Monday, October 28, 2013

Basil Eggplant

Chop one eggplant into 1in chunks. Salt & Pepper.
Add TB of sesame oil to cast iron pan and heat. Add eggplant. Cook 10min

1 TB sesame oil. 2 TB rice vinegar. 1 tsp crushed ginger.
3 tsp crushed garlic. 1 tsp basil. 1 tsp soy sauce.
Mix and add to eggplant.

Continue to cook until eggplant is soft (about 15min).
Add bell peppers last ten minutes
Serve over rice or pasta.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Eggnog Pancakes

I'll admit. Normally, when it comes to pancakes and waffles, I'm a boxed pancake mix girl. Not because I'm in love with the flavor but it's just easy. I will also admit I'd never looked into how to make my own pancake batter so I always assumed boxed pancake mix was "easier". 

I was wrong. 

My aunt came over the other evening to have breakfast for dinner, I had bought some delicious butter pecan maple syrup when we were at the pumpkin patch and I suggested we try it out. I was almost done with everything, just had to make the pancakes...that's when I realized I was out of boxed pancake mix. So online I went.

Yes, I made a few changes - like substituting eggnog for milk and adding about a teaspoon of cinnamon - but for the most part it was Martha Stewart to the rescue. They weren't as fluffy as I was hoping (but then it could be the age of my baking powder or the heaviness of the eggnog) but they were delicious nonetheless. 

As for boxed pancake mix. I won't be buying any anytime soon. From scratch it is. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkin Patch Scavenger Hunt

Two weekends ago we took my niece to a local pumpkin patch. She was so excited to climb the hay bales, run through the mazes and picking out pumpkins. It was the perfect time to search for things on the pumpkin patch scavenger hunt. 

Us girls had so much fun. Autumn really is my favorite season and I'm glad this is only the beginning.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Locks of Love

I've had long hair for years...most of my life really. There have been a few times when I've cropped my hair to my shoulders. Once, during college, I chopped it off to only about two inches long and bleached it blond. Recently though, my hair has been about waist length. I've had it tripped, shaped and styled but never beyond my mid-back.

However, when creating my 30-during-30 list I decided I wanted to not just cut my hair...I wanted to donate it to Locks of Love. So I've been growing it out for the last eight months and finally I decided it was time to chop it off. 

It does feel nice to know my hair is going to a good cause and not just in the trashcan. It also feels nice to have so much weight lifted off my head! We cut off the ten inches at home last Wednesday and then over the weekend I went to the salon to have it styled. 

Now, I know that when you show the stylist a picture of what you're looking for it's not always going to come out exact. People's hair is all different but I still hope that it at least looks similar. Not this time. I was so disappointed with how the lady cut/styled my hair. I was looking for more layers and framing around my face. In the end, I left nearly in tears because she used mousse and a diffuser on my curls and I felt like an 1980s poodle cut!

In my defense I did tell her, when she was "done" that it was too "bob" like and I was hoping for more obvious layers framing my face. So she did a few more minutes angling around my face but I still wasn't happy. So I headed home thinking maybe if I washed out the product and styled it myself I'd like it a little more.

Thankfully it did help. I'm still contemplating going to my regular salon (yes I was a fool and tried somewhere new) and seeing if they can help get it closer to what I was envisioning. At least for the next week or two I know I can style it to (somewhat) of my liking. 

And really, in the end, I just need to remind myself my hair went to a good cause and it always grows back.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Halloween Treats

Sometimes semi-homemade really is the way to go. While I love backing from scratch there are times when work and life is just too busy and it is easier to just toss things into a bowl. While these Halloween Treats were made with boxed Devil's Food (because what other kind of chocolate cake are you going to use for Halloween) I have learned a few little tricks to make the batter fluffy and more decadent.

Follow the directions on the back of the box but when it calls for water, use equal parts milk...instead of oil use butter and bake 25* cooler than the temperature on the box. These make for fluffy, moist and perfect cupcakes (haven't tried it for a cake but I can't imagine it would different).

I had a request that for the family autumn birthday and Halloween celebration I make my Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes. They were a hit as always.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Chinese Cupping Therapy

Last week I fell at work and twisted by back. I got a massage and went to see an acupuncturist to try to put everything back where it belongs. Luckily the acupuncturist I went to see was also a chiropractor so he not only needled me, treated me with Moxa but he also adjusted me....oh yea and then there was the cupping therapy.

For those unfamiliar with "cupping" let me explain:

"Cupping is the term applied to a technique that uses small glass cups or bamboo jars as suction devices that are placed on the skin...The suction in the cups causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup...Generally, cupping is combined with acupuncture in one treatment, but it can also be used alone. The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system..." - PCOM

Now, I wasn't unfamiliar with cupping. I knew how it worked. I knew the philosophy behind the treatment. But I just wasn't clear on what the experience really would be like. I didn't expect the suction feeling to increase over time and one was actually slightly painful for a while. But I trusted the practitioner to do what he saw best. 

I even knew that the treatment causes round marks on your skin because of the suction. However, it wasn't until AFTER my treatment and I was looking up to see if I could take a shower after the treatment, that I learned the marks will be on my back between 2 and 3 weeks!!!

So for the next three weeks my back is going to look like an octopus gave me hickies!

I will admit. I'm not sure if I'll ask to have this done to me again. At least not unless the doctor provides a GREAT reason for the treatment. Until then.....

Friday, October 18, 2013

DIY: A little extra feathers

My oldest niece turns five this month (where has the time flown?) and she's a fabulous balance between fairy princess and vampire hunter. She owns dozens of tutus, fairy wings as well as glow in the dark vampire teeth (she's going to be a vampire this year and has been going around telling people she's going to suck their blood. lol). 

So when it comes to birthday shopping we try to get creative - educational games, side walk chalk, books, etc. Recently we were at a Farmer's Market and she'd been eying some Mardi Gras masks, so we figured let's buy her some for her birthday. One we found was gold and glittery and with feathers and gems, the other was a simple purple butterfly shaped mask. 

Because she is a frills and fancy girl we decided to add some feathers to match the other. A little fabric glue, some feathers and tada!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bat Door

I really don't know what people did before Pinterest or how we lived so long without it. I love sharing ideas - especially when it comes to the holidays. There are just so many great Halloween decoration pins out there.

This is one of my favorite:

So this past weekend I pulled out some construction paper, printed off some images of bats and got busy.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Caramel Spoons

For the family Halloween/Autumn Birthday gathering this year, I made a warm spiced apple juice. And what goes better with apples than caramel?! So I thought I'd make some caramel dipped spoons to go with the warm juice. 

I'd seen things like this in stores before (sometimes chocolate or mint to go with hot cocoa) so I figured there had to be a few DIY Pinterest links out there to give me an idea with the caramel. Sure enough there was but so many of them were for making caramel from scratch. 

Now I love making things homemade all the way but after a long week at work, and battling this plague that has found me, the last thing I had energy for was scratch caramel. So I did a little semi-homemade version with store bought caramels...and I think they still came out great!

I wrapped mine up in plastic wrap, tied with a little natural fibers and put them in the refrigerator overnight before serving. They were a perfect addition to the tart apple juice.

The "How-To" Pictures:

These are definitely a "must do again"

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Spiced Autumn Apple Juice

Our family is full of Autumn birthdays and we all love Halloween. So normally every October we get together to celebrate the Libras and Scorpios in our lives and have some delicious trick-or-treats together too.  This year, amongst other delectable delights, I made a Spiced Apple Juice for us to warm ourselves with after returning from the Pumpkin Patch. It came out delicious (and I'm not an apple juice drinker normally) and I had to share. I made this the night before, strained it and added it back into the original juice bottle. The next day I just poured it right back into the pot, sliced up an additional orange for presentation and served warm with caramel spoons. They loved it.