In progress: cooking.

I have never been one who enjoys cooking. Not even a little. I love the outcome (food!) and I dislike the prep, waiting, and cleanup. Growing up I was always lucky to have a wonderful and talented grandpa who could put things that you wouldn’t think went together and make a yummy meal of them. He was the king of food improv, and when he would use cookbooks, would often combine a few recipes if he didn’t think one would give him the outcome he wanted.

I like things to be fast and easy, and if it isn’t, I won’t bother making it. So I have been asking other people what they cook so I can feed myself like an actual adult.

So far I have found that I really like non-pasta pasta. Out of all of the interesting variations out there, I love brown rice pasta the best. I’ve been making my own sauce with (gasp) real tomatoes, and I bought a steamer so I can have steamed veggies, not frozen. Any batch of food that I make is bigger than just one meal so I’ve been freezing it (great idea from my cousin) and saving the rest for later.

I’ve also found this food blog,  Spoon Fork Bacon, with pretty easy ideas if I want to get fancy. I tried the  Baked Asparagus Fries recipe the other night and they were really good. I didn’t do a dipping sauce but  if I make these when I have guests I totally would.

I have always brought my lunch to work, except for the few and far between days when I don’t have time to grab a frozen din out of the freezer. I recently bought a cute lunch bag that came with different containers and have nixed the frozen dinners. I hate making my lunch but I like that I’m eating fresh lunches and I feel like I’m spending less on frozen items. Except for the veggies and fruits-I have to buy these once or twice a week because, well, they’re fresh and I have to buy in small batches.

So that’s my big achievement for the year so far. And it’s a pretty big one because I still have to force myself to spend the time to cook when I’d rather be doing something else.

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Shoes and moving

August 12, 2011

I have been out and about apartment hunting, which means tons of walking. Why keep trying to find parking when many of my options are so close? It was during a six block walk around the corner from apartment A to apartment B that I realized my current flats were no longer comfy. I’ve been scrimping and saving for the move and felt a little guilty about even thinking of buying shoes but they were much needed and will be well used. Plus, they were buy one get one free!

I’m also having dilemma’s of which neighborhood I’m going to settle in. I’m definitely not looking in my current area. It’s taken a turn for the worse within the past years and many real estate agents would describe it as “up and coming” which in real estate lingo really means, “Oh, it’s not the best neighborhood but it’s being revitalized. Just don’t go out alone at night and you won’t get mugged or shot.”

So I purchased this headboard from West Elm last year. I had been stalking it forever and it finally went on sale- I thought I’d gotten a bargain!

She made hers: http://ana-white.com/2010/10/squared2-headboard-queen

I’m not the best at putting things together but I do have some handy Uncles that could have helped me make this. Lesson learned: next time scour the internet to see if you can find ways to make things instead of buy.

 I keep a small basket of items I use regularly in my nightstand. I also sometimes stash things in my basket that I know I should totally use but don’t as a reminder to actually use them.

1. The neighbor that lives behind me is notorious for having parties that last into the wee A.M. hours. And they don’t invite me! To be fair, we aren’t acquainted. Since I’m not in attendance at these parties and I need my beauty sleep, I always stock plenty of ear plugs in my nightstand. I also always travel with ear plugs. I usually get mine from Target and buy whatever’s the cheapest. You can even find them in fun colors. My current selection is a bag of grey ones that were around $5 for 20.

2. I love girly, fruity fragrances. When it comes to home scents, I prefer more masculine scents. My three favorite notes are amber, sandalwood, and vanilla. I’m currently down to my last few sprays of Diptyque John Galliano room spray. It’s described as having a burning wood note but smells more cuddly than like camping. $60 for 150ml at beautyhabit.com. My next spray is a generic spritzer from Target simply called Amber Vanilla.

3. I love lip balm! My daytime favorite is Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm with SPF 15 in natural mint. My bedtime fave is Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. It has a calming, subtle lemon scent and smooth texture that sinks into my lips and doesn’t settle into my pillow slip. $22.50 at fresh.com.

4. I love the light fragrance that candles give off while unlit. Among my favorite scents (yet again) are sandalwood, vanilla, amber, and other woody fragrances. My selection du jour includes K. Hall Designs Sandalwood vegetable wax candle. I’ve also used their driftwood candle and it was just as fab. $25 at khalldesigns.com.

5. & 6. I constantly moisturize my hands. The only hand lotion I will use (unless I’m really desperate) is Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream. The ultra nourishing formula has a suble, uplifting scent and doesn’t leave your hands feeling greasy. $19 at Sephora or Caudalie.com. I spend so much time hydrating my hands that I often forget about my feet, so I keep Bliss Foot Patrol cream in my nightstand. It’s loaded with exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acids that help slough off dead skin while I sleep. $18 at Blissworld.com.

7. If I can swing it, I will sleep as late as I possibly can. On days where I can sleep in until the sun has risen, I need a sleep mask to block the flood of sunlight my bedroom gets in the morning. I prefer satin versions because they are soft and don’t leave creases on my face in the morning. This version is $8 at nicolejane.com. 

8. I sleep with my hair up because it drives me insane having my long hair down. I sleep kind of crazy and waking up because my hair is in my face is annoying. I always keep a stash of Goody elastics close at hand. I prefer the ouchless version because they are gentle on my hair.

Fun Times: The Flat Tire

November 12, 2009

flat

I was having a marvelous day off last Monday. I slept in, got a little holiday shopping done, and was on my way to get my brows waxed when I heard a loud BOOM. It sounded as if something had hit the roof of my car and I was worried it cracked the glass on my sunroof. I pulled over, checked the top of my car and all looked fine. I also checked the rest of the car and everything looked fine so I drove on for a few miles. Nothing sounded or seemed out of the ordinary until I suddenly wasn’t able to accelerate. Shortly afterward, I started slowing down even though I was pressing the gas. I pulled over again, got out, and saw that I had a flat. I’ve only ever had a flat tire once before and also didn’t realize it was flat for quite some time (until a nice lady  flagged me down).

Even though I didn’t have many warning signs of a flat that I immediately recognized, it’s good to know what to look for. I can’t tell you how to change a flat (I know it’s supposed to be easy but I still haven’t learned how) but I can inform you of the basics of tire care:

-I always get my tires rotated on schedule. This helps them to wear evenly and it’s also a great way to know if you need any repair work done (retreading, etc.) or if your tire shop expert notices any potential problems for the future. They will also usually check your pressure (if not, ask them to). I take great care of my tires since they are pretty big investment and sometimes no matter what you do, flats will still happen. If you don’t know how many thousand miles to have them rotated, ask your local shop.

-You should also always check your tire pressure at least once a month. To do this, you can purchase a gauge, which is relatively inexpensive, at your auto parts store or any store that sells basic auto products (Target, Walmart). I prefer to have my own so that I can check the pressure anytime and anywhere. Most gas stations also have air you can fill your tires with and the hoses usually have a gauge that you can use for free. Side note for Californians: It is now illegal for gas stations to charge you for air use. To find out the desired pressure for your tires, there is often a chart on the driver side door of your vehicle, in your owner manual, or you can ask when you purchase your tires or have them rotated. The place I purchase my tires from will also check my levels for free and fill them if needed. Many places will also do this for free or a small fee.

-If you are in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately!  If you need to pull over due to a flat or stall (for any reason), try to do so safely and pull off to a safe spot. Grip your steering wheel firmly and steer carefully, minding traffic conditions around you. Do not slam on your brakes and don’t stop in traffic as it may cause an accident. Turn on your blinker to alert drivers of your lane change. If you remember to turn on your emergency flashers, now would be an ideal time to do so. Carefully exit your car (preferably on the side NOT adjacent to the road) and stand off to the side of the road.

-If you carry emergency flares, place them 300 feet away from your car. If you have a second pair, those should be placed about ten feet from the first set. Flares are especially needed at night or in bad weather to warn other drivers that you are on the side (or middle) of the road. There are now LED flares on the market that can be re-used several times.

-If you are not able to accelerate, it’s a good idea to pull over and inspect your tires. This, for me, has always been a sign that I had a flat.

-Some people hear a flapping sound or a boom when they have a flat. It’s always good to pull off and investigate.

-If you have a cell phone, always make certain it is charged or that you have a car charger in case of emergency. It is also a good idea to have emergency numbers on hand to refer to: road side assistance or a tow company, your highway patrol, and someone you can count on for a temporary loan if you don’t have charge or cash on hand (or someone who will be nice enough to drive you to a bank or ATM).

-I believe that it is best to over prepared then not prepared at all. I keep an emergency kit in my car that consists of: a blanket, plastic rain gear (pants and jacket), a change of warm clothes, socks, old shoes, two jackets, a gallon of water, flares, bungee cords, jumper cables, a travel-friendly tool kit, a large towel, paper towels, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, first aid kit, and a personal toiletry bag (new disposable razor, sample packs of cleanser, moisturizer, spf, eye cream, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, a small brush, extra hair pins, and a tooth-brush and tooth paste. Plus, I always carry two flash lights and I check the batteries every six months.

It’s always good to expect the best and also be ready for the worst.

Dear readers,

There is an issue I would like to bring to your attention that will hopefully help to prevent some disappointment from future purchases of certain beauty items.

So, lets say I’m in the market for a new hair dryer. I want salon quality without the price tag but any old drug store dryer just won’t do. The dryer I want is $150, but I see there is a travel size for only $100! Should I:

  1. Pick the travel size because it will save me some money and save space.
  2. Go with the original size.

If you are like most consumers, you probably picked the first option to save a bit of money. The best answer is really 2. By the way, this is just a pretend scenario. I happen to love my Conair from Target.

Most electric “travel size” beauty accessories (i.e. hair dryers, flat irons, styling tools, and skin care items that require an outlet or batteries) are just that- travel size and only for travel. They often have shorter warranties and are not intended for daily use. They will not usually hold up to every day wear and tear and are meant for occasional use, hence why they are for travel.

Think of it this way: If you wash and condition your hair at least five times weekly, little travel sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner would last, at most, only for that one week (maybe longer if you have shorter hair). You would possibly end up spending more on the smaller size items then to just shell out for full size shampoo and conditioner.

It is the same concept for beauty appliances. You might be saving a little money for the moment, but you’ll spending more in the long run, having to purchase a new one when the manufacturer deems the warranty void because it wasn’t used as intended. And, as previously mentioned, the warranties are often much shorter in duration, sometimes by up to a few years.  

If you really do intend to use it occasionally then you will be fine with purchasing the travel size with no problems at all. Just make sure that if you find yourself using it more often to invest in the full size/original size version.

XOXO,

A.

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I showed my Nana google maps today and she was so amazed. We typed in her address and she saw the front view of her house and also the aerial view. She asked, “Can we look up other people, too?” So we looked up some of her friends houses. Then she got worried and said, “Is this allowed? It’s like spying!” Haha. My little Nana is so cute.

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The clipping, above, is from the obituary section of my local paper. It was printed on April Fool’s day, and could have been a prank, albeit a morbid prank. Hopefully the D.O.B. was just a typo, although in the days following the obit., it wasn’t printed again and no retraction was made to advise of an error.

firefount

For my birthday, my mom bought me one of those cheesy drug store fountains with “calming” LED lights. More specifically, it’s the “cordless tranquility fire pit fountain” from Innovage Home. She knew I haven’t been sleeping well lately and thought it would help to hear water in the background. Awe, thanks Mom! Last night I inserted the required two “AA” batteries and 8 oz of water, turned it on, and tried drifting off to sleep. The motor kept me up and the trickling water sound was totally annoying. She totally meant well and I feel like I have to use it or at very least keep it somewhere conspicuous so she can say, “I’m so glad you like my gift!” Maybe the more I use it, the more I’ll like it?

lvanillavanillavender

 

When the LAVANILLA brand debuted about two years ago with three fragrances, I was instantly in love with the vanilla grapefruit scent. It was soft and the perfect balance of sweet and tart. I was also excited about the brand because the fragrances were sans alcohol, which can be drying to skin. Other items in the brand are formulated with natural ingredients and boast being free of parabens, synthetic fragrances and dyes, petro-chemicals, phthalates, GMO, and triclosan.

I’m currently burning their new lavender vanilla candle and I’m totally loving it. The scent is perfect in this form, not too heavy, not to soft. The “throw” is fairly decent (the distance you can smell the candle from). I also love that it burns clean without emitting any soot or toxins into the air. If you need a simple, relaxing indulgence, this candle might be for you. It burns for up to 60 hours, so you have plenty of time to enjoy the relaxing scent.

Love candles but want another way to enjoy the fragrance? Try their fragrances, body butters, shower gels, and lip products. LAVANILLA is available at Sephora, Nordstrom, Bliss, Fred Segal, and at the Home Shopping Network.

Victoria’s Secret bust-firming bra

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There’s a new bra on the market that claims to enhance, improve hydration, and naturally lift your cleavage with results visible within four weeks. After eight weeks, you should see optimal “rejuvenation.” It must be worn daily for at least eight hours. Call me skeptical. If this bra could do that (really), one would think it would be more then $68. I had a VS gift card so I bought one, on sale for $48, with reassurance from the sales lady that I can return it if it doesn’t live up to the hype. I’ll report back in four weeks, although my expectations are low that I’ll see any results.

 

West Elm random weave headboard

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After nearly a year of searching for a new headboard, I finally made a decision! As it turns out, the one I wanted had been in the WestElm.com sale section for a while, perhaps too long, because the size I need is no longer being sold. I debated for months; This one, that one, the other one, none? I suppose the search is back on for something that doesn’t require a new bed frame and isn’t super pricey.