July 26, 2016

My Favorite No-Recipe Zone Meals

I have been chatting a lot about make-up and pinatas on the blog lately, but I haven't been baking or cooking as much lately. I think it's fair to say that with summer being here there's lot of grilling going on. And Yanni loves to grill, so I am left to do absolutely nothing in regards to dinner. He grills steaks, chicken kabobs, or burgers and makes a yummy Mediterranean salad. My only responsibility is to make fresh salsa. Here is my go to salsa recipe and sometimes it's just tomatoes and onions and that's it.

But I have been thinking about cooking and baking. And as I went through my old recipes I found a few magazine articles I cut out.

Rachel Ray had this great "No Recipe-Zone" feature in her magazine. It was my favorite feature and it really got me started in cooking. It showed in easy step-by-step photos how easy cooking could be and made me feel comfortable doing it.

I had tons of cookbooks, but they all showed the finished masterpiece, and some didn't even have photos, but what I needed as a novice was pictures and guidance to ensure I was making progress and if the dough I was making for example looked like it should. This is why when I share recipes I am making I share a lot of photos during the process, for example, when I made this Pound Cake.

I used this to learn how to make my very first Chicken Marsala.

Here are some of my favorites from the "No Recipe-Zone":

These stuffing squares are so easy to make and great for side dishes all week.

I can't resister this quick mac & cheese.

Here are a few more of my favorites:

Croissant French Toast: Recipe

Chicken Potpie Casserole: Recipe
Potato-Topped Beef Stew: Recipe
Crustless Tex-Mex Meatloaf Cheddar Pie: Recipe

These are easy to make and I wish these were back in the magazine. I am happy I am able to get the archived version of a few of them on line too. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have.

July 25, 2016

Fuller House DJ's Wardrobe Part II

And we, well just me, are back with another installment of what DJ wore on the last few episodes of Fuller House Season 1. I know I am a little behind. You can view Part I of this two part series here. I am taking a look back at some of my favorite outfits and accessories "DJ" wore on a few episodes, and collected where the outfits came from or where we can get similar looks. And is it just me, but isn't Candace Cameron Bure just the cutest? I follow-her on Instagram @candacecbure and I just can't get enough of her positive attitude and work-out inspirations.

Let's begin with Episode 7:

In episode 7, DJ wears a pretty lace sweater, but its those black sandals that I loved. She wears the exact pair in brown in other episodes.

Episode 8:

Ted Baker London Sweater | Via Spiga Sandals

In episode 8, DJ wears this pretty gray sparkly Ted Baker London Sapphir Crystal Stud Sweater, paired it with a pair of skinny jeans, and the same Via Spiga Brandina Brown Gladiator Sandals that she wears in other episodes. The sweater is sold out everywhere, but here are some similar ones:

Later in the same episode she wears this beautiful purple tie-dye halter dress and I can't find it anywhere. Any ideas? Here is a similar style in blue.

Episode 10:

In this episode, DJ is heading to a Giant's Baseball game and wears the cutest Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Lux Wedge Sneakers. These looked perfect with both looks she wore on this episode. She wears a pair of skinny jeans a tank and button down and then pairs the same pair of jeans with a t-shirt.

I loved these so much that I went on a hunt for wedge sneakers and found the cutest ones from Nike, they are really comfortable to wear.

Episode 12:

Denim Top (similar) | Flannel (similar) | Boots 

In this episode, DJ goes back to the 90's, and wears a short denim top, jeans, a flannel wrapped around her waist, and black open-toe boots. Totally something I would wear and do wear on occasion.

I am looking forward to season two!

July 22, 2016

Mister Rogers

As a child I grew up watching Mister Rogers. Mister Roger's was a sweet, kind, sincere, and caring man. I remember listening to him sing "Won't You Be My Neighbor" when he first started the show and would end the show with other beautiful songs, like "It's Such A Good Feeling". Did you know that we wrote all the songs on the show? He was quite the composer. And I sing these songs to myself on occasion. I whistle the song or sing it to myself and it always makes me feel good and reminds me the importance of caring for one another and also caring for yourself. He made me feel special then as a child and even now as an adult. It's important to know your special and remind yourself that you are. Not only did he make me feel special, but he was a wonderful role model and exemplary of showing how to treat others.

I had a principle in middle school who would always end his morning talk over the intercom with "...and remember, please be kind to one another." As a child I never thought once of it, but as an adult I think about it often. The importance of being kind to each other.

Sometimes people can be cruel, rude, or negative, but if each one of us can remember that we are all neighbors and that we are in this together, and not let someone else's behavior influence ours in return. For example, if you hold the door for someone, and if they don't say thank you, it doesn't matter what their response is, what matters is that you acted how you wanted to, you did it regardless if you would get a thank you or not.

There has been many times that I have experienced complete rudeness by people behind a counter like at a register, and sometimes I am shocked by it and there have been times I have been a little rude back and then regret it later.

But we have to remind ourselves that it's these people are those who need kindness in return the most.

I revisited Mister Rogers recently and I began watching his shows again. There was an entire season available on Netflix recently and most recently there are 7 season available on Amazon Prime.

My eyes lit up, my smile grew wide and big, and my heart grew in size as I saw him come on the screen. He walks in, puts on his colorful cardigan, did you know his mother knitted all of those sweaters, and puts his sneakers on. What joy he was to watch and what joy he brought each time he sang and spoke to us. Even after all these years he still is such a presence.

He is still here with me and all the millions of children he influenced and gave hope to. He shared so much love that came out from the television set we would watch growing up.When he spoke through the television it felt like we walk looking and talking right at you and you could feel the love that radiated from him. I sure wish he was still around because that is the positive message we need to continue to give and receive.

I might be a little late to this, but I had no idea that Daniel Tiger was based on Mister Roger's neighborhood. From what I understand the puppets from Mister Roger's neighborhood grow up and have their own children, and these children are on this new show. I watched a few episodes and can say I love that this is on air for children. They carry the same format as Mister Roger's, they talk about feelings, important feelings that children go through like being afraid of going to school or to the doctor's office. I think that is so important that children feel understood and have an outlet for the fears they have, and that they are validated and that someone they can trust can make them feel safe and explain and answer any questions they might have. This show, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, does just that, by explaining everyday functions and processes, like going to school of the first time.

And I want to thank you. Thank you for being my neighbor. You are very special, just the way you are.

July 18, 2016

Mario Party Piranha Plant Pinata

In May I worked on a small and simple Mario themed birthday party. And I couldn't be happier to figure out what type of pinatas I could make. Narrowing the list of the type of pinatas was a hard one. There are so many ideas like a power star, Mario himself, Yoshi.... I ended up making two, one Super Mushroom, which you can learn how to make here, and a piranha pinata, which I am going to show you how to make today.

If you ever played Super Mario Brothers, the pinata plant was a deadly little guy, who came out of the warping pipe to bite. He went perfectly with the red and white mushroom pinata I made.

In order to make your own Piranha Plant Pinata (...and say that three times fast...) you will need:

  • Cardboard
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Construction paper in green and white
  • Streamer paper (crepe paper)

The first step is to get a large cardboard box and draw out the shape of the plant and then cut out two identical pieces. I usually just flatten a box and then use a box cutter to cut around my pencil outline.

Next, cut identical shape strips of cardboard. These strips will determine the width of the pinata. My pinata was not used to carry candy, so I made the strips thin, so it would be quicker for me to make. Usually when I make a real candy pinata the width is at least 4-5 inches wide.

Using tape, I use the strips to tape the two identical pieces together.

When layering the fringed streamer paper on the pinata you want to work from the bottom up. I gather a long strip of green fringe paper and cut slits on the bottom side.

Next, I get small strips and cover the bottom, because the fringe won't cover the undersides.

Next, using glue, make dots of glue or a line to press the streamer fringe. You will want to repeat this until you get to the top of the flowering bud.

Next, using red streamer paper I get small strips to cover the edges of the top.

Cut the small slits to fringe the streamer paper.

Once you cover the entire pinata with fringe paper, its time to add some teeth, mouth, and circles.

I used construction paper to cut circles in different shapes, the mouth and some teeth that I glued on. I also used green paper to cut out leaves for his stem.

 If you wanted to make him a candy holding pinata, I recommend a few things: 1. make him wider, 2. cut out a small door to fill with candy, 3. cover him in newspaper before adding the fringed streamer paper.

Making him was fun to do and everyone got a kick out of it. He was a great decoration at the party.

July 11, 2016

How To Put Fake Eyelashes On

I recently ventured into the world of fake eyelashes. I always admired them from afar. I loved how they made people's eyes look and how they opened them up. But I have always been afraid of the whole process, it seemed daunting; the glue, what type of lashes should I use, would they look fake, and I especially worried they would come off midday.

But, I decided to give it a chance and it was so much easier then I thought it would be and I thought they looked super natural, you tell me.

So, I decided to write a little tutorial on how to apply them because it can be a little scary at first, but with a little practice you can put them on in a few minutes and they can last the entire day, and even through an intense and sweaty workout. Like running for a few miles. Yes, I tested that.
The first step is to choose the right type of eyelashes for you. There are so many different types of lashes with varying widths, lengths, some with thick or thin bands or dark and clear bands. There also different qualities of the eyelashes, some with real hair and some that synthetic fibers.  And different prices.

If this is your first time, I highly recommend Ardell Natural Eyelashes in 110,  above and below photos, these are universally flattering, very natural looking due to the varying lengths and cross hairs and the prices are reasonable for someone just starting out, like me and you.

And they have a clear and lightweight band. I bought a multi-pack from Amazon and that was a cost saver, as I estimated that it only costs about 30 cents each time I wear them.

And the next pair I recommend is Ardell's Demi Wispies, as shown below.

Ardell Demi Wispies have more lashes, little more length and curl, which is what I am wearing in the above photo.

Next, you will need glue. I use Duo, you can get it in dark tone or white/clear. I have used the dark tone as I was told it would dry dark and blend into my dark eyeliner and while it does dry dark, I have found that when it dries, it dries with a shine to it, but when I use the Duo in white, it comes out white, but it dries very clear. So for me, Duo in white/clear has worked well.

Pull the eyelashes out of the container, face them this way, so you know which ones goes on the left eye and which one goes on the right eye. Yes, this is a step, because I accidentally put the right one on the left and vice versa. You will know which ones goes on which eye but the length of the fake eyelash. The front end should be shorter to blend in with your natural short eyelashes that are at the beginning of your eye.

Some people trim the lashes if the lash band is longer than their eye length, but I have not needed to do this with these Ardell ones.

Add a very thin line of eyeliner to the top of the eyelashes. If your natural eyelashes are not curled, I first recommend slightly curling them, and then applying a very light coat of mascara and let it dry. This will help the fake eyelashes grip on.

Next, put a very thin line of glue on the eyelash band. 

If you have a heavy hand and think you will put too much glue, I recommend putting a dab of glue on a Q-tip and then adding a line of glue on the lash. I add a little extra to the end and beginning of the eyelash tips.

Next, wait about 25-30 seconds after applying the glue. You want to let it dry a bit so that the glue becomes tacky. The tackiness will give it staying power once you apply it.

Once you have waited for a few moments, using your fingers or a tweezer apply the eyelash to the center or your eyelid and pressing down. Next, apply it to the beginning and the end. Keep pressing them into the eyelash line, you want to make sure that there is a secure hold. I like my eyelash to begin a few lashes after my natural eyelashes start.

I especially press down on the beginning and end of eyelash, these are the two points that might come off during the day, this is why I added a little extra glue two the two end pieces.

You want it as close to your natural eyelash line as possible.

If you notice any glue I simply lightly wet a q-tip and clean up any areas.

The first few times, you might not get it down. You will improve with practice.

The above photos show how it looks like on right after the glue has dried and they are secured on. 

I have read and seen videos that it is recommended to apply all your make-up before putting on the eyelashes, but I have better results doing it after. The reason is if I get a little glue above and on my eyelid the glue adheres to my eyeshadow and eyeliner and if I try to remove the glue the eyeshadow is removed too, so I put the eyeshadow on after. I do prep my lids with a eyeshadow primer from Urban Decay ahead of time.

Next, I apply more eyeliner and black eyeshadow to blend the eyelash band in more. 

I have two favorite eyeliners, one is from the Pharmacy and only costs about $3.00, which is NYC Black Eyeliner and I love Kat Von D's Tattoo Eyeliner, which is available at Sephora for about $19.00.

I apply black eyeshadow over my eyeliner as it really gives it staying power and I like the smokey eyeliner look. And then I curl the eyelashes and my lashes, so it all blends together. You can apply a little mascara, but I don't even feel like I need to with these.

My goal is to make them look as real as possible and to do that you need: 
1.  Fake eyelashes that look real 
2. Applying them as close to your natural eyelash line as possible
3. Using an eyeliner to blend the fake eyelash band.

Note: Please ignore my eyebrows, I am in the process of growing them in, so they are a bit of a mess.

I am able to get about 5-6 uses out of these eyelashes. When it's time to remove them at night, I usually can just gently pull them off slowly and they come right off, but sometimes I need a little help from my makeup remover which I will add with a Q-tip or I use these Almay Makeup remover pads.

I then use those pads to clean the fake eyelashes off and remove the peel any glue from the band. I then brush them and put them back into the original container.

I hope this has been helpful. Enjoy and i hope you have fun.