Monday, July 30, 2012

This blog has relocated!

This blog has moved up in the world to  Click over there to see what I've been cooking up and what we've been doing!

Monday, June 18, 2012

My Glam May Review

In May, I signed up for a MyGlam subscription for the first time and I was pretty happy with it, though I'm super-late posting about it because I've already received my June MyGlam bag.  MyGlam is a beauty subscription program in which you receive 4-5 full-size or deluxe beauty products in a little cosmetic bag for $10 per  month.  When you sign up, you take a quiz so they can customize your Glam bag.  You can cancel your subscription at any time, so it's pretty low risk!  It would also be a fun gift idea for a friend or sister!

May MyGlam Bag:
The makeup pouch was cute, but it has an awful smell.  I've had it airing out for a month, but it smells weird and chemically, so I'll probably throw it out - it can't be healthy.
  • Philosophy Love Sweet Love Spray Fragrance - this has a nice clean scent - sweet,  but not coying.  The retail price is $42, which isn't terrible for a large perfume.  I don't wear perfume all of the time, so I never really buy big bottles.  I just use a sample-size when I do wear it. 
  • Studio Gear Complete Color Lipstick in Warm Embrace - I worried that this was going to be a horrible shade, but it really isn't!  I actually love it!  It's definitely redder/darker than what I usually wear, but that's because I never find a red that I like.  It claims to plump your lips, though I can't say I noticed a difference.  I've worn this several times since I got it and would consider buying it again for $15.  This is a full-size product, so it exceeded the price for the subscription and made it well worth it.  The picture below is me wearing this shade - and no other makeup.  I also didn't apply the lipstick very neatly, but it still gives you an idea of the shade.  
  • Miss Beauty Nail Bling - These nail stickers are cute, but I haven't worn them yet so I don't know how easy they'll be to apply.  I feel like they'll be a little much to wear on all fingers, as sparkly pink hearts, but they'll be cute as an accent finger.  I couldn't find the price of these, but I'd guess $10 or less.  I probably wouldn't buy this design/color, but if these wear well, they'd be fun occasionally.
  • myglam Concealer Brush & Defining Eyeliner Brush - To be honest, I don't really know which brush is which because they aren't labeled.  One is a thin fine brush which could work well for applying small dots of concealer or for a fine line on your eyes, and the other is a thin, stiff brush, which would also work for both applications.  I've used these, but I still haven't determined which is which.  I think I used the stiffer one for eyelining and will probably keep it that way since I don't really do a very thin line on my eyes.  These are an exclusive myglam product, so I don't think you can purchase these separately, but I probably wouldn't anyway.  
Studio Gear Complete Color Lipstick in Warm Embrace
Final thoughts?  I felt like MyGlam compared pretty similarly to Birchbox - some hits and some things I wouldn't purchase, but I really love this lipstick.  After June, I'll pick one or the other to get for the month instead of both, but I haven't really decided which yet.  I may do another month of MyGlam since I've already received several months of Birchbox - or I'll try to find a new one.  Have you tried any beauty sample subscriptions?  What did you think?

Disclosure:  I purchased the MyGlam subscription on my own and am under no obligation to post about it.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Crème De Lys Chardonnay 2010

This is one my favorite white wines now, thanks to Kelley!  Other than the taste, the best part about Crème De Lys is that it's usually on sale for about $8.  It's a little hard to find, but one of the stores near where we now live carries it regularly, so I'm all set!  This is a nice light buttery wine with pineapple and apple notes.

Until about a year ago, I used to exclusively drink red, but I think it's because I'd only tried really sweet or really dry whites. Now I pretty much stick to chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and occasionally, pinot grigio.  I mostly stick to whites that I've had before, brands that I know are good (like Cameron Hughes), or whatever Kelley pours into my glass. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Workouts: June 11 - 15

I decided this week that I'd try to do 5 days in a row of yoga.  I was hoping to get in a leg workout and spinning workout, but I failed at the leg workout because I had to flex my lunch out on Monday to 30 minutes because we had to leave early to sign our life insurance documents.  I know that I had time to do a 30 min. workout...I was just kind of too lazy to do it.  I was glad that I did the 5 days of yoga, but next week I definitely need to get in more cardio again. 

Noon:  Lazy.
7:00: 80 minute Hot yoga at Go Yoga

Noon:  Yoga at Capital Club - I hadn't been to one of Mary's classes for weeks and really enjoyed it.

Noon:  Had to flex out my lunch because I needed to run to a couple of stores during lunch to pick up some things for the Foodie Pen Pal exchange. 
7:00:  GoYoga Flow Hot Yoga 80 minutes- Holy crap we did so many vinyasa pushups - it was such a hard class!

Noon:  Spinning - my legs were already sore and tight, but I thought it would help.  It was nice to be back in the saddle and get sweaty from something other than hot yoga.
5:30: Yoga at Capital Club - She went a little easier on us today, I think because she made me do so many vinyasa pushups the night before, she said we wouldn't have to do many. 

Noon:  Lunchtime yoga at Capital Club - I wasn't looking forward to this because I thought it would be so hard, but it wasn't that bad. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffin
I'm definitely not vegan, but when I had 4 VERY brown bananas hanging out in the fridge that needed used and no eggs, I figured a vegan recipe was my best option! I googled around until I found this recipe from Whipped, which I used as a base and made the changes that I needed.  When I subbed evaporated cane juice for agave nectar and I needed to add additional liquid, but I ended up pouring in too much.  The flavor is excellent, but the texture was a bit moist, or undone, so I corrected the amounts in the recipe below.  The extra liquid is also why they sunk in the middle. 

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins
  • 2 cups Jules all purpose gluten free all purpose flour (already contains xantham gum, but if your favorite flour does not, add 1 teaspoon xantham gum to the flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup evaporated cane juice or sugar (evap cane juice is actually granulated like sugar - not a liquid)
  • 1 cup coconut milk, not canned (or your preferred type)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease a 12 cup muffin pan and some other sort of pan for the extra batter (I used a pie plate).
  • Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup oil and sugar, milk, and vanilla to dry ingredients and stir until smooth.
  • Using a spatula fold in bananas.  Stir in chocolate chips or sprinkle on top - I only put 3-4 chips on top so they'd be a bit healthier.
  • Fill prepared pan halfway with batter.
  • Bake on the center rack for 35 minutes, rotating pan after 20 minutes. Cook until when you press on the loaf is bounces back slightly and a toothpick comes out clean.  The pan may be done before the muffins if it's much thinner (mine was)
  • Let muffins sit for 20 minutes before removing from pan.  I like to turn them upside down so the bottom dries up a bit, especially since mine were so moist.  
Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins
bottom of muffins
I could  have just cooked mine longer, but I needed to leave for yoga.  I kept these in the fridge, especially since they were so moist, because I was worried they'd get moldy easily.  I threw a couple in the freezer that we weren't going to eat before the weekend.  The next time I make this, I'll sub yogurt or applesauce for part of the oil to make them even healthier. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Neutrogena Cosmetics Review

I'm not a super girly, nor am I "good" at applying makeup, but I love trying new products and playing around with them.  When BzzAgent gave me an opportunity to try new Neutrogena® Cosmetics that claim to improve your skin, I was all about it.

While I wasn't holding out hope for huge skin improvements, but as long as a products aren't irritating or harsh, I'm usually happy.

I was surprised at how many products they sent.  Here is what I received, along with the descriptions and my opinions.  

Neutrogena Healthy Skin® Brightening Eye Perfector – this multi-tasking concealer immediately evens skin tone, conceals dark circles & boosts radiance, while a patented blend of antioxidants work over time to actually improve the look of skin. 

I like the actual product a lot.  I have dark circles under my eyes and I thought it made my eyes look brighter without looking cakey.  However, I didn't notice any particular skin improvement, as my dark circles are from genetics, so nothing is going to make them go away.  What I didn't like is the dispenser.  You twist the bottom of the tube to make the product come up through the brush, which has rather long bristles.  By the time you get enough product in the end of the brush to apply, too much product is in the brush and ends up being wasted.  You have to wipe the bristles after you're done or else the extra product kind of dries up in the brush.  I feel like a sponge-type applicator would be better.  My work-around for this problem is to get just enough of the product in the brush to smear it on my finger, and then apply with my finger.  I get better coverage because I can pat it into my skin and I don't waste as much product.  This retails at $13.99, which I feel like is a little expensive, especially considering the applicator wastes product.

Neutrogena® Nourishing Eyeliner – instantly defines and brightens eyes with luminous, conditioning color that wears beautifully all day. Olive oil and rainforest shea butter nourish the delicate skin around your lashes, while subtle light diffusers make the whites of your eyes appear whiter.

I received this is Cosmic Black.  It also comes in Brushed Pewter, Spiced Chocolate, and Twilight Blue (which sounds fun).  I think I would have liked this product, but I also had a problem with the applicator, which in turn kind messed up the product for good.  It was mostly stupidity, but I can't imagine that I'm the only one whom this would have happened to.  The product is an eyeliner at one side with a built-in sharpener and a smudger on the other side.  The first time I tried the product, I lined and then smudged, but when I went to put the caps back on, I put the smudger cap (which is shorter) on the liner side and smushed the liner.  I didn't think it would be a big deal, but since the sharpener is built in, it doesn't sharpen anymore.  Now the tip is flat instead of pointed, which makes it less precise to apply.  That being said, I like the eyeliner a lot (especially when it was actually pointed).  It lines very smoothly and the light diffusers make it look shimmery without being sparkly.  It smudges well too, which is important because I'm pretty terrible at drawing a straight line, so I have to smudge any eyeliner so it doesn't look like a 4 year old applied it.  This retails at $7.99, which I think is a fair price for an eyeliner, as long as you don't put the wrong cap on the wrong side (if they made them the same length, it wouldn't be a problem). 

Neutrogena® Revitalizing Lip Balm – sheer, moisturizing color that transforms the look of lips by making them softer, rosier and more defined. In just one week, it actually improve lips' texture, so lips look naturally beautiful – even after you take it off!

I LOVE these lip balms.  I'm super excited that I got three tubes since it was my favorite.  The shades that I got are Healthy Blush, Sunny Berry, and Petal Glow.  Every time I've bought tinted lip balm, the color is always weird, too bright or pink, and not really wearable.  I can wear every single one of these colors, even though I had my doubts when I looked at the tubes.  I have them stashed in various bags and don't even look to see which one I'm going to apply because they all look good.  The balm goes on so smoothly and has a nice light scent (I really hate weird, chemically smelling lip products).  It also has SPF 20, so I can wear it when I'm going to be in the sun without worrying about my lips getting dry and burnt.  These retail at $8.99, which sounds like a little much for a "lip balm", but is TOTALLY worth it.  Plus, makeup goes on sale all of the time, so I never really pay retail price.

This was a great BzzCampaign altogether.  I liked all of the products, even if I didn't like all of the dispensers, and I will definitely be buying the Revitalizing Lip Balm again.

Note: BzzAgent send me these items free of charge but in no way required me to give a good review, or any review on the products.  I chose to do the review because I liked the products.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Workouts: June 4 - 8

This week was super yoga-heavy and I was feeling it!  Every morning when I got out of bed, my back/shoulders would be SO sore!  Part of that was from a short shoulders lifting routine, but the rest was from doing wheel a couple of times. 

Noon:  30 minute leg routine - I just did some of the harder leg exercises from P90X.  I had a hair appointment that I had to leave work early for, so I took a shorter lunch.  I was pretty sore the next day.
Noon:  30 minutes elliptical and 10-15 minutes shoulder/back routine.  I hadn't bee lifting anything with my upper body much because my elbow isn't 100% yet and yoga already hits those spots quite a bit.  But this short upper body workout was great, but it definitely made me sore for a couple of days when combined with 4 days of yoga.
7:00:  Candlelight hot yoga - I thought this would be more of a relaxation yoga with  a lot of stretching, but it definitely wasn't - it was a great workout. 

Noon:  Run and stretching - I thought it was Thursday for some reason and I was looking forward to spinning, but I realized while I was changing that it wasn't Thursday.  I didn't have any plan for a workout so I headed to the gym. When I got outside I realized it was a really nice day and I was in the mood to run (which almost never happens).  So I just took off towards COSI.  I thought I'd run a couple of streets back from COSI and then run the stairs in front a little bit.  My kneecap started bothering me about halfway around, so I had to stop and massage it and walk a bit.  I didn't run the steps because I didn't think it would be good for it and there wasn't anyway to access the steps from the side I was on because of construction.  I just jogged back to the gym and did a little stretching.

7:00:  GoYoga Flow Hot Yoga 80 minutes- This class is with our favorite instructor, Anne, but that also means that it's  hard because she's the hardest instructor I've ever taken.  The room was set WAY too hot, like last week, so it was extra sweaty. 

Noon:  None- my stomach was bothering me and I was afraid that if I went to spinning, I get nauseous and have to leave.
5:30: Yoga at Capital Club - HARD.  We did some things in the class that were a little more advanced because it was just 3 of us.  It was a good class.  I've been able to do headstands against the wall, but I could only get one leg up when not using the wall - I think it was mostly a trust thing - I didn't think I could do it.  Next time I will!

Noon:  Lunchtime yoga at Capital Club - this was a really hard class compared to other lunch classes.  She isn't my favorite instructor, but it was a good class. I was a little offended when she said to go into downward dog or child's pose "because I know how this class likes child's pose".  No one who was in the class ever drops down into child's pose or slacks off, so I don't know what she was talking about, but I thought it was a little rude.  I hadn't been there for a couple of weeks, so maybe in one of the classes people did, but I just thought that it was said very negatively, which isn't cool. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cream Cheese Stuffed Dates

We had Mediterranean-themed potluck for my co-worker's wedding shower since they were taking a Mediterranean cruise for their honeymoon.  I planned to bring a chickpea salad, but the night before I decided to also do cream cheese stuffed dates so that I could have something sweet.  I knew they'd probably have cake or something and I wouldn't be able to have it since it wouldn't be gluten-free.  I already had all of the ingredients for these, so I just whipped them up.  It really is a dump/taste recipe, because it depends on the sweetness and amount of cinnamon that you prefer.  I hate to give measurements for recipes like this because: 1.  I don't usually measure myself and 2. people get all hung up on the amounts instead of just going with what tastes good to them.

You could use any type of dried dates - I had Tunisian Deglet Noor, so I used those, but you can use any plump pitted date.  It's worth buying pitted dates because I don't even know how hard it is to pit dates, but it's probably hard - plus there are already slits in the dates that make them easy to fill with the cream cheese.  This recipe makes more filling than you probably need, but that's because it makes more sense to use a whole brick of cream cheese than to shove a half of brick back in the fridge and forget about it until it molds.  I just used the extra spiced cream cheese on GF bagels.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Stuffed Dates

  • Dates - however many you need...I used about 20
  • 1 brick of cream cheese, I used /3 less fat kind
  • cinnamon, to taste
  • honey, to taste
  • vanilla or vanilla sugar
Set the cream cheese out to soften while you prepare the dates.  I initially started using a paring knife to slit the dates, but then I realized that they already have a slit from being pitted, so I just started finding the slit and unrolling them from there.  After unrolling all of the dates, stir a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon and honey into the cream cheese by hand or mixer.  Add more to taste.  If using vanilla, stir a little of that in - maybe 1/4 teaspoon.

Once the cream cheese mixture is to your liking, spoon it into a ziploc bag or frosting bag.  If using ziploc, push the cream cheese to one corner and squeeze out the extra air.  Snip off the tip of the ziploc and fill the dates with the cream cheese mixture.  It's that simple!  I sprinkled the tops with vanilla sugar so they wouldn't stick to the wax paper between the layers in the container.  Obviously you can use regular sugar too.  To make your own vanilla sugar, slit a vanilla pod lengthwise and stick it in a jar of sugar for a few weeks or longer.   

Most of my coworkers have never had dates, or even heard of them, but they really liked these. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Burger King New Menu Review and BK® Crown Card Giveaway

As a member of MyBlogSpark, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Burger King New Menu Spark.  Burger King has recently added several new menu items including made-to-order Garden Fresh Salads, Snack Wraps, Real Fruit Smoothies, Frappés and Crispy Chicken Strips, and MyBlogSpark sent me a $20 BK® Crown Card to try out the new items.  Plus they want to reward one of my readers with a $20 BK® Crown Card too!

Chicken, Apple and Cranberry Garden Fresh Salad
I don’t generally eat a ton of fast food.  It’s especially hard to find something that I want/can eat on the menus now that I know I’m gluten-free.  This definitely put a limit on what I was able to try from the new menu, but I was excited about trying the Chicken, Apple and Cranberry Garden Fresh Salad and the Mocha Frappé.  Salads are usually a fairly safe option at fast food places since croutons usually come in separate bags, but I do have to watch out for the dressings.  Burger King has a pretty decent allergy/nutrition chart, so I knew my choices would be safe.  The other reason I hesitate on ordering salads at fast food places is that the lettuce is often iceberg, which is pretty worthless taste-wise and nutritionally, or it just doesn’t seem very fresh. 

We went to Burger King for dinner the week after we closed on our house and were very busy getting everything ready to move in the following weekend, so we go it to go and took it to the apartment to eat.  Lo ordered the Crispy Chicken Strips with honey mustard and sweet and sour sauce, and I got the Apple and Cranberry Garden Fresh Salad and the Mocha Frappé.  

I sipped on the mocha on the way home.  It was pretty good, though VERY sweet.   And while I love whipped cream, I hate how it comes standard on mochas and milkshakes everywhere these days – it’s good, but fairly unnecessary and unhealthy…but I still ate it.  It had a good mocha flavor – I’m just used to drinking black coffee, so the sweetness was a bit much for me.    

Chicken, Apple and Cranberry Garden Fresh Salad
I ate the salad when we got home and it was delicious.  And huge!  There were two TENDERGRILL® chicken pieces sliced on top (TENDERCRISP®  is an option too).  It was SO filling.  I actually couldn’t eat all of it – which is shocking because I can finish almost any salad except one from Chipotle.  I was very impressed with the lettuce – it was very green and crisp.  The tartness of the apples and cranberries paired perfectly with the saltiness of the bleu cheese.  Instead of the Apple Cider Vinaigrette, I chose the Ken's® Lite Honey Balsamic for the dressing because I wanted a lighter option. 

Lo enjoyed his Crispy Chicken Strips, though it’s not something he’d normally order.  He said that it was the perfect portion of breading to chicken and the chicken was moist, but the breading wasn’t soggy, which is surprising considering he didn’t eat them until we got home.  I thought they have a pretty impressive selection of sauces for the strips and made fun of him for initially choosing honey mustard, which is one of the more boring/standard sauces.  I thought the Kung Pau and BBQ Roasted Jalepeno Dipping sauces sounded better. I meant to take a picture of his, but I forgot!

I probably hadn’t eaten at Burger King for well over a year.  I used to love the breakfast, but now that I’m gluten-free, everything is pretty much off limits for breakfast.  I still love their iced tea the best (I think it tastes like roses, which doesn’t make sense OR sound good, but I love it), and I’m happy to know that they have great salads now. 

MyBlogSpark is offering one of my readers a $20 gift card pack to try out the new Burger King Menu.

To enter:
Leave a comment telling me what you’d order from the menu, or what you’ve already tried.

Additional optional entries: you MUST leave me a comment for EACH extra entry that you complete.
Contest ends June 17, 2012 and the winner will be selected by and notified by email.  Good luck!

*MyBlogSpark provided me the a $20 BK® Crown Card to try the new menu items, but I was under no obligation to provide a positive review, or any review at all.  If I wasn’t happy with the new menu, I wouldn’t have posted anything.  While I don’t think fast food should be a regular part of anyone’s diet, I feel like there is a time and a place for it, and I’m happy to have a new option when we are eating on the go. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad Recipe and Berio® Extra Virgin Olive Oil Review

As a BzzAgent, I was given the chance to try out Filippo Berio® Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  I'm a big olive oil fan for the nutritional benefits and versatility.

Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a great product because in addition to being a 100% natural product with a neutral taste that can be used in most recipes, it also touts these benefits:
  • Is high in monounsaturated fats (also known as "good fat")
  • Contains no trans fat or cholesterol
  • Contains no sugar, salt, or gluten
  • Can help reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as help control blood pressure and blood sugar levels
I use olive oil in most recipes that aren't cooked at high heat.  While I haven't used olive oil in baking very often, this conversion chart on Filippo's site will make it easier in the future.

The first recipe in which I used the Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil was Mediterranean Chickpea Salad that I made for a co-worker's Mediterranean-themed wedding potluck.  I loved it so much that I made it again a week later for a Memorial Weekend picnic!  The recipe came from a combination of chickpea salad recipes that I found online. This recipes serves 10-12, depending on serving size.  Leftovers are good and it can be eaten cold, room temperature, or warm.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

  • 3 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pouch sundried tomatoes, julienned or chopped
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped (more if you love red onion)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro (chopped), I used 6-7 frozen cilantro cubes from Trader Joes
  • 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsps lemon juice
  • pinch of thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste
In a bowl, mix the garbanzo beans, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, onion, garlic, and cilantro. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt, pour over the salad, and stir. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving for flavors to blend.

This recipe is pretty adjustable - whip up more dressing if you'd like it more moist or squeeze some fresh lemon over it for extra zest.   

This was a big hit at work and the party - Lo even liked it and it isn't usually a fan of "salad"-type things like this.

Monday, June 4, 2012

OXO Good Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer Winner

The winner of the OXO Good Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer is M!  Congrats, I'll email you for details.  Everyone else, thanks for entering and stick around for another giveaway this week!  Hint: it'll give you a break from making dinner one night!

Workouts: May 28 - June 1

I haven't been posting my workouts because I haven't been posting about hardly anything since we've been moving.  Trust me, I was still working out (what else do people do during lunch hour?).  We did miss some night yoga classes for appointments regarding the move and such, but our schedule is settling down now.  I did miss a lunch workout this week when we went to clean the apartment, plus is was a short work week, so my workouts were a little light this week, with no weights.  I took some tough yoga classes and was feeling it.

Memorial Day!  If floating in the pool reading magazines counts as exercise, then I worked out for a couple of hours.

Noon:  Apartment cleaning
7:00:  Slow Burn then YIN hot yoga at Go Yoga 80 minutes - this class was pretty hard.  It was 80 minutes and long deep holds for each pose.  We seriously held pigeon and frog for like 5 minutes each! 
Noon:  45 minutes elliptical - I was a little sore from yoga and had another class that night, so I didn't want to lift.

7:00:  GoYoga Flow Hot Yoga 80 minutes- This class is with our favorite instructor, Anne, but that also means that it's  hard because she's the hardest instructor I've ever taken.  The room was set WAY too hot, like last week, so it was extra sweaty. 

Noon:  40 minutes elliptical - same excuse as above...which may just boil down to me being lazy and wanting to read U.S. Weekly Magazine

5:30: Yoga at Capital Club - I thought I was going to slack in this class because my "slipping rib" started feeling like it was slipping again after class on Wednesday.  I was going to skip some of the vinyasa pushups so it didn't get worse, but I didn't because once I'm working out, I don't notice pain.  Luckily, it didn't feel any worse afterwards, but I was feeling a little sore all over.
Nothing!  It's Lo's birthday, so we took the day off to do nothing!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy Birthday Lo!

Today is Loren's birthday!!  Happy Birthday Barn Cat!  I love you!

p.s. there's a barrel of Maker's Mark somewhere with the name Barn Cat on it

p.p.s. no one actually calls Loren "barn cat", but he liked that nickname for a random UFC fighter so I told him I was going to call him that and then named a barrel of Maker's Mark after him when I was randomly offered the chance to name a barrel after I was randomly selected to be a Maker's Mark Ambassador, even though I don't really drink Makers. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Time for things to break

Memorial Day Weekend is always a majorly busy weekend for us, and this year wasn't any different.  But to start off the fun, our air conditioning went out sometime last week.  It had been cool enough since we moved that we had only turned the air on once (2 Sundays ago).  The cross-breeze was usually enough.  Last Wednesday the temp started rising in preparation for the super-hot temperature predicted for the weekend (high 90's).  Lo turned the air on and it wasn't helping...because it wasn't blowing cold air...just air.  On Thursday he looked up things that may fix it, in case it was just a setting on the thermostat or unit or something.  The unit is about 5 years old, so we didn't expect anything major and put in a service call.  Unfortunately because we were so busy, we weren't going to be home any of the times they were available until Tuesday.  Fortunately, we were going to be busy enough that we didn't have to sit around at home and sweat all weekend -we knew we'd be here very little.  Back to the unfortunates, I had to make pulled pork for an event on Friday and I forgot to put it in the crockpot before I left for work.  So when I got home at 12:30, I had to cook it in the oven for a few hours to ensure it would be done on time.  Nothing like heating up an already hot house.  Since I already had it on, I went ahead and made some Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies and Kentucky Bourbon Bacon Chex Mix that I was taking to other parties over the weekend.
Pinned Image

We managed to sleep at home on Friday night, but by the time I returned from my SIL's baby shower on Saturday, it was balls hot in the house.  No, I don't really know what "balls hot" means, I just tend to throw the word "balls" in front of the word hot (and old sometimes) - kind of in the place of "super".  I was staying at my friends' house anyway, since Lo was going to the Indy 500 and we have no idea whether I can manage to stay at home alone in a new house without freaking out.  Those who know me are aware of my "nighttime problems".  I'm not afraid of the dark, but I have crazy dreams and wake up with irrational fears.  They are often so irrational that I won't try to explain them out loud.  We had lots of security devices on the doors in the apartment just so I'd be able to reason with myself that whatever I think happened, wasn't possible.  Now that we have 1st floor windows and multiple doors, we didn't know how I'd be at night.  So far, so good - but no sense risking it while he was gone and the house was balls hot anyway.

We were able to stay at our friends' house on Sunday too - they had a big party and were having brunch the next day, plus we have our own room there anyway.  Now that we live 10 minutes from them, versus 30, we didn't expect to be staying there much anymore, but thankfully they are always welcoming!

Monday night we finally left their house, which I often refer to our vacation home because it feels like we're on vacation when we are there.  It was still pretty hot at home, but was getting cooler at night so we thought it may be ok.  It wasn't.  Instead of heading back to their place, we decided to pack our stuff for work and sleep in the apartment for one last night.  We'd left air mattresses and sleeping bags there just in case, plus it gave us a chance to do a little more cleaning before we had to turn in the keys this week. 

The air conditioning company came on Tuesday after work and fixed us right up.  The coolant was completely empty, but he didn't think there were any leaks, so we should be good now! 

Surprise repair #1 wasn't so bad - I think the total bill was $230 or something, which included a service plan in case it turns out that something else is wrong and they need to come back out. 

And now the air is cool....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

OXO Good Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer Review and Giveaway

Sorry for the delay in announcing the winner - I had a hair appt. after work today.  The winner is M!  Congratulations - I'll contact you by email.  There is another great giveaway coming up this week, so stick around!

I'm a member of the OXO Blogger Outreach Program and was super-excited when I was chosen to review the OXO Good Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer.  I've wanted a mandoline for so long, but could never decide which one to buy.  I was even more excited when I opened the package and saw that in addition to the mandoline that they sent to me - they included another to give to one of my readers!

Sadly, I've been in the process of moving for the last few weeks so I haven't had a chance to use it as much as I've wanted, but one of the recipes that I was excited to try first was baked potato chips!  I can't really call it a recipe, because I just sliced up some potatoes on the thinnest setting, sprayed them with the oil mister and sprinkled them with a variety of seasonings.  When it comes to spices, I just grab and shake, so I don't really know exactly what I used. I spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and baked at 400 degrees until they started to brown.  I flipped them over using a fork and cooked until the other side was browned.  They were excellent!  I've also used the mandoline slicer a few times to slice up peppers and I'm so excited to slice up turnips for turnip chips and au gratin once they are in season.

The mandoline slicer has 3 levels of thickness, though the thickest isn't as thick as I'd prefer.  That's not a big deal because I can just use a knife it I want it that thick.  Thinner is so much hard with a knife.  Once I got the hang of using the food holder to protect myself from the blades, it was simple.  I'm prone to cutting myself with a knife as it is, so I'll definitely be using this with the food holder - those blades are SHARP!  The food holder also slides over the blades for storage, which is key for protection.  You can use the slicer angled on a plate or cutting board like I did below, or you can hook the foot over a bowl and slice into the bowl. 

Like I mentioned, I haven't had an opportunity to use this with very many vegetables yet, but it worked great for potatoes and peppers!

If you'd like to enter to win an OXO Good Grips Hand Held Mandoline:
  • Leave me a comment telling me what you'd slice with it if you had one!

Additional entries:
Contest ends June 3, 2012 and the winner will be selected by and notified by email.  Good luck!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We're still here...just relocated...

We've been a little busy.  We bought a house a little over two weeks ago and tonight is the first time I've opened my laptop at home.  The first week was spent cleaning and such, and the movers did the heavy work last Saturday.  We still have a lot in boxes, but I actually am already feeling settled, which is awesome.  We got a house style that we wanted (two story), with the amount of bedrooms we wanted (4), in the condition we wanted (move in ready), in the area that we wanted (Dublin), for less than we expected.  I couldn't be more thrilled.  It was a short sale, which we were told could take months for approval.  It took 3 days, so it moved way more quickly than expected, but also worked out well according to our apartment lease terms.  Shockingly, they are letting us out a month early, so we don't even have to make a double payment. 

Luckily, we only "needed" to paint two rooms so far, because as we found out, we are pretty terrible at painting.  We will be enlisting help for future painting jobs.  We are also quite "green" at gardening, as in, we have no idea what are plants and what are weeds.  Lo was weeding one day and when his family came up later, his grandma pointed out that he weeded out snapdragons and a baby hosta (which she later went out and replanted).  And I just discovered that I pulled out a huge bunch of cilantro tonight.  It was probably going to bolt after this weekend anyway, but still...

There's lots of furniture and tools that we still need to buy, and I need to make some decorating decisions, but we'll get there eventually! 

*The pic above is from one of our first showings, so it looks a lot nicer now that it's spring and there are lots of plants and such.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spicy Bombay Sliders

When I made Buffalo Turkey Wraps, I only used half of the package of ground turkey since I mixed lentils into the meat.  Since we also had lettuce leaves, which are great to use as a gluten-free substitute for buns or wraps, we decided to make Spicy Bombay Sliders with the leftover turkey.  We picked up pound of ground chicken to round out the recipe - I don't love the taste of turkey burgers, so adding a different meat usually milds the taste for me.  Lo made Spicy Bombay Burgers for a friendly cooking "competition" with our friends, so we knew how good they were going to be. 
Spicy Bombay Sliders
recipe from The Fresh Market

Bombay Sauce: 
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 T. garlic chili sauce
  • 2-3 T. hot curry paste (found in the asian section)
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 3/4 - 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 1/2 T. fresh ginger, minced (see tip below)
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 t. curry powder
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, chili sauce, curry paste and sugar. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Preheat grill to medium heat. In a large mixing bowl, fold together turkey, chicken, ginger, cumin, curry powder and garlic until well combined; form 1/3 cup of mixture at a time into patties. Season patties to taste with salt and pepper; grill 4 to 5 minutes per side until done. Serve sliders with spicy sauce.  I wrapped mine in lettuce leaves, while Lo ate his on a bun.

Ginger tip: I keep a knob of fresh ginger (found in the produce section near the garlic usually) in the freezer.  When I need of piece of it, I just grab it from the freezer and cut off a hunk with a sharp knife.  Using a veggie peeler or the knife, carefully peel the skin off the ginger.  Mince or prepare according to recipe instructions.  If I don't need much ginger, I'll often just peel part of the hunk with a peeler and continue to "shave" the ginger with the peeler.  Just chop the shavings to the size you need. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dandelion Eye

I spotted this walking through Goodale Park a few weeks ago.  We were walking along and I stopped dead in my tracks and walked backwards to take a second look.  I thought I was imagining it...but nope - someone stuck googly-eyes on a pair of dandelions!  The flower on the right was shriveled up and dead, but you can still see the eye on it.  Only in Goodale Park - and that is why it is an awesome park!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Gluten Free Crispy Cereal Cakes

My friend was having a birthday and I wanted to make her a cake, gluten-free, of course!  I didn't want to make a super rich flour-less cake or try to mess with a bunch of types of gf flour, so I decided to make a Crispy Cakes!  I used Fruity Pebbles for one, and Cocoa Pebbles for another.  You can use Rice Krispies or any gluten-free crispy cereal. 

There are so many options for decorating these "cakes" and even people who aren't gluten-free will enjoy them.  Who doesn't like Crispy treats??

I can't say that I had a favorite between the two cakes...they were so different.  Normally I would always choose chocolate, but Fruity Pebbles are SO good! 

Basic Recipe for Crispy Treats
  • 3 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows or 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 6 cups crispy cereal 
  • 1/2 t. vanilla 
1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

2. Add cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into pan(s)* coated with cooking spray.

*To make the layers, pour the mixture into different sized bowls and press down gently to level.  Don't press down too hard (like i did) because it will compact and crush the cereal, making the bars harder than they should be.

My pans/bowls were a little too big, which made the layers thin, so I ended up making another third of a batch (1 tablespoon butter, 1 1/3 cups mini marshmallows, and 2 cups cereal).  Just multiply the recipe for how many you want to serve. 

I piped canned vanilla frosting onto the Fruity Pebbles cake and used skittles and swedish fish to decorate.  I didn't have any frosting bags handy, so I just scooped the frosting into a ziploc bag and snipped off a corner. 

Chocolate-drizzled potato chips - YUM!

For the Cocoa Pebbles cake, I added some peanut butter into the marshmallow-butter mixture before stirring in the cereal, and used peanut butter frosting that I had saved and froze from this recipe.  I decorated with M&M's and then drizzled dipping chocolate (Merkins) over the cake by pouring the melted chocolate into a ziploc bag and snipping off a tiny corner.  There was leftover chocolate in the bag - I can't throw that away - so we drizzled the chocolate over some potato chips. 

These were so good and are going to be my "go-to" cake - especially in the summer when I don't want to turn on the oven!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Buffalo Turkey Lettuce Wraps

I love lettuce wraps - especially P.F. Changs - but I wanted to make a version that wasn't Asian-inspired (mostly because we didn't have soy sauce).  I saw some recipes on Pinterest that were buffalo-style and I thought that sounded perfect.  I didn't have the ingredients for those recipes either, so I just (buffalo) winged it.  

I love these and the recipe is completely customizable.  I mixed cooked lentils with the meat to stretch the amount of meat and make it a little healthier.  The lentils can be left out, or you can used cooked rice or quinoa in place of the lentils.  You won't notice the taste or texture for the lentils though, so I recommend them.    

Buffalo Turkey Lentil Lettuce Wraps

3/4 - 1 pound lean ground turkey (or chicken or beef)
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup dry lentils (brown or gets mushy)
3 carrots, shredded using a veggie peeler
Leaves of lettuce, washed (we used butter lettuce, but it doesn't matter which type)
Shredded cheese or blue cheese sprinkles
Buffalo Wing sauce, about 1 cup
Blue cheese dressing, if desired (I didn't have it and didn't need it)
Chopped celery, if you have it (I didn't)

Don't have buffalo wing sauce?  Mix some up.

Buffalo Wing Sauce:
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot (or favorite hot sauce)
1/2 T. white vinegar (more to taste)
sprinkle of garlic powder, to taste
1-2 t. sugar, to taste
pepper, to taste

Stir together the ingredients, tasting as you go.  Add more vinegar if you want it to be more tangy; add more sugar if it's too tangy.  If it's still too spicy or too tangy, stir in a couple of tablespoons or more of BBQ sauce to mild it out. 

For the wraps:
Sort lentils, discarding any weird looking ones.  Place in pan with 2 cups water and simmer with lid tilted until to desired tenderness, stirring occasionally, about 20-25 minutes. Drain water from lentils and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook onions for 3 minutes until tender.  Add ground meat and cook until browned.  Drain if needed. 

Add lentils to cooked meat.  Stir in buffalo sauce.  If the sauce it too runny (once mixed with the juices from the meat), you can turn the heat back on and cook for a couple of minutes.

To assemble, scoop meat/lentils down the middle of the lettuce, top with carrots and desired cheese and celery, if using.  Fold it up like a taco and enjoy!  I find it easiest to eat the stem end last, since it's a little more sturdy.   

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Clippers Game - April 29

It was unexpectedly nice on Sunday, so we decided to walk to the Clippers game.  We have limited time left of walking everywhere that we want to, so we wanted to take advantage of it while we can.

I love how you can see downtown from the stadium...

 Right field...

I love the Hot Dog Race during the game....  I always root for mustard because ketchup and relish are gross on hot dogs.... 

Mustard is in second!

See that Lion/Bear mascot ahead (I have no idea what it is)....he's about to cause some major ruckus.

The Bear/Lion plowed down all of the dogs and then dragged Relish across the finish line his (its?) foot. 

Perfect day! 

After the game, we relaxed at home for a bit and then walked to zpizza for dinner to use an Eversave certificate.  We ordered the gluten-free zBQ pizza and it was GOOD!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Save the Earth - it's the only one we have...

One year in middle school, I convinced one of my teachers to let me and a friend leave class everyday to write a song about saving the Earth in an empty classroom.  I swear it was my math teacher, but seems like an odd class to be allowed to skip in order to write a song that isn't about math.

Apparently I wanted to save the Earth before it was a "cool".  I remember part of the song...the chorus went something like this:

Save the Earth, it's the only one we have
Why, yes, I still have my DARE shirt
from 6th grade...

Save the Earth, before it's too late
Save the Earth, we can do it together
Save the Earth, before it's gone

I can't remember the whole song because I start to get the lyrics mixed up with the D.A.R.E. song:  "The world's a difference place where life's become a race, and unlike the world of past our kids grow up too fast.  'Cuz what they see in stores is threats and bombs and war, and that deadly game we're taught our happiness is bought.  So the children of today have no time for children's play.  They feel like they're all along, even strangers in their homes.  To hide their pain and fears, they destroy their youthful years, giving up on love and hugs and escaping into drugs....  DARE to keep a kids of drugs..DARE...

Ok, I have to stop because I'm embarrassed that I know that many lyrics...and also, they don't make sense: "Even strangers in their homes" - who are these strangers...and do all kids have these?

Back to the Earth: things haven't changed yet - I still want to save the Earth...  April was Earth Month, so hopefully everyone read about or heard about some new ways to become more eco-friendly.

Here are some of the things to do our parts...

We recycle:  We don't have pickup, but we drive our recycling to a bin in the park.  We have a nifty divided garbage can for the kitchen where we can put garbage in one side and recycling in the other.  I'm super-excited because Columbus is providing FREE recycling pickup - and we should have it by the fall.

We reuse: We wash, save, and reuse jars and plastic takeout containers.  We use rags when we are cleaning.  I've even been reusing magazines to make decorative bowls lately (post coming soon, but here's another tutorial that I wrote here). 

We buy local when we can:  We love the North Market and farmer's markets.  We're happy to buy local beer, wine, and vodka. 

We combine trips: We run our errands on our way home from other trips.  I grocery shop on the way home from work, volleyball, yoga, or other outings.  We usually buy our gas at GetGo stations and Lo stops when he's near one of the stations for another task. 

We use CFL bulbs:  When we moved into our apartment, we replaces all of the regular bulbs with CFL's.  We saved the regular bulbs and will replace most of them and take the CFL bulbs with us when we move. 

We hang clothes to dry:  We hang a lot of our pants and shirts instead of using the drying so save energy and help our clothes last longer.

We use reusable water bottles:  We rarely buy bottled water and instead try to take reusable bottles when we need them.  We have a few bottles of water that we bought in a case months ago, because it's always smart to have some potable water on hand in the event of emergencies.

We use non-toxic cleaning products as much as possible, almost exclusively.  I use white vinegar to clean regularly, and when we do need cleaners, we often use Magic Erasers and have started buying non-toxic Method cleaners.  Our laundry detergent if Costco's environmentally-friendly detergent and we rarely use dryer sheets.  

We are going to compost:  I'm super excited about having the ability to compost once we move.  We don't have that option now, but I can't wait. Any recommendations on a composter?

We are going to grow some food:  When we have a yard, and are able to compost, we are going to grow what we can.

We are going to install a rain barrel when we move: Residents of Franklin County can take part in the GreenSpot Rain Barrel Program and get a rain barrel for only $50. 

I'm sure I'm forgetting some other green ways....what do you do to help?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Workouts: April 23 - 27

So again this week I did a little too much, for no good reason.  I randomly ran 4 miles one day at lunch, without having trained in any way.  The run went well, but my knees and shins were really sore at the end and for a couple of days afterwards.  I had to take it easy for a few days, but I'm feeling good now. 

Noon:  Legs and Jumprope Routine - 1 minute of each exercises listed with 1 minute of jumprope and 20 seconds rest
  • Front Lunge
  • Squat with Toe Raises
  • Single Leg Deadlift
  • Wall Sits
  • Toe Roll Iso-Lunges
  • Reverse Lunges
  • Toe Raises
  • Plie Squats
  • Standing Forward Leg Lifts
  • Hamstring Curls on a Ball
  • Hip Raises
  • Kettlebells Swings

5:30:  Yoga - hard.
Noon:  1 hour Vinyasa Yoga.  Again hard.  
8:30:  Reverse Co-ed Power Volleyball at Dublin Rec
Noon:  4 mile run

Noon: Nothing - WAY too sore and my hips were killing me.
5:30: Yoga at Capital Club - this was my hardest class ever.  Not only was it one of her harder classes, which Lo agrees with, I was incredibly sore and was really struggling with holding the poses correctly. 
Noon:  45 minutes elliptical.  I just needed to take it easy...and read a US Weekly magazine.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lessons I Didn't Learn...Part 2

Last week I posted about how I didn't learn the lesson that less is sometimes more, and I pulled a butt muscle.  I did better with my workout on Monday, and even stopped with the jump roping when my ankle got a twinge.  Every now and then my ankle will get a "twinge" that isn't a sprain or anything and it just comes and goes for a couple of days, never bothering me terribly, but noticeable enough that it makes me limp a little bit.  It kind of feels like a tendon or small bone is just shifted slightly out of place, but I don't even know if that's possible. 

Anyway, the lesson that I didn't learn this week is that if you haven't been running, you shouldn't spontaneously run 4 miles.  As a matter of fact, I think the lesson is that you are supposed to increase your mileage by 10 percent at a time or something like that.  I went for 100% instead. 

I put our Green BEAN Produce delivery on hold for the time being and when I temporarily suspended my account, they asked if they could pick up the bin until we wanted to start again.  We were supposed to set it out for pickup on Wednesday and forgot.  I'm saying we, because I asked Loren to do it and he forgot.  Truthfully, I should have done it myself because he was actually busy folding laundry when I asked him, and I just didn't want to get up because my feet were cold, or at least I remember that's what the excuse was when I asked him. 

I remembered around 11 a.m. that we forgot to set it out and emailed the company to see if they'd come by yet.  They said no, and that they'd be heading out for deliveries soon.  They probably wouldn't have cared if I told them I forgot, but as punishment I decided that I had to run home during my lunch hour to set the bin out.  Instead of driving, I decided that I literally had to run - plus then I wouldn't be skipping my workout. 

It was nice out and the run was going pretty well.  I realized halfway home that if my ankle started hurting really bad that I was screwed because Lo was busy with a consultant and couldn't come pick me up even if I needed him to.  My ankle was fine, my lungs were fine, but my knees and shins were really feeling it part way - plus my legs were still sore from Monday's workout and 2 yoga classes.  On my way back I walked for a little bit, but for the most part I was running.  I made it back with time to spare, which I was pretty excited about.  But man my knees hurt!  And they still hurt!  I skipped my lunchtime workout today to give them a rest, but yoga was hard tonight, so that didn't help.

In a way, I'm kind of proud that I ran that much.  I pretty much hate running and am "bad" at it even if I practice.  I never would have thought my lungs would have felt great since I don't do a lot of standard cardio.  Apparently my crossfit-type workouts, spinning, and yoga are enough to make a difference!  That being said, if I'm going to run again, I really should go for any sort of distance, especially while wearing Vibrams, if I haven't been running much. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Recycled Magazine Bowl Tutorial

Looking for an Earth Month project (or just something to do with those stacks of magazines laying around your house)?  Check out my Recycled Magazine Bowl Tutorial posted on Living on the Cheap

Tip Junkie handmade projects