Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In the Kitchen: Vegetable Potstickers

We have been eating a lot of veggies in our house.  We eat about two meat-less dishes a week - usually substituting chickpeas, cannellini beans, or black beans but sometimes that can get mundane.  R and I tried our hand at making potstickers recently and opted to use a vegetarian recipe.  We used shitake mushrooms for substance and it was incredibly filling.

We based our recipe off of this one from  We cheated by buying a bagged mix of shredded broccoli, cabbage, and carrots but left the rest of the recipe the same.  Fresh ginger is key!
 The filling and star of the show.
 Our first potsticker.
 R said this was tedious but the process went quickly.  He used a dab of water to seal the edges.
After he learned not to over fill the potsticker he got in the groove.
 I didn't make the sauce listed in the recipe...because I'm a rebel like that.  Also because I was starving and our kitchen is entirely too small for both of us to work at the same time.  I used a store brand Ginger Sesame marinade with a couple of tablespoons of sugar free apricot preserves whisked in and let it reduce over medium low heat.  After tasting it I also added about a tablespoon of mustard because I like to keep things tangy.
 R finished up the potstickers in a nice little steam bath.
 R's plate.
My plate - some of the potstickers opened a little so in the future we might try a tighter "crimp" but the filling didn't fall out.  I think it was a pretty dish, you could the colors from the vegetables clearly through the wrapper.  The sauce was a nice addition as well - sweet and tart.

Summer Skin ...

This summer I have nailed an easy beauty regimen for my skin.  Of course I'm still cleansing and moisturizing but beyond that I'm not wearing a lot of heavy makeup.  Unlike years past when I would fiddle with tinted moisturizers and not really care for the coverage, always relapsing back to conventional foundation.  I really wanted to simplify and I'm so glad I found these new favorites...
 I purchase these usually at Target or Ulta and I always get the medium natural tan despite the fact that I am naturally as white as a sheet of paper.  One towelette covers my whole body and face and I typically use two wipes per week to keep a healthy glow.  For a friend's wedding recently I used three the week before and I was beautifully golden by the big day.  I have been using these since February and I'm not sure I'd go back to messy gels, mousse, or lotions.  They are perfect for travel too!
 Wow. I took the BB cream plunge and I hate that it took me so long.  I spend $35 and up usually on quality foundation (MUFE, Bobbi Brown, etc) so I'm thrilled that I found a drugstore product that offers exceptional coverage.  I wear light/medium in the oily skin formula and I purchased it from Target on sale.  The tube is huge!  I've been wearing it for two months and I've not dented the bottle.  Garnier makes a lot of claims about the skin care qualities - I can't really say I've seen any change in the tone of my skin but this is a decent tinted moisturizer that covers hormonal and acne redness.  There are only two shade selections so it may not work for everyone but it is worth a try if you buy from a place with a return policy.
My first trip to the pool this year I wore sunscreen and had a terrible breakout in the week following.   I wanted a more natural sunscreen so I purchased a whole line of this - the tube for face, tube for body, and the spray formula (it isn't an aerosol).  So far I've been happy with it, after many hours outside I've not experienced a sunburn yet and I've not noticed a serious breakout after using it.  This costs a few more dollars than the other product I was using but worth the expense.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: The Honest Life

I have enjoyed several new books this summer and one that has really stood out is The Honest Life by Jessica Alba (yep, that Jessica Alba aka Sue Storm herself).  She has her own business, The Honest Company where she creates and distributes natural goods for your home, bath, and baby.  The book doesn't just plug her products though, she actually gives you a list of companies that follow an "all natural" philosophy.  R and I are trying to go with a more eco-friendly lifestyle as part of our 2013 resolutions.  I bought a new car with much better gas mileage, we have switched to non-toxic cleaners, shop at the farmers market, and we recycle.  Er, and that's pretty much where it ends.

I follow a few green blogs and we have been making changes slowly.  The Honest Life received such good reviews that I chose to purchase it despite my doubts.  There are a few things I don't like about it, for one the "honest life is" and "is not" lists I thought were vague and elementary but I realize she was trying to make an eco lifestyle sound like more fun.  I appreciate that she included some lifestyle projects that she uses and placed them in the book, though I would probably never try them.  What I do like, love actually is that she lists harmful chemicals and where they are found.  She also did a lot of research on non-toxic companies with budget in mind.  The book has some really good information and it is written in a way that does not require a biochem degree.  She stresses a simple (non- processed) life with less plastic, less waste, and fewer additives.  I'm glad I have this book in my collection and after reading it through, I will probably reference it in the future.  I'm interested in some of The Honest Company products as well - I haven't placed an order but I may price it out to see if the cost is better than my local Target for their natural cleaners and detergent.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Weekend Review ...

I love weekends that are slam packed with fun activities...but my favorite weekends are the ones that we have the flexibility to change our plans if we want to.  R just started a new work schedule allowing him to have Fridays off - unfortunately this past Friday he had to take his Jeep out of town to get the transmission worked on.  Since I picked him up in the middle of the day he had to wait for me to get off work before we could go home.  We had to rush to get to Raleigh for a late dinner and drinks with good friends.

Katie and Rob gave us two options for Friday dinner and we picked Trophy Brewing Company.  This chill bar in downtown Raleigh was packed with patrons inside and out but luckily Katie was able to grab four seats at the bar.  R and I had the "Most Loyal" pizza that included a honey drizzle over the crust and sipped on some of their craft beer.  

On Saturday R and I went to the local farmers market for some fresh peaches and I splurged on a pretty bouquet and some ice cold ginger ale.  We toyed with the idea of going to the flea market before deciding it was too pretty of a day to waste the sun.

Instead we sat poolside for several hours before going inside to enjoy mojitos and homemade ziti (odd combination, I know).  R also made the base for some yummy peach ice cream that he churned on Sunday morning in the ice cream maker we received as a wedding gift.

Today, our house received a much needed cleaning and we lounged around since it rained a good chunk of the afternoon.  And - I decided on a web designer!  Remember when I mentioned I wanted a new blog layout well it was put on hold and then I couldn't decided which company I wanted to work with or what I wanted in my design.  Well, on today I took the plunge and "fingers crossed" Carolina Belle will have a new look soon.

I should also mention that I tried a new hair stylist last week.  I grew my hair out for my wedding but with the sun, humidity, heat styling, chlorine, etc my ends were incredibly dry and split in certain areas.  I couldn't get it to hold curl (even my natural curl) and it would get really frizzy.  The stylist had to take off SEVERAL inches to remove the damage and I ended up with hair that just barely hits the bottom of my shoulder blade.  I let it dry naturally with some curl mousse on Saturday and it looks perfect!  I may swear off heat styling for the rest of summer!

Monday, July 1, 2013

June Concert in the Park

R and I had a blast at our local town square concert last week.  Why am I so late posting it?  Well because I'm still very much under the weather and we were out of town for a few days.  I'm very much "behind" in my updates :-(

 R surprised me with a new koozie - the town was selling them to support a fundraiser that helps underprivileged kids receive the school supplies they need.  I love that it lists all the bands that are booked to play this summer.
 It's my favorite week of the month when this sign goes up in the square.  Several local vendors come out to the event, last week a local bakery sold banana pudding cupcakes - what? Yep, mind blown.
 A beautiful day for a seersucker skirt.  Too bad the bugs were out, my fragrance for the night was Eau de Deet.  Okay not really deet, I'm trying a new version from Off! that is suppose to be natural but it certainly does not smell very good.
 R enjoyed a rye beer from our favorite brewery.  They come out to all the town events with a couple of options.  The town also offers wine for non-beer drinkers but I don't usually participate since it's a work night.
 Our entertainment for the night was the Central Park Band. they specialize in beach music and other offerings that you can shag to.  
I can't wait for the July concert, we are going all out for a picnic in the park.