Friday, March 23, 2012

My New Etsy Shop!

There's nothing I love more than sending people cards in the mail.  Be it birthday, Valentine's, sympathy, laughter, or just encouragement, I feel a card is something special.  I've been doing this for a few years now, and only recently started posting pictures to instagram of my creations.

Last night I posted these:



And people really  liked them. And said I should sell them on etsy.  So I am.  I did.  Without further adieu, here is a snapshot of some of my homemade cards I'm selling on etsy.













What do you think? You can purchase them in my etsy store here, or contact me for a special, custom order.  I am really excited about this, I LOVE cards!


These are only the tip of the iceberg as to what I can do, so stay tuned for more!

Gel Manicures and the Beach

While I was reading the latest issue of NailPro Magazine, I came across an article about some of the hottest gel-manicure colors, all surrounded by themes of the beach.  Of course I had to share this with you! One, it's NAIL POLISH.  Two, it involves the BEACH






Source: NailPro Digital Magazine

This last one is my favorite!

I've never had a gel manicure, and can't see myself getting one anytime soon.  I paint my nails so frequently, I'd be heartbroken to not be able to change my polish daily if I'd like! I've considered getting a gel manicure for vacations, wedding weekends, etc. but then I remembered that I pack nail polish tools and paints everywhere I go.  It's just as important as underwear for me!

Have you had a gel manicure? What did you think?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012: A Billion Acts of Green

Source

As I was reading Real Simple magazine the other night, I came across an advertisement for Earth Day 2012, and this.  A goal to make One Billion acts of green.  Basically, you go on the site, and make a pledge as to something you'll start doing, continue doing, or stop doing in an effort to be more economically responsible.  Whereas you can read more here, watch this brief video explaining:



Here are some examples of what has already been pledged:

Source
Simple, right? I liked the last one, using the numerous reusable shopping totes I've picked up over the years.  There are actually some supermarkets out there that will give you off a few cents per bag you use! The supermarket I used to frequent while living in NJ, Superfresh, offered $.08 per bag if I remember correctly.  Ask your supermarket the next time you're there.  It may not seem like much, but the savings add up! You're not only helping the environment, you're saving money.

There are some pledges that are not feasible for all, but we can all do something. Cut back on paper plates, napkins, etc.  I know they're convenient, but think of all that trash!

There are 8 'Acts of Green' to choose from, or you can type in your own.  The 8 already there are:
  • Bike to Work!
  • Call or write my legislator about going green
  • Change out my lightbulbs
  • Circulate anti-coal petition
  • Eliminate use of pesticides and toxic cleaning products
  • Get home energy audit, do what it says
  • Organize an Earth Day Event
  • Plant a garden at school or home
Here is what my husband and I have committed to this year.

We commit to continue:
  • Using our solar panels which my husband made
  • Using energy efficient lightbulbs
  • Turning out lightbulbs after we leave a room
  • Keeping the heat at 68 or below and dressing warmer
  • Air drying linens to save approximately $1+/load and energy
  • Purchasing energy star appliances
I have to brag a little bit here...as a result of the above, my husband has gotten our electric bill from last month to $6.94. Yes, you read that right....

$6.94. 

It can be done.  If we can do it, so can you.

Going into 2012, our new pledges will be:
  • Start an energy efficiency consulting business
  • Build more solar panels
  • Bike to work
  • Stationary bike for working out that will produce power
  • Wash more laundry in cold water
What will you be doing?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hunger Games

Source: NailPro Magazine

Although I have not read these books yet, I felt the need to share the China Glaze Hunger Games 'Capitol Colors' collection with you.  Just in time for the movie premier this Friday. 


Source: Google Images
My personal favorites are Fast Track, Riveting, and Luxe and Lush.  China Glaze nail polish is available at Sally Beauty Supply, and retail starting at $4.99, with special collections like this one for $5.99 a bottle.  You can see swatches of the colors here on one of my favorite nail polish blogs, All Laquered Up.

For those of you who have read the books, here is a list of the corresponding districts to their polish:


So, which one will you be wearing to the opening ceremonies?

Interview Fab


These pictures are actually from back in January, right before I got sick, so I never got to post them.  I'm still struggling with my new camera, but am determined to take self-portraits with it someday! For now, I'll stick with my Canon P&S.  It has a face-detect timer on it and takes great pictures, whereas this camera takes all my pictures like this:


I decided this interview I was going to go as myself, not an uptight bland version of myself.  So, I put together this fabulous outfit, and got called for a second interview, hey! I've gone to interviews like this, with my hair long and flowing, and I've gone with it wrapped up tight in a bun, it doesn't seem to make a difference.  So, I'll go as myself, it's proven to work better for me every time. 






Sorry for some grump faces, it was SO bright out there that day!

I'm still working up the nerve to take OOTD posts anywhere besides my backyard by myself.  When my sister's here, it's so much easier! Next time she visits I'm going to stock up on OOTD pics!

Suit: Lane Bryant (here)
Shell: Lane Bryant (here)
Shoes: Nine West
Bag: Dooney & Bourke
Necklace: Guess
Scarf: Target
Sunglasses: Oscar de la Renta

Unfortunately I got sick right after this and lost about 20 pounds, so this beautiful, expensive suit no longer fits me.  I'm thinking next time I go up to NJ I'll find a good tailor, which will make it even MORE fabulous!

This interview was for a Recruiter for the University of Virginia, and needless to say as flattering as it was to be one of two finalists, I was quite heart broken to get the thanks, but no thanks letter!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mermaid Manicure On The Cheap


I figured after posting the $22 polish manicure from last week, it was time to show you a reasonably, rather cheap manicure.  And it's absolutely gorgeous, isn't it? It reminds me of a mermaid, hence the post title!

I started off with a coat of Sally Hansen Insta-Dry nail polish in 'Emerald Express:'


And followed it up with two coats of Spoiled 'Use Protection:'


The Spoiled names just crack me up! I purposely took this picture blurry just so you can see how bling and glittery this mani is:


This manicure is reminiscent of my Trophy Wife Mani in a way, but this mani has more of a green shade to it as well as way more sparkle.

The Sally Hansen Insta-Dry polish retails for about $4, and I picked up the Spoiled at CVS for $1.99.  That's pretty reasonable, right?


So, what do you think?


Monday, March 19, 2012

CopyCat Recipes: Olive Garden Salad & Breadsticks


Recently my husband and I have been watching a show on Food Network called Restaurant Impossible, and it's got us scared to death to eat out at restaurants.  This scare anyone else? Anyways, even before this scare I vowed to start attempting some of our favorite foods made at home.  Just think how many preservatives, etc. you can cut out doing this?

I've been doing this for over a year now, and have been pretty happy with the results.  Why haven't I shared this with you? I know, I'm wondering the same thing.  And what better to start with than the salad and breadsticks from Olive Garden?


I've had this recipe since 2008, so I apologize for the delay! I found this in Food Network Magazine, and I swear I made this everyday for a week straight I couldn't get enough.  I also credit this dressing with getting my husband to eat salads! After living on this earth 28 years, I succeeded in getting him to enjoy salads. 

More importantly, the breadsticks. I cannot stop eating these.  I will be taking the leftovers to my in-laws tonight so I don't eat every single one of them.  Although similar to Olive Garden's breadsticks, they are a little different.  But in a good way.  They are more dense first of all, which is a good thing- the OG ones are light and fluffy almost, I'm sure to get us to continue inhaling them!


This is a yeast dough recipe, but do not be afraid of it! Trust me, the fear of working with a yeast dough kept me from these babies for almost four years.  When we (my mom and I) first saw these recipes we immediately planned a dinner for my mini-family.  I promised to bring the salad if she made the breadsticks.  That is the only time I had them.  And now I'm kicking myself.  They weren't that hard and are worth the effort!


CopyCat Olive Garden Breadsticks

Courtesy of Food Network Magazine
Ingredients:

For the Dough:

1/4 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fine salt
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water (additional)

For the Topping:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter,melted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of dried oregano

Directions:
1.) Make the dough: Place 1/4 cup warm water into the bowl of your mixer, sprinkle in the yeast and set aside until foamy.  (note: this won't be as foamy as if you added sugar, but you should see a slight foam.), about 5 minutes. 
2.) Add the flour, butter, sugar, fine salt and the 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water. 
3.) Mix with the paddle attachment until a sticky dough forms, 5 minutes.
4.) Knead the dough by hand on a floured surface until it's smooth and soft, approximately 3 minutes.  Roll into a 2 foot long log and divide equally into 16 pieces, or 1 1/2 inch pieces.
5.) Knead each individual piece slightly and shape into a 7 inch long log and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
6.) Cover with a cloth, store in a warm place, and allow to rise to double their size or 45 minutes. 
7.) Heat oven to 400 degrees. 
8.) Make the topping: brush the breadsticks with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes.
9.) Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt with the garlic powder and oregano. When the breadsticks come out of the oven, brush with remaining butter and sprinkle with salt mixture. 


If you're making these simultaneously, make the salad dressing while the breadsticks are rising, giving you the 15 minutes while they bake to assemble your salad. 



CopyCat Olive Garden Salad

Courtesy of Food Network Magazine
Ingredients:

For the Dressing:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Miracle Whip
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

For the Salad:

1 10-ounce bag American salad blend
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
4 small pickled peppers, such as pepperoncini
1 small vine-ripened tomato, quartered
2 tablespoons sliced black olives
1/2 cup large croutons
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
1.) Combine all the dressing ingredients and 1 to 2 tablespoons water in a blender or food processor; puree until smooth.

2.) Place the salad blend in a large bowl and top with the remaining salad ingredients. Drizzle with the dressing.


Some Notes:

-Obviously you can tweak the ingredients of the salad vegetable and topping wise, I omitted the olives and pepperoncini and the croutons.
-Kosher salt makes a lot of difference.  I only started using this to cook with, and the thicker, bigger crystals are amazing on top of the breadsticks. 
-As you can see from the picture, I used my bullet, it's the perfect size for this amount of dressing. 
-I make the dressing as is, but usually am making the salad for one or two, so store the rest of the dressing in the fridge. 
-The breadsticks will not be perfectly shaped like the OG, but then again, who has an extrusion machine in their kitchen to make them? I think they're gorgeous rustic looking!

So, what do you think? Is this a segment I should continue with? Will you make this?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Recipe: Deluxe Open-Faced Breakfast Sandwich


I know, the name leaves something to be desired...that's because there is no official name yet.  For those of you that don't know, Food Network Magazine has a contest each month on the last page of the magazine, where readers compete to win a $500 gift card to foodnetworkstore.com.  The contest is to come up with the most creative/funny/accurate name for a dish they create.  This was April 2012's dish.  I'm not good with names, but maybe you can think of a good one? If so, go to foodnetwork.com/namethisdish to enter! They also pick 3 runners up which receive a $50 gift card. 

For now I'll stick with Deluxe Open-Faced Breakfast Sandwiches!

Deluxe Open-Faced Breakfast Sandwiches
Source: Food Network Magazine, April 2012
Makes: 4 Individual Tarts

Ingredients:
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1        sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted (half of a 17-18oz package)
2        strips bacon
1 1/2   cups shredded havarti cheese
3        Tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
4         large eggs
Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper
Chopped fresh chives for topping

Directions:
1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2.) On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry dough into a 12" square, then cut into 4 equal-sized squares. Slightly fold and pinch the edges under to make the squares into a circle, and place them on the baking sheets.  Use a fork to prick holes all over the tarts to prevent them from puffing up.  Bake until golden, 8-10 minutes.
3.) While the shells are baking, cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat, turning, until crisp, 8-10 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels to drain the excess fat, and crumble.
4.) Let the tart shells cool slightly before beginning to assemble.  If the centers are puffy, just prick them once again with a fork to deflate them.
5.) Sprinkle evenly with the havarti and parmesan cheese, then make a well in the middle of the cheese for the egg to sit.  Crack an egg into each well, season with salt and pepper.  Top with the bacon, and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the egg whites are set. Top with chives.



Notes:
-Havarti is a creamy cheese that tastes like a sharp cheddar, but with more of a mozzarella texture.  You could substitute this with a sharp cheddar, monterey jack, or even a pepper jack and I'm sure it will be excellent.  It's about $11/lb, so it's quite expensive.  I paid about $3 for the piece I bought which will make this recipe twice.
-Watch them closely in the oven.  My 10 minute time went off, they weren't set so I kept them in there longer.  Three out of the four egg yolks hardened, which you don't want.  You want the egg yolk to be runny, that makes a yummy sauce!

These are amazing, and are now a staple in my recipe repertoire! I can't wait for family to visit so I can make these for them! For now I'll settle with the leftover one I had for breakfast today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Oh How Pinteresting

I did it.  I broke down and am linking up with Michelle from The Vintage Apple for Oh, How Pinteresting Wednesdays. 


I just love pinterest too much not to! First off, how amazing is this?




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What have you been lusting after this week on Pinterest?
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