Monday, February 25, 2013

Recipe Corner: No Bake Cookies

No Bake cookies are a tradition in our household. They were the first cookie my sister and I learned how to make and they never fail to please the masses. 

The recipe is pretty straight forward. But be sure you follow the directions I provide at the end of the tutorial as deviation SCREWS things up royally LOL. 

First off, measure your sugar. Make sure it's sugar and not salt. Or else you'll have cookies to rival Loretta Lynn's Chocolate Cream Pie in Coalminer's Daughter. 

Add your milk and...

Butter or margarine (margarine works best) and I cut my margarine in fourths because it's easier to melt this way. 

And your cocoa. Beware... This part gets messy really quick if you're not careful. Cocoa sticks to EVERYTHING.

Put it in your sauce pan 

And mix the stuff together. Yes, it looks disgusting... But it will taste heavenly. 

Before you start cooking it, make sure you have all your other items handy and already measured out. 

Get your waxed paper, or parchment, whichever you have and spread a couple sheets over your work surface. You'll probably need to weigh it down with something to keep it from curling up.

Measure out your vanilla. If you use something like Watkins, which is double strength pure vanilla, you'll only want to use half the amount the recipe calls for. If not, you'll be completely blown out of the water with vanilla flavoring. Personally, I love Watkins vanilla. It's a little overpriced, but sooooo worth it.

Measure out your uber messy peanut butter. You can also use crunchy. My mom and hubs both prefer no bakes with crunchy peanut butter, I'd rather have creamy. It's all a matter of texture and taste. And if you have crunchy peanut butter in the house or not. And we do not. So they were SOL this time.

And get your oats ready. Make sure they're quick cooking oats. I'm sure you can use others, but these are the ones we've always used. My best friends mom used to use the big flat oats when we were growing up and they weren't too bad. Just a different texture. 

OK. You've got the ingredients together and your arsenal should look like this:

Make sure to get a hot pad ready so you can set your pot on it or it'll screw up your counter top. 

Start warming the milk/sugar/cocoa mixture on the stove top over medium high heat. 
It'll start looking like this...

Then look like this. I always get mesmerized by the patterns the cocoa makes. Never fails to make me smile.

After a bit you'll start seeing some bubbles around the edges. You don't need these. You need big bubbles everywhere

Like this!

Now set your timer for 3 minutes after fiddling with it to clear out the previous time. 

Once you're done with your three minutes....
Throw the peanut butter, vanilla and oats in stirring vigorously  If I had an extra hand or an assistant, I could have taken pictures of the rest of this process but alas, I am not Ree Drummond. *sigh*

Once you're done, using a tablespoon, spoon your mix onto the wax paper and let sit. 

And these lovely poo-looking piles of goodness will be ready to eat as soon as they're cooled. Or sooner... Depending on if you want to burn your tongue to hell and back licking the spoon and pot. Like me. 

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

2 c. Sugar
1/2 c. Milk
1/4 c. Cocoa
1 stick Margarine (recipe calls for Oleo lol)
Combine in saucepan and boil for three minutes. Remove from heat and add:
1 tbsp Vanilla (or 1/2 tbsp of vanilla for stronger versions)
3 c. Quick Oats
1/4 c. Peanut Butter.

Drop by tablespoons on wax paper and let stand until hard.*

*Now I will tell you something. If the humidity is too high, the no bakes will take forever to set up if they even do. If the kitchen is too hot, the no bakes will not set up. If the kitchen is too cold, the no bakes will be harder than rocks in less than 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container in a relatively warm, but not overly warm room. They can last forever. Until you eat them all.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tutorial: Matte Neon Lisa Frank inspired Zebra Print

So... I've kind of been in a funk Nail Art wise lately. I've been sticking with the safe, boring, traditional single color mani's for quite awhile because I'm simply not comfortable doing awesome nail art on my own nails. I used to do it on press-ons and called it good. But I've quit putting those nasty things on my nails since they were basically just eating away at the nail. 

I'm trying to get my feet wet, slowly but surely, one toe at a time. I was browsing YouTube this morning, half asleep with coffee in my hand mind you and I came across SimplePleasures' Acid Leopard Nail Art tutorial. Now, I used to be a huge fan of leopard print, but alas, tastes change and now I'm pretty much all about zebra print. So I decided to change things up a bit and do a Lisa Frank inspired Matte Neon Zebra Print Mani and that's the tutorial you're about to see. 

Back in the old days, Lisa Frank was THE shit. You weren't cool unless you had at least one or two Lisa Frank notebooks, pens, trappers, etc etc and the list goes on. I always loved the cute little animals on them and the vibrant neon loveliness. 

Here's what you'll need:
From L to R: A topcoat of your choice I'm using Hong Kong Girl from Glisten & Glow because it dries super fast. A base coat- I'm using Stuck on Blu Sticky base coat from Glisten & Glow. First time using this, so we'll see how it works. You'll need three bright colors. I used Orly Purple Crush, China Glaze's Frostbite and China Glaze's Sun-Kissed. You'll also need a white- I used Sinful Colors' Snow Me White and a Black like Orly's Liquid Vinyl. You'll also need a micro glitter top coat (not pictured) like China Glaze's Fairy Dust and a matte top coat like I have here- butter London's Matte Finish top coat. You'll also need some makeup sponges, a pallet and a nice thin brush and some acetone for cleanup. 

Step One:
Prep your nails with your Stuck on Blu or base coat of your choice. A fellow nail blogger and good friend warned me that you need to let this base coat dry completely before continuing on or it'll become a goopy mess. So I let this sit a good 2-3 minutes. 
Once your base coat is completely dry, continue on!

Step Two:
Take your white and lay down a nice coat. Usually SC's Snow Me White streaks worse than a drunk boy at a frat party but with the new base coat it didn't streak hardly at all, which is super awesome. I could have gotten away with just one coat, but the perfectionist I am I had to do two. 

Once you're done, do a little spot clean up. Easier to clean up now than to have to take out layers upon layers of polish later.
Tip... If you do nail tutorials and you do them step by step with a relatively high priced camera and use acetone to clean up beware... Never think you WON'T spill when you're pouring acetone into a small container because you will. And your beautiful camera will get acetone on it. And it will freeze the on/off switch and shutter release causing you to panic and nearly hyperventilate. But they do eventually unfreeze and you have to stop and give your camera loving strokes to save it from the trauma of the situation. 

Step Three:
Take your first color and your manicure sponge and wipe the brush against the sponge a couple of times to get it nice and saturated.
Should look like that when you're done. 

Step Four:
In splotchy patches sponge on the color on your nail.
Until your nails look like this:
Ehhhh kinda weird looking. 

Step Five:
Continue with the other two colors, overlapping each color as you go to make it look like it's faded into it.


Step Five: 
Once you're done, add a little fairy sparkle with your glitter topcoat. You might think you won't be able to see it once you Matte it out, but trust me, you can still see the sparkle.

Step Six:
Add your matte top coat and let sit for about 5 minutes. 

Step Seven:
Once dry, put a little black polish on your pallet...

And squiggle on some zebra stripes. Doesn't matter if they're not uniform.. Or very attractive. Once you get them all on, it'll even out. 

I mean, c'mon. Ain't that purty?

So there ya go. I think from now on I'm not going to use manual setting to do my manis. I hate how grainy they look. Just pisses me off. I need a new camera. *cries*

Monday, February 4, 2013

A certain prop makes all the difference in the world

As a portrait photographer, I'm constantly on the lookout for new props. Sometimes they're expensive, gorgeous, unobtainable beauties.

Others are cheap, easy to find or easy to make.

I love anything shabby chic. Anything rustic or old.

So I came up with these

All I used to make this was an old mason jar, some twine, rock salt and a battery operated tea light candle. Just wrap the twine snugly around the mason jar lip and tie a "handle" to it. Fill the jar with rock salt and put a candle in it. Voila. Instant hanging candle holder.

I'm currently on the lookout for different colored mason jars to make even more of these beauties. Once the weather warms up I'm going to take my girly out and have a little twilight session so we can actually get some great shots. These worked out well, but I think they'd be better if it were darker.

At my engagement session this last weekend I used some mug hooks to hang them in the entry way here. Looked fabulous.

Not too shabby, eh?

Completely unrelated, but never-the-less gorgeous... Another shot from my engagement session. I love the bright pops of red and blue. *sigh*

Polish Review: Daring Digits

I've had the pleasure of reviewing Daring Digit's polishes before and I have to say, they're one of my favorite brands. Consistency is spot on, product is always top notch and the customer service? Out of this world. I have NEVER had a complaint with their customer service. Quite the opposite actually.

A month or so ago I purchased Hubble and Hunter from her restock. I was so excited to get these two that I popped open Hubble as soon as I got it. But... All was not right in polish land...

My polish smelled weird. In a funky musty kinda way. A little off-putting. Even after I put it on and covered it in a generous coat of Seche it still smelled funky. I was like :/ Not good! But I knew I would be receiving some polishes from her to review, so I figured I'd wait on those to arrive to see if they too smelled weird before I messaged her about it.

I received my review pack and found that three out of the four polishes smelled like Hubble and Hunter. Not as badly, but it was still there. So I messaged her on her business Facebook and received a prompt reply.

The maker stated that she had ran out of her former base and found that her supplier wouldn't be restocking. So, like any other polish maker faced with the same delima, she switched bases. Due to being around polish pretty much all the time and becoming desensitized, she was unable to smell that the base had a funky whang to it.

She was thrilled that I had reached out to her- when in all actuality I was afraid she was going to be pissed because I was "complaining" about free polishes- and thanked me profusely for bringing it to her attention. She then went on to inform me that she was going to be switching bases again soon and was just using up the last of what she had stored.

So, in the long run... If you have a stinky DD; don't despair. Even if they're stinky, they're still beautiful. And the stink, as with pretty much everything that's stinky, will go away with time ;)

Onto the review!

 First off is Ice Age. Ice Age is a gorgeous glitter topcoat. Full of silver, teal and white micro hex glitters with larger white hex glitters interspersed.

 I mean, how can you not like this? If you like blue... Or white... You'll absolutely love this polish.

 I paired it with Orly's Liquid Vinyl and it was stunning.

 The dry time on this polish is awesome. It was completely dry before I even put the topcoat on, which really wasn't even needed because the glitter lays so smooth.

 Next up is Nova, which I have to say is my favorite of the four I received. It's so light, so delicate but so gorgeous all at the same time. It's full of iridescent micro micro glitters in shades of green, blue and gold with varying hex's in the same colors. The result is an ethereal polish that really seems to glow.

 Isn't it stunning?

 Worn here over China Glaze's Go Go Pink it adds a hint of sparkle without being too gawdy. The perfect addition to any mani.

 Like her other polish, dry time is almost non-existent. It dries to a mirror-like finish and is completely flawless. No wonder it became my favorite!

Next up we have Snow Flurries. Millions of white matte micro hexes adorn this gorgeous topper.

 Worn over Julep's Claire it adds the perfect something special for a frosty winter's mani.

Dry time is again, nil!

Last but not least we have Popped! A huge assortment of different sized and colored glitters reminds me of a popped balloon to a T. It's fun, its funky and it's fabulous.

 For some reason my camera was wanting to turn the polish to a weird brown color, and it's not. My camera's just being a snot.

Shown here over Barry M's Bright Purple it makes the perfect party polish.

One coat of the glitter mix and it lays completely flat. Dry time is again, nil.

All in all, I LOVE the polishes she's sent me to review. Couldn't ask for a better assortment! She has such a wonderful eye for polish design. You can like her on facebook and stock her store. A good majority of her polishes are on sale for $6 each, so get em while it lasts!