Monday, July 28, 2014

Pretty Princess

I firmly believe that all women deserve to feel beautiful.  Makeup, perfume, nail polish, and all those other beauty products aren't for other people--even though the other people are the ones who will be seeing it most of the day--make no mistake, these things are for you, for the feeling you get when you see yourself in the mirror, or smell your own perfume, or look at your hands and smile at your cute nails, and in that moment you feel pretty.

One of my first memories with makeup was with nail polish; my mom would put nail polish on me and I thought my hands looked so pretty that way.  It seems like in the past year I've started to neglect my beauty routine, and especially my nails, though... it seems like it's just too easy to get too busy and let the polish get all chipped up, and then once I take it off but don't have time to re-do it, then I just go around with unpainted nails for a few weeks.

But no more--My sweetie got me inspired by getting me started on Julep!  They have a 'regular' online store, but their primary offering is their "Maven" beauty subscription:  It's $20 a month if you pay 3 months at a time, and each month you get new nail colors and other beauty products shipped to you, default selections are based on your "Style Profile" but are customizable on the site each month.  I am a 'Bombshell', according to their quiz, and I got the little blog badge to prove it. :D

I haven't received anything just yet; after looking for a day or two, I finally splurged yesterday on the $60 3-month sub along with about $60 more in add-ons and sale stuff (you know, to get things kick-started).  I will be getting a "Welcome Box" along with the other stuff I ordered, but I'm going to have to wait until the end of August to do my first customizable "Maven Box."  They're threatening to send me a "Secret Sale" at the first of the month though, which will be hard to resist in my current mindframe.

I am excited!  It's a lovely feeling to feel pretty.  I haven't been having that often enough recently, but I think that is going to change now.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Semi-Homemade Witchery: Freebies!

As much as I prefer to cook from scratch, that isn't always the reality, especially with a full-time job and everything.  In addition, if I pay attention to sales, coupons, and special offers, stores will often just give me things. The main components of tonight's dinner, shown here, were both Free Special Offers from the Just 4 U program at Safeway (my personal favorite grocer); I was all too happy to accept them at this price, naturally.

I know that my Grandmother would never have turned down free ingredients either, just as I'm sure that in the old days, witches made magic with what was available to them, and in that spirit, I couldn't resist trying to put my own mark on the decidedly pedantic (but free) Hamburger Helper.  In addition to the ground beef (from the freezer), I added the rest of the slicer tomato that I had cut for the Mediterranean Turkey Burgers earlier, some frozen peas and corn that had been lingering in the freezer, and some leftover fresh herbs (parsley and thyme).  Also, I reduced the amount of water in the instructions, since I expected there would be some extra moisture from the tomatoes.

And to the free Crescent Rounds, we just added butter. (What did you expect?)

The resulting meal was actually quite good!  It was a nice compromise between being quick and convenient, and at least partially feeling as though I Crafted it myself.  I'm happy with it, and will be just as happy with the leftovers later in the week when I am working overtime.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Kitchen Witchery: Triple Header!

So, we're making up for the invisible (or at least undocumented) Kitchen Witchery of the past week--today I have been in my kitchen for a good portion of the day, and I have pictures to show for everything!

I think I often take breakfast dishes for granted; it's probably because they tend to be simple, as that's what we usually want in the mornings, and since breakfast is the meal I learned to make first when I began my relationship with the kitchen.  This morning I made a new variation of one of my standby weekend breakfasts:
These Corn & Cheddar Pancakes are based on the pancake recipe in my old Betty Crocker Cookbook: Whisk together 1 cup of buttermilk, an egg, 2 tablespoons oil, 3/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup cornmeal, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp each of salt, sugar, and baking soda for the batter, then stir in about 1/4 cup of thawed frozen corn and a small handful of shredded cheddar before frying them up.  Served with sunny-side-up eggs (cooked low and slow) on top, of course.

Today was my first day off that was cool enough to have the oven on since getting a Pullman Loaf Pan and lid for my birthday (Thank you Mom!) so then I just had to try making a loaf of Pain de Mie:
This was a recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible, which I won't reproduce since I'm not the copyright owner, but I will certainly recommend the book to those who are serious about wanting to make better-than-bakery-quality breads at home.  I will have to make some tweaks to either the time or temperature on the next loaf, it got just a bit too brown on the outside, but it is still beautiful.

And last, but not least, for dinner I turned to the pages of Food Network Magazine again for some Mediterranean Turkey Burgers:
These were very nice, even if the only thing really 'Mediterranean' about them was the homemade tzatziki that the recipe uses for the condiment.  These were actually the second half of the recipe; on the first round, I layered the sandwich the way the recipe page shows, and the bottom bun got really soggy from the combination of the sauce and the meat juices.  This time, I put the lettuce on the bottom to protect the bun, but then the lettuce caught the meat juice and made it drip a lot, so it seems like in both cases the burger was easiest to eat if I held it upside-down.  For the calorie count (the 540 calories includes the ounce of potato chips), they were very delicious.  They could obviously be served with a different side--like maybe some hummus and pita chips, to play better with the Mediterranean theme.

All in all, it was a great day!  Now the only thing left to do is all the dishes... ;)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Spell of Invisibility

So, I've actually been able to get back in my kitchen this past week!  I've made at least two things that would have been worthy of a Kitchen Witchery post:  First, I turned to the pages of my trusty Food Network Magazine (at the prompting of my sweetie) and made a delicious Lemon-Garlic Tilapia with Spinach, which was great both on the first night and as leftovers*, and then I tried something ambitious from the Serious Eats "Food Lab" and made the pretentiously-but-accurately-titled Best Chinese Sesame Chicken, which was to die for on the first night, and still pretty good as leftovers.

And I didn't take pictures of either of them before we ate it all.  Food is such a fleeting thing, isn't it?  I suppose that is part of the magic. ;)

Oh well, tomorrow night I have some more Kitchen Witchery planned, and I will remember to take photos for the blog this time.

*It should go without saying that the part of the recipe that makes the spinach salad bedding should be halved and tossed together fresh each time.  The fish and pan sauce made it through the microwave just fine, though.