Shopping for beauty products … who knew it could be so shocking?

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Last week my brother and his family were in town. Yay!

My niece is 13 (isn’t she adorable?) and really, really, really into doing her nails. This is a girl after my own heart; I, too, cannot resist the glitter and glam of nail polish. I totally get her obsession. Painted toenails makes the world a happier place. That’s such a reasonable perspective. Thanks to my niece my toenails are currently painted emerald green, and I have to admit, I love ’em!

Anyway, on one of our outings we stopped by the local Ulta to check out their selection of nail polish, scrubs, body polishes, yummy smelling shampoos and hair doodads. And then we made the mistake of wandering over to the lip gloss aisle.

Holy moly …

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Small batch kumquat marmalade

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One of the beautiful things about Winter is the explosion of citrus—a burst of sunshine amidst all that dreary cold weather. Mother Nature takes care of us, doesn’t she?

My mother has a couple of citrus trees that are exploding with fruit right now. Jack and I have been checking them every week waiting for them to ripen. Finally, the kumquats have gotten big, fat and super sweet. I think I ate as many as I picked off the tree. Mmmmrrmm, good.

But there’s no way I can eat that many kumquats so I went looking for ways to preserve them. Opposite of a traditional orange the peel of a kumquat is sweet while the inside is bitter, therefore, it’s important to do something that uses the rind.

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As it happens, orange marmalade is my favorite spread so kumquat marmalade seemed a logical direction. I’ve never made it before, but most of the recipes that I checked online complain about the labor intensity. Ugh. Long drawn out recipes are so not for me. I don’t have that kind of time. So, I tried a few different things and found a tip that gets you marmalade in a snap.

Here are the ups and downs. See if it works for you.

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Phone photos

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Cleaning out one’s phone is a lot like cleaning out one’s purse: freaky.

You know how you find little bits of odds and ends, stray change, random sticky notes, a lone crumbly TUMS? That’s what my phone seems like to me.

I just downloaded the latest round of photos and came across a few that made me smile and chuckle, and even more that made me slap my forehead and admit, “Only I would take this photo.”

Here’s a peek.

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Kitchen update … before and after

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Way back in October 2011, I commiserated with you about trying to choose paint for our kitchen. Originally, I was leaning towards the blues and greys.

But y’all screamed, NO, don’t do it! You commented, e-mailed and called me warning me not to go so dark. In the comments Kim Fasching (I would link to her, but the link no longer works) suggested, “Pull something pinkish from the granite and cut it by half with white.”

I looked at the counter tops again.

Hmmm. Mauve? Really? I dunno. I’m not really a mauve kinda girl. 1980s color schemes screamed in my mind.

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But then I thought about it some more and hauled myself back to the store for more paint samples. Gee, if that many people thought I should go pinkish then I needed to give it some serious consideration.

I finally narrowed it down to two shades of mauve and then left it up to Jack to choose the final color while I took off for Vietnam. (I’m so helpful that way.) And when I came home it was all painted and done. My sweetheart rocks!

Here’s what it looks like today.

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Ice cream sandwiches made easy

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For Jack’s birthday weekend I cooked up a storm of good grub, including an experimental vegan version of pecan pie. My man is from Oklahoma where pecan pies are a food staple, like milk, butter and bread. He knows and loves his pecan pie. I should have known starting out that my vegan version would be a disaster.

Don’t get me wrong, it tasted good, but it didn’t taste like the “traditional” pecan pie that folks from the South know and love. Jack took one bite and lifted an eyebrow at me, “This is a lot of things, but it is NOT pecan pie.” And then a 5-minute lecture ensued about what “pecan pie” is supposed to taste like.

Sigh. Okay.

Birthday pie (actually, it was more of a tart) was a no-go. It just sat on the counter looking lonely and dissed. I felt so bad for it and berated myself for calling it “pecan pie”, a loaded term if ever there was one. Augh! I should have called it something else, like “loony pie” and it would have at least been enjoyed for the delish freakishness that it was.

Fine. On to Plan B.

Well, after all that cooking (and subsequent rejection) I was not about to spend a minute more on birthday dessert than I had to. I was feeling a little deflated.

I opened the freezer door and stared inside it for a full minute hoping a coconut cake would magically appear. Not for Jack, but for me!

It didn’t.

Instead, I pulled out these frozen muffin top things that I had recently bought thinking we might try them out for an easy semi-healthy weeknight dessert. And then I pulled out a pint of vegan ice cream. (If you haven’t had Coconut Bliss’s Dark Chocolate, it’s awesome!)

Easy ice cream sandwiches would save the day. Jack jumped on it. Yay.

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While I toasted up the muffin tops, Jack took the pint of ice cream and started sawing at it with a bread knife.

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What the …?? Oh, my gosh! What are you doing, you crazy dude?

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Whoa. Uh …

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… that’s kind of … snort … brilliant.

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Instant ice cream sandwich. No mess, no fuss.

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So easy. So satisfying.

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And the birthday was saved.

Radicchio is ridiculous

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We eat pizza fairly regularly in this house. Jack makes a mean pizza dough.

This is a total left turn, but you know how there are certain things that one spouse does better than the other? Well, pizza dough, fresh bread, homemade pasta, hummus and apple pies are a part of Jack’s genius. I have long since given up even attempting these things. When it’s suggested that I make apple pie, I spontaneously lose my hearing? Heh? Apple pie? I’m sorry, yo no hablo English!

It’s gotten to the point that Mr. Genius will even remind me, “Baby, you can’t make hummus good as me!”

And you know what? He’s right. He IS much better at it then I am. Therefore, I no longer attempt making hummus, leaving it to the genius instead. I feel the same way about cleaning the floors. He’s WAY better at it than I am.

Ha! Who’s the genius now, eh?

Anyhow, back to pizza. We’re constantly experimenting with our pizza toppings. A couple months ago we sprinkled radicchio on top (it’s in season now and therefore, cheap, and therefore, it makes its way into my fridge.) Wooooo, we loved it! So much that we had radicchio pizza the next night, too. And then several times since.

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Radicchio is a member of the chicory family so it has a bitterness to it when raw. However, if you roast it then that bitterness will turn nutty. Like magic!

And the beauty of this topping is that it’s very easy to prepare and doesn’t need anything to accompany it. Here’s a quick recipe:

  1. Slice up half a head of radicchio. I have found that to be more than enough for one medium to large sized pizza.
  2. Sprinkle with a little oil (I particularly like it with walnut oil), balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
  3. Then massage the oil and vinegar into the radicchio with your hands to get it nice and coated. Plus, who doesn’t like a little massage?
  4. Sprinkle radicchio on top of pizza and cook at high heat for however long your pizza takes (approx. 10-12 minutes).

Cheater method:
And then here’s my version of the “personal” pizza using some leftover Indian naan bread. I toast the naan in a toaster oven for 2-3 minutes first. Add a very thin layer of mayo (or not, I just love mayo on everything), add the radicchio and then toast the pizza again for another 5 minutes. (Don’t pay any attention to how disgusting and burned my oven pan looks. Eeek.)

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Don’t worry that the radicchio turns brown, that’s a good thing.

There you have it, a personal pizza with just one topping that it scrumptious and ready in less than 10 minutes.

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Enjoy!

A little spit and polish

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It’s rainy here today. Has been for the past two days. They say we’ll have the sunshine back tomorrow. Hmm, I feel a little sad about it. Last year we had something like 30 straight days of rain. It seemed like too much then. This year has been the exact opposite with practically no rain (or snow for our nearby mountains) and we could really use it. ‘Tis dry, my friends, too dry! Such a dry Winter does not bode well for the Summer.

I’m not complaining though, a little rain is better than no rain. I’ll take what we can get.

Gloomy weather inspires indoor projects though, doesn’t it? Indoor projects scream two things to me: cleaning closets or crafts.

I’ll take crafts for $1000, Alex!

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