter clips, bottle tops, med-testers, florist card holders, and cable ties to make this fun creation.  In her artistic statement she writes how she likes to use re-purposed and re-contextualized materials in her work to comment on excessive consumerism.

“Basket” by Amber Cowan

This photograph is a close-up image of Amber Cowan’s large and ambitious dome shaped creation, “Basket.”  Amber Cowan mainly uses recycled and up-cycled glass (usually pressed glass from the 1940’s – 1970’s) for all of her work.  For this particular piece, she used Easter candy dishes that had bunny rabbit and chicken lids.  The artist told me via email that if you look closely enough, you can actually see little bunnies and chickens.

“Humanoids” by Brigitte Amarger

“Humanoids” is constructed from x-rays of bones, organs, and prostheses that have been sewn together to create interesting patterns.

“Hope” by Riccardo Berlingeri

This startlingly beautiful and symbolic piece was made out of old recycled newspapers.  In Riccardo Berlingeri’s artstic statement, he says that his sculptures “pay tribute to the valuable role that for years printed news has played not just in forming our perception of the world but also in defining our society’s cultural models.”


Presented by InLiquid Art + Design (in conjunction with FiberPhiladelphia 2012)

“Still Life/Daisies” by Joan Dreyer“Still Life/Hydrangeas” by Joan Dreyer

Both of Joan Dreyer’s artworks are primarily made out of dental x-rays.  I love how she was able to use dental x-rays to change and manipulate the connotation of flowers.

If you would like to see other examples of eco-friendly fiber/textile artwork, please refer to my article: Philadelphia Art Alliance’s “A Sense of Place” Exhibit Will Inspire You to Make Your Artwork Sustainable.

Go Red at the Bellevue

When it comes to food quality and diet, the United States and Westernized civilizations have a bad reputation.  We eat lots of processed foods, food that’s traveled long distances, and portions that are much too large.  Therefore, I was quite happily surprised to discover that the Bellevue in Center City, Philadelphia teamed up with the American Heart Association  for the fun and proactive event, “Go Red at the Bellevue,” yesterday afternoon. This event is tied into the Philadelphia Goes Red For Women movement.

During the lunch hour rush, the food court at the Bellevue was a lot more lively than usual and festively decorated with red balloons.  Friendly representatives strategically handed out informational American Heart Association pamphlets in front of the escalators.  Each restaurant at the food court provided one meal on their menus that was “heart healthy.”  Williams and Sonoma gave away free green smoothies and provided a demo on how people can make the delicious drink themselves.  There was even a raffle for a free 2 month membership at the swanky The Sporting Club at the Bellevue.

I really enjoyed the green smoothie and was given permission from Williams and Sonoma to share the recipe.  The shake is really refreshing and delicious.  I hope you give it a try!

Going Green Smoothie 


  • 1 cup green grapes
  • 1/2 cup pineapple
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 ripe banana (peeled)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes


  • Place all ingredients into a blender in the order listed above and secure lid.
  • Start with a low blender speed and then slowly increase the until it is at a high speed.
  • Blend for 60 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.
  • Yields about 3 1/2 cups.  Serve immediately.

Courtesy of Vitamix and Williams and Sonoma

Art Supplies that are Good for the Environment

Art is meant to enrich and inspire people’s lives and add more beauty to the world. Unfortunately, there are so many art supplies, products, and tools out there that are really harmful to the environment and people’s health. I picked out some really cool eco-friendly and people friendly art supplies and products from Dick Blick and made a really fun collage “set” on Polyvore.

I just found out about Polyvore yesterday and I’m already hooked. I found the site to be super user-friendly — it’s like Photoshop for dummies.  I created this “set” in under two hours and I had an absolute blast doing it.  Since Polyvore is mainly a website geared for fashionistas that want to create their favorite looks of the moment, this is probably the only geeky art supply “set” on the whole site.  Please follow me on Polyvore at:

Eco-Friendly Art Supplies

Eco-Friendly Art Supplies by search4root101 on