Aug 31, 2012

All the Small Things

[Sleepy Joe]

[An "Office" reference in Corey's office]

[Possibly the last summer weekend spent at the seaside - mer]

[Weimaraner puppy!]

[Camping home away from home that hardly feels like camping]
[Ombre toes to match the sea]
Another small thing, or rather a big thing for today, Corey comes home from the Azores!! You didn't even realize she was gone, did you? She's a sneaky little diddler and I've missed her on gchat for the past two weeks!!! Welcome home sweetie!

Aug 30, 2012

D.I.Y. : Flower Halo

Flowers are the quintessential summer hair accessory. And thankfully, in this day and age, fake flowers look extremely convincing. You don't have to be a green thumb to relish in this trend! Inspired by this look, I went out to my local craft store and gathered the supplies needed.

What you will need: 
-a fake flower (or flowers) of your choice
-floral tape
-floral cloth wire (either 16 or 18 gauge)
-2 cloth or felt circles
-super glue (or a hot glue gun - but I have an irrational fear of hot glue)
-wire cutter

This is a fun project because you can make it what you want - decide if you want just one large flower, or an entire "halo" of smaller flowers! If you don't want a flower "halo," try gluing a hair pin or a safety pin to the back to wear as a hair accessory or even as a fun addition to an outfit or purse.

To start, begin making your halo by bending the 2 pieces of the floral cloth wire into half circles. Lay these two half circles opposite each other to create a full circle and figure out the sizing of your halo by placing the wire circle on your head. Once you figure out how large your circle should be, securely tape the circle with the floral tape. Trim any extra wire.

Use the wire cutters to cut the stem off of your flower. Glue one of the felt or fabric circles to the back of the flower.

Lay the halo on top of the back of the flower. This is a good opportunity to hide one of the spots you taped with the floral tape. Lay the other fabric circle on top of the halo and glue the two circles together VERY tightly! Make sure there are no gaps within the two circles! Squeeze some more glue in there if there are.

Pop on your halo and rock that flower child vibe!

Aug 29, 2012

Aperol Spritz

Italians have this great thing called “aperitivo”, which consists of having a drink right before dinner time to kick start your appetite (as if knowing you’ll be eating a delectable Italian meal isn’t enough to get those taste buds going). Along with the drink, bars also serve a little something to nosh on like peanuts or potato chips. Then there are other places that go a little overboard and serve legit food as if it’s a buffet and if you’re not careful, you won’t be eating dinner later that night (or okay, maybe you’ll still be eating dinner and maybe you’ll be complaining of a food baby after…). Either way, you spend around 5 euro and easily get more than you paid for. Really, win-win-win situation here people.

There are specific options among which to choose for your “bevuta”, but  the default I go for 9 times out of 10 is the “Aperol Spritz”, aka orange deliciousness  in a wine glass. It’s really quite simple and we often make it at home as a refreshing treat after a long day of work.
What you’ll need:
3 parts Proscecco
2 parts Aperol
1 splash soda or tonic water
½ slice of orange

If you're looking for a new tasty beverage (or even if you're not, give it a try and let me know how it is!!

Aug 28, 2012

The Care and Keeping of Make-Up Brushes

I'm sure you consider yourself clean and hygienic, right? when is the last time  you cleaned your make-up brushes? Think about it - you use them everyday, on your face. Your face has many natural oils and yes, bacteria, that can be transferred onto those brushes to live and breed! Icky. By not washing your brushes regularly, you are just swirling those oils back onto your face. This can lead to unwanted breakouts.

How often should you clean your brushes? 

Weekly. Yup, you heard me. Once a week. Once every two weeks is a stretch. And if you have problem skin, try doing it a few times a week. If you have time to stalk that guy you met at the bar on Facebook, then you have time to clean your make-up brushes.

So, how do you clean your make-up brushes?

You can purchase a soap specifically for make-up brushes, as seen below, or you can even use a mild (think baby) shampoo. 

Begin by rinsing the brushes off under warm water. Add some shampoo, lather, rinse, repeat (haha just kidding about the repeat). Be sure to rinse them out COMPLETELY! 

Be careful when drying the brushes. Don't tug at the bristles because this can cause the glue that holds them into the handle to come lose, and your bristles might pop out! I recommend just letting them air dry over night. 

You will wake up to fresh, soft, and most importantly CLEAN make-up brushes!

That wasn't so bad, now was it?

How often do you clean your make-up brushes?

Aug 27, 2012

Do the Polka

Polka dots have been gradually making a comeback and as summer shifts into fall, they’re being spotted (c’mon, I had to) more and more. I can’t say I hate it – though I will admit there once was a time I couldn’t see polka dots without thinking of Minnie Mouse. In my opinion, when polka dots are played safe, they’re lackluster. Yes, they’re a classic, but they’re also a super playful print that deserves to be worn to the same degree. Here are a few fun ways I’m excited to show my spots (okay, I’m done). 

[Olivia Palermo's style is always spot on
(I promise I know I'm not funny)]
via Pinterest
Do you personally have a favorite way you like to polka with your dots?

Aug 24, 2012

All the Small Things

[Studs on studs on studs]
[A scenic opening among some pretty flower bushes]

[A go-green message in an antique setting]

[Ah, the convenience of having a tiny car]

[A funny face of food chasers]
[Popcorn just got a whole lot more delicious]

Aug 23, 2012

Spinach-Walnut Pesto

I love a good pesto (who doesn't??) - the strong flavor of garlic and basil, the creaminess of the Parmesan cheese, the smoothness of the olive oil; it's the perfect sauce for pasta (or spaghetti squash!). But, it's not perfect. It tends to be very high in calories, fat, etc. So I set out to find a recipe to modify this delicious condiment. 

When I try to healthify recipes, my first thought is usually "how can I add more vegetables to this?" Pesto is already green, so why not add other green vegetables to it besides basil? Cut out some of the oil, minimize the cheese, and swap the pine nuts (so expensive) for walnuts (cheaper AND you get the addition of healthy fats!) 

Ladies and gentleman...I think we have a [recipe] winner!

Spinach & Walnut Pesto

Place 1/4 cup of toasted walnuts, 3 cups of spinach, 1 cup of fresh basil 1 clove of garlic (peeled and chopped), 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper in a food processor. 

Pulse and then slowly add in 1/2 cup of olive oil, or until desired consistency.

Store in airtight container. Use on top of your favorite pasta, crostini, or even over a big bowl of spaghetti squash! 

Bon apetit!

Aug 22, 2012

Race Ya Back

The current weather in Tuscany is slightly sweltering, to say the absolute least. Thus, though my mind tends to forget it’s August because my heart has already moved on to September, my body is begging me to come to grips with the fact that this heat is not yet over and fall layering is still not a possibility.

Every year, at this point in the summer, I become bored with trying to create cute outfits while wearing as little clothing as can be appropriate. The options are somewhat finite and I usually tend to grab an airy dress or some tank top/shorts/skirt combination.  When my outfits start to feel simple and uniform, smaller details, such as the style of the back, count more. One of my favorites in particular is the racer back. Whether loose or fitted, elegant or minimal, it never fails to be a flattering shape for any body type.  Plus, it’s a basic concept, but can easily be found almost anywhere on a variety of pieces.
[on sale!]

What do you typically do or wear when the summer uniform becomes a little repetitive?

Aug 21, 2012

D.I.Y. : Hair Mask

Dry, crispy, straw-like locks got ya down? Don't fret! There is a solution. Maybe for some of you, your in-shower conditioner just doesn't cut it. You need something more intense! Ever try a hair mask? They are incredible! You do them for your face, so why not show some love for your hair? It's super easy to put together and the results are phenomenal, so you have no more excuses! 

What you will need:

-3 tablespoons of olive oil
-2 tablespoons of honey

That's it! Combine those ingredients in a small bowl. Warm them up in the micro for about 20 seconds. Coat your hair, root to tip. Be prepared to feel like a giant grease monkey.

Cover your greasy hair with a shower cap if you have one; containing the warmth from your head will allow the mixture to really work it's magic. Don't have a shower cap? Wrap your head up in some plastic wrap or even a plastic shopping bag (just be careful not to suffocate). Leave it in for 15-20 minutes. 

[I look really good...hey everyone! Come see how good I look! (Anchorman, anyone?)]
Rinse out the mixture. This may take 2-3 times of rinsing. Shampoo, condition, and style as normal. Your hair will THANK you!

Aug 20, 2012

Baking Barriers

A friend brought over fresh picked blueberries from a recent trip the other day and as soon as I saw their beautiful, juicy blue-ness, I knew I had to make something using them as the main ingredient.

“Ah, the options!” you might say. You might say that because you’re not me and you don’t know how many times friends and family have told me to get out of the kitchen. Don’t believe it could be that bad? Okay, I’ll share a story then.

A couple years ago, some friends came over and cooked me dinner for my birthday. Aw, what sweeties. At one point I entered the kitchen, observed what Corey was doing and asked her, “What type of onion is that?” Her immediate response was to yell, “Ferg! Are you serious?! This is not an onion! This is garlic! Get out of the kitchen. Ohmygod. Get out of the kitchen!”  As somewhat of a disclaimer, I’ve improved in my cooking and baking abilities since then (and even Corey has said so), but I’m still no ace in the kitchen.

Thus, for me, the options were pretty limited, but the first thought that popped into my head was to do a blueberry cheesecake. Easy enough, right?

Wrong. Why? Because when I look at recipes, I tend to look at American recipes or at least those that are written in English. Many times, I find a recipe that I’m really excited to make, take a look at the ingredients and then realize I won’t be able to find all of them in a typical Italian food store. For example, Italians don’t use baking soda or sour cream. In fact, they look at me like I’m crazy when I try to explain such things. In cases like this, I either have to attempt to find a comparable ingredient or search for another recipe altogether. My hunt for the perfect blueberry cheesecake warranted the latter. So I searched Italian recipes instead and came across this one.

Fortunately, I was successful in finding all the necessary pieces to my puzzle of a recipe. I got them home ready to get started, took a look at the measurements and was stopped in my tracks by the next obstacle. Ah, America and it’s aspiration to be unique in all areas…including the measurement system. While we measure in cups and ounces, Italians measure mostly by weight, rather than volume, so the majority of the recipe is quantified in grams. As I didn’t have the appropriate tools of measurement in the first place, I had to do some conversions. (Thank goodness for conversion calculators on the computer). Oh, and then I had to work on translating (FYI, Google Translate is no one’s best friend).  

 After more time than should ever be necessary, I was finally able to get a move on and I was very happy with the result. If you’d like to try out this cheesecake for yourself, but don’t want the difficulties I had, here is a very similar recipe that doesn’t include translation or conversion in the list of ingredients.

Have you ever had an experience like this when all you want to do is create something delicious?