Best. Montage. Ever.

A friend shared this on Facebook last night.

I think I might have to watch this every day.

I couldn’t not share this with everyone πŸ™‚

Enjoy!

PS – Hey look at that, I’m still alive πŸ˜€

Bloggers Block

In case you hadn’t already noticed, haha.

I’ve been going through my daily life as usual, doing little projects here and there, making and eating food, taking pictures of things.

But for some reason none of it seems to inspire me to write about it and share it with you.

Remember last week’s post about The Art of Self-Motivation?

Well apparently blogging hasn’t quite factored into that yet πŸ˜€

I have a couple of ideas of things I might share with you in the near future:

  • Our bathroom remodel, once it’s totally done
  • More recipes! Probably some Weight Watchers recipes (oh yeah, I signed back up!)
  • Info about other blogs that I love
  • Some lofty goals I have set for myself

And some things I’m not going to make you read about, haha:

  • Ranting about ants and how much I hate them.
  • General complaining about anything!
  • No seriously, have I mentioned how much I hate ants?!

So, rest easy knowing I’m going to do my best to have new things to share with you all. The ants are not helping with getting into a routine, as they are interrupting my sleep and taking over my room (ok, a little bit of complaining). But I am starting to be more productive with work, so hopefully that will start bleeding over into other things πŸ™‚

Thanks for your patience!

Oh, and as a reward, you should check out this comic. I probably should have included it in my last post, but here it is anyway πŸ™‚

And if you have yet to check out the Oatmeal, please go through and read all the things. So hilarious πŸ™‚

The Art of Self-Motivation

I started writing a recipe post for you all, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Also, no Weekend Warriors post this week, as the current, giant project is not yet finished πŸ™‚

Instead, I thought I’d see if I could spark a discussion on something that I have been working on. Self-motivation.

I am lucky enough to have a job that I really enjoy doing. I get to work from home, set my own hours, and create things that I can be proud of. It’s pretty great, and I am very grateful to have this opportunity.

However, it has also been one of the most difficult jobs I’ve ever had. Ironic, right?

My office job, which I did not really enjoy was, in a sense, easy. I had to wake up each morning at the same time, fight traffic, arrive, take scheduled breaks and lunch, and go home at the same time every day. It wasn’t enjoyable, but it was stable. I had a routine.

So now, I’m in a place in my life where I have to set my own routine. What? No classes? No commute? No one is going to yell at me if I’m not at a certain place at a certain time??

I know, I know, it’s the lap of luxury.

It has also been a pretty rude wake up call. I am not that great at self-motivation.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have managed to keep up with my work and be reasonably productive with the rest of my life.

But at the end of each day I just think of how I could have done so much more with my day.

So, I thought that I would appeal to all of you, my wise learned friends and family, for any tips and tricks that you may have for getting in a routine and maximizing your time πŸ™‚

It’s something that I know a lot of people struggle with. And I am working very hard to improve.

Some things I am working on are having goals of all sizes, finding a routine, and holding myself accountable for all the things I need/want to do.

I would love to hear any success stories, tips, tricks, or problems that you have/are facing!

Also, I will leave you with a few images that inspire me, and some words to live by.

And also, whenever I face something difficult, I respond with these words: Challenge Accepted.

True Story.

Mango-Mint Yogurt Popsicles

It’s time for another delicious recipe featuring herbs from my garden!

Minty Goodness

Inspirations for these included:

  • It’s flipping hot outside
  • I tried to buy mangoes that would ripen at different times, but they all ripened at once
  • I have soooooo much mint in my garden!!!!!

And thus, these popsicles were born.

I would have made this into frozen yogurt/sorbet, but the core for our ice cream maker isn’t frozen…

I should remedy that…

Anyway, these are cool and refreshing and delightfully herby. They’re not overly sweet, which is my favorite part, and I think they hit the right balance between icy and creamy πŸ™‚

Mango-Mint Yogurt Popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 3 very ripe mangoes
  • 1-2 cups lowfat plain yogurt (non-fat would make it more icy, full-fat would be more creamy. Choose your adventure!)
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh mint
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • if you wanted to sweeten it, I would recommend honey or agave πŸ™‚

Directions:

Extract the fruit from the mango. This is how I do it:

Cubed Mango

Cubed Mango

Cut the 2 fleshy bits off, slice a cross-hatch pattern without cutting through the skin, then turn it inside out. The bits should peel right off. Make sure you butcher around the stone for the rest of the bits of tasty mango.

Next, toss everything in your blender.

Liquefy! (just thought of Harry Potter… Stupefy!) Give it a taste and adjust to your liking.

Once you’re happy with it pour it into your popsicle molds. Fill them to the top, pop the stick/base/handle bits in, and give it a little tap to make sure the stick and the mixture get cozy. Last thing you want is your stick coming out of the mold without the popsicle. Trust me.

Freeze them for a few hours or overnight. It’s up to you if you decide to risk it πŸ™‚ I think mine were in there for about 4 hours before I ate the first one? Not sure.

Then, enjoy your popsicles before someone else in your house eats most of them! (*cough*my dad*cough*)

Weekend Warriors: My Tiny Garden

Oh Hey! It’s Tuesday afternoon! Better late than never for a Weekend Warriors post, right?

August seems to be getting off to a dragging start. It might have something to do with the above average humidity we had this weekend, though I am very aware that our tiny bit of humidity is nothing compared to other parts of the US. I’m very grateful for that, but I still don’t like humidity.

So yeah, that basically makes me not want to do anything. It’s a bad thing. But here I am to break that streak!

Now, in my last post, Tzatziki Chicken Salad, you got to see some of the fruits of this project:

Fresh Mint and Dill

Fresh Mint and Dill

Hooray, I planted an herb garden!

This is something that I have wanted to do for a while, because I was tired of buying a whole bundle of mint and/or basil at the store and then not using all of it. Herbs last much longer when they’re still on the plant, did you know that?

So a few weeks ago, we bought some baby plants, a bag of dirt (and then another bag because the first one was wrong) and a nice square pot:

The makings of a Garden

The makings of a Garden

Yeah, that’s the wrong bag of dirt. I went to read the instructions and it said in big bold letters “NOT TO BE USED FOR POTTING”.

Well that’s just great! So I went back to Lowes and got actual potting soil and also mint and dill plants, which they didn’t have at Home Depot the first time around.

So, pour the dirt, tear off the bottom of the biodegradable tubs around my mini plants, put them in the pot, surround with the rest of the dirt, and water! Tada, you have a baby garden!

Cute Baby Garden

Awww aren’t they so tiny and adorable?

Of course, as soon as I did this, these little plants were officially in my care. Initiate very stressful waiting, where I almost lost my dill plant for no apparent reason. I am happy to report that after about a month, I have way more basil, mint, chives, and dill that I know what to do with.

Grown Up Garden

The dill hasn’t taken off as much as the rest have, but it is about to flower, so it looks like it’s doing pretty well!

Can I just say that no matter how much basil I use, the plant just keeps getting bigger. Ladies in my family know what I’m talking about, we’ve now all got our own over-achieving basil plants. I have pruned all of the large leaves off of the plant at least 2 or 3 times in the past 2 weeks, and it just keeps going and going. I am actually a tiny bit concerned…. haha.

So, needless to say, there will be a lot of recipes coming your way feature fresh herbs! Hooray!

I hope you’re all keeping cool and being productive! I’m trying!

 

Tzatziki Chicken Salad Pita Tzatziki Chicken Salad Pita

Tzatziki Chicken Salad

So, I’m not sure if you have all noticed, but it has been hot out lately.

UGH

Heat and I do not get along that well. I spend a lot of time indoors during the “lovely” hot, dry California summer.

Of course when it is hot no one wants to cook, so I thought I’d give you a quick and easy, heat-free recipe for your summer enjoyment πŸ™‚

If you’re not familiar with Tzatziki, it’s a Greek yogurt sauce/dip that I am pretty much in love with. Featuring creamy yogurt, refreshing cucumber, zesty garlic and, in my case, fresh mint and dill, this is definitely a handy thing to have around the house for those scorching hot days. It’s great with pita, and also with a spoon.

Today’s application, however, uses it to create a light and filling chicken salad πŸ˜€

Now, I want to preface this by saying that this tzatziki recipe is in NO WAY meant to be at all authentic. It is my cheap and easy way of recreating something very delicious, and came entirely from my own head. Feel free to find a more accurate tzatziki recipe, and use that for your chicken salad πŸ™‚

Also, this is the first preview you get of the fruits of my garden πŸ˜€

Fresh Mint and Dill

Fresh Mint and Dill

More on that in the future.

Tzatziki Chicken Salad

approximately serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 cooked chicken breast
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/4 fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 -2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped (you can use dried if that’s what you have)
  • garlic salt
  • onion powder
  • pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 pita, cut in half

Directions:

Slice your cucumbers as thin as possible. I did this using a mandoline, but if you don’t have one, you can try to slice it very thin, or you can also grate it, which will give you a different finished texture (still delicious). If you use slices, I recommend cutting them in half or quarters, for ease of eating.

Sliced Cucumbers

Sliced Cucumbers

Next, chop your chicken.

Chopped Chicken

Chopped Chicken

Next, mix the yogurt, cucumbers, herbs and spices. Adjust salt, pepper, and garlic to your liking. This is your “tzatziki”.

Then, mix in the chicken and red onion.

Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad

Next, slice your tomato.

Juicy Red Tomatoes

Juicy Red Tomatoes

Then stuff your pita! I did one layer of tomato on the bottom, and then stuffed to the brim with chicken salad!

Tzatziki Chicken Salad Pita

Tzatziki Chicken Salad Pita

Lastly, enjoy!

PS – if you’re at all thinking that this post is way longer than it needs to be (yes, you just mix stuff in a bowl and put it in a pita) it’s because I’ve been having fun with the default macro setting on my camera and discovering the passable amount of light I get in the kitchen in the afternoon πŸ™‚ I couldn’t take all of those pictures and not share them!

The Finished Product

Weekend Warriors: Re-purposed Jewelry Display

Good Morning! Happy Monday!

I have decided to start a series on here called Weekend Warriors. Basically, on Monday mornings I’ll share my weekend project with you! This is part of my efforts to be both more productive and more creative.

These projects will include things such as crafting, gardening, remodeling, etc. All 3 of which are posts that are in your future πŸ™‚

So, this weekend I actually worked on a few things. One of them was just the start of a more massive project, so I’m saving that for next weekend, when there will hopefully be more to show for it!

This week I’m going to start with a very simple project, repurposing a silver mesh CD holder into a jewelry display.

The Finished Product

Now, these two things have been bouncing around my brain for a while, quite separately. I’ve been trying to brainstorm a new earring holder that matches my new grey/white/brushed nickel/light wood decor in my room, and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with this CD holder, as it’s the right silver color and I don’t need it for CD’s anymore.

Well, while cleaning off my dresser on Saturday, a HUUUGE lightbulb went on over my head.

Uh, hello! Mesh = Earring holder!

So I set about figuring out how to use this to it’s maximum potential.

Of course, I needed to hang/display stud earrings, dangly earrings, and necklaces, as well as some stuff that lives in boxes (buttons, small earring posts, bracelets, etc). Now the stud earrings were pretty simple. I got the mesh that I needed, built right in!

Stud Earrings

The best thing about having them on the side like that is that I have very easy front and back access. Also, it makes me smile how many of those are earrings that I made πŸ˜€ (Anyone else see a color scheme? haha)

Next came the placement of my dangly earrings. This CD holder had shelves, but instead of being flat pieces of mesh or solid, they were formed by 4 bars running across. 4 bars that were the perfect size to hold dangly earrings!

Dangly Earring Hanging Victory!

That may not seem like the idea way to store them, but it really is! I know what I have, and I can see them all for the most part, and having the open space above makes it quite simple to grab the pair that I need. I also had a few little cardboard bits from buying sets at Claire’s that I was able to use to hang smaller pairs of hook-back earrings.

Of course, that leaves us with necklaces. All that I was lacking was hooks, so I ran around the house finding things that I could make hooks out of. I thought of just taping small nails to the top, making loops of wire, but while digging around to find these things, I came across a bunch of removable wall hooks which, as it turns out, can very easily be split into two pieces:

Extract the Hook

I then ran those hooks through the mesh on top, where they stuck thanks to the T shape at the top. These turned out to be near perfect to hang my necklaces!

Necklace Hooks!

I threw the rest of the bits in some colorful nesting boxes, set them on the shelves, and TADA I have the perfect jewelry situation πŸ˜€

It fits in quite well with the shelves that I finally got around to hanging this weekend, as well.

Man, it actually looks like someone lives here now!

So, as you can see, not the most difficult project. I think the point of me sharing this was to emphasize two concepts with are very useful; organization, and recycling/reusing/repurposing.

Organization = sanity for me. I used to function well with what I liked to call “organized chaos”, but it is just so much more peaceful when you have a place for all of your things. Before this, all of that jewelry was just strewn about my dresser in various containers or their lids. Needless to say I didn’t wear much, and couldn’t use my dresser for anything else.

As for the second point, there are many reasons why repurposing is great! Not the least of which is reducing waste, of course. My favorite reason, though? I didn’t have to go out and BUY anything! I got exactly what I needed by using something that would otherwise have gotten thrown out or sat dusty in the garage for years taking up space.

Success? I think yes πŸ™‚

Did you embark on any Weekend Warrior projects? Share them in the comments!

Short Ribs with Brussel Sprouts, Honey Roasted Carrots, SpΓ€tzle and Braised Sauce

Technique at Le Cordon Bleu

Hey everyone!

Today I just wanted to share a great restaurant experience I had with you πŸ™‚

Yesterday I went out to Pasadena with my friend Andreana. She’s going to grad school out there, so I went and worked in the library while she was in class, so that we could hang out downtown afterwards, and avoid traffic on the way back.

It was a brilliant plan. Have I ever mentioned to you all how much I love my job? I’m so mobile, it’s brilliant.

Anyway, after she went to class we headed over to Technique, which is the student restaurant for Le Cordon Bleu’s LA campus.

Because it is a teaching restaurant, the prices are amazing and because it is Le Cordon Bleu, the food is freaking delicious.

$15 for a 5 course meal? Yes please!

I am a big fan of supporting student works, especially because it usually means you can get near professional services for amateur prices. I got my last 3 haircuts at Salon Success Academy, where I can get a great haircut for only $10 and help someone learn!

Why not?

Our meal was nothing less than absolutely delicious. We got a total of 10 courses so we could try as many things as possible, and I thought I’d give you a rundown of our meal.

Sorry for the (lack of) quality of the photos, good ol’ Droid 2 camera lens may have been a bit smudged… πŸ˜€

Starters:

Three Onion Soup Gratin with Gruyere and Sourdough Croutons

Crispy Fresh Mozzarella with Tomato Fondue and Tapanade

Duck Confit & Lobster Salad with Endive, FrisΓ©e, and Apple Dressing

Shrimp Scampi Tartine with White Wine, Asparagus, Tomato, and Garlic Lemon Butter

Spinach Salad with Beets, Apples, Candied Pecans, Poached Egg and Warm Pancetta Dressing

There was also a nice Caesar Salad which I failed to photograph before it was demolished πŸ™‚

Entrees:

Short Ribs with Brussel Sprouts, Honey Roasted Carrots, SpΓ€tzle and Braised Sauce

Filet Mignon with Sauce BΓ©arnaise, Potato Puree, Spinach and Glazed Root Vegetables

Desserts:

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée with Cranberries and Ginger Snap Cookie

Poached Pear with Brown Butter, Butter Pecan Ice Cream, and Cocoa Sauce

Yes, ladies and gents. All of that for $15 a person. The plating was lovely, the portions were perfect, and the food was delicious.

If you’re looking for a fancy meal on a budget, check out places like these in your area! I know this restaurant isn’t open all the time, and reservations are recommended (and fill up fast), but we were able to walk in and wait for an unconfirmed reservation that didn’t show. Totally worth the try. We’re going to try for lunch next time πŸ™‚

Do you have a favorite dining experience in your area with great food for great prices? Share with us!

Dulce De Leche on Pancakes

I’ve been on a bit of a pancake kick the past few weekends.

I think it’s because I’m still fascinated that I can make pancake batter that tastes like the Krusteez batter from when I was a kid πŸ™‚

Only better, of course.

So I have been sort of working my way through the Pancakes! post on Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen Blog.

Do you follow the Pioneer Woman?

If you don’t, you should, because she is hilarious/brilliant/inspiring/genius/generous.

Today’s pancake are Β Basic Pancakes. They don’t even require buttermilk, which is why I chose them. Super simple, fluffy and delicious.

The real star of the show is the Dulce de Leche, the extremely literal translation of which is Candy of Milk.

I’d call it more of Milk Caramel, though, if it was up to me.

It is so horrendously simple to make that I could easily have it around the house all of the time.

However, the constant presence of spoons in my house make that a volatile idea.

Here it is. Try it, enjoy it, put it on everything (pretzel chips, even!).

Dulce de Leche

from various researched sources

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Directions

Find a large pot. Remove the label from your can and set it in the pot. Fill the pot with water until it covers the can.

Bring this to a low boil/simmer. Boil for 3 hours. Check the pot occasionally, turn the can, and add more water if necessary to keep the can completely submerged.

Watch TV or clean or something for 3 hours. Maybe catch a nap.

After 3 hours have passed, remove the can from the water and allow it to cool completely. Overnight works very well.

Aaaaand that’s it.

I had the brilliant idea to start this at like 9:15 one night, so needless to say it was a late night. Totally worth it though, because I woke up, made pancakes, warmed the dulce de leche (in a tupperware, about 30 sec on high in the microwave) and drizzled it over them.

Om Nom Nom.

Enjoy!

 

Lovely European Flowers

Good morning everyone!

I’ve got a few posts in the works for you all, and I’m going to try to consistently post 2 or 3 times a week, but while I’m working on stuff I thought I’d share some loveliness with you πŸ™‚

Also, I’m feeling nostalgic for my Europe trip, which was a whole 3 weeks ago! Already planning my finances so I can go back soon πŸ™‚

In my many posts about my trip, I chose not to include any of these pictures because they weren’t really crucial for the plot of everything. But I thought I’d share them with you now πŸ™‚

Most of these are from the Edinburgh Zoo, the rest are from the Queen’s Gardens at Holyrood Palace and from Kensington Gardens, I believe.

I took quite a few more, they’re in my albums on Facebook if you want to check them all out.

I hope these brightened your Monday morning! I know they brightened mine πŸ™‚