Tuesday, November 26, 2013

:: What are you wearing to Thanksgiving? ::

My two requirements for a Thanksgiving Day outfit are pretty simple: an expandable waistline and fall colors. And I will abuse any excuse I get to stretch a maxi dress/skirt into fall.

Monday, November 25, 2013

:: three bean crock pot chili ::

It's chili time again! My face almost froze off while I was walking to my office this morning. One of the ONLY good things about cold weather is the comfort food. And I'm planning on giving my crock pot a workout this winter. This recipe is really easy and at only 2-3 hours in the crockpot, you don't need to plan too far in advance. Enjoy!

  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 medium clove of garlic, minced
  • 30 oz. canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 30 oz. canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 30 oz. canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 30 oz. canned diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 15 oz. canned tomato sauce
  • 1.25 oz chili seasoning mix
  • 14 oz. frozen corn kernels 
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh minced cilantro
Combine onion, garlic, beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasoning mix in a crock pot. Cover and cook on high heat for 2-3 hours (or low heat for 4-6 hours). Add corn during last hour of cooking. Stir in lime juice and cilantro just before serving. I also add some hot sauce because that's what I do. Enjoy!

Linking up with the Recipe Hop Swap!
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

:: watch "the whale", please"

Has anyone seen this documentary? My brother suggested it to me because besides obviously being about a whale, it's also about "the stupidity and awesomeness of people". Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

Here's the scoop:

THE WHALE tells the true story of a young, wild killer whale - an orca - nicknamed Luna, who lost contact with his family on the coast of British Columbia and turned up alone in a narrow stretch of sea between mountains, a place called Nootka Sound.

Orcas are social. They live with their families all their lives. An orca who gets separated usually just fades away and dies.

Luna was alone, but he didn’t fade away. There weren’t any familiar orcas in Nootka Sound, but there were people, in boats and on the shore. So he started trying to make contact. And people welcomed him. Most of them.

This contact did not turn out to be simple. It was as if we humans weren’t ready for him. 

Inspired by myths, we look into the sky, not the depths, for others who might think and dream like us. We train radio telescopes on the stars, and listen for code in the static of space. But maybe we’re looking in the wrong place. So far, space just crackles, but the sea whistles back. And, in Nootka Sound, it sent us an open-hearted child.

This story is about what happened then.

Oh, and it's narrated by Ryan Reynolds and produced by Scarlett Johansson, if that at all tempts you to watch it...
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

:: amazing cara box reveal ::

I hit the jackpot you guys with this month's cara box swap. THE JACKPOT. Paired up with Jasmine of Green Eyed Monster, she went crazy over and above to make me happy. At this very moment, the earrings I'm wearing and the lunchbag on my desk are from her shipment to me.

Jasmine did an amazing job of reading my blog and picking out the best stuff ever. I'm positive that gift giving is her love language.  Here's what I got:

Blue Avocado lunch tote.  Now that I've discovered them, a few folks on my list will be saying hello to them on Christmas morning.

Stella & Dot Delphie stone studs in navy. They are seriously the cutest.

The New Vegetarian Kitchen cookbook. Jasmine's right...even if the recipes suck, the book itself just LOOKS amazing. But I'm sure the recipes are going to kill it, too.

The Ciroa Microwave Me bowl. This is in a great black and white fiore pattern that matches my chairs, my rug and the little scrap of fabric that I use as a background for all of my recipe posts. And it fits right in my Blue Avocado tote!

She threw in some nail care items for good measure and I'm in heaven. Thanks for making my swap a success, girl! For everyone else, go see Jasmine and get some beauty advice and inspiration! 

And a P.S., I love that both of us own our status as a formosa candidus. Google it.

Cara Box

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Friday, November 15, 2013

:: wanted: big black bag with gold hardware ::

I have handbags upon handbags upon handbags. But the really cute ones are too small for me to bring to work. I need space for my planner, books, magazines, a ridiculously too big wallet, snacks, etc. Those cute little cross bodies just aren't cutting it.

I'm on the hunt for the perfect hobo/satchel that I can take to work and won't kill my shoulder. And I occasionally frequently go for drinks after work so it needs to be something that can hang on a bar hook and not look or feel cumbersome. Here are some great picks off Polyvore that run the price gamut. And the hardware has to be gold. I'm a gold girl now, all the way.

Anyone out there using any that they love?
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

:: three cheers for loud furniture ::

Here is a partial photo of my living room. I got those chairs at an awesome antique store called the ScreenDoor in Asheville, NC. Luckily, my parents arrived with a car shortly after I fell in love with them, so I had a means of transporting them back to Boston.

I get that they're not for everyone, but while they're on the "different" side, they're still pretty tame. Enter these beauties that I've found in my travels (and when I say travels, I mean multiple trips to numerous Anthropologies in Massachusetts and neighboring states):

They're like the statement necklace of the home. I get that I can't have more than one crazy print like this in a room, but I want to. I SO want to.

Oh and while you're here, take a look at the Spornette brush manufacturer's blog--they're featuring last week's post on protecting your strands and impersonating Kate Middleton. Or trying, in my case...
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

:: beneFit's advent calendar! ::

I went into Home Depot this past weekend for some light bulbs and was horribly horrified (redundant on purpose) that there are straight up Christmas tree displays and Christmas carols playing and the whole nine yards. It's too early, people.

That being said, this entire post is going to be highly hypocritical. Later in my weekend travels, I stopped by BeneFit on Newbury to get my new favorite beauty product, They're Real mascara. Best thing ever. Anyway, on my way out, I saw this:

BeneFit has an advent calendar. !!! Does anyone else think this is the cutest thing ever? I'm disappointed in myself for liking it when we are still pre-Turkey day, and it also might be a smidge blasphemous. But, it is darling. Here's what's inside the 2013 Count Down to Love Advent Calendar ($69):

deluxe "that gal" 7.5 mL/0.25 US fl. oz.
deluxe the POREfessional 7.5 mL/0.25 US fl. oz.
deluxe high beam 2.5 mL/0.08 US fl. oz.
deluxe sun beam 2.5 mL/0.08 US fl. oz.
deluxe benetint 2.5 mL/0.08 US fl. oz.
deluxe chachatint 2.5 mL/0.08 US fl. oz.
deluxe posietint 2.5 mL/0.08 US fl. oz.
deluxe ultra plush lip gloss in CORALista, sugarbomb, dandelion, A-lister 4 x 6.5 mL/0.22 US fl. oz.
deluxe hoola, deluxe dandelion, deluxe CORALista 3 x 3.0 g Net wt. 0.1 oz.
deluxe BADgal lash mascara 4.0 g Net wt. 0.14 oz.
deluxe stay don't stray in light/medium 2.5 mL/0.08 US fl. oz.
deluxe BADgal liner waterproof 0.5g Net wt. 0.02 oz.
deluxe it's potent eye cream 3.0g Net wt. 0.1 oz.
deluxe total moisture facial cream 8.9 g net wt. 0.3 oz.
deluxe ooh la lift 2.5 mL/0.08 US fl oz.
deluxe girl meets pearl 7.5 mL/0.25 US fl oz.
horseshoe charm bracelet
star charm necklace
ribbon bow barrette

It seems to be all kind of sold out online, but I can verify that it's still in stock at least at the Boston store. Has anyone grabbed it in years past? 

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

:: that time i made risotto... ::

This post is super tardy, but better late than never! Last month, I went to one of my favorite Boston spots, the Boston Center for Adult Education, to take a risotto making class from one of their best cooking instructors, Diane Manteca.

Risotto is notoriously difficult to master with all the constant stirring to get it just right. But it's such a versatile dish--it can serve as an appetizer or a main course, it can become vegetarian/vegan, seasonal or meat filled very easily, and it can even be a dessert (dolce risotto, anyone?).

When I walked in, there were wine glasses on the table, which is a good start to any class, in my opinion. We also got to take home gourmet shallots from Victoria Gourmet, who is now partnering with BCAE on all of their cooking classes. After three hours, we had made FIVE dishes. I left with a full belly, a few good tips for trying risotto on my own and some secrets about where the best Italian hole-in-the-wall restaurants are in Boston. Hint: NOT the North End.

Interested? Diane is teaching the class again on December 19. Sign up!
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

:: back to "kate middleton" brown ::

"Mocha" to be exact. But since I started my journey of being caffeine free, I try not to use words like mocha. I've ditched my blonde highlights and am actively channeling Kate Middleton for winter. And let me tell you, those golden rays of sunshine did some serious damage. I left the hair salon today not only with a new cut and color, but also a list of things I need to start the repair process. My favorite, FAVORITE online hair spot is Folica.com and they didn't disappoint me. I got everything I needed for under $50 and they have not paid me a penny to say this.

First, I need to start washing my hair at night and letting it air dry. My stylist recommended Biolage Instacure, Forever Blonde/Brunette from Paul Mitchell or something similar to seal the follicles and protect the hair shaft overnight from the blowdrying that will occur each morning. I decided to go with this:

Product view
Keratherapy Keratin Infused Leave-In Conditioner, $19.50

From there, I needed something like an old-fashioned hot oil treatment to do at home twice a month. I'll be coating my clean hair with this, popping on a shower cap, blasting it with a blow dryer for about five minutes and then doing a light shampoo to rinse it all out:

                    Product view
                                 Hapuna Thermal Mask, $20.50
Product view
Betty Dain shower cap, $4.99

And THEN, I needed a boar bristle brush. I'm not an expert on these, but I guess they stretch the hair during a blowout without causing breakage. So, the blowout looks smoother and lasts longer, and you do minimal damage in the process. My hair is long, so I picked the 2.5 inch brush, but those who have shorter hair, might want to go smaller: 

Product view
Spornette Provo Tourmaline Round Brush, $12.99
I threw in some argan oil to get me to $50 for free shipping and then used a 25% off coupon code from their mailing list, and off I go on my journey to healthier hair. Kate Middleton is going to be SO JEALOUS.
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Monday, November 4, 2013

:: six tips to make your manicure last longer ::

This never used to be a problem for me, but for some reason lately, I can't keep a darn manicure chip-free for more than a week. Even a gel manicure (which are only an option half the time for me anyway because they ravage my nails AND I'm simply unable to commit to one color for 2+ weeks) isn't a safe option. So I've dug up a few tips to keep that good old fashioned manicure classy:

1. Keep your cuticles hydrated. I'm a major offender of this. Dry and flaky cuticles are often caused by the alcohol in perfumes and hand lotions. Use a cuticle oil instead. I'm addicted to this one right now.

2. Bring your own polish. I know part of the fun of going to a salon is picking out a different/unique/impromptu color, but if you bring your own, you can touch up those chips yourself! It's also probably more sanitary, but I can't bring myself to go there...

3. Make sure your manicurist coats the free edge of your nail. Some do this automatically, but some don't. By covering the tip of your nail that was just filed, she can help prevent water from getting under the polish and lifting/chipping it.

4. Avoid heat for 12 hours post-manicure. This includes hot yoga, dish washing, hot tubs, etc. It interferes with the curing process.

5. Reapply a topcoat after a few days. it will help restore shine and reduce chips.

6. Skip the hand sanitizer. My manicurist told me that the alcohol in hand sanitizer will dull the shine of a manicure. I still use it, but I avoid my finger tips (I know,  probably defeats the purpose). But it also leads to chipping, so double reason to just wash my hands.

Any one else have any good tips (ha ha!)?

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Friday, November 1, 2013

:: btone fitness is my new lover ::

So, last night was all about pretending it wasn't Halloween. I don't get any trick or treaters at my place, so I'm not being a Halloween Scrooge. I just don't want to buy any candy that I'm then just going to end up eating myself. Which WOULD HAVE happened.

So, I ended up drinking some spiked hot chocolate and watching Vicky Christina Barcelona. But all that AFTER I went to my first Btone Fitness class! If you live in Boston, you've got to try this out. The first class is only $5 and it's worth six times that. Literally. Single classes from here on out are $30. It's right at the beginning of Newbury Street, near the Taj and the Public Gardens.

It's barre-ish, mixed with Pilates Reformer machines and I definitely worked muscles that have not been worked in a very loooooong time. The instructor I had last night (Emily) was fabulous and all of the moves were explained very well, especially considering how complicated the machines look. And since there are only 12 machines, there's no jockeying for space or having those late-comers creeping in on your floor space.

I was definitely in a workout funk, but now I feel refreshed! Excuse me, but I need to go have a serious talk with my wallet...

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