December 14, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide for the Ladies in Your Life

I made a list of some of my favorite things right now that I think some of the ladies in your life might like for a gift.

Urban Decay Naked Palette. The newest palette from Urban Decay has been out for a few months now and is specifically made for a smokey eye. If the gal you are buying for loves makeup this is definitely one for her collection.

Bounkit Earrings. These aren't just any earrings. These are two-in-one interchangeable earrings. They can be worn long, or you can unhook the bottom half and they become studs. I love these and they come in a variety of beautiful stones. I recommend buying them in the receiver's birthstone shades.

FitBit. These athletic bracelets are very popular right now, they track your steps, heart rate, amount of calories you burn, steps you take and miles you walk. Additionally, you can set up an online profile and your daily information can easily be uploaded for you to track results, and if wanted you can allow friends on the FitBit site see your progress.

M. Patmos Dickies. They are back. Quite a few designers are making dickies fashionable, they are soft, perfect for layering, and stay put, unlike a scarf. M. Patmos has been some beautiful ones in cashmere and wool.

Leather Backpack. And I don't mean one with Elmo on it. I mean a backpack bag that looks great, but is also multi-functional. A little leather backpack is great when going out to run errands, when you want something casual, yet also a little fashionable.

Sockwell Compression Socks. No, these are not just for the cast of Golden Girls, which by the way is still one of my favorite shows. Compression Socks come in different level of compression, so I recommend starting is a lower level of compression. These socks are perfect for those who sit long periods of times whether behind a desk, on a train or plane, or stand all day too. I have this pair and I love them.

Pendleton Uggs. Pendleton and Uggs collaborated again and this year they created a Southern California inspired collection with shades of blues and browns. I love that they are neutral and can be worn almost every day.

OPI Starlight Collection. "Give Me Space" is a beautiful lapis like blue color. The colors in the "Starlight" collection are beautiful and inspired by constellations.

Maggie Louise Chocolates. Speaking about constellations, these chocolate are also inspired by constellations. The box includes 9 constellation cubes in milk chocolate with cream caramel and chocolate nougat. Dreamy.

High Street Market Crystal Ball. I have always wanted to be able to tell the future. The closest I got was playing with the magic 8 ball. This glass ball on brass is a unique gift to give to the bohemian at heart. It make a beautiful piece of home decor.

Lapis Ringly Ring. Ringly connects to your phone via Bluetooth and lets you receive customized notifications through vibration and a subtle light on the side of the ring.

Agate Coasters.   Gold Plated Agate Coasters add a beautiful natural and organic touch to home decor. This set is Azure Blue and comes with a set of 4. Mined in Brazil electroplated gold edge / glossy finish, easy to clean discreet rubber feet protect your tabletop each one measures between 3.5" to 4.5" in diameter

Thierry MuglerAngel Perfume. Angel, the first perfume by Thierry Mugler, evokes the emotion of tender childhood memories together with a sense of dreamlike infinity. Angel, which launched a new fragrance category called the "oriental gourmands," seduces us with angelic flavors found deep within the heart of our memories, as well as sensual and passionate notes.

December 10, 2015

Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies

Just when I thought I had made every type of Christmas cookie there was, I found these adorable Rudolph the Reindeer cookies from The Bakergirl. I am always so inspired by her cookies. I had to make these cookies the moment I saw them.  I made just a few slight changes and cut the recipe in half. This will make about 20 little reindeers. I also could not find mini pretzels dipped in chocolate like she used, so I used the mini pretzels in the Chex Mix bag and dipped some in chocolate, this is why some pretzels are square and round, but I think they did the trick. I also, didn't dip them all in chocolate, because I thought they looked cute with just plain pretzel, they looked more antler like to me.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

6 Tablespoons of of peanut butter
1/2 cup and 2 table spoons of brown sugar
1/4 cup of butter (4 tablespoons)
1 1/2 tablespoons of milk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 egg (crack egg beat it a bit and put half the mixture in the recipe)
1/2 cup and 6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/8 of a teaspoon baking soda
1/8 of a teaspoon of salt
Mini pretzels (Which I couldn't find and used the pretzels in a Chex Mix bag)
Mini brown M&Ms
Regular-sized red M&Ms

Additionally, you can do the entire recipe of 40 cookies.

Combine brown sugar, peanut butter, butter, milk, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add half of the beaten egg.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended.

Form dough into 1-inch balls. To make reindeer-shaped cookies, pinch the bottom of the ball slightly to form a point, then gently flatten with your hand. Space cookies about 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until set or just beginning to brown. 

Remove from oven and immediately (and gently) press two mini pretzels into the tops of the cookies for the reindeer's antlers. Press two mini brown M&Ms in for the eyes and one red M&M for the nose.

Transfer to a wire rack or paper towel to cool completely. 


November 16, 2015

Smore Cookies

A few weekends ago Yanni and I went to a fall outdoor party and we hung out by the bonfire making s'mores.  So during my weekend baking ritual I was feeling inspired (and craving more s'mores) so I made the ultimate cookie - S'more Chocolate Chip Cookies. 

All you need is:
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour 
  • 1 1/2 cups of crushed graham crackers 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt 
  • 1 stick of butter (You could add 2 sticks of butter depending on how your want the cookies, if you want them a little puffy like mine look, I used 1 stick of butter, if you want them a little flatter, use 2 sticks of butter)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup white sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 cup chocolate chips 
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bars (I combined dark and milk chocolate)

Whisk flour, crushed graham crackers, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugars until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat well. Add dry ingredients until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop two ounce cookies onto ungreased baking sheet and bake in 350 degree oven for eight minutes. Take cookie sheet out of oven and quickly press four marshmallows and three chocolate pieces into each cookie. Return to oven and bake for an additional two minutes or until marshmallows are brown. 

Or instead of pressing the marshmallows in after they bake, you could mix the marshmallows in the mix and bake them in. The above picture shows them pressed in after baking, the below pictures show how they would look if you mix the marshmallows in the cookie dough. I prefer baking the marshmallows with the cookie dough.


October 31, 2015

Halloween Decor and Sweet Table

I absolutely love Halloween. It brings me back to great childhood memories of fun costumes, parties, trick or treating with my brother and sister, watching scary movies, counting candy and eating tons of chocolate.

So, not much has changed. This year I decorated the house with classic Halloween colors, of orange, white, and black, with spooky little crafts I made and picked up along the years.

We had triple chocolate and oreo monster cupcakes, peanut butter cookies, chocolates, and many more.

I used a vintage vampire mug to hold some pretty carnations.

This cute Addam's family inspired hand is a candle holder from Target. It was only five dollars, so I had to grab it, plus I like spooky things like this, so it's going to be used all year round. The skull is one of my handpainted creations for Day of the Dead. It is available on my Etsy shop.

The table's backdrop were flying bats that I made with black cardstock and taped to the wall. My bat backdrop how to is available here.

And my handmade Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Pinata was at the center of the entire table. Here is a tutorial on how to make your very own pumpkin pinata.

And I had these awesome ceramic jack-o-lanterns filled with candies and skull chocolate pops with bags of popcorn for our Halloween movie marathon, that I picked up from Pottery Barn.

I hope you had a lovely Halloween with plenty of sweet treats, and a few fun scares!! Now, off to plan for Day of the Dead!

October 27, 2015

Health Literacy Month - Heather Von St. James - Mesothelioma Survivor

October is Health Literacy Month and today is Mesothelioma Awareness Day.  Heather Von St. James was only 36 years old and just had a sweet baby girl, Lily Rose, with her husband, Cameron, when she found out that she had only 15 months to live. She was diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen. Heather's cancer affected her lung's protective lining in the chest.

This type of cancer is more common in men over 60, so how did Heather get this? Mesothelioma in women and children has been attributed to secondhand exposure to asbestos. Heather's dad was a construction worker at a large construction and project management firm and would come home with "white dust" on his clothes and boots. At that time no one thought anything of it, and it turned out to be asbestos dust that she was exposed to. (Mesothelioma)

Every year around 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, though there has been a small amount of cases without exposure. And sadly, on average, they are only given 10 months to live.

When you think of asbestos you think of old buildings, something that used to happen (it was commonly used between 1930-1950), and something that can't possibly be around anymore, but unfortunately, asbestos is not banned in the U.S and still can be found. For example, building materials between the 1940s and 1980s had asbestos. It was used then because it was durable and fire resistant.

Take a look at a quick fact infographic I created explaining the truth about asbestos and mesothelioma

In the 1970s, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were created to limit exposures to asbestos. In 1989, the EPA issued a Phase Out Rule, and banned most asbestos-containing products under the Toxic Substances Control Act, but frustratingly and maddening that rule was overturned in 1991 in the landmark lawsuit Corrosion Proof Fittings v. the Environmental Protection Agency. (OpenJurist)

And today, about 30 million pounds are still used every year in the U.S. Additionally, asbestos can still be found in homes, schools, and buildings. And asbestos was once used in making household consumer items, such as toasters and hairdryers, and sadly these could still be in use by people. Even a little exposure to asbestos is unsafe. Today, various products are still being made with asbestos, and we don't even know about it. A few products still being made with asbestos are: car brake pads, welder's blankets, aprons, roofing products, and chlorine. Some progress is being made, in 2010 Washington passed a law that all brake pads and shoes are required to be asbestos free by January 2015. (ECY)

Today, Heather is a nine year mesothelioma cancer survivor. I highly recommend visiting her blog and reading more about her story and what she is doing to bring awareness to this deadly disease that can be prevented. I also recommend watching her story.

October 25, 2015

Bat Backdrop

I can't believe Halloween is in just a few days. I got to work this past weekend decorating the house with some fun Halloween finds and crafts I have been making, like this Pumpkin Pinata. This year I opted for a classic Halloween theme of orange, black and white. And I wanted lots of bats too. So this weekend I got to work on a fun Halloween themed backdrop to my dinning room table. I made flying bats. 

I used my trusty Cricut machine to cut out a variety of sizes of bats. But if you don't have a Cricut machine, you can simply find a bat template online, print it, cut it out and use it to trace around on black paper.

I folded the center of the bat, so that I could tape just one wing on the wall and that would give them an appearance like they were coming off the wall. You can also tie the center with a string and hang them around the ceiling.

I also added a few around the house in different areas, like mirrors, kitchen cabinets, and other unexpected places to give the whole house a fun Halloween batty feeling.  Another cute idea is to have the bats hold something, as if they are flying with letters like a Halloween banner. The possibilities are endless. 

I hope you like this little craft. Enjoy! 

October 20, 2015

Pumpkin Pinata

Everytime I make a pinata I swear it is my new favorite.  I have a little place in my heart for each one. My first pinata was the Donkey, then I made a cactus pinata, Snoopy pinata,  a series of retro inspired pinatas - soda pop, burger and fries, and last, but not least, my Day of the Dead Sugar Skull pinata.

But really, this time this is it, this pinata is my favorite. He is just so cute with those two missing teeth and cute little green stem. He isn't perfectly round either, and it just adds to his cute little quirky self. He is going to be the perfect centerpiece to my Halloween table this year. He measures about 2 feet long and 3 feet wide. These would also be very cute as mini pumpkin pinatas filled with candies. 

So how do you make this cutie? All you need is:
  • Large box of cardboard
  • Tape (packing tape or duck tape)
  • Glue
  • Streamer paper
  • Construction paper

Two get started, find a large cardboard box, flatten it completely. Next, draw out the pumpkin shape with a marker. Next cutout the shape to make two identical pumpkin shapes. It is important that they are identical. 

Next, cut out long pieces of cardboard, all of these pieces must be the same width, this will be the width and sides of your pumpkin. Tape these cardboard strips all along the two identical pumpkin cardboard cutouts. Here is a video of my creating a skull pinata, it will show you how to tape the two pieces together. 

Using orange streamer paper cut small slits on the bottom side. I usually roll a bunch together and cut the little slits, this saves a lot of time. I then glue the strips starting at the bottom until you go all the way to the top. I then added little green streamer for the top stem.

Next, using black construction paper cut out two large triangles for the eyes and one small triangle for the nose. I then cut out a smile (half circle) and then cut out one tooth on top and one for the bottom.

He makes a perfect pinata for a party to fill with candy, but as usual, I don't have the heart to break him open, so he is going to stay a little pumpkin forever with me.  Enjoy!!

October 14, 2015

Pumpkin and Chocolate Chip Pancakes

So as you may have already noticed, pumpkin is everywhere, from pumpkin coffee to pumpkin muffins, so I just had to get in on the craze and make pumpkin pancakes, because I have just tried about every pancake there is to make, from lemon-poppyseed to peach pumpkins.

These came out delicious and are natural, so no artificial coloring to get my pumpkin pancakes orange. I only used 8 tablespoons of pumpkin puree, but if you like pumpkin, I recommend adding a lot more.

All you need to make pumpkin pancakes are:
  • 1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup of milk  (I used non-fat organic milk)
  • 8 tablespoons canned organic pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (or olive oil, I can say I did it both ways and they both tasted exactly the same)
  • 1 egg (I used egg white)
  • Cup of chocolate chips (or more)
Makes about 8 pancakes. Feed 2-3 people.

No artificial ingredients here, these pumpkin pancakes are all natural. I got this organic pumpkin can at my local market.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together milk, pumpkin, melted butter, and egg. Fold mixture into dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips.

Grease your skillet and heat over medium heat pour the batter for each pancake. Flip to the other side once you see bubbles form.

Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side. Serve with your favorite syrup.