Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I can’t believe it has been a week since my last post. Time is truly flying by and not in a good way. I spent my week trying to get things in order and get the house cleaned. We have been out of town for 3 weekends in the last month. It is amazing how much house work can pile up in that amount of time. I wish I could say that I was jet-setting to glamorous locations, but we’ve been to Hot Springs, AR, Kalkaska, MI and Little Rock, AR, not exactly dream vacation spots. This weekend, I am headed to Maryland to visit my Mama and get my hair done at Bubbles. I am really excited about the trip home even though I was just there in February. February feels like a lifetime ago and for my favorite little brother, February was a different life. Unfortunately, he won’t be in Maryland this weekend, but we will be with him in spirit watching his acting debut on Ugly Betty.

You can also see an article in US Weekly.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Baking Experiment

Updated with pictures:
I haven’t been baking as much now that the weather has gotten warmer, but I just had to try this recipe that I found on Bakerella via Hostess with the Mostess. A cupcake in the form of a lollipop is kind of an odd thing to make, but I am trying to find things to do for the upcoming baby shower and thought these might be cute. The concept is pretty easy, but they just take some time to prepare. I used a red velvet cake mix, a tub of cream cheese frosting, lollipop sticks and some colored candy melts. You will also need a block of Styrofoam for drying.

Here is what you do:
1. Prepare cake mix and bake according to directions on the box.
2. Let cake cool completely and then crumble in a large bowl.

**This is where it gets messy**
3. Mix in the tub of frosting. I had to use my hands to get it all mixed together.
4. Roll into small balls (about 1 inch diameter) and place on cookie sheet.
5. Refrigerate for several hours (or stick in the freezer for 20 minutes)

6. Stick in lollipop sticks and refrigerate for at least another hour. I left them in overnight.
7. Melt candy and coat the ball by spooning mixture over the cake. Don’t dip or you will get cake crumbs in your candy melt.
8. Stick the lollipops in a Styrofoam block to dry. My fatal mistake was that I stuck them back on the cookie sheet, so I ended up with a flat top instead of a nice round one.
9. If desired, wrap each lollipop with a small square of colored cellophane and tie with a ribbon.
There are a bunch of variations to this recipe. You could use chocolate or white chocolate bark to cover the outside instead of the colored candy melts or you can lose the stick and make little cake bites. For my next batch, I am going to use a yellow lemon cake for the inside.

I took these little guys to work to do a sampling and they got really good reviews. People love red velvet cake, which kind of surprised me. Here is an important tip: do not leave these in the car on a 75 degree day. I made this mistake and melted half the batch. :(

Monday, April 21, 2008

Farmer's Market Finds

FINALLY, the Farmer’s Market has reopened in Fayetteville!! Actually, it has been open for two weeks, but since I’ve been so busy jet setting around Southern Arkansas and Northern Michigan (I know you’re jealous) I haven’t been able to go. This weekend, we had perfect market weather with temperatures right in the mid-seventies. Because the Spring isn’t quite in full swing, the selection at the market was limited to mostly herbs, plants and local crafts. It was still a blast to walk through and enjoy the day. I purchased these beautiful apple blossoms while Evan made funny faces. “Why are you buying those branches?” he questioned. I have to admit they were a pain to carry around in the crowded market, but it was worth it. Once we got home and they were carefully placed in the vase they looked spectacular and Evan agreed.

Being more adventurous than me, Evan selected some Lion’s Mane Mushrooms. These mushrooms are unlike anything I had ever seen, so I wasn’t sure what we would do with them. From what the vendor explained to us, they are used in traditional Chinese cooking. She told us to sautĂ© them with a little oil and garlic until they become soft. She said that would be the consistency of bread after it had been in a soup. I’m not sure that texture sounds appetizing, but Evan still wanted to try them. I did a little search for some info on these mushrooms and found this:

This mushroom has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for the treatment of stomach distress and for cancer prevention. Many distinct polysaccharides have been identified in this species several of which have demonstrated potent anti-tumor properties that extended the lifespan of cancer patients (Mizuno, 1995). Studies in Taiwan on rats that were fed Hericium fruit bodies demonstrated significant beneficial effects on blood glucose, serum triglycerides and total cholesterol levels.

I don’t usually eat mushrooms, but I think I will try these. Evan also found some morel mushrooms this weekend, but I couldn’t make myself eat them. I know they are a delicacy, but there was no way I was eating anything that he found off the interstate exit 69.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Work in Progress

I can’t believe how long it has been since I had time to make something crafty. Finally last night, I was able to sit down and start a new project that I have been planning for weeks. I have volunteered to provide decorations at my good friend, Nicole’s baby shower in May. There are three of us planning the event. We had our first planning meeting last week at lunch and we all showed up to the restaurant in our business casual with note pads and pens. It was pretty funny. Nicole is having a boy, so I am going to be using greens and blues as the theme colors. For the first part of my decoration plan I decided to try to replicate the paper globe trees that Heather Bailey posted around Valentine’s Day. I have only started to make my first little tree, but wanted to share the rough draft. I plan to add some ribbon and moss in the flower pot and make two more trees. I am still deciding whether to use an actual stick for the tree trunk or something else. Once these are finished I can start of the rest of my list of to dos:
1) conceptualize and make a centerpiece for the table
2) make a mobile or something hangy
3) decide between balloons or paper lanterns

So many decisions and a weekend full of fun!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Chicks Rock Part II

All of the people that I work with must want to kill me by now. I first heard a snippet of the new single, “Mercy”, by Duffy on the radio last week. I rummaged through the sample bin at work and found the single (no full length just yet). I have played it at least 4 times a day for the past 4 days. I will not be surprised if I come in tomorrow and my player is hidden.

I am totally digging this girl! Duffy comes from the small coastal town of Nefyn, Wales. She has had much success in Europe and is set to release her album in the States on May 26th. When listening to her bio on the radio I became a bit irritated when the two DJs bantered back and forth announcing that she sounds like Amy Winehouse. Although I am a fan of Winehouse’s music (not her escapades), she did not originate this sound! I think of artists like Dusty Springfield, Etta James and the soul sounds of Aretha, when I hear this little blonde belt out her blues. Not silly Amy Winehouse.

One of the best music shows I’ve ever been to was a little known artist, Sharon Jones. Sharon performed with her band, The Dap Kings, in a small venue in Richmond, VA. She had the entire crowd moving and shaking the entire show. Her energy just takes a hold of you and you have no choice but to be moved by her funky soul sound. Sharon’s accompanying band, The Dap Kings have been touring with Winehouse and were featured in her video, Rehab. I almost felt like they were cheating the first time I saw them on MTV, but Sharon Jones still tours with the band, so I guess that is ok.

Another group I wanted to mention in my Part II of Chicks Rock is Paramore. This band is my guilty pleasure. They are totally a band for teenagers, but I just can’t help myself. I have the newest album, Riot, and it is my jam out in the car music. The lead singer looks like she is about 15 and has an adorable high school punk kind of style. Her voice is quite powerful and I just can’t help myself but to enjoy this “pop/alternative-girls are mean-I miss my boyfriend” music. I guess she kind of reminds me of Avril Lavigne with a band, but cooler.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rains and Floods

If you hadn’t heard, parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma had terrible rains, floods and hail storms last week. I got calls from frantic relatives wondering if I was ok, but fortunately, I live on a hill that seems to protect me from most of the bad weather in the area.

I have never lived in a place where the major news is the weather. The meteorologist is the highlighted newscaster. He does events and has his own commercials. I personally get quite frustrated with the constant programming interruptions and alerts for “treacherous” weather. (They literally use the term treacherous when it is raining.) This is the first week that the weather really was dangerously bad and sadly we are expected to get more rain the end of this week.

I don’t plan to watch TV on the rainy days because I get so mad when the entire news hour is devoted to the rain. I looked outside the window. I know it is raining. If I was at home watching the news and my house started flooding, how would this help me?

Don’t get me wrong. I feel absolutely horrible for the people that have been affected by the storms. My complaint is that these people are not sitting at home in their flooded living rooms watching 2 hours worth of weather news to find out what is happening.

One of my coworkers took this picture last weekend in Rogers. Rogers is the city in between where I live and where I work. The highway was fine and I didn’t have any problems getting around, but this picture just looks like something you would see on a redneck email forward. Some days I can’t believe that I live here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Purple Potatoes

This past weekend, Evan and I flew to Michigan to surprise his mom, Jane, for her birthday. It was a whirlwind trip. We flew into Detroit Friday night, drove to Kalkaska on Saturday for dinner and bowling. Then we then woke up on Sunday, drove back to Detroit and flew home. It was well worth it to see Jane’s surprise when she saw her only son had come all the way from Arkansas for her special day.

On our trip Evan’s sister, Jessica (who has worked as an organic Gardner), had some peculiar vegetables at the house and offered me some Purple Potatoes. She told me a special name for them, but I forgot what she called them. I looked up Purple Potato and came back with a few different things, one being Purple Majestic Potato. I am really amazed how all the websites I found had totally different information about this mysterious vegetable. The picture for the Purple Majestic matches what my potatoes looked like, so I guess I will have to believe this site until someone gives me better info. Other sites like this one simply referred to them as Purple Potatoes.

Besides the obvious difference in color, the Purple Potatoes are different from your regular white potatoes because they are packed with antioxidants. This info came directly from my source, Jessica. To my amazement when she cut one open for me, they are a bright purple in the middle unlike red potatoes that are white in the middle and red outside.

I wasn’t sure if I needed to prepare these any differently than I do white or red potatoes, so I just went with my gut. I cut them into small pieces, tossed in some olive oil with some pressed garlic and baked them at 350 on my baking stone for 35 minutes. They turned out with a crisp first bite and soft in the middle. Perfect. In my opinion they taste just like regular white potatoes. This could be because I tasted the oil and garlic that I associate with regular potatoes. I honestly didn’t notice any major difference in sweetness.

I have two Purple Potatoes left. I am going to cut them with a crinkle cutter and bake them like French fries with a little salt. French fries with extra antioxidants! This is a dream come true. Thanks Jess!

Friday, April 11, 2008

New Links

I haven't posted a craft project in a very long time and it is kind of bumming me out. I hope to get something going this weekend. I have a few projects that I want to start, but just have to make myself sit down and start them. Ever have that feeling?

In the mean time, I have added some new links to my list of favorites. In recent browsing I have discovered more blogs that I must read every day. They are random in category, but fun sites to explore.

Curious Bird – is the blog where I found the link to those gorgeous Church and State dresses. I think our taste in design is similar and I just love the way she takes photos
Ellen Silverman – I found this site through another one of my favorite blogs (although I can’t remember which one) these are inspiring pictures that motivate me to want to learn how to take better pictures for my posts.
Face Hunter – is an awesome Street Style site. I must visit 3 times a day. Enough said.
Tango Baby – If you want to see how beautiful San Francisco is, read this blog. I feel a special connection to Tango Baby because she looks like Mia Wallace from Pulp fiction. I also have a love for Uma in this role and sport a very similar haircut.
Vintage Goddess – I love the humor on this blog. I also love the vintage finds. Who says you can’t find good vintage in Arkansas?

I also want to wish Jane (Evan's Mom) a very very very Happy Birthday. We wish we could be there with you!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Street Style

I recently took a browse through my favorite Street Style blogs. I love looking at what people in other countries are wearing. It makes me feel like fashion is not too far away. My only problem with the new posts is that it is still very cold in most of the fashionable world. Our weather is warmer everyday, so I am patiently waiting for the Streets of London, Helinski and NYC to catch up with new Spring Fashions. For more fashions, check out the street style links on the side.

For more fashions, check out the street style links on the side.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Weekend in Hot Springs

This past weekend, Evan and I drove down to Hot Springs, AR. We went with two other couples, our neighbors, the newly weds, and my friend from work and her fiancĂ©. The drive took about 3 ½ hours, so we left early Saturday morning and got to Hot Springs about lunch time. Our first stop was the race track. It was the last racing weekend of the season, so the track was buzzing with spectators. It was a gorgeous day, warm in the sun cool in the shade. I didn’t make any bets, but Evan was up a couple dollars at one point. We chose our favorites amongst the group. Our decisions were based totally on the names of the horses, with names like, Whatitsallabout, Mojito Man, and Daughtry being some of the favorites. We stayed at the races until about 4 o’clock and then headed to the hotel.

Before dinner we stopped at the Hot Springs winery for a wine tasting. We sampled several of the Arkansas wines, but the group was unanimous in the decision that Arkansas wine is gross. All of the wines, white and red, were so incredibly sweet. At least three of them tasted exactly like Welch’s grape juice. They are made from the same grape as Welch’s, which explains the similarity, but who wants juicy wine? My friend, Cheri, literally almost gagged on the port wine. After this we needed something to cleanse our pallets. Barbeque! Evan had a place recommended to him from a coworker and he did some research online to find the best Barbeque establishment in Hot Springs. McClard’s has been in business since 1928 and is a family owned and operated restaurant. It was featured on the food networks, “The Best Of” show. This was the obvious pick. Evan and our, neighbor Aaron, got Ribs covered with fries. I had a chopped pork sandwich. It was a delicious way to end the day. After dinner, we stopped in some local bars for a couple drinks and then headed back to the hotel.

Day two started with breakfast at The Pancake Shop. We had a 45 minute wait, but that flew by while we spent time in the Pancake Shop store sampling and collecting gourmet spreads, dipping sauces, salad dressings and other goodies. The actual restaurant is in no way gourmet. It’s your basic pancakes, bacon and sausage. We had a great meal, but then needed to walk it off.

Picture from website

We spent the morning walking around downtown and looking at the hot springs. Bath House Row is a National Historic Landmark with 8 Bath Houses lined up on one street downtown. We toured the Fordyce Bath Houses that has been preserved as a museum. It was fascinating to me to see the equipment and design of one of America’s original exclusive spas. The Bath Houses were more than a spa; they had gyms, bowling alleys, music rooms. They were designed for all day entertainment. Here is a little history from the website:

The Fordyce opened March 1, 1915. Designed by Little Rock architects Mann and Stern and constructed under the supervision of owner Sam Fordyce's son John, the building eventually cost over $212,000 to build, equip, and furnish. Totaling approximately 28,000 square feet, the Fordyce is the largest bathhouse on the Row. It has three main floors, two courtyards, and a basement under most of the building. The Fordyce became the first bathhouse on the Row to go out of business when it suspended operations on June 30, 1962, but it was extensively restored by 1989 and is now enjoying a renaissance as a historically furnished museum. It also functions as the park’s visitor center.

Before we left for home, we went to tour the Garvan Woodland Gardens. They were supposed to have a tulip festival or something of that nature going on, but we were a weekend too late. Most of the tulips were dieing, but still very pretty. Walking through the gardens was relaxing, but we were ready to go home after a couple hours.

I’m glad that we made the drive down to Hot Springs, AR. It was a really nice weekend and it’s always great to get away for a while.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Glossy Glossy

I was cleaning out my bag the other day and I realized something that I never noticed before. I am a collector of lip gloss. I am actually not very good about keeping my lips glossed, but I always have good intentions. I apply in the morning, throw my gloss in my bag and forget about it. This is why I had 12 different glosses in my bag. That’s a lot of lip stuff.

I am not a connoisseur of make-up, by any means, but I thought that I’d put together a quick review of the glosses that I regularly use for something fun. Keep in mind that this is only an opinion of a girl who likes to be glossy. I am going to rank from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best and give a little explanation.

L’Oreal Infallible Lip Gloss, Color – Barely Nude
Rating – 4
I like this gloss and the neutral color. (I keep this one in my desk drawer at work for emergencies.) I got the L’Oreal Infallible in the swag bag at the Project Runway, Bryant Park fashion show. The gloss did last 6 hours (at least) as promised in the commercials. It does leave a lip print on your glass and there is no way you could kiss someone’s collar without it coming off. Amazingly, it didn’t dry my lips up, which is usually the case with all day wear. The downside was that it felt more like liquid lipstick than lip gloss.

Bobby Brown Lip Gloss, Color –Tangerine
Rating – 2
I like the orange color of this lip gloss, but that is about it. The applicator is a bristled brush which is difficult to get in an out of the tube. I prefer a spongy applicator. It is probably the stickiest liquid that I have ever put on my lips. It’s the kind of lip gloss that you know not to wear on windy days unless you want all of your hair stuck to your face. If you run out of crazy clue, this is a close substitute.

Chanel Rogue Allure Lipstick, Color – Rubis Siam
Chanel Lip Gloss, Color – Spark
Rating – 3.5
I always wear these two together, so I figured I should review them together. In case you couldn’t tell what colors are from the names, they are RED. I bought these at Bloomingdales in New York, right before the Project Runway, Bryant Park fashion show. I knew it was possible that I could be on camera, so I wanted to make sure I had ruby red lips. As you probably know, Chanel is a bit pricey, but at the time I wasn’t concerned about budget. I was concerned about close-up. I really like the color and the lipstick doesn’t dry out my lips. The negatives are that I have to reapply (what feels like) every thirty minutes. You can not drink, smooch or even press your lips together without a big red mess. This type of lip stick and lip gloss combination is for special occasions only, not every day wear.

Clinique Full Potential Lips Plump and Shine, Color – Glamour Full
Rating – 4.5
This is one of my favorite lip glosses. I think I got in as a gift when I purchased some Clinique skin care. The color is a soft pink that is pretty and neutral. It also has a sort of glimmer affect making your lips look moist and healthy. I don’t know if it really “pumps” up my lips, but it does feel nice when you wear it. It lasts for hours, which is not something that is advertised, but I noticed the first time I wore it.

Stila Lip Glaze, Color – Spiced Pumpkin
Rating – 3
I got this gloss from my brother when he was working for Stila Cosmetics. The colors are really rich, but still look neutral and glossy when applied. My problem with this gloss is the applicator. It has a twisting mechanism that (supposedly) forces the gloss into the brush. I never seem to get the right amount of gloss. Either, I twist and twist and nothing comes out or I twist once and I have a gloppy mess. I am all for innovative packaging, but it has to work.

MAC Lustreglass, Color – Beaux
Rating – 3.5
MAC is usually my go to brand for good colors and quality make-up. This color is a pink/tan everyday color. I have a few different colors, but mostly the neutrals (if you couldn’t tell, neutral is my favorite for lip gloss). This gloss is another one that you can’t wear in the wind. It’s not nearly as sticky as the Bobby Brown, but still is hazardous in a breeze. I wear these often, but do find myself needing applications throughout the day. Sometimes I need a good round of chapstick after a day of continuous application of this gloss.

Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm, Color – None
Rating - 5

Ok, ok. I know this isn’t a lip gloss, but it is a must have in the bag at all times. I can’t live without my lip balm and I love the tingling feeling of Burt’s Bees lip healing.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Beautiful Dresses

I was browsing through blogs today when I came across Curious Bird. She recently posted about the Spring designs of Church & State. I am in love with these dresses! My favorite dress, yellow, can be purchased online at Sotto, but I’m not sure if I can spend that much for a dress that I haven’t tried on. I wish it was still my birthday.