3.31.2016

:: A little of this, and a self portrait too ::



I know it's just Thursday, but, what can I say? Relax, it's water with lime people.

Can't wait to see National Parks Adventure at our local IMAX soon! Looks great! 
Wishing we had a Bicycle Super Highway like this one being made in Germany! 
So far, this book is really good! Read The girl on the train today!
Do you miss Starbucks toasted Graham latte as much as I do? Try this recipe!

Between the sand and the sea is where I'll be. I'm a lounge lover
So says Essie! here are their new Spring colors!



Wanting to make this recipe for Eggplant Parmesan. It looks a little time consuming, but lets just face it, 
those are the recipes we tend to love the most right!? If you try this,  let me know what you think!



:: E G G P L A N T   P A R M E S A N ::

Ingredients 
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 jar marinara sauce
- 2 cups Italian Panko Breadcrumbs
- 3 eggs 
- 1/2 cup milk
- 8 tablespoons peanut oil for frying
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- fresh basil

Slice eggplant and place in colander and sprinkle with salt.  This will help all the extra water come out of the eggplant before you cook it.  I placed my colander in a bowl in the sink and let the eggplant sit for an hour to drain off water.  Afterwards pat dry and brush off extra salt.

In a shallow bowl mix the milk and eggs.  In another shallow bowl add the panko breadcrumbs.  You can use regular breadcrumbs but I prefer the panko because they are lighter.

Dip the sliced eggplant into the milk/egg mixture first, then the breadcrumbs.  Lay all out on baking sheet or parchment paper. 

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet.  I cooked about 3 eggplant slices at a time.  Cook until they start to slightly brown, just a few minutes on each side.  Place on paper towels to drain afterwards.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a baking dish cover the bottom with about 1/4 cup marinara sauce.  Layer on eggplant, shredded mozzarella and Parmesan and then marinara..  Saving enough cheese and marinara for 2 more layers.

On the last layer end with eggplant and the sliced fresh mozzarella.  Top with fresh basil.

Bake about 30-35 minutes. 



Favorite Podcasts currently;

The lively show hosted by Jess Lively. The focus here is on living your values and being more intentional on how you approach everything in your life. New episodes post weekly. Love it!

The universe has good news for the lost, lonely and heartsick. Dear Sugar is here, and speaking straight into your ears. Hosted by the original Sugars, Cheryl Strayed {the author of Wild, Tiny Beautiful Things} and Steve Almond, the podcast fields all your questions — no matter how deep or dark — and offers radical empathy in return. New episodes are released weekly.

"Invisibilia" is Latin for "the invisible things." The show is co-hosted by a trio of NPR's award-winning journalists — Alix Spiegel, Lulu Miller and Hanna Rosin. In Invisibilia's first season, which premiered in January 2015, Lulu and Alix dug deep into our innermost minds. They examined our dark, disturbing thoughts and whether those thoughts are related to our inner wishes, our fears and how they shape our actions, and our need for belonging and how it shapes our identity and fuels our emotions over a lifetime.

In the second season — slated for June 2016 — Alix, Hanna and Lulu will delve into the ways everyday objects can shape our worldviews, the effects we have on each other's well-being, and the various lenses we don.
Invisibilia is a glimpse into a world you can't see. Listen. Feel different.
This American Life   Let’s face it: Whether you still listen or not, This American Life is kind of the OG of podcasts. Every episode (about a million people download each one!) features a theme and a few stories, most of them true, that center around it. Some are funny, some are happy, some have made me cry in the middle of work. If you’ve never heard of TAL and have no idea where to begin, start on the favorites page and then just let yourself get lost.

:: Things I love Thursday ::



Tulips bursting up everywhere!
This very insightful book
These sandals look pretty good
The weather forecast for next week!
My pocket-sized moleskine catch-all



3.30.2016

:: To Amazon or not to Amazon? ::



My really good friend uses Amazon Prime service. All the time. Every day. And she swears by it. I don't know. I'm so resistant, and I don't really know why. Why do I feel like that? Once, I complained to her that I couldn't find a small, unlined journal that I really needed before Monday. Then, we got a snow storm. I didn't go out at all, but on Sunday, while walking the dog, we were headed home and I saw a us postal service car in front of my house. The post office isn't open on Sundays. Boy, was I wrong. Amazon has contracted with them to deliver even on Sundays and they were bringing me a journal that my bestie ordered just for me! {Albeit, it was to prove her point} and, I had to admit that it was pretty nice indeed. She actually uses this service in lots of ways including having all of her dry goods shipped to her home at a set time. For instance, she receives toilet paper and paper towels and kleenex once a month and detergent and dish soap every 6 weeks. she has it down how often she needs it. Amazing, right? Of course, this is why she is always playing on her phone too. But, it leaves her lots more time for the important stuff for sure. You pay one yearly price and with it you receive a lot of perks like; 

Amazon Prime has lots of different things to offer for sure, take a look at what you will get:

Free two-day shipping on eligible items to addresses in the contiguous U.S. and other shipping benefits. For more information, go to Amazon Prime Shipping Benefits.
Free same-day delivery in eligible ZIP codes. For more information, go to Order with Prime Free Same-Day Delivery.

Membership Sharing: Two adults living in the same household can create an Amazon Household to share certain Amazon Prime benefits. For more information, go to About Amazon Households.

Prime Instant Video: Unlimited streaming of movies and TV episodes for paid or free trial members in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. You can also add video subscriptions to Showtime, Starz, A&E, AMC and many other streaming entertainment channels. For more information, go to About Prime Instant Video.

Prime Music: Unlimited, ad-free access to hundreds of Prime Playlists and more than a million songs for members in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. For more information, go to About Prime Music.

Prime Now: In select cities, you can get one hour delivery for tens of thousands of products from local stores. For instance, in New York City you can now get delivery of beer, wine and spirits from Westside Market, Union Square Wines and Vintage Grape. Chicago, Los Angeles and Baltimore also participate in this program.

Prime Photos: Secure unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive. For more information, go to About Prime Photos.

Prime Pantry: Access to Prime Pantry, where members can purchase and ship to addresses in the contiguous U.S. low-priced grocery, household and pet care items for a flat delivery fee of $5.99 for each Prime Pantry box. Prime Pantry orders cannot be shipped to addresses in Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico.

Amazon Elements: Access to Amazon Elements products, Amazon's own line of everyday essentials.

Prime Early Access: Get 30-minute early access to Lightning Deals on Amazon.com and new events on MyHabit.com. For more information, go to About Prime Early Access.

Kindle Owners' Lending Library: Accessible to members in the U.S. For more information, go toKindle Owners' Lending Library.

Kindle First: Early access for members in the U.S. to download a new book for free every month from the Kindle First picks. For more information, go to Kindle First.

Video Add-On Subscriptions: You can order third-party streaming apps through Amazon Prime to keep all your video content in one place. For instance, you can add Showtime Anytime and HBO Go to your account.

Deals and Discounts, Compliments of Amazon Mom: These include 20 percent off diapers through Subscribe & Save and 15 percent off eligible products from your baby registry. For more information, go to Get 20% off Diaper Subscriptions or About the Completion Discount.

Amazon Warehouse Deals are open to everyone. These are products that have been returned, so they may be open-box, like new or preowned. Regardless, each item is backed by Amazon's return policy. We found some impressive and tempting deals through this program, including $452 for a 64GB iPad Air 2 (normally $599) and $34.76 for a pair of Panasonic noise-canceling headphones (normally $80).

Price comparison If you've recently bought a new television set on Amazon, and you see it for less someplace else, the e-tailer will pay you the difference in an Amazon Gift Card. The list of eligible competitors contains more than 77 retailers, including Walmart, Best Buy and Target. All you need to do is contact customer service using the Contact Us link found on any Help page, including Managing Your Orders.

You'll be connected with a customer service representative who will ask you which competitor is offering the TV set at a lower price. You will then either provide a working link to the available product or the agent will call the store to confirm the price. Then the company will issue you the difference in gift card credit, though Amazon will first take "any differences in shipping and promotions into account," so you may not get the exact price difference.
Redeem your book purchases for Kindle editions;
If you've ever bought physical copies of a book — either hardcover or paperback — from Amazon, you can easily get free Kindle versions. Just sign into your Amazon account and visit Kindle Matchbook to see which of your previous purchases can get you a free (or up to $2.99) digital copy.

Well, I guess I have a lot to think about. I will check it out at least and see if I feel like it's worth it to me. I'm just not sold quite yet... but, you're getting me ever closer bestie! How about any of you? Do you use Amazon Prime? What do you recommend? I'd love to know!











3.29.2016

:: Whoo-whoo!!! This is my 1500th Post! ::




This, my friends, is my 1500th post! I remember starting this blog, and I was hesitant at first. I am a very private person. So putting my thoughts and feelings into words.... on the internet....for people to read. Oh, how scary. Yet, I jumped into this world of the unknown. And I have been inspired my so many people. 

This world of "blogging" has connected me. It has got me in touch with me. And it also has inspired me creativity. It is so nice to see be able to connect with people, even if you never meet them in person. I guess that is part of being human, searching for that connection, not feeling so alone. There is this amazing web being weaved right here on the internet Connecting people and inspiring people. It is amazing what words can do. 

So today is a little celebration for me. 
A celebration of my creativity,
of my writing,
of my picture taking,
of my painting.
Of all the things I enjoy doing...
and all the things I have been inspired to delve into more,
because of this amazing community right here. 

Thank you for inspiring me...
and thank you to the people who reads this....
it is nice to know that even though you are far away you still read what I write. 

Happy 1500th post to me!!



3.28.2016

:: Back to Dinner and a movie nights ::


pic via;pinterest


It's really easy to get burnt out after a long string of weekends that lacked a proper fun night.  I want and need some true downtime every weekend, and when I don't get it I get cranky!  Since that time I've been more aware of trying to make date nights or artist nights, or just a girls night out happen every weekend if possible.  After all, when you have no one left at home to care for what is your excuse not to get out right?


Do you like to go to the movies?  I always have, but I've never really gone consistently.  I guess it's because I do not like being disturbed by other people. People coughing, or kids talking or running or crying.  In fact, it is much more fun to come to my house, sit in front of the big screen with freshly popped popcorn {lightly doused in real butter of course} and cheddar, and enjoy some movie treats like junior mints and other movie appropriate candy and junk etc; with the lights off and the surround sound on. Actually, it's pretty perfect if you ask me. Just the way I like it. Plus, dinner and a movie in a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere is great for a get together with friends.

Here is what we have seen lately:

:: The Divergent Series Allegiant.  After discovering the truth about their walled city and breaking down its oppressive faction system, Tris and Four lead a journey outside of Chicago to learn more about who has been manipulating their civilization. But once their group comes face-to-face with the society that turned their city into an enclosed experiment, secrets are uncovered that threaten the fate of humankind. 

:: Gods of Egypt.  A young thief named Bek enlists the help of the powerful Egyptian god Horus to overthrow the vicious deity Set, who has seized control of the land. Bek's true love has been captured, forcing the mortal rebel to fight back in order to free her and the people of Egypt from Set's tyrannical rule. 

:: Star wars: The force awakensIn this thrilling continuation of the epic space opera, ex-storm trooper Finn, scrappy desert dweller Rey, and droid companion BB-8 get caught up in a galactic war when they come across a map containing the whereabouts of the vanished Luke Skywalker. They soon embark on an epic adventure that brings them face-to-face with heroes from the past, as well as new villains such as Kylo Ren and the First Order, a fascist regime that has emerged from the ashes of the old Empire.

::  RoomHeld captive for nearly a decade in a tiny shed converted into a living space, a single mother and her five-year-old son break away from their captor after a daring escape. The mother and son are thrown back into society after years of isolation and struggle to adjust to life outside the room. 

:: London has fallen.  In this sequel to the 2013 action thriller Olympus Has Fallen, a terrorist plot unfolds in London as a number of politicians gather for the funeral of the British prime minister. A Secret Service agent, the U.S. president, and an MI-6 operative must work together to stop the terrorists from assassinating the world's leaders and destroying the city's landmarks.


Usually I go into these knowing next to nothing about the movie, which is how I like it. They were all really good. each in their own way. You can't go wrong watching any of them! 


Do you like going to the movies?  What have you seen lately?



3.27.2016

:: Happy Easter ::



“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” 
― Pope John Paul II



:: Currently ::




3.26.2016

:: When life gives you lemons.... make Limoncello! ::




Thank you to all my friends for your get well wishes and cure-alls. 
I have tried them all {every one of them} and I am feeling much better.
So, I had really high blood pressure. Really high. I had no idea.

I am surprised by this. Very surprised. This is no fun.
No fun at all. But, honestly, it's now under control.
It's also a great excuse for a shot of Limoncello before bed! {LOL}
But seriously, it's good stuff, I have 2 recipes for you. One is my own, 
the other belongs to a friend, you will love either version!
Thanks for all the love!
xoxo









3.25.2016

:: Homemade gourmet Marshmallows ::



Ingredients
7 ounces sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1 recipe Homemade Marshmallow batter, recipe follows
Confectioners' sugar

Homemade Marshmallows:
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Sprinkle half the toasted coconut in an 8 by 12-inch nonmetal pan. Pour in the marshmallow batter and smooth the top of the mixture with damp hands. Sprinkle on the remaining toasted coconut. Allow to dry uncovered at room temperature overnight.

Remove the marshmallows from the pan and cut into squares. Roll the sides of each piece carefully in confectioners' sugar. Store uncovered at room temperature.

Homemade Marshmallows:
Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.




Homemade Heart Marshmallows
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Rich and creamy homemade marshmallows shaped like hearts for Valentine's Day!
Serves: 36 2-inch hearts or 100 1-inch squares
Ingredients
  • 3 packages (1/4-ounce each) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cool water, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, divided
Directions
  1. Coat a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray (glass or ceramic is best.)
  2. In a large bowl, combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup cool water. Let soak.
  3. In a small, deep saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup cool water. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar completely dissolves. Raise the heat to high and bring to a rapid boil. Allow to boil, without stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  4. Using a handheld mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase the speed to high, and whip until the mixture is very thick and fluffy, and has cooled to lukewarm, about 10 minutes. Add in the vanilla and beat to incorporate.
  5. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the baking dish and spread evenly using a greased spatula. Sprinkle 1/4 cup powdered sugar over the top, and place in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 3 hours (or overnight) before cutting.
  6. Use a greased cookie cutter to make heart shapes and gently separate. Place heart shaped marshmallows in a bowl with 1/4 cup powdered sugar and gently toss to coat them on all sides. Shake off any excess.
  7. You can store the marshmallows in an airtight container, at cool room temperature, for up to 5 days.
Notes
There are many different variations on homemade marshmallows - using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment is the most common, reducing the mixing time in half. I’ve also read other instructions where the mixture is covered in plastic wrap and sets in the pan at room temperature. And the block of marshmallow is inverted onto a sugared surface and then cut.

I found using a handheld mixture, chilling in the fridge, and cutting while still in the dish just as effective.






Blood Orange And Coconut Marshmallows
The key to making even and distinct layers? Smoothing them out with an oiled offset spatula and letting the first layer cool completely before topping.

Ingredients
SERVINGS: MAKES 8 STRIPS OR FORTY 2¾” PIECES
Blood Orange Layer
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3¼ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup fresh blood orange juice
5 tablespoons light corn syrup, divided
5 drops (or more) red food coloring
Coconut Layer And Assembly
3¼ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup low-fat coconut milk
5 tablespoons light corn syrup, divided
¼ cup powdered sugar
Special Equipment
A candy thermometer
Recipe Tips


Preparation
Blood Orange Layer
Line a 13x9½” rimmed baking sheet (or use a 13x9” baking pan; marshmallows will be a bit taller) with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Place ¼ cup water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until softened, about 10 minutes.
Stir granulated sugar, blood orange juice, and 2 Tbsp. corn syrup in a small saucepan fitted with thermometer; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until thermometer registers 230°.
Meanwhile, add remaining 3 Tbsp. corn syrup to gelatin mixture. As soon as thermometer registers 230° and with mixer on high speed, add blood orange syrup to gelatin mixture, drizzling down the side of the bowl. Beat until soft, collapsing peaks form and bowl feels cool to the touch, about 5 minutes. Mix in red food coloring, adding more to reach desired color.
Working quickly, scrape blood orange mixture into prepared pan; smooth into an even layer with an offset spatula lightly coated with nonstick spray. Let cool.
Coconut Layer And Assembly
Place ¼ cup water in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until softened, about 10 minutes.
Stir granulated sugar, coconut milk, and 2 Tbsp. corn syrup in a small saucepan fitted with thermometer; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until thermometer registers 230°.
Meanwhile, add remaining 3 Tbsp. corn syrup to gelatin mixture. As soon as thermometer registers 230° and with mixer on high speed, add coconut syrup to gelatin mixture, drizzling down the side of the bowl. Beat until soft, collapsing peaks form and bowl feels cool to the touch, about 5 minutes.
Working quickly, scrape coconut mixture over blood orange layer; smooth with offset spatula. Let sit, uncovered, at least 12 hours before cutting. (Marshmallow will be firm but springy when pressed.)
Dust a cutting board with powdered sugar. Gently run a paring knife around the edge of the pan to release marshmallow and invert onto cutting board. Cut marshmallow into ¾”-wide strips and roll in powdered sugar. Coil into glass jars for gifting, or cut into 2” pieces and roll in any remaining powdered sugar.
Do Ahead: Store marshmallows tightly wrapped at room temperature up to 2 weeks.








Dulce de Leche Marshmallows
Makes 24 large

I have been making homemade marshmallows for over 12 years. Have you ever tried making them at home? They are surprisingly easy to make, only requiring a few ingredients, and are gooey, sweet, and so much tastier than store-bought. I usually make peppermint or original, but this time I wanted to add a few swirls of dulce de leche to the mix.


Nonstick cooking spray, for baking sheet
3 cups granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup water
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin (3 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoons)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cup dulce de leche (I used Nestle’s La Lechera dulce de leche)
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

Liberally spray a baking sheet with non stick cooking spray. Set aside.
Put granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, and ¾ cup water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring, until mixture registers 238° F on a candy thermometer, about 9 minutes, creating a syrup.
Meanwhile, put ¾ cup cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer; sprinkle with gelatin. Let soften 5 minutes.
Attach bowl with gelatin to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. With mixer on low speed, beat hot syrup into gelatin mixture. Gradually raise speed to high; beat until mixture is very stiff, about 12 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Quickly pour half into prepared baking sheet, drizzle with dulce de leche, and top with remaining mixture. Smooth top with an offset spatula. Set aside, uncovered, until firm, about 3 hours.
Sift 1 cup confectioners’ sugar onto a work surface. Unmold marshmallow onto confectioners’ sugar. Spritz nonstick cooking spray into a paper towel, and use it to lightly oil both sides of a sharp knife. Then cut marshmallow into 2-inch squares. Sift remaining ½ cup confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, and roll each marshmallow in the sugar to coat. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.



Homemade Peppermint Marshmallow Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24 marshmallows
These homemade marshmallows are so easy to make that you will never go back to the jet puffed bagged marshmallows again. You can add any flavor you want to make these perfect for any occasion.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 cup powder sugar (to coat the marshmallows)
Instructions
  1. Butter a 9x13 pan and sprinkle generously with powder sugar, set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, pour in 1⁄2 cup of the water and sprinkle with the gelatin. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan over high heat, add the sugar, corn syrup, salt and remaining 1⁄2 cup of water. Bring to a rolling boil and continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  4. Turn the mixer to low and mix the gelatin once or twice to combine it with the water. Slowly and carefully add the hot sugar mixture, pouring it gently down the side of the bowl, and continue to mix on low.
  5. Turn the mixer to high and continue to whip for 10 to 12 minutes until the marshmallow batter almost triples in size and becomes very thick. Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently to avoid the batter overflowing as it grows. Stop the mixer, add the peppermint extract, and then whip briefly to combine.
  6. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan and use a spatula or bench scraper to spread it evenly in the pan. Work quickly, as the marshmallow becomes more difficult to manipulate as it sets.
  7. Grease a sheet of plastic wrap with butter and lay it across the top of the marshmallow. Press down firmly on the plastic wrap, to seal it smoothly and tightly against the mixture.
  8. Leave the marshmallow to set at room temperature for at least 3 hours or overnight. The marshmallow will be too sticky and soft to cut if you try too soon.
  9. Sprinkle a work surface or cutting board with the icing sugar. Run a knife along the top edge of the pan to loosen the marshmallow slab. Invert the pan and flip the marshmallow out onto the counter or board. Scoop up handfuls of the icing sugar and rub all over the marshmallow slab.
  10. Use a large knife to cut the slab into 1- × 1-inch squares. Roll each of the freshly cut marshmallow squares in the remaining icing sugar to coat them completely.
  11. If desired: melt 1 package melting chocolates in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments, stirring each time till melted. Dip tops of marshmallows into chocolate and lay on parchment paper to set about 20 minutes