Monday, March 25, 2013

Dry Brushing

So, I just found out about this great skin exfoliating technique called dry brushing. I did some research on it, as I always do, because I don't tend to take beauty and health tips for truth based off of one source or what one person says.

It is supposedly really good for circulation, as well as exfoliation of the skin. Some claim it is even good for getting rid of cellulite. I am not sure how true that last point is, but I could definitely understand the circulation bit because you are increasing your blood flow by stimulating your skin, which in turn boosts your immune system and helps to detoxify. I can also understand the exfoliation bit because you are sloughing off dead skin cells at the surface so that your skin is softer and can absorb nutrients more easily.

The best time to do this is right before you shower, in the shower with the water off, so then after you are done, you can then rinse off all of those dead skin cells (yuck!). It is recommended to do this at least 1-2 times per week. Also, avoid brushing your face (you have very delicate skin there), and do not attempt this if you have existing skin problems like eczema, acne, a rash, cuts or lacerations, etc. I got the majority of my information from this site.

-a brush with natural bristles and a detachable handle (I got mine at Target for pretty cheap in the skincare aisle)

1. Remove the handle of the brush. Get naked! (HA! I have waited so long to be able to say that for a step 1 in a post! Sorry to say you will NOT see a picture of me naked--this is not THAT kind of a site!)

2. Start with your feet, moving in circular motions, always moving towards the heart. Do the bottom of your feet first, and then the top. You are going to want to brush gently on areas in which the skin is thinner (like the top of the foot) and a little harder in areas where the skin is thick (like the bottom of your feet).

3. Work up each leg, one at a time, first at the back of the leg, using the same soft, circular motions towards the heart. Move up through the buttocks, and then to the front of the leg. Avoid any delicate skin, like the insides of the thighs.

4. After you are finished with the lower half, start at the fingertips of one arm, and move up the arm and towards the heart. Repeat on the other arm.

5. Move to the back (this is where you will need to reattach the handle to the brush--I've got long arms, but not THAT long!), working your movements towards your stomach. Start with one side of the back, and then repeat on the other.

6. When you get to your stomach, start at your lower abdomen and work your way up. Avoid delicate areas (like the nipples). End at your chest in an upward stroke.

7. Rinse off and shower as usual.

After doing this, my skin does feel softer. It's kind of a weird feeling to get used to though. Also, I enjoyed the massage that the brush gives! I will keep this up at least once per week, when I have the time. :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

I love lasagna. I swear, Garfield and I are related. Part of the reason why I probably love it so much is because my mom didn't make it very often, so when she did, it was a real treat. It's time consuming, but well worth the result. So naturally, when I found a way to speed up the time, I was all in. I also plan to try crock pot lasagna at some point. I decided to go meatless for these ones. Here is the original recipe.

Serves: 10
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

-1 egg
-10 lasagna noodles
-salt and pepper, to taste
-pinch of dried basil leaves
-pinch of oregano
-10 oz spinach, chopped (I bought a 9oz bag not chopped, and just tore it up, but didn't even use half)
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-15 oz ricotta cheese
-32 oz tomato sauce
-1 bag shredded mozzarella

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and spinach in a bowl. When adding the spinach, I added a handful, mixed, added another handful, and mixed.

3. Ladle about 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish. Set aside.

4. Cook the lasagna noodles as directed on the package.

5. Once noodles are cooked, drain the water and lay each noodle out on a piece of wax paper or foil (I used tongs to grab them gently when they were too hot to touch). Allow the noodles to cool and dry for about 5 minutes.

6. Take 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture and scoop it onto each noodle. Spread the mixture out across the noodle.

7. Roll each noodle up, making sure that the seam is on the bottom.

 8. Place into the baking pan.

9. Spoon tomato sauce over each roll.

10. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over each roll.

11. Cover the dish with foil and place in oven for 40 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

12. Remove dish from oven. Place a spoonful of sauce on your plate, heat in the microwave for 12 seconds, and then place lasagna roll on top of the sauce on the plate and serve.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Nail Strips

I am pretty boring when it comes to doing my nails, but for good reason. If I was to do nail art of any kind, it would just look BAD. So that being said, I would rather not do it and have nice looking nails than have it look like I had a monkey do my manicure. I decided to give the Sally Hansen Salon Nail Effects a whirl. It seemed easy enough! They now apparently have a gel one too, but the only reason I chose this one over that (other than the fact this one is $2.00 cheaper) is because you have to own a UV light to help with drying, which I do not have.

-1 box of Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips (I chose the lace one)
-nail clipper
-clear nail polish

1. Remove any nail polish you may be wearing. Trim and file your nails, as needed.

2. Wash your hands and nails thoroughly with warm water and soap. You don't want any residue or anything on them. Dry them thoroughly.

The kit comes with a nail file and a stick, in addition to the nail strips.

4. Using the flat edge of the stick, push down all of your cuticles. If necessary, trim them with a nail clipper.

5. If you flip the provided nail file over, it is white. Use the white side to gently buffer each nail until it is shiny.

6. See which strips fit which nails best. Some are skinny, some are wider, but the good news is, if you screw up, you have extras!

7. Peel the plastic layer off of the nail strip.Whew--those things smell just like nail polish!

8. Next, peel the nail strip away from the paper backing, tearing it off at the part where the tab is.

 9. Line the nail strip up with your cuticle, and firmly press it onto your nail.

10. Use the flat side of the stick to gently press down all around the bottom and side edges of the nail. Smooth out any bubbles.

11. For the top, gently bend the nail strip, creating a crease in the nail strip. When I did this, the strip actually ripped on it's own.

12. Using the light pink part of the nail file, gently file the remaining edges off of the nail strip.

13. Repeat for all of your nails. You can optionally finish the look with a coat of clear nail polish to help prevent peeling or chipping. Here is the finished product:

Not bad, eh? This is supposed to last for up to 10 days--and you can easily remove them with nail polish remover. However, one thing about my nails is that they are not perfectly flat. They actually have ridges in them, which causes a problem for the nail strip being able to stick to them well. So by the next day, the tops were already peeling off a bit. I don't know that I will buy these again because of that, but it was a good experiment nonetheless. Hopefully you will have better luck!

Monday, March 18, 2013


I recently heard of this eye makeup technique known as "tightlining." I watched a video tutorial and learned more here. I was curious and decided to give it a whirl, so I went out and bought an eyeliner brush and gel eye liner from Target (both by Sonia Kashuk, about $8.00 each). Overall, I really liked the result. It looks very natural and polished, and really makes your lash line look darker (which is great for us blondes!) All I have on in the "After" picture is eyeliner and mascara.

-eyeliner brush
-gel eyeliner (black or brown)

1. If you want to apply a neutral eyeshadow, go ahead and do that before you tightline.

2. Using an eyeliner brush, dip it in the gel eyeliner.

3. With one hand, gently lift the eyelid up.

4. Place the brush at the base of the lash. You actually want to "push" the gel liner into the lashline by pressing and wiggling it. Do this all the way across your lashline, stopping where your lashes end. Make sure you are sticking close to your lashes, and not the rim of your eyelid (the pink part). It's going to feel a little weird because you aren't used to applying eyeliner this way. A magnifying mirror will help you a lot here.You also will want to make sure that you didn't "skip" any places or have any gaps when applying, or it will look like you are missing a patch of eyelashes (which, I am sure, is not the look you are going for!).

5. Finish the look with a coat or two of mascara.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Green Velvet Cupcakes

I have always loved red velvet cupcakes, but never thought to make them in other colors! I got the recipe to make these festive shamrock green velvet cupcakes from none other than Martha Stewart. Here is the recipe for the cream cheese frosting also.

Serves: 24
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Cake mix ingredients:
-2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
-2 tablespoons cocoa powder
-1 tsp salt
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
-2 large eggs
-green food coloring
-1 tsp pure vanilla extract
-1 cup buttermilk
-1 1/2 tsp baking soda
-2 tsp distilled white vinegar

Cream cheese frosting ingredients:
-12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
-2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 lb confectioner's sugar
-3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

3. Mix together flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

4. In a separate bowl, mix oil and sugar together. Add in eggs, vanilla, and food coloring. I used about 4 drops of green.

The color came out great!

5. Mix the sugar mixture into the flour mixture. Now, when I did this, this is what color the batter turned.

Damn you, cocoa powder! In an effort to save the color, I added in like 12 drops of food coloring.

Bleh! It was an ugly army green color! But, at least it was green. I didn't know how to rescue the color at this point, so I left it. I guess I need more practice with mixing colors!

6. In a small bowl, mix the baking soda and vinegar together. They will foam, so don't freak out. Then, add this mixture into the cake batter and mix thoroughly. I actually forgot this step and my first batch of cupcakes didn't rise beyond the liner. Whoops!

7. Spoon the cake batter into the cupcake liners so that it fills about 3/4 of the liner.

8. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

9. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

10. To make the frosting, mix well all frosting ingredients together: cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla. I didn't use a mixer, but you probably should to get the lumps out. Add in 3-4 drops of food coloring for a light green, or more if a deeper shade is desired.

11. Decorate cupcakes as desired. I made a little shamrock out of food coloring gel and sprinkled green sugar on the top of each one.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cat Eye

This is a look I have always loved--the cat eye. It's classic, and it looks good on anyone.This is a great way to sexify your look from daytime to nighttime. And it is super easy to do! I will post a tutorial on how to do this soon.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Avocado Fries

When I saw this recipe, I thought to myself, I love avocados and all things fried. This should be good. And it was! My only complaint was that the dipping sauce was a little sour (It's very possible that I just added too much lemon juice). See my previous post: Ripe Avocado for how to tell if an avocado is ripe before you buy it.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4-6 minutes

Avocado fries ingredients

Dipping sauce ingredients

-2 avocados
-olive oil (or cooking oil) for frying
-2 eggs
-1 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
-1 tsp lemon pepper
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp cumin

*Dipping sauce
-5 tablespoons mayonnaise
-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
-juice from 1/2 of a lemon

1. Mix together the Panko breadcrumbs, lemon pepper, salt, and cumin. Set aside.

2. Beat the 2 eggs in a separate bowl. Set aside.

3. Cut the avocados in half. Now, I made a bit of a mess trying to get them apart, but I was told of a trick (after the struggle of cutting one open, of course). If you slice the avocado down the middle all the way around (obviously you can't cut through the pit part), then gently twist the two halves apart, you shouldn't have to squish much of it.

4. Remove the skin gently with a knife, then cut the avocado the long way into slices. I obviously wasn't going for perfection here ;).

 5. Dip each avocado slice first into the breadcrumb mixture.

6. Then, dip it into the beaten egg mixture.

7. Finally, dip it back into the breadcrumbs, and coat it well.

8. Repeat until all slices are fully coated.

9. Heat a pan with 2-3 inches of oil in it on high on the stove top. When the oil is hot, place each coated avocado slice into the oil and let fry until golden brown (2-3 minutes)

10. Remove the slice with tongs and place on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb some of the oil. Let cool for 10 minutes.

11. Prepare the sauce by blending the cilantro, lemon juice, and mayonnaise together until the result is a creamy sauce. I threw this in my blender.

12. Serve the fries with the dipping sauce.