Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Broiled Bailey's Hot Chocolate

When the temperature starts to drop, I love cozying up inside with a hot cup of something delicious. Sometimes a simple cup of tea hits the spot, but sometimes you just need hot chocolate. And of course, if you are having hot chocolate you gotta have marshmallows!

But how do you get that perfect melty on the inside, slightly crunchy on the outside, campfire marshmallow in your hot chocolate?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Comfort Food Monday: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

Whoever invented bread pudding is an evil genius. I mean, it's pudding...made with bread. Yes, please! It's definitely not a dessert you should eat all the time, but every now and then you gotta treat yourself. Bread pudding is a comforting, rich, decadent treat for sure!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sponsor Spotlight: Crystal from The Happy Type

I'm really, really excited to have Crystal from The Happy Type as my featured sponsor this month because she is pretty dang awesome. Not only is her blog super positive and inspirational, but she is also funny and gorgeous (that hair!). Crystal constantly delivers blog posts that are full of positive energy, and we could all use a little more of that in our lives, dontcha think? Also, she makes yummy, healthy recipes like apple oat smoothies, which I know I could use more of in my life!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog:
My name is Crystal and my blog, The Happy Type, is an outlet for me to help spread empowerment and positivity to women all over the world. I love being able to create relationships with amazing women, who without the internet I would never have had the opportunity to meet!

Why do you blog?
I blog to share my experiences in hopes of helping someone else know that they aren't alone in their current situation and that things will get better. Also, the blogging community is AMAZING and I'm pretty much addicted to it.

What inspires you?
All kinds of things and people inspire me and it's usually a surprise at what can get me in a creative frame of mind. I will say that music has proven to be a tried and true medium of inspiration for me.

What are 3 random things about you?
1. I'm terrified of balloons.
2. I'm a crazed college football fan.
3. I learned Russian in college and even earned a minor in it.

What are 3 of your favorite posts?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Comfort Food Monday: Swedish Meatballs

Swedish meatballs might be the ultimate comfort food for me. My grandma makes them every year for Christmas, so on the very rare occasion that I eat them more than once a year, they remind me of Christmas and my grandma. I'm not sure if food can get more comforting than that.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Perfect Red

Red hair is tricky because it's really easy to mess up. Especially when you dye it yourself like I do, sometimes it turns out too purplish, too dark, light or Ronald McDonaldish. Recently I have been tempted to have it colored professionally because I am dying to get this beautiful orange, golden red! If you dye your hair yourself, any tips on how to get this color?

Sources, top left clockwise: Pinterest (source unknown), Fashion Rogue, Ow Yeah Ginger Heads (tumblr),  The Glamroui, The Ruffle House, New York Times Style Magazine, Redhead Rousses 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Comfort Food Monday: Lentil, Kale and Chicken Sausage Soup

Although it certainly doesn't hurt, comfort food doesn't always need to be filled with cheese and carbs (like last weeks mac and cheese). Sometimes a big ol' bowl of healthy green stuff is just what you need to feel warm and fuzzy. This soup is the perfect blend of healthy, delicious and totally comforting. Not to mention it's pretty dang easy. Chop some veggies, add some broth and lentils and stir in some kale. Boom. Awesome soup.

I debated wether or not to add kale to this soup. I'm really glad I did, because kale is delicious and adds a lot of color and texture. Making this soup taught me a valuable lesson: when in doubt, add kale.

Lentil, Kale and Chicken Sausage Soup
1 onion, diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cups kale leaves (no stem), rinsed and chopped
2 chicken sausages
1/4 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. paprika
fresh ground pepper
2-3 dried bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
8 cups chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups lentils, rinsed
1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tbs. worcestershire sauce

1. In a large soup pot, add onion, celery, carrots and chicken sausage. Over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil, fresh ground pepper, sage, thyme, paprika and cook until onions are translucent (about 7-10 minutes). Add garlic and let cook for another few minutes, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn't burn.
2. Add broth, water and bay leaves. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add lentils. Turn down the heat to a slow boil and let cook for about 30-40 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
3. Add balsamic vinegar and worcestershire. Turn off heat and add kale. Stir to combine, cover pot and let kale cook in the hot soup for approximately 10-15 minutes.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Iceland, Here We Come!

On Tuesday, Tommy and I booked a trip to Iceland in March! Ahhh, I'm so excited! I have wanted to visit Iceland for a long time, so I can't wait to layer up and see the Northern Lights (fingers crossed), visit the Golden Circle and take a dip in the Blue Lagoon. We also have a food tour planned, definitely excited about that.

If you've been to Iceland before, any tips? I would love to hear how we can get the most out of our trip. Awesome places to eat, things to do and see?  I'd love to hear about your experience!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Layered Leaf Art DIY

It's hard not to feel inspired by the leaves during fall. They look so beautiful as they change from green to yellow, orange and red! While driving around the other day and admiring them, I felt the urge to create some art. I started brainstorming how I could incorporate leaves, and this little project was born!

I'm really happy how this project turned out. It's really easy once you get the hang of glueing down the leaves, and pretty cheap if you already have most of these materials like I did. I love the texture, and any excuse to add a little gold into my home is okay by me :).

You need:
Spray paint
Glue gun and glue gun sticks
Frame of any size
Piece of card stock, cut to fit your frame

1. First, find some leaves! I used some glossy, fairly sturdy leaves from a bush in front of my apartment. You'll need quite a bit, I probably grabbed about 60 or so.
2. Next, paint your leaves. I used spray paint to make this process quicker. I recommend priming the leaves first, I found the color dried better when I did this (see photo below). Let dry completely.
Leaf without primer in the center, you can see how the paint doesn't look as bright and the leaf shows through a little more. 
3. Cut your card stock to fit into your frame.

4. Plug in your glue gun, and begin glueing your leaves onto the card stock. I found it was easiest to apply the glue to the leaf itself. Be gentle with the leaves so the paint doesn't crack. 

5. Keep glueing! I went from bottom to top, overlaying the leaves and switching directions each layer. 

6. Once all your layers are glued, you can go back and touch up any paint that may have cracked with a paintbrush.
7. Let dry completely and hang!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Comfort Food Monday: Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Oh, macaroni and're something special. Warm, gooey, tangy, filling and of course, cheesy. It's the perfect comfort food if you ask me. Mac and cheese provides the perfect carb-coma in which to snuggle up in a blanket and watch a good movie. Take no shame in a good carb-coma. Every now and then, it's necessary. 

But let's talk about this mac and cheese specifically. While it still delivers all the things we love about traditional macaroni and cheese, it's slightly different. This variation is due to the butternut squash, which adds a bit more sweetness and heartiness. It's a great way to sneak in a veggie, but let's not pretend this is healthy. Or maybe we should. That will justify the second helping! 

While photographing this dish, my neighbor let his dogs out and saw me taking pictures of noodles on my back porch. "Taking pictures of some food...?" Hah. It can be really awkward when you get "caught blogging." Of course I am standing on my tip-toes taking pictures of a cast iron skillet and bowl of mac and cheese on a side table on my back porch. People do this all the time! In a few months, he will think nothing of it. 

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese (recipe adapted from Food Network)
1 pound rigatoni
1 butternut squash
5-6 pieces of bacon
2 tbs. butter
1/2 onion
2 cups milk
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated parmesan (plus a little extra for the topping)
bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
salt and pepper

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and place on a cookie sheet, cut side down. Roast in oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until very soft when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool.
2. Add bacon to oven and cook until crispy. Remove, let cool and cut into pieces.
3. While squash is cooling, cook rigatoni until al dente. Set aside.
4. Using a spoon, scoop out squash from its skin. Once all squash has been removed, use a fork to mash until smooth.
5. In a stockpot, melt butter over medium heat. Grate onion and cook onion in butter for about 3 minutes. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Add squash, milk and dry mustard. Bring to a low boil and let cook for about 5 minutes.
6. Add cheddar and parmesan cheese to squash and milk mixture. Using a whisk, stir until cheese has melted into mixture. Add rigatoni and bacon and stir until rigatoni is fully covered in cheese. Add a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
7. Transfer noodles into a cast iron pan or other oven friendly pan. Top with a bit of breadcrumbs and parmesan. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden and cheese sauce is slightly bubbling. Remove, let cool and enjoy.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What to Splurge on at the Cosmetic Counter

Working in cosmetics for a few years has exposed me to lots of different cosmetic products. There are so many to choose from, and unfortunately they can get really, really expensive. We all have to budget and prioritize, and now that I've had the opportunity to try quite a few pricier items, I know what I will continue to spend the big bucks on for years to come. Here is what I recommend splurging on when you visit the cosmetic counters!

This is my number one item to splurge on for a few reasons. It's so important to find a formula that is correct for your skin type, and having a person help you in that process is so helpful. There are so many options to consider when it comes to foundation (coverage, spf, oil-free, finish, application, etc), so finding the right one at a drugstore can be tricky.

Also, it's almost impossible to choose the right shade at the drugstore! It might look good in the bottle, but the color always looks different on skin. You can end up spending a lot of money simply trying to find the right color, or you can pay a little more and get it right the first try. Time is money!

Keeping your skin hydrated is crucial to healthy skin. It protects skin from environmental aggressors and helps slow down the aging process. I'm not scared of aging or anything, but if I can fight off a few wrinkles, I'm gonna do it! Pricier moisturizers have lots of technology behind them, and there are plenty of options depending on your skin concern. While dropping $50 on a jar of cream might seem like a lot (because it is), those jars last forever and will make a big difference in the future. Gotta be proactive.

Is there anything worse than smudgy eyeliner that doesn't stay in place? Okay yes, there are definitely worse things. But smudgy eyeliner is a bummer. Find one that you love, and then spend the extra few dollars on it. You'll thank yourself when you don't have to wipe black eyeliner off your face. Clinique makes a good one, but if you really feel like splurging, I've also loved eyeliners from Yves Saint Laurent and Smashbox.

If you have never used a serum before, I highly recommend giving one a try. A serum is a lightweight concoction of active ingredients that you apply before a moisturizer. Basically serums give you faster results than moisturizers because the ingredients are more concentrated, but they usually don't moisturize. Use the right one, and serums can change your skin! I've seen what a huge difference they have made in my skins texture, radiance and overall evenness and I'm hooked.

What do you splurge on when it comes to cosmetics/skincare? I'm definitely more likely to drop big bucks when it comes to skincare rather than color products. What about you, what products do you think are worth the extra money? I'd love to hear your input!