Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ice Cream Sunday: Red Velvet and Blueberry Ice Cream

Holidays are fun for many reasons, but the top reason in my book is enjoying awesome food with people you love. Sometimes the food stems from a family tradition, a cultural expectation, an excuse to indulge, or just a reason to make something with a theme. Whatever the reason, food really makes a lot of holidays truly special. 

This ice cream is definitely less tradition and more novelty, but that type of holiday food can be the most fun! Also, just because this ice cream is red white and blue, doesn't mean you can't eat it in March or September. Celebrate your freedom to choose your ice cream year round! 

That being said, this recipe is totally perfect for the Fourth of July. It has the colors, it's delicious and it would be perfect for cooling down on a hot July day. Make this and I promise people will come to your barbecue . I'm not even having a barbecue and a few people have already invited themselves over. Which I'm cool with, come eat all this ice cream! It's BYOWC (Bring Your Own Waffle Cone...duh). 

Fresh or frozen blueberries can be used, and it's up to you if you want to go the extra mile and bake your own red velvet cake. Personally that was a little too time consuming, so I just whipped up a red velvet cake from a mix. Still totally delicious. If you're really not feeling it, I bet some store bought red velvet cake would be yummy too. 

Red Velvet and Blueberry Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
About 2 cups red velvet cake, cubed (store bought or home made)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup sugar

1. First let's make the base! With an electric mixer or whisk, combine milk, sugar and vanilla until combined. Add cream and vanilla and stir to combine. Cover and place in fridge for several hours or overnight. 
2. While bade is cooling, place blueberries and sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, occasionally stirring. As blueberries become softer, use your stirring utensil to gently mash and squeeze out some juice and crush some berries.When sugar is completely disolved and the juice has made some syrup, place in an airtight container and refrigerate until completely chilled (I waited about 6 hours). 
3. Cut red velvet cake into small cubes and refrigerate for a couple hours until chilled. 
4. When all components are thoroughly chilled, pour base into ice cream maker and let the mixture thicken. Once it has become the texture of soft serve, add blueberries one cup at a time. If you would like your ice cream to still have a white base, only let blueberries and ice cream mix for a few seconds. If you prefer more blue and less white, let mix completely. 
5. If you desire soft serve texture, pour ice cream in serving bowl and stir in red velvet cake. If you prefer harder ice cream, find the airtight container you want to freeze your ice cream in. Place a layer of red velvet cake in container, followed by a layer of ice cream. Continuing layering until all ice cream is in your container (I did 3 layers). Place ice cream in freezer and let freeze for about 2 hours or overnight. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

red white and blue treats

Don't get me wrong, I like the fourth of July, it's just not my favorite holiday. Fireworks are pretty...but meh. Seen em'. I do enjoy the fourth of july for the food though! It's an awesome reason to fire up the bbq and make some fun red white and blue dessert. Here are a few delicious looking recipes to spark some patriotic inspiration. Oh, and look out for this weeks ice cream's gonna be really festive!

Oh, and enter to win a two AWESOME Clinique products from me over on Melyssa's blog, The Nectar Collective

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Style: Jewel Toned

Top: Forever21
Skirt: Nordstrom
Belt: Delia's
Shoes: Franco Sarto 
Scarf: Thrifted
Necklace: Consigned

Maxi skirts are a girls best friend. I'm not sure why I only have one...they are the most comfortable and easy thing ever! Definitely need to find a black one and wear it everyday. Style posts are about to get real repetitive guys, haha. 

My sister is visiting today, so we are going to be crafting and maybe doing some baking. Excited! Because of that, I'm gonna keep this post short and hang out with her. Have an amazing Thursday!

Oh, and if you haven't already I would love for you to take my reader survey!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Feta & Garlic Rosemary Scones

Scones are one of those things I never make or buy, but whenever I eat one I wonder why I don't! To me, scones are a breakfast thing and I like my breakfasts savory. I'm all about the eggs, bacon, and hash browns. So instead of the basic scone with jam on top, I decided to give savory scones a try with my favorite herb ever...rosemary!

I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers, Joy the Baker. She is pretty experienced when it comes to butter and flour combinations, so I figured her scone recipe wouldn't steer me wrong. I'm happy to report my hunch was correct and these scones are awesome! They are best served warm, sliced in half with some melty butter. These would make some pretty awesome breakfast sandwiches too!

Feta & Garlic Rosemary Scones (Recipe highly adapted from Joy the Baker)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp. cold water
3/4 cup sour cream, cold
1 1/2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg for egg wash

1. Place rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray two cookie sheets with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and black pepper.  Cut in butter (using your fingers or a pastry cutter) until mixture resembles a coarse meal.  In another bowl, combine egg, sour cream, and water.  Beat lightly with a fork.  Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft and shaggy dough.  Add the rosemary, garlic and feta and dump mixture on a clean counter to knead the dough together.  The mixture will come together in about 10 to 15 kneads.

3. Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness.  Cut into 2-inch rounds using a biscuit cutter or cut into triangles.  Reshape and roll dough to create more biscuits with excess scraps. Place on prepared baking sheet, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Serve warm.  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Reader Survey!

Creating a blog can be a very personally fulfilling endeavor, but let's be honest, creating content for readers and connecting with them is what it's all about! I know you guys are out there, but there are so many who I don't hear from! In other words, I wanna get to know you better because I think you're pretty dang awesome. 

In order to do this I made a quick reader survey. Don't worry, it's only 10 quick and easy questions. Totally painless. I would love for you to fill it out! It really means a lot to me :).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ice Cream Sunday: Nutella & Cookie Ice Cream

Cookies and cream is probably one of my favorite ice cream flavors. Soft cookies in vanilla ice cream? Uh, yes please. Oh, a little off topic, but can we all just agree that stale, soft Oreo's are way better than fresh? Cool.

The problem I sometimes have with cookies and cream is some ice cream companies like to skimp on the cookies. I want lots of cookies in every bite, gosh dangit! Being able to make ice cream with loads of cookies in every bite is reason enough to buy an ice cream maker, if you ask me. Also, having an ice cream maker allows you to enjoy Nutella ice cream. I will wait here while you go to Amazon and purchase one.

Of course if lots of cookies isn't your thing, you don't have to add as many. So much freedom! I didn't count how many I put in, but I would say it was somewhere around 13. I just kept adding the cookies into the ice cream maker until it felt right. I also chose to scrape put the frosting, but if you want to leave it in I'm sure that would be yummy too.

Nutella Cookie Ice Cream (recipe heavily adapted from Food Network)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs yolk
1/2 cup Nutella
Oreo cookies, filling removed and roughly chopped (I used approximately 13 cookies)

1. In a saucepan, combine the milk, cream and 1/4 cup sugar over medium heat. Cook until sugar dissolves.
2. Meanwhile in in a bowl whip the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar using an electric mixer until the eggs become thick and pale yellow. Pour 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture and stir. Add this mixture back into the saucepan with remaining milk and sugar mixture. 
3. Cook over very low heat stirring constantly until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 to ten minutes)
4. Place a strainer over a medium bowl and pour the warm custard mixture through the strainer. Stir in Nutella and whisk until it dissolves. Place mixture in the fridge and chill completely (I recommend overnight).
5. Pour mixture into your ice cream maker and once it's the texture of soft serve, add Oreo cookies. Place in an airtight container and freeze until firm. Enjoy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Credenza Love Story

Several months ago while looking at furniture on Thrive, I learned what a credenza was and it was love at first sight. I began looking at them on Etsy, scouring craigslist and trying to hunt them down at antique stores. Of course I didn't want just any old credenza; my dream credenza needed to be real wood and of the mid-century variety, have enough storage for both movies and records, and brass legs were a huge bonus. Oh, and it needed to be cheap. Like, under $300 cheap.

One day, I was walking around a local antique store and this little beauty of a credenza caught my eye. You know when you're shopping and up ahead you see something amazing? It's almost exactly what you have been looking for, but instead of heading straight for it, you slowly meander, looking at other items on the way in order to subdue your excitement? Anybody? Okay, well that happened with me and this credenza. It was really exciting, and kind of magical.

The magic quickly ended when I turned over the price tag. I just couldn't justify the price, so I walked away (que Charlie Brown music) and continued on with my day. But I couldn't stop thinking about it! I mentioned it on this post, talked about it with Tommy and even coworkers. Whenever I visited the antique store I had to make sure it was still there. Once I even turned to Instagram to express my longing for this dang piece of furniture. "If only the number on the other side of that tag wasn't an issue," read my Instagram caption. Oh jeeze, the drama. Haha. 

So a couple months went by and I kinda forgot about the credenza. I still searched for them on Craigslist with the hope I would score one for cheap but had no luck. So when my birthday rolled around, I decided to walk around a few antique stores downtown and enjoy the sun. I walked by the credenza and noticed a guy moving a bunch of stuff around the space. I knew it had to be the seller, so I played it cool. Casually I walked over and started to look at the credenza. "I'm looking to get rid of stuff today, so if you're interested in something let me know and I'll make you an offer," he said to me. Jackpot. 

After a few minutes of negotiation, he made me an offer I couldn't refuse of about 70% off! And he delivered it. It was a birthday miracle! Within about 2 hours, my credenza was in my living room filled to the brim with movies and records. It took me about a week to get used to seeing it in my living room, I kinda couldn't believe my good fortune. Atticus approved of it immediately. 

So there it is folks, a little credenza love story. Part of me is tempted to stain it to match a chair in the living room...but would that be a huge mistake? I'm not sure what kind of wood it is, the seller thought maple. Anybody know how to find out what kind of wood a piece of furniture is?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

5 Tips for Cosmetic Shopping in a Department Store

Buying makeup can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a little overwhelming. This is especially true when shopping in a department store full of options! After working in this environment for two years, I have learned a few really simple tips for making this experience much easier and enjoyable. Because at the end of the day, shopping for makeup should be fun!

1. Find your beauty-expert spirit-animal Huh? Yes, your beauty-expert spirit-animal. What I mean by this is try to find a beauty consultant (at your favorite brand, preferably) who you feel comfortable with and want to go back to again and again. This can make your experience so much more fun and easy! When you have a go-to person they will start to learn what you like and don't like, call you when products you might be interested in arrive, and (most likely) hook you up with samples :). It's just like building a relationship with a hairdresser or even your doctor (yeah, bit of a stretch there, but you know what I mean).

PS: I was quick to mention favorite brand because each brand hires and trains their own consultants. These consultants know most about their brand and will want to sell it to you. This is not because they are malicious sales people, but because they have the most knowledge and personal experience about this brand in particular. Do not expect every beauty consultant to be an expert on every brand, that's a lot of products!

2. Think about what you are looking for before you head to the store Shopping for makeup can be really overwhelming because there are so many options! I recommend going in with a rough idea of what you're looking for. I say "rough idea" because it's important to be open to other things. Are you looking for eyeshadow, lipstick, skincare, or all the above? If looking for an eyeshadow for example, consider what color, texture, or effect you'd like it to have. Are you looking for something everyday, or more special occasion?

If you have no idea that's okay, but these are questions you will probably be asked. When a customer comes in with absolutely no clue of what they are looking for, it can be really hard to give them the best experience! Sometimes when people are not comfortable with makeup lingo, it's easier to articulate what they want with a picture.

3. Do some research online This ties in with the last tip because sometimes it can be easier to narrow down your search by doing a little research online first. I don't really recommend buying makeup online because the colors represented are usually way off, but researching products online can be helpful to learn about different brands, read reviews, and watch tutorials. There is so much knowledge regarding beauty products online, definitely take advantage! That way, when you go to the store, you won't feel overwhelmed because you have already learned about some products and the consultants can then help you decide.

4. Don't be afraid to try things on This is probably the most important tip. One of the major perks about buying beauty products from a department store if that you can try them on first! This is especially important when buying foundation or lipstick because it's so hard to tell what the color in the bottle will look like on you. So do yourself a favor, try it on first! Can't stress it enough. It takes about five minutes to get a foundation match and even less to try on a few lipsticks. Believe me, it's worth it, and that's what makeup consultants are there for!

Oh, and if you want to try something on, ask. Not because the salespeople don't trust you with the product, but because it needs to be cleaned first! I cringe a little (or a lot) when I see people pick up a tester and put it straight on their eyes or lips. You never know who might have used it before you.

5. Yes, you can have a sample (but not ten) Trying a sample of a product first is another perk of shopping in a department store versus a drug store. If you try something on in store and are not sure about it, it's okay to ask for a sample. Just keep in mind that not every product can be sampled out, such as lipstick or eyeshadow. Also, keep in mind that most skincare samples will give you an idea of how your skin reacts to it, but you won't see the longterm results from the product (particularly true for serums). Oh, and it might seem like common sense, but people sometimes forget that samples are given with the hope that you will love the product and then buy it (not return again and again for more samples.)

Hope these help you! Do you have any tips or strategies for when you go makeup shopping? I would love to hear them!

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Style: Easy Living

Top: Forever21 (similar)
Skirt: Anthropologie (old)
Shoes: Franco Sarto (TJ Maxx)
Earrings: Francesca's 

This top is definitely my new favorite piece in my closet. I love it because it makes you feel instantly pretty. Oh, you haven't washed your hair in three days and you have a huge zit on your forehead? Doesn't matter once you put on this lace top! Instantly pulled together. I tried to hunt it down on Forever21 so you could all have this magical piece in your closet, but it appears to have sold out. But, I wouldn't be surprise if this insta-pretty effect works with  other lace tops as well.

This weekend was Western's spring graduation, and it's super crazy to think it's already been one year since I graduated college. I feel like I really need to start figuring stuff out, like you know, what to do with my life! Ahh. Scary stuff. I have gotten pretty comfortable with where I'm at, which may not be a good thing. My everyday routine has become really easy, which makes me think I need to step out of my comfort zone a little and shake things up. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ice Cream Sunday: Mango & Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I recently bought this Cuisinart ice cream maker as a present to myself for my birthday. I'm so excited to start making ice cream, sorbet and frozen yogurt! So excited in fact, that a new feature has been born, Ice Cream Sunday! Get ready for a new frozen desert recipe every Sunday for the rest of the summer! It's gonna be awesome.

To kick off this ice cream marathon is a simple, yummy and kinda healthy (it has fruit in it!) mango & coconut milk ice cream. Made with only fresh mangos, coconut milk, half and half lime and optional sweetener (I didn't use any), it's a little spoonful of tropical deliciousness. I topped mine with a bit of toasted coconut. Perfect for eating outside on a hot summer day!

Mango & Coconut Milk Ice Cream
2 fresh, ripe mangos, peeled and cubed
1 14 oz. can regular coconut milk
1/4 cup half and half
lime juice from 1/4 of a lime
sweetener (sugar, agave syrup, etc.), optional

1. In a blender, blend mangos, coconut milk, half and half and lime juice until very smooth. Taste mixture and add sweetener if needed. I didn't add any and it was great! Place in fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Add cold mixture into ice cream machine for about 20 minutes or until you have the texture of soft serve. If you prefer a harder ice cream, place into an airtight container and let harden overnight.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sponsor Spotlight: Melyssa from The Nectar Collective

Today I'm really excited to share Melyssa from The Nectar Collective, one of my new favorite blogs! Melyssa is a teacher living in Japan (awesome!) who has a super cute dog and is full of positive energy. Seriously, spend a little time on her blog and you will leave happier. Not only is her blog a happy place to be, but Melyssa has awesome ideas like creating a positivity garland, and putting wine into smoothies (!!!). Whatcha waiting for? You can find Melyssa on Facebook, Bloglovin and Twitter. Read more about her below!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog:
Hey there! My name is Melyssa and I'm a Southern California girl currently hammin' it up as a teacher in Tokyo, Japan. I live with my corgi, Monja, who makes up for his chewing and barking skills by being the most silly and adorable creature on the planet. I think he is my soulmate (sorry boys). Besides my pup, I also love coffee (by love, I mean "have an unhealthy addiction to"), cooking, going on new adventures, and getting my hands dirty with anything creative. I also love to write and I over-share my life, advice, and more on my blog, The Nectar Collective.
I started The Nectar Collective as a way to inspire others to lead a positive, creative, and adventurous life. TNC is full of observations from my life as an expat, advice and tips on how to be a better human being, and even has DIY tutorials for my creativity-lovin' readers. Oh, and my dog, Monja, writes his own series. He's kind of a silly brat, but I think you'll love him anyway.
Why do you blog?
Good question! Actually, for many years, I'd always thought about starting a website like The Nectar Collective, but I never knew where to start or what it would really be about, so I let it sit on the back-burner of my brain until it felt right. Then in January, I took an e-course called Creative Courage and it reinforced in me that I don't need to have a master plan for everything I do. Sometimes I just need to have a little courage and go for the things I love. So I made my blog in order to spread that same vision - that we shouldn't wait until we have everything figured out to do the things that make us come alive. Sometimes, it's best to throw ourselves into something and keep defining ourselves as we go along.

I also blog because after living in the "real world" for a little while, I am starting to see why people claim to hate it so much. I want to remind people that there is still an overwhelming amount of beauty and positivity in the world. Sometimes it finds us, and sometimes we need to be the people to spread it. I blog to show my readers that they are all capable of being those people.
What inspires you?
Oh my, I could write about this for DAYS. The first thing that comes to mind is seeing people do what they love. I LOVE the fact that I've been out of college long enough to see my friends start finding careers, partners, and places that they are falling in love with. It's like, you can see the core of a person's spirit just glowing with passion. I feed off that.
I'm also inspired by honesty, especially when being honest is not the easiest or most comfortable thing to do.

And lastly, I really mean this: my readers inspire the hell out of me. Sometimes I'll feel tired or unmotivated and then I'll receive a gracious comment from a reader who liked something I wrote. That one comment can keep me going for the entire day. To think that there are people out there who read the crap I post on my blog and actually really like it still blows my mind. I am so thankful to have such kind-hearted, honest, brave, and beautiful readers.  I honestly wonder if I'd care so much about my blog if they didn't exist.

Tell us 3 random things about you:
1. I was a vegetarian for 17 years. At the end of 2012, I just started eating meat again.
2. I was on Homecoming Court during my senior year of university.
3. When I was a Resident Advisor in college, I told my residents that instead of killing the bugs in our dorm, I'd take the bugs outside for them. That year, I captured 50+ bugs, including grasshoppers, giant moths, spiders, and more.

What are three of your favorite posts?

I mean, com'on! Just look at that cute doggie face! Head on over to Melyssa's blog and say hello! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Inspiring Instagramers

Without a doubt, Instagram is my favorite App on my phone. When I wake up in the morning, I always spend a little time in bed going through Instagram. I just love starting my day with bunch of beautiful images! Here are a few profiles on Instagram that I find really inspiring. Any instagramers that you admire? Let me know, I would love to scroll through their feed!

Anya's photos are so simple and lovely. They all have such a beautiful, clean feel to them.

Her instagrams are full of interesting and beautiful places, tasty food and other things that just make your eyes happy. This girl seems to always be on the go! 

Deborah's photos are very graphic and primarily black and white. They always stand out in my feed because of their contrast and simplicity.

Daniel lives in Seattle, so of course I love scrolling through his photos of Pacific Northwest landscapes.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Five Simple Food Photography Tips

When I started this blog, I planned on it being primarily a style blog. Since then, I have found it slowly growing into more of a food blog with style and other topics on the side. It's funny how blogging changes and transforms along with you!

I have learned a lot when it comes to taking pictures of my food, but I am by no means an expert. There are so many gorgeous food blogs out there, and I hope one day my photos might look similar! But there are some really easy tips I wish I had known when I first started taking pictures of my recipes. I hope these help you when it comes to capturing your culinary creations!

1. Shoot your food during the day (golden hour if possible!). The most important thing when taking any kind of picture is the lighting. In general, the more light the better. Even though your food isn't in motion (probably) it's important that your photos look crisp and a high shutter speed is crucial. Placing your food next to a window with lots of natural light will provide a natural, sharp, and bright look to your photos.

This can sometimes be difficult when you want to share pictures of dinner because your light is often little to none. Unfortunately, my advice is to make your dish earlier in the day and reheat it for dinner. Yeah, it sucks. I have tried so many times to take photos of a dinner dish only to have turn out really blurry, shadowy and icky. Bottom line, it doesn't work unless it's summer. My Eggplant Parm recipe was the first dinner recipe I could share for a long time because it was still light out when I made it!

2. Take it outside! What's the best way to get lots of natural light? Get outside! I take most of my pictures on my front porch. I don't have any windows in my house that provide enough light, so outside I go! I live right on a busy road, so this often means people can see me taking pictures of things like Nutella Mini Pies in mismatched socks and sweatpants. Whateva. Outside is where all my favorite pictures happen. I recommend a shady, but still well lit area. We don't want direct sunlight! This will result in harsh shadows and over exposed areas.

3. Invest in a few props. My must haves? A large wood cutting board, white dishes, a few cute dishtowels and a large piece of a neutral (I like white) fabric. I recommend only using these props for pictures (except for the dishes) because once you stain your dishtowels or muck up your cutting board...they are done. Stained towels and a well used cutting board just don't make for pretty food pictures. It's not just about the food, it's about the different layers, textures, and colors around the food. In the photo below I used a large piece of textured fabric, cutting board, cute little white plate and a white bowl.

4. Shoot a lot of photos with different angles and depth of focus. I take a lot of photos for every post I do. There is nothing worse than going through all that work of setting up your picture, taking the shots and then not coming up with a picture you love! In general, I like to show at least two pictures of the finished product (one close up, one showing the entire dish) and one shot showing the process. This can mean taking around 100 photos and having to narrow it down to three or four. I feel it's always better to have lots of options rather than not enough!

5. Not every cookie is a supermodel. You know how sometimes when you make cookies, and one batch is perfect, one is undercooked, and one might be kinda burned? Yeaahh, it happens, but you don't have to photograph all the cookies...choose the prettiest! Not every cookie is worthy of internet fame, even if it is just as delicious as the others. Put your best cookie forward.

 I hope these simple tips might help you in the future! If you have any additional tips or tricks, I would love to hear them!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Blueberry & Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

I love starting the day off right with a healthy breakfast. It sets the tone for the rest of the day and motivates me to eat healthier for lunch and dinner too. This smoothie is the perfect combo of delicious, healthy and satisfying and I have been making them for breakfast quite a bit recently.Today I'm not off to the best start (there was a chocolate croissant calling my name!) but maybe this smoothie has redeeming powers as well?

For you guys who haven't tried putting fresh greens (spinach or kale) into your smoothies, don't be scared. Your blender will mix it all up and you won't even taste it! This is truer for spinach than it is for kale, so I would start there. Some of you may also be thinking that blueberry and peanut butter sounds weird together, but just think peanut butter and jelly. We all know how much that combo rocks.

Blueberry & Peanut Butter Green Smoothie
1 ripe banana
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup yogurt (I used vanilla, plain or blueberry would work too)
splash of milk
1/2 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon chia seeds

1. Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Add more blueberries if you want your smoothie a little thicker. Once smooth, add chia seeds and pulse several times. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Coconut Oil, Avocado & Honey Hair Mask

My hair has to put up with a lot of abuse. I use some kind of hot styling tool everyday, color it about once a month, and use the blow dryer often. All of this heat and chemicals can lead to some really dry and fragile hair!

I'm fortunate to have fairly strong hair, but it can get pretty dry. To fix this, I have been experimenting with homemade hair masks. This mask left my hair feeling really soft without weighing it down. My hair also smelled great and my normal frizz was reduced.

Honey is a humectant and emollient making it a good at attracting and retaining water. Coconut oil seals moisture into the hair, making it shinier and stronger. Coconut oil also contains vitamin E and K which nourish the hair and scalp. Avocados contain vitamin E and B, which is essential for hair growth. Avocados are also full of their own oils which are highly humectant and emollient. Bottom line, put these things on your hair!

This recipe was just the right amount for my medium length, medium thickness hair. If you have very long, or thick hair I would recommend doubling the amount of ingredients. Likewise, if you're hair is very short you could probably cut it in half.

Coconut Oil Avocado & Honey Hair Mask
1/2 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon honey

1. Place coconut oil in a microwavable bowl, and microwave for about 15-20 seconds until melted. Add honey and stir until mixture is somewhat combined. If honey is still thick, place mixture back into the microwave for about another 10 seconds. Mixture should be warm, be careful not to get the oil too hot.
2. Add avocado and use a fork to mash and incorporate with the honey and oil. Continue to mash and stir until well combined and smooth (it's okay if they are still some small lumps of avocado).
3. Comb through hair to detangle (hair should be dry). Starting with the ends, saturate hair with mixture. Once the ends of your hair are covered, part hair down the middle and place mask on the scalp, working it through the hair. Cover the hair around your hairline then work the mask all throughout your hair.
4. Once all your hair is covered, pull hair up into a pony tail or bun. Let mask sit for about 30-60 minutes.
5. Once you're ready to wash it out, place shampoo on hair and begin to lather before getting it wet. Water and oil don't mix well and getting it wet first will make it harder to remove. Lather shampoo through hair, then add water and rinse. Shampoo again to ensure all the oil has been removed. Follow with conditioner.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Another year, another birthday. Time sure flys!

PS: How gorgeous is that cake!? It was made by Hannah, who is a really talented baker. I'm totally drooling over this cake too. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan

Isn't Italian food the best? It's got so much going for it: noodles, cheese, sauces, basil, goes well with wine...the list continues. For me Italian just screams comfort food, and who doesn't like a big ol' bowl of comfort? It's definitely a favorite of mine!

Eggplant parmesan is one of those dishes that I don't make often, but when I do, I wonder why I don't make it once a week. It's pretty easy and so yummy! I recommend serving it on top of noodles (see picture below), but would be equally awesome with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a veggie.

Eggplant Parmesan
1 eggplant
2 cups plain bread crumbs (Italian works too)
2 eggs
12 ounces mozzarella cheese
26 ounces tomato sauce
1 cup fresh basil
1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 tbs. oregano
1/2 tbs. thyme
Olive oil

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice eggplant into approximately 1/2 inch slices. Beat egg in small bowl. In a separate bowl, mix bread crumbs with salt, pepper, oregano and thyme.
2. Oil cookie sheet with a thin layer of olive oil. Dip each eggplant slice into the beaten eggs, then fully cover both sides with bread crumb mixture. Place on cookie sheet and cook for about 7-10 minutes on each side. Remove from oven.
3. Cover the bottom of a round casserole dish (dutch oven) with a small amount of tomato sauce. Place eggplant slices on top, cover lightly with mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and more sauce. Repeat to make about three or four layers. Top with a heavy layer of mozzarella. 4. 4. 4. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Uncover and cook another 20-30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is golden.
5. Serve on top of noodles, garnish with chopped basil.

I ate mine on top of Trader Joe's garlic basil noodles with a glass of wine. Yuuum!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

May in Review

See ya month of May, and hello June! For me, May was full of relaxation during my vacation, a little trip to Portland, and we signed a lease for a new place starting in September. Here's a little recap of what May looked like over here!

Made some pretty amazing peanut butter banana & Nutella popsicles. Wish I had one right now!

Took a mini trip to Portland where Tommy and I visited the beautiful Japanese Gardens

Finally finished painting my Dala horse! Pretty happy with how it turned out! 

Took Atticus out on his leash, which I think he both loves and hates. He likes watching birds fly by, but really hates walking on the grass. 

Busted out my new dress while walking around downtown Portland. 

Listening: Lots of David Bowie! "Life on Mars?" is my new favorite song. 
Watching: Tommy and I watched "Behing the Candelabra" recently and really loved it. Michael Douglas was amazing as Liberace! Oh, and of course, Arrested Development! 
Reading: Yes, still reading "Dancing with Dragons." It's good, but it's taking me forever to read! 

Instagram // 1. Sometimes it's a flower in your hair kinda day. 2.Celebrating the return of Arrested Development with some frozen bananas! 3. My loves. 4. Favorite color of roses. 5. Kitten cuddles are the way to start the day. 5. My sister might just be the little mermaid. 

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