Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday Message for Friends and Subbies

Happy Thanksgiving!
I am blessed in so many ways it can easily be forgotten. I want to thank everyone who takes a moment out of their day to read, comment, and subscribe to my blog. I enjoy reading your blog posts and having an online community of friends. This has become a fun hobby for me and a part of my afternoon I look forward to. I hope the season finds each of you well.
xo April and Lilly

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Traditions

This is a personal post about my family and our holiday traditions. I think Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday, I love the anticipation of Christmas and the decorating. I love the delicious food, making winter vacation plans, and anticipating holiday parties. I love officially being in the middle of baking season and that you haven't gone broke (yet) buying gifts. It's all about family (and great shopping deals). Some years we don't have Thanksgiving dinner with the entire family because they are visiting and eating with their inlaws. But our after dinner Thanksgiving routine is always the same. This year I am hosting a small dinner with 4 family members on Thanksgiving Day and my mom will be preparing for the large group on Saturday afternoon. The men do the typical napping / sports routine while the women and children plan to see an evening movie. It's always a Christmas film, this year we'll be seeing Scrooge with Jim Carrey. My town is known for some pretty amazing Christmas lights which are lit on Thanksgiving night. We take the kids for the train ride through the lights, a ride on the carousel, and a look through the Old Fashioned Candy Store - I must get my hands on a bag of chocolate covered peanuts. Then we rush home and dress in some comfortable clothes so we can shop the midnight sales at the local outlet mall. From there we usually go directly to wait in line for the department stores at the mall to open for their early bird specials (5 or 6 am). Shopping is usually over by noon on Black Friday and we can finally go home and get some sleep. If you're reading this and you have any family holiday traditions please comment, I'd love to know how everyone else celebrates!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 Menu

That's right, this year I'm in charge of dinner on Thanksgiving day. There will only be 4 people to prepare a meal for, my extended family should be coming over on Saturday for a big (enough to feed a small country) meal. Here are my plans so far:
Cornish Hens (this recipe should be multipled 1 per each guest) *taken from 1 fresh or frozen Rock Cornish Hen thawed 2 T apple jelly 1 T butter 1/2 t of salt 1/4 t dried marjoram leaves Directions Heat oven to 350*F. Remove giblets; split hen in half. Rinse and pat dry. Place skin sides up in ungreased 2 quart baking dish. In a 1 quart saucepan cook jelly, butter, salt, and marjoram over low heat 2-3 minutes stirring constantly until warm. Brush half of the sauce over hen and cover with foil. Bake 40 minutes and uncover, brush with remaining sauce. Bake 20 minutes longer brushing with pan juices 1-2x until hen is fork tender and juices run clear.
  Jewel Roasted Veggies (these can be prepared in the same dish as the chicken) *taken from The Food You Crave by Elle Kreiger 4 medium beets 3T oilive oil 1.5 # carrots 1.5 # brussel sprouts 8 large cloves of garlic 1/2 t salt 1/4 t pepper 1 T thyme Directions Preheat oven to 375*F. Put beets in a small baking dish and rub them with 1 T olive oil. Cover dish with foil and roast for 30 minutes. Meanwhile cut carrots and trim brussel sprouts and cut in half. Put carrot, sprouts, and garlic cloves in a large baking dish and toss with remaining oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. *It making cornish hens or other roasted meat these can go directly into their baking dish. Cook beets alone for 30 minutes before adding the large pan of mixed veggies and meat on 2 different racks. Start timer so that everything cooks for 1 hour. Stir the vegetables 1-2x. Take beets out after 1 hour and place on cutting board to cool. Mix thyme in with carrots and brussels mixture. When beets are cool, peel and cut into chunks and add to other vegetable mixture.

  Festive Salad In a large serving bowl combine mixed dark salad greens, toasted chopped walnuts, and dried cranberries. Serve with vinaigretten of your choice.

  Topsy Turvy Apple Pie (taken from Glaze and Crust 1/4 cup backed brown sugar 1 t butter melted 1 t corn syrup 1/2 cup pecan halves 1 box refigerated pie crust Filling 2/3 cup granulated sugar 2 T AP flour 1/2 t ground cinnamon 4 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (4 medium) Topping Whipped cream or Vanilla Ice Cream Directions 1. Heat oven to 425 *F. In 9 in pie plate mix brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Spread evenly over the bottom and arrange pecans over mixture. Make Pie crust as directed on box, enough for 2 crust pie placing bottom crust over mixture in pan. 2. In a small bowl mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Arrange half of apple slices in crust lined pie plate. Sprinkle with half of sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining apple slices and sugar mixture. Top with second crust; seal edge and flute. Cut slits in several places in top crust. Place pie on sheet of foil on middle oven rack in oven. Bake 8 minutes and reduce temperature 3. to 350*F, continue baking 35-45 minutes until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. Run knife around edge of pie to loosen and flip pie upside down in a plate. Serve with desired topping.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Going Green

This is such a hot topic right now, everyone is trying to do something to alter their carbon footprint. We were taught reduce, reuse, recycle in elementary school but no one was really putting it into practice until the past few years. I've taken some baby steps so far - Food
  • Buying as many goods as possible that are locally produced
  • I don't buy nearly as much meat, most of my dishes are meatless
  • I rarely make meals that require me to heat my oven, if I have to bake I try and use that energy to make big batches so I can freeze and reheat in the microwave later. I also take advantage of the heat and make a dessert at the same time :-)

Cleaning Supplies

  • Using washable microfiber clothes
  • Biodegradable and Eco Friendly Dish and Laundry Detergent
  • Method Cleaning Supplies
Energy Saving Electronics
  • My vacuum and small kitchen appliances all have the energy saving seal, unfortunately my large home appliances came standard with the apartment. I try and do all my laundry at one time so the dryer stays hot and I do not use the heating element on my dishwasher.
  • I take quick showers and only wash my hair every 3 days. It helps especially that I only have to use my hairdryer maybe 2x a week and my hot tools for a few minutes each day.
Altering Energy Use
  • Energy Saving CFL Bulbs
  • Obviously turning off all lights and electronics when not in use
  • Leaving my air off as much as possible, especially if I'm not home
  • I moved closer to work so I only have a 10 minute drive and I live about 5 minutes from the grocery store and church. I hardly ever drive anymore, even the majority of my shopping is done in one trip with errands or online. Even my gym is onsite and located within walking distance.
Recycling and Garbage
  • I set a goal for myself to only have to take out 1 bag of trash in a certain time period, so far I've done really well with it.
  • Unfortunately I am not recycling at the moment, I did really well with it in my last apartment but the one I'm currently at does not participate and does not have the bins on site.

Things to try: Recycled Paper Cat Litter

Researching cars that get better gas mileage

Eventually I'd like to have all energy saving appliances

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Review: Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Twist

The fall and winter seasons are when I indulge in Starbucks coffee, at no other time in the year am I so drawn to it. And I love the festive cups they start using around Thanksgiving! This is my favorite coffee and it's actually available year round but it isn't on the menu. Starbucks starts with a basic Cafe Mocha and adds peppermint syrup, tops the whole thing with whipped cream and chopped peppermint candy. The toppings I usually skip but the rest of it is perfect, everyone I've had try it can't get enough. I was going to list the calories for you but I can't bring myself to look it up, some things even I'm better off not knowing. Go ahead and try it (just don't drink it every day). I love having one of these in my hand while viewing Christmas lights or while walking around shopping for Christmas gifts and decorations.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Autumn in the Appaliachians

Here are some pictures from a mountain drive this past weekend:

Top 10 Favorite Movies (this was hard)

Baby it's cold outside....and all I want to do is rent a movie and make some popcorn. These aren't really in order, just a top 10 in general. 10. Sleepers (It's very intense) 9. The Notebook 8. Breakfast at Tiffany's 7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 6. Pirates of the Carribean (series, yes I know this is technically cheating) 5. O Brother Where Art Thou 4. Office Space 3. When Harry Met Sally 2. Harry Potter (again I know I'm cheating) 1. Steel Magnolias - I. know. every. single. word.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Review: David Babaii for Wildaid Volcanic Ash Sculpting Clay

I blogged about this in a recent Sally Beauty Supply Haul - please refer to post for a photo. Every once in a while a product comes along that is so versatile and so spectacular you just can't keep it a secret. The volcanic ash sculpting clay won the 2009 InStyle Best Beauty Buys award. It smells divine, like grape bubblegum and the consistency is soft and gummy (not a paste or a wax). It's mainly used to give the hair texture, the package states: " Apply a small amount to palms and warm before applying to dry or wet hair to create various textures and finish to your style. It is ideal for style definition (curls, spikes, twists) and adds volume and lift while providing medium to firm support." This product is completely unisex and I think it would compliments mens style perfectly as well as giving that piecey look to layers in female hair.
  • I've used it on my natural curls when they're dry to seperate and smooth them.
  • I used a little on my shortest layers to frame my face after I tossed my hair in a messy bun.
  • It worked well on my curled hair (using a curling iron) for texture without taking out the curl.
  • I use a tiny amount every morning to smooth down the baby hairs around my forehead.
I don't have bangs but I can imagine you could apply this wet to bangs (or any shorter hair) for great hold and definition after styling. I'm still discovering new uses for it but it's my favorite texturizing product that I've used (I've tried putty, wax, pomade, gel, etc) because I can apply it to Day 1 hair and it's not greasy when I go to wash it on Day 3. I hate using too many products because most won't allow you to go as many days between washings. This product doesn't weigh down my curl and what little volume I have. I paid $4.99 on for a 4 oz container. The brand is cruelty free and free of sulfates, parabens, and petrochemicals. The company supports Wildaid by donating 10% of all profits for the benefit of global wildlife conservation.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Beauty Vanity Organization - A work in Progress

I'm using the term "organization" lightly here, my things are really just thrown into drawers but I like watching everyone elses collections so here is my "little" loot.
Parsons chair from Kirklands, desk was a yard sale find, mirrors and tissue holder from TJ Maxx, plastic drawers from walmart.
Sephora Inspired Brush Holder with my Sigma Brush set and a few randoms
Perfume, Eyeliner, Mascara, and Nail Polish
Eye Products - cream liners, primer, random quads and duos. To the left I laid out my Coastal Scents Palette and my 2 MAC palettes that normally go on top. Looks like I had a powder spill on one of my smaller palettes.
Lips - lipsticks and lipglosses. In the back there I have a few hairbands and hair clips. Clearly this is raw footage, it doesn't always look this messy.
Face - bronzers, blushes, mineral foundation, concealer. Again I laid my MAC blush palette on the left but it normally goes on top of the blushes.
Bottom Drawers
Hair Tools - I told you it was thrown in together. My flat iron was in my bathroom so it did not get to make an appearance.
Randoms - I keep my nail kit in this one along with my roller set, some extra sponges, the gloves I use to apply self tanner and a makeup bag that has a bunch of samples and my extra contacts.
I'm really thinking I'd like to get one of these from Ross or Target to organize my palettes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

In The Kitchen: Apple Crisp

Valuable lesson learned today, apple crisp = delicious but not very photogenic. I made this dessert so I could get rid of a very small amount of vanilla ice cream (because it's very boring by itself). I made the very mature decision to eat my dessert before dinner, because grown ups are allowed to do such things. Ah I love quick homemade sweets. If you google Edna's Apple Crisp, it's the one I used . 4 granny smith apples peeled and cored (I used gala apples, clearly not peeled; the skin is good for you) 3/4 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 cup flour 1/2 cup rolled oats 3/4 t cinnamon 3/4 t nutmeg 1/3 cup butter, softened Arrange apple slices in an 8 inch baking dish Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and add butter, stir to combine. Spread topping over mixture and bake at 375*F for 30 minutes Top with whipped cream and caramel sauce or vanilla ice cream (my suggestion is Breyers Vanilla Bean, is there anything better?) I plan on tricking myself into counting this as a fruit serving.

My Grocery List at a Glance (requested)

In my line of work I get asked a lot of questions regarding groceries - what to buy, what to look for, what I recommend, etc. I have patients that would give anything to look into a dietitian's shopping cart and frequently I get self conscious when buying my own groceries that lead me to "hide" my vices (i.e, kit kats). Here are some things I love that are "regulars" on my shopping list.

1. Low fat string cheese
2. Greek Yogurt
3. Arnolds whole wheat sandwich thins
4. Canned Tuna Gourmet Choice Low Sodium Chunk Light
5. Hummus, any variety
6. Canned or Dried Beans
7. Walnuts or Almonds - I buy mine in the baking aisle, unsalted and toast them myself
8. Sunsweet Ones - any dried fruit honestly
9. Fiber One Honey Clusters
10. Blue Diamond Almond Milk Original
11. Fiber One or Fiber Plus Bars My meat and produce vary from week to week depending on what I'm cooking but these items are pretty much mainstays for me, most of them can be eaten on the go which I love. This post was requested from a friend of mine who likes to poke fun of my job and how it "interferes" with my everyday life.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Review: Bee Luscious Oolong Tea and Carrot Oil Eye Cream

From the website: Ooolong Tea is known to help deflate puffiness and calm irritation. Vitamin rich carrot, plus avacado and sweet almond smooth fine lines. The Company is Bee Royal Products. Price $24.
I've been using this product for several weeks now at night before bed and unfortunately I don't notice any difference between this and any other eye cream I've used. It does tingle a bit when you put it on which is nice and the consistency is thicker then some creams than some I've used. The biggest red flag for me is the smell, it's absolutely heavenly (think cake batter) and I love creams that smell delcious but not necessarily ones that I'm about to apply to my eye area. If this was a body cream or a hand cream I would love the smell. I am also dissappointed in the cheap plastic packaging, I guess it's better for maybe recycling reasons but certainly not very luxe. My CVS brand eye cream had nicer packaging along with no smell and moisturized just as well. I will finish the rest of my container but I'll probably go back to the aveeno or olay regenerist eye products that I've been using for years. I do love the Bee Royal website and in the future I wouldn't mind purchasing some of the face masks and retinol products.