Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant" - Robert Louis Stevenson

It's probably a little early, but I've started thinking about what to grow next year. The 2015 Seed Savers Catalogue came in the mail, and it is already bookmarked and dog-eared to death. This will be the year that I plan far enough ahead to order the unusual heirloom seeds in time for Spring.

Last summer I just planted a slew of things not knowing what would grow well or what we would actually need. Turned out that a lot of what was successful for us was also successful for our CSA farmers. Between our garden and the share there were things we got sick of or couldn't use up (cucumbers!).

There are certain crops, however, that I can never get enough of . . . so here are the things that we didn't see much of that Mike and I decided would be best to grow on our own.

Bell peppers

There are a couple things I miss which we won't grow, probably for the same reasons our farmers don't; asparagus and mushrooms. The process for both of these crops is long and complicated. I've been searching for local farmers, but it seems no one's up to the challenge.

If you know of a mushroom farmer in the Northern Mass/Southern NH area, would you please hook a girl up? My hubby's got a pesky vitamin D deficiency.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lessons in Locavorism

After taking a Food Activism course during my last semester of grad school at Tufts, I was motivated to start eating more ethically. One of the biggest take-aways from the course was that there are many strains of food activism and competing causes. Sometimes there isn't an option available that hits all the checkpoints on your list (local, organic, vegan, fair labor practices, etc.) so you have to decide what to prioritize. I'm better able to identify which causes mean most to me and ways of supporting them through my food choices.

For about 9 months now my husband and I (mostly me) have been making an effort to source as much of our weekly groceries locally as possible. We've identified which farms in our area use organic, environmentally conscious, growing practices. We've even found local ethically raised animal products such as milk, eggs, fish, and beef. (I grapple with the decision to eat beef repeatedly , but I figure until I decide not to I might as well choose the lesser evil)

I always sought out local produce at farmers markets before, but we went the next step by purchasing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share. Small farms can have trouble making a profit and staying in business because most of the costs of growing are upfront, and the crop can be unpredictable due to weather. One bad season can mean a huge loss. By purchasing shares at the beginning of the season, CSA members help cover the costs of farming and in return receive an equal distribution of the crop, whatever it may be. This can be a gamble for the CSA members, but it safeguards the farm in the event of a poor crop.

We discovered our farmers by chance when we drove by one of their locations in Tewksbury, just a 5 minute drive from us (actually on the same road as our home). Farmer Dave's is comprised of a small group of farmers who provide shares all over Northeast Massachusetts, and contribute to hunger relief efforts.The initial share was 20 weeks of vegetables, enough to feed "1-2 people" per week. Their estimate was either way off or I don't eat as much as the average human. I could have fed a family of 3-4. I spent much of my summer freezing and preserving veggies. I even learned canning just because I didn't want to waste anything (more on this later). It didn't help at all that a couple weeks into the summer Mike left for the National Guard. For 10 weeks I was on my own with twice as much produce as I could eat. To anyone worried about getting ripped off paying ahead for your groceries, I'd say don't even think about it. It was a time-saver not having to go to the crowded supermarket every week, and it was much more cost effective. My grocery bill averaged out to around $20 a week.

In the fall we decided to extend our share through the end of the season. On December 10 we received our last share, and I was glad it was over only because I couldn't possibly fit another thing in my freezer. At this point, looking at what is there plus what is sitting in jars in my cabinet, I feel confident we have enough local produce to last through the winter.

Have you purchase a CSA share before, or are you considering it? Do you have any questions for me about my CSA experiences? Anyone have useful tips for dealing with vegetable overload?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Manicure Monday: OPI Skyfall Collection, Live And Let Die

I was very excited to try the new(ish) Skyfall Collection by OPI. It came out in the fall, along with the movie of the same name. This collection is an homage 007 on his 50th anniversary. It happens to have several gorgeous and unique shades with Bond-inspired names.

There were four shades I was dying to try; The Living Daylights, The World Is Not Enough, Goldeneye, and Live And Let Die.

Here is my review of the first shade I've tried so far.

Live And Let Die. (Excuse my nasty dry cuticles.)

I had read many great reviews for this shade. It is definitely the most unique of the collection. Many recommended that, if you only got one shade, this was the one to get. I would have to agree. There is no other color quite like this in my collection.

Live and Let Die is a dark forest green, almost black in dim lighting. When the light hits it it's very obviously green with gold flecks. So, so, so beautiful. I couldn't stop staring at my nails. I've mentioned before I'm not a fan of green polish, but this one is very flattering. It only takes one coat for an opaque finish, which is pretty impressive. Most of all, it is unique.

I'll post pictures of the others I purchased when I get the chance to try them out. So far I'm impressed with the Skyfall collection.

Have you tried any of the Skyfall shades?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines Day Manicure

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you're spending it with someone special. I haven't posted in a while, so here is a late nail update. I tried out this festive nail design earlier this week.

For this manicure I used two coats of Revlon Plum Seduction. When first applied it looks like a bright pink, even though it looks purple in the bottle. After about a day though, it darkens to match the color in the bottle. Very strange. Even Mike noticed that my nails were suddenly a different color, and he is color blind. (I don't say that to be funny. They won't even let him join the military.)

To make the heart I used Revlon Pearl, and cut a heart stencil using painter's tape and a hole punch.  I thought I was pretty clever until I searched the internet and found that someone else thought of it first.

How are you spending this V-Day? I went out with Mike, and now we're cuddling at home watching a movie. It feels like a weekend, even though it's only Thursday!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Blizzard Cookies Recipe

In case you didn't hear, we are in a state of emergency here in Massachusetts, and banned from going out in the blizzard. Being stuck in the house all day proved to be good motivation to get all the house work done. Once I finished all the laundry, dishes, and cleaning the only thing left to do was to go on a boredom-induced cooking spree.

I got the sudden urge for cookies. Strange, because I'm not a cookie person. I usually make them when someone else asks. My go-to is chocolate chip, but I didn't have the ingredients. And I sure as hell wasn't going outside to get them. So I took stock of what was in the cabinets. I happened to have marshmallows,  caramels, and coconut left over from christmas-time baking, and that was my inspiration for these cookies. Sometimes you've got to work with what you got. This was completely improvised. I like that the end result coincidentally looks like a blizzard.

The base of this cookie is a basic shortbread. It is very buttery and flakey. Yet surdy enough to hold all the melty gooey goodness on top. The marshmallow and caramel make it very chewy, and the butter makes it melt in your mouth. So, so, so good. If you've ever had the candy marshmallow coconut toasties, it's like that, but as a cookie!

Blizzard Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • marshmallows
  • caramels
  • shredded coconut

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Cream butter, and slowly whisk in sugar.
  3. Mix flour and salt.
  4. Combine the two mixtures into shortbread dough.
  5. Roll out dough until 1/4 inch thick. Cut into squares, or use cookie cutters.
  6. Place on ungreased pan
  7. Place marshmallows and caramels on top of cookies.
  8. Bake 20-25 mins.
  9. Sprinkle with shredded coconut in last 5 mins of baking.

Things I would do differently, in retrospect:
  • Cut up the marshmallows or use mini marshmallows so they melt more evenly.
  • Spread cookies further apart on baking sheet, they expand quite a bit.

If you try making them, share pictures :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Manicure Monday: Pink & Brown Feather Design

This Monday's manicure was inspired by photos I found on pinterest. I have to say, I don't think it came out as good as in the photos. I had to give it a try, though. It uses actual feathers!

I started with Orly Bonder Rubberized Basecoat, and two coats of Sephora by OPI "Dear Diary . . ." While the nail color was still wet, I placed a feather on top and pressed down gently. I then trimmed the feather around the edges to fit my nail. I finished with a coat of Seche Vite to hold everything in place. This topcoat covered up the feather's texture well.

I love this light pink shade, but I think I could have found a prettier feather. This is just what I had lying around in my craft supplies. Maybe next time I'll plan ahead to find a nice peacock feather.

What do you think of this feather look? If you try it out share pictures.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

January Beauty Favorites

Hello, my beautiful readers! This is a new series called Monthly Beauty Favorites. I'm going to hopefully add a new installment each month. The idea is to share with you a round-up of any new and note-worthy beauty products I try each month. Each of these products have become go-to favorites that I grab in the morning when I'm in a rush.

Revlon Lip Butter in Red Velvet
Revlon Lip Butter's aren't really a new product to me, or anyone else in the blogosphere, but this is a new shade I just picked up. Like everyone else, I've been obsessed with Revlon's moisturizing pigmented formula for months. If you haven't heard of them, they are the perfect mixture of a lipstick and a lip balm. They are not as heavy as a lipstick, but just as pigmented. They are also moisturizing like a balm, but not as sheer. This is a new favorite, along with two other shades I already own, Tutti Fruitti and Lollipop. I always have one of these floating around in my bag.
Eyeko Mini Skinny Mascara
This is, in my mind, the perfect wand shape. It is very skinny which makes it perfect for tiny lashes. This helps grab onto those ones in the corners and on the bottom lash-line. Also, because all my lashes are naturally pretty short, it is great for me. I have to maximize  what little lashes I have! It came as part of a set, with the eyeko eyeliner, from Sephora. I had been wanting to try the eyeliner for a while, and this just happened to be an unexpected bonus.
Eyeko Mini Skinny Eyeliner
I've been dying to try this, and it lives up to it's reputation. It is a liquid liner, but with a felt tip. Almost like drawing with a thin tip marker. I'm terrible at traditional liquid liner brushes! It makes creating a thin straight line simple. Most importantly, it is impossible to smudge. The best way to describe this is a fine-tip sharpie marker for your face.

MAC Viva Glam Nicki
A very unique hot pink lipstick, which I had been dying to try. This product had a whole post of it's own earlier in the month, so go check it out if you're interested.

Benefit Watt's Up Highlighter
One of my favorites this month is a free gift I got from Sephora for my birthday!  I was surprised to like this highlighter so much. I never use highlighter, and was surprised how much of a difference it makes! I tried a powder highlighter once, but didn't feel that it was a necessary extra step. It was hardly noticeable. Since getting this, I've been using highlighter every single day on top of my usual bronzer to eccentuate my cheekbones. Perhaps the fact that this formula is so creamy makes the difference. I just can't get over how creamy and smooth it is! It reflects the light in a way that gives your cheeks a natural glow. I was afraid, having oily skin, that this would make my
face look greasy. Not the case.

Nars Concealer in Custard
I am constantly on the search for a decent concealer that matches my skin and provides heavy-duty coverage. Having cystic acne and hyper-pigmentation makes it difficult to find a concealer strong enough. This has to be the best I've found so far! You'll notice how the color almost disappears on my skin in the photo - a perfect match.

Swatches, left to right: Eyeko Mini Skinny Eyeliner, Revlon Lip Butter in Red Velvet,  Mac Viva Glam Nicki, Benefit Watt's Up, Nars Concealer in Custard
What are some of your favorite products? Anything I should try? Let me know in the comments!