Tuesday, May 31, 2011

my 1st time painting

I never thought I would see the end of this dark tunnel Saturday evening.  I started painting Saturday afternoon by myself not really understanding what I got myself into.  But after ~$120 later, a glass of wine, help from a friend, Pandora, and a lot of determination, I finished painting our dining room.  Here are the before and after pictures!

Me prepping the walls with painters tape.  

And of course, Gracie thinks it is play time and she brings me her infamous tennis ball!

This is a picture I took Sunday morning.

I took these pictures in the evening.  The room looks SO much better!  Yay!!

 Things I learned...

1. I will never try to undertake this task on my own ever again!  I was lucky because my neighbor, Gina, came by for a couple hours to help out but without her, I think I would have lost my sanity!
2. Buy the 3 inch painters tape for the ceiling edge and doorway edge.  There is a very high chance that you will accidentally hit the white walls with the roller.  The wider the tape the better!
3. Make sure you take off all the lint from the new roller before you soak it in paint.  You can do this with duct tape or masking tape by applying the tape on the roller and pulling the lint off .  I learned this from Gina's husband who gave me a painting 101 lecture 30 mins before I started.  He told me that a LOT of ppl make this mistake and paint the lint on the walls and to get it off, you have to sand down the walls.
4.  Apply the painters tape the day before you paint (not any earlier).  I prepped most of my walls a couple weeks ago with painters tape and when I pulled the painters tape off of the walls Sunday morning, part of my drywall stuck on to the tape!  Yikes!
5. Always have touch up paint on hand for any goof ups!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

I don't think I ever really appreciated huevos rancheros 'til I moved to California.  Now it is one of my favorite brunch items to order at restaurants and I decided to recreate it at home.  I had most of the ingredients from dinner earlier this week so I decided to make breakfast for dinner.  I loved how easy this was to make.... it is basically just assembling ingredients. 

My husband was coming home really late from work so I made this as a dinner for 1 but there were enough black beans to make 2 more servings (so a total of 3 servings).  And, you might notice that my cooked black beans comes from a plastic ziploc bag that I labeled.  Yes, I figured out the old school method of how to cook my own beans rather than buying the beans from a can because it's way cheaper, without any additives that they put in canned beans, and I conveniently store them in plastic ziploc bags in the freezer and pull them out when I need them. I will have to show that at a another time.  =)

Huevos Rancheros Recipe

Mix 1 cup of cooked black beans with:
1/8 tsp of cumin and salt to taste
Heat the beans in a microwave for 30 secs to a 1 min (just enough to get them warm)

For a perfectly cooked sunny side up egg, heat non-stick pan on medium heat with:
1 tsp of canola oil
Crack an egg onto hot pan (the egg should sizzle and begin to turn opaque)
Turn the heat to low and season with salt and pepper
Let the egg sit on pan for 4 to 5 mins 'til the egg whites around the yolk have turned from clear to opaque

Toast blue corn tortilla on a non-stock pan on medium high heat with a little bit of canola oil

Now it's time to assemble.

Put toasted tortilla on the plate, put a couple spoons full of black beans on top, and then place the egg on top of it.

Add any toppings you like!  I added what I like....
Sliced avocado
Chopped fresh cilantro

 I love the different colors in this picture!

I also love a good runny egg... one of my favorite things to eat!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Eye De-Puffer

I'm not sure what happened between the ages of 27 and 28.  One day I woke up, looked in the mirror and my undereye area beneath both eyes was puffy.  Sadly, I even got confirmation from a close friend who doesn't see me very often because she lives in NYC.  She told me that my eyes looked really tired and puffy compared to the last time she saw me months ago while I was visiting her.  Since I was only 3 months away from my wedding, I started freaking out because puffy eyes is one of those things that you can't hide with makeup.  I bought a series of facials from a highly coveted holistic esthetician in West Hollywood as a desperate attempt to remedy the situation and even though the Maschera al Ferro treatment (it's a magnetic mask that contains iron particles and the esthetician rubs this magnet on your masked face to pull the iron particles out of your pores along with dead skin cells and other impurities.... the bizarre things I go through to keep my face maintained!  Lol!) was dandy and worth the trouble since my wedding was so close, the esthetician told me an invaluable piece of information to decrease the puffiness in my eyes.

The solution ended up being as simple as lemon juice and honey.  She told me to dissolve a small scoop of raw unfiltered honey with juice of half an organic lemon in warm water and drink on an empty stomach every single morning.  She told me the the tea drains the fluids away from my eyes and I did it regularly up 'til my wedding.  I don't know if it was the fact that I was simply drinking more water or if the lemon juice made the pH level in my body more alkaline or what.... I'm really not sure but my eyes really did decrease in puffiness!  Consistency is KEY here.  I hope this helps you! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Carnitas Tacos

I made this last night and it totally hit my Mexican craving!  I got the recipe from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks and I doubled the recipe to make leftovers.  This was more time consuming than I thought (the total cook time for the pork was more than an hour) but for me, the home cooked meal was worth the cook time. 

From The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
Makes 4 servings

Cut into 1 inch cubes:
1 1/2 lbs boneless pork shoulder
Place the meat in a wide heavy-bottomed pan in a single layer.  Add water to just cover the meat.
Stir in:
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps fresh lime juice
Bring to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook gently until tender, about 45 minutes.  Take off the lid, turn up the heat, and allow the liquid to boil away.  When the meat begins to sizzle, turn down the heat, and fry gently 'til golden . Remove the meat from the pan and allow the excess fat to drain off.  Taste  for salt and add more if needed.

This shows the pork simmering in water over the stove in the dutch oven.

For the fillings, I chopped up cilantro and a sweet maui onion.  I've noticed that normally tortillas have SO many preservatives so I made the trek to Cardena's on the way home for fresh salsas and fresh blue corn tortillas (they make fresh tortillas every day).  It was my first time in the store (usually Mat will go there to pick up stuff) and the workers totally looked at me as a complete foreigner but I still love Cardena's!

Gracie normally wants to play fetch while I cook and you can see how focused she is on the tennis ball!  So I threw the ball around for her while I waited for the pork to simmer.  She is the best company.

The pork changes from the picture on the left to the picture on the right.  The water evaporates and the pork begins to fry in its own fat.

When I was done frying, I laid the pork on a baking sheet with paper towels to soak up the oil like the recipe said.

I quickly toasted the tortillas with a little bit of canola oil on medium high heat with a non-stick pan.

Dinner time at our house!  Mat is assembing his tacos.

We love using two types of salsa to eat tacos and we also love avocado.

The perfect bite!  =)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

DIY Lemon Lavender Salt Scrub

I love making my own salt scrubs at home because they are easy, cheap, and make my skin baby soft.  I like to customize the essential oils depending on what I'm feeling like.  Most of the time, I switch off between peppermint and lavender or mix the two together.  I also love the olive oil on my skin because it is surprisingly not that greasy in a scrub (the oil seems moisturizing if anything), I don't need to apply lotion after the shower which makes my life a little easier, it's natural, and has a ton of other benefits for your skin.

Recipe for 1

3 tbs of fine sea salt
1 tbs of olive oil (preferably organic)
Juice of half a lemon
3 to 4 drops of lavender essential oil

Mix together in container and scrub away!

In the shower, the calming lavender smell reminds me of the picture below and I imagine that I'm wandering around in a field of lavender with the sun slowly setting.  I can't wait to go to Provence at the end of summer to see the lavender fields in person. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Saturday Farmer's Market Trips

One of the things that I love about living in California is the abundance of fresh produce.  It is really amazing what comes to the market every week and I can't imagine grocery shopping any other way.  

I documented my routine so you guys can see how I do it and gather little tips.  A lot of people assume that I don't eat a lot based on my petite frame but I do eat, I just eat the right things.  I stay away from processed foods and my diet is filled with fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, healthy fats, lean proteins, and a glass of red wine and some cheese here and there.  Eating this way has allowed me to maintain my high school weight, I never feel like I'm on a diet and I feel great!  There is a science to aging gracefully and I think eating right definitely falls into the formula. 

My leeks are protruding from my grocery bags!  I'm using them for potato leek soup later this week.

I pick up fresh herbs.... green onions, cilantro and italian parsely are my usuals.  And then, I make sure to get a lot of greens especially dark leafy greens like swiss chard, spinach or kale.

I trimmed my leeks as you see in the pic above.  I didn't wash the sand out of them because I will do that later when I make my potato leek soup to keep the freshness of the leeks.

I also get tons of fruit to snack on all week long.  I always get whatever is in season and buy non-seasonal fruits and veggies when I have no other option for a recipe or something.  I really believe in supporting local farms and eating local produce to help the earth and lower gas omissions in the air.  It's a small gesture that I do but I think if everyone did this, it would make a world of a difference.  I think being aware of your habits and actions is a huge step in the right direction.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I think I have a winner....

I have been delaying my dining room decoration project because I haven't been completely decided on the color of grey that I wanted.  I didn't want something too dark to make the room feel smaller and I didn't want a weird shade of grey with hints of purple or blue in it.  I'm SO glad that I bought different tester colors because the paint color change when the paint dries on the wall and the cost is so little (the tester colors are less than $3 each) that doing the extra effort of finding the exact color that you are 100% happy with is well worth it.  I fell in love one of the colors shown below.  I just hope my hubby chooses the same color that I did when he sees the wall tonight!

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