Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dinners for the Week

Bacon & Cheese Pinwheels - cooked

With Christmas, visitors, and New Years we've had one snack night after another! There has been easy stuff like frozen appetizers, chips & dip, crackers & cheese, but also lots of recipes. The first two were new to me ~

Chocolate Toffee Crunch - I was so curious to try these sweet & salty snacks made with Saltines! I worried that you'd need to use a candy thermometer to make the toffee, but you just melt butter, mix in brown sugar, and then pour it in a pan & bake. Super simple and it makes a ton! They were well received but I felt like they were missing something - perhaps a little salt in the toffee layer?

No-Bake Oreo Cheesecakes - Easy to make, good flavor, but they did not really set when chilled the way I expected. The texture was more like a mousse, which makes sense when you start off by making whipped cream. If I made these again I think I'd skip that step & just fold in some Cool Whip!

Ginger Scented Pecans - This is the one recipe be *have* to make every Christmas.

Bacon & Cheese Pinwheels (pictured above) - This & the dip below are old favorites we haven't made in a while. So good!

Chicken Ranch Dip (pictured below) - 8 oz. cream cheese, 1 packet of Ranch mix, & 10 oz. cooked shredded chicken (I usually use canned). Serve with pretzels!

Chicken Salad Dip

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Tree Nails

Can you believe this is the first nail art I've done since Halloween? (And I've only painted my nails once since then) I had to force myself to get back to it before I missed all of Christmas.

Christmas Tree Nails

At first I was planning on doing something like this, but with silver garland (separate from the background color). Then I realized I'd have to tape off the tree, paint the silver, and then sit around with tape on my hand waiting for that to dry before adding the small tape & 2nd color. Never mind! I decided to go with this similar idea instead.

The base is China Glaze "Ruby Pumps" with Kleancolor "Metallic Green" for the tree, topped with Claire's "Bedazzled" for the ornaments. I wish the glittery ornaments showed up a little better against the green, but this is the only larger-glitter topcoat I have! (That might be remedied by Christmas - there is a lot of nail polish on my list!) I tried adding a dot of silver at the top of the tree for a star, but didn't like the look & wiped it off.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dinners for the Week

Last week we put some of the shredded frozen turkey to good use. And there is still more to use up!

Turkey Tetrazzini (2 dinners) - We replaced the chicken with turkey in this recipe & it was as delicious as always! I like to half this one - although it would be nice to have a 2nd casserole to freeze it can be a bit hard to mix up everything up.

► Turkey Soup - I mixed 6 cups water, 4 tsp. bouillon (or 4 cubes), 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, 2 cups shredded turkey, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/2 chopped carrots, and 1/2 cup uncooked rice. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook about 15-20 minutes until the rice is soft. Made this up on the spot & it was so good!

Shrimp with Coconut Rice (pictured below)

Shrimp with Coconut Rice - 3

This week we'll be pulling some of the extra mashed potatoes & stuffing out of the freezer for another Thanksgiving style dinner. We'll see how everything reheats! Tonight we also used some coupons for frozen appetizers & had a snack-y night. But we'll also be cooking ~

Thai Basil Curry - I probably won't be posting any new 'official' recipes until we are able to replace our nice camera so I can get good shots! But here is a link to the unfinished recipe - shrimp in a sweet coconut basil curry with noodles & veggies.

Sausage, Lentil, & Kale Stew (2 dinners, pictured below)

Sausage, Lentil, & Kale Stew

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dinners for the Week

Before Thanksgiving we bought a giant turkey while they were on sale & popped it in the freezer. We ate a big meal on Thanksgiving with Justin's family, so we waited until a week after to pull out or own bird. We made our turkey dinner last weekend, with enough leftovers to enjoy for a few meals (lots of lunches) and also freeze a ton for future recipes. This week we made ~

► Turkey dinner (2+ dinners) - with mashed potatoes & gravy, stuffing, green beans (cooked in the crockpot), and some store-bought dinner rolls.

► "Nana's Casserole" with Kielbasa (on the side) - This casserole is a Thanksgiving staple on Justin's side - broccoli, cauliflower, wild rice, French onions, and a creamy-cheesy sauce. We had enough food to make the first night so we decided to make this for a separate meal & then mix-&-match the leftovers as desired.

► Breakfast for dinner - Bought some bacon to cook with the green beans, but we ended up using the turkey neck instead! Oh well. We planned one night with bacon and Belgium waffles or eggs & grits (depending on our mood).

I've already used some shredded turkey in a lunch soup - snagging the broth from my Hot & Sour Soup recipe, I just tossed it in with some thin rice noodles. I've already got lots of ideas for what to do with the rest of it!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dinners for the Week(s)

Still have this miserable cold! (going on a month) I'm on antibiotics now but they don't seem to be helping much so I'll talk to the doctor about it at my appointment this Friday. Meanwhile we are still making lots of simple meals not worth mentioning (frozen stuff, grilled cheese, etc.), but we've made a few 'real' meals this week & last.


Perfect Paella (pictured above, 2 dinners) - this one takes a little while but it is soooo worth it!

► Cheesy grits with Kielbasa, Roasted Brussels Sprouts - The grits were loosely based on this recipe. Pretty good but a work in progress! For some reason our 2 year old wouldn't touch the grits or 'hot dog' but wolfed down the veggies!

Polynesian Chicken (pictured below, two dinners)

Polynesian Chicken, 2

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Color Club "Wild at Heart"

After a few weeks of naked nails I finally sat down and painted them. No nail art, just a solid color, and I really only put that on because I was doing nails with a friend (we stamped a few butterflies on hers). So sad!

For this plain manicure I pulled out Color Club "Wild at Heart", wanting to give it another try.

Color Club "Wild at Heart", sun

This polish looks so pretty in photos but in person I was once again disappointed. You do get a lovely rainbow shimmer in the brightest sun, but in the shade or indoors you end up with a non-shimmery, rather bland purple. This is more like what I usually see ~

Color Club "Wild at Heart", shade

Now that I know a little more about holo polishes I can understand why. They always look better in the sun, and only the strongest ones will still show the rainbow shimmer indoors. The pigment used to create the holo effect also lightens colors, so the strongest holos are always silver, gold, or a pastel (anything dark is going to be rather subtle). I see a lot of girls that are crazy for holos, but as someone who spends most of her time indoors, I'm just not that interested in something that is going to occasionally look nice.

The good news? It is a nice, thick polish that works well for stamping. Holos chips easily, so I don't know how often I'll use it as a base color but for now it's sadly the best purple I've got! Every dark purple I've bought recently has been so sheer I can still see my nail line after 4 coats. Time to hunt around online for something nice.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dinners for the Week(s)

I can't seem to shake this bad cold, still feeling miserable, so we've made more easy dinners lately (like a frozen breakfast egg scramble, or rotisserie chicken with veggies from the freezer). For breakfast & lunch I've been mostly living on cup-o-soups, ramen, anything with lots of broth! But we've also managed to cook a few recipes, which makes me happy. Last week we made...

Chinese "Drop-in" Soup

Sausage, Kale, & Lentil Stew (2 dinners)

Asian Drop-in Soup (pictured above)

And this week...

Chicken Tetrazzini

► (Frozen) Pot Stickers and Miso Soup - For the soup I follow the recommended ratios of dashi, water, & miso on my dashi mix (basically Japanese bouillon) and toss in some cubed tofu & sliced green onions. Bring the water nearly to a boil then remove from heat before adding the miso (boiling kills some of the healthy enzymes).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gradient Stamping

My nails have been naked for over 2 weeks now - it's craziness! I was planning on doing something simple to match my costume for Halloween but wanted to wait until I was done making the costume first so I wouldn't mess up the polish with spray paint, Sharpie, glue, etc. Of course I was working on the costume until the last minute so that never happened! Now I'm just sick & nauseous & don't feel like doing *anything*. It's a shame too, because I have new nail plates to try out! Maybe next week.

Red, Purple, Blue Gradient (Bundle Monster)

Meanwhile, here is an old manicure that got bumped by Halloween goodness. The base is Wet N Wild "Silvivor" with a gradient stamp using Color Club "Cold Metal" (blue), Color Club "Wild at Heart" (purple), and No Miss "Palmdale Paprika" (red) with Bundle Monster plate BM-212. To create the gradient you just place a dot of each color along the side of the plate & drag it across. Next time I'll probably try blending the dots together a little first with a toothpick to see if it helps the colors transition better.

After two nails I decided I wasn't really loving the color combos & didn't finish the others. I'll have to find a better base for the lovely blue, purple, and red next time. Now I at least have some nail wheels so I can test these things out beforehand!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dinners for the Week(s)

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Asian Lettuce Wraps (pictured above, 2 dinners)

Chicken Tikka Masala (2 dinners) - Great recipe, but you only need about 2 tsp of salt total. This time I tried adding some green peas to the rice, inspired by this version, but I didn't think it was quite as good.

Dinner has been all over the place lately! We cooked these meals leading up to our Halloween party, which we also did a ton of cooking for, and after that my husband demanded a week of easy meals! Leftovers, chicken nuggets, I don't even remember what all we made. This week I have a bad cold & not much sounds appetizing, so we are going simple again - grilled cheese with soup, rotisserie chicken, and a frozen lasagna.

This is the last week of my first trimester and I'm hoping the nausea will be over soon. It actually hasn't been too bad over all (and seemed to be mostly gone before I caught this cold), but my weak stomach has been choosing most of the dinners lately.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Food Fun

We had a small Halloween get-together last weekend and I couldn't resist making themed foods!

For the main dish I liked the idea of topping a casserole with something like this. Disgusting! There was no way I was going to stuff strips of puff pastry with the filling like she did though, I just liked the look for the top!

I debated a bit on the filler, leaning towards something with a red sauce, and we ended up using my mother-in-law's Goulash recipe... I mean "Ghoul-ash"! Justin actually made that on his own and we ended up with enough leftovers for 2 more dinners!

Intestine Topping - raw

For the top I just coiled up some crescent roll dough (they were out of the 'sheets') and wound that around to create the intestine look, leaving a little space in between since I knew it would puff up a bit. I was about to wipe the edges of the casserole dish clean, but then realized the grosser the better! Here it is cooked ~

Intestine Topping - cooked

On the side I used this idea to make some bone shaped bread sticks. Super easy! Just snip the ends and roll them in a little on each side.

Bone Breadsticks, 1

They used home made dough, I bought a tube of bread stick dough! They were good, but definitely could have used a brush of garlic butter across the top.

Bone Breadsticks, 2

I also threw together a skeleton veggie dip tray. I've done this in the past & this was not one of my best!

Skeleton Veggie Tray

Last year I made some cheesecake mousse cups (candy corn colored) and they were tasty but lumpy! (should have been heated beforehand) Everyone excitedly asked "Oh, are the different layers different flavors?" Nope, just colored! This year a similar recipe caught my eye that did have different flavors in each layer - including one layer made of melted candy corn!!

Candy Corn Cups, take 2

The bottom layer is (instant) vanilla pudding, then candy corn melted into whipping cream (which I whipped in my mixer, but it didn't seem to do much), Cool Whip & a candy corn on top! The recipe has you making your own whipped cream for the top instead, but I skipped that! The middle layer tastes like 'caramelized' candy corn & is super sweet, so the whipped cream and pudding help tone that down.

The verdict? Way too rich! My cups were about twice the size of those in the recipe and I think you definitely need to stick to a shot glass for these. I could only eat about half of mine, and that was with salty snacks in between bites! They might be nice as an after dinner desert, but not great at a party with lots of other snacks & sweets & soda!

One of our guests brought a lot of fun themed food as well - "Guaca-moldy" with chips, pumpkin cheesecake bars (with an Orea crust), and puff pastry pumpkins stuffed with cheese. Sadly I only got one terrible picture of those!

Puff Pastry Pumpkins

We wore our home-made costumes that night but the pictures did not turn out at all so we'll have to dress up again on Wednesday and try again! We're going out with Orson for his first time trick-or-treating and stopping by a church's Fall Festival.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Scene on Purple

For next week's manicure I'll probably just be doing something plain to match my costume, so this is my last real Halloween themed design of the year. For this one I wanted to create a scene across the nails using a bunch of fun images. You'll have to pretend like some of these things are up close and some for away or else the scale is a little wacky!

Halloween Scene on Purple

The base color is an old unlabeled bottle with the color named "Imperial Violet". It's a pretty light purple with silver glitter, but my goodness it was sheer (4 coats) and slow to dry - a pain in the butt.

I stamped the designs with Konad Special Black and then added the grass along the bottom with Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in "Black Out" (covering most of the tip with the polish brush & then adding in a few blades of grass with a detail brush). The designs were all from Bundle Monster - the cat from BM-04, pumpkin from BM-222, house from BM-224, and bats from BM-13. I also used the witch from BM-13 on my thumb, not pictured.

After stamping the images I thought it might be fun to add a few stars in the sky & painted around the stamps with China Glaze "Snow Globe". It was a little too faint to create the look I was thinking of, but my goodness that iridescent glitter is gorgeous over any color!! It doesn't really show up in the photos though - you can almost see it shimmer over the pumpkin - so you'll just have to trust me on that one.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dinner for the Week

Last week we had one thing planned after another, and leftovers in the fridge, so we didn't do much cooking! We did pick up some fish for 2 nights and made a side of breaded eggplant and a wild rice mix.

Hot & Sour Soup

But then some friends that share a love of cooking came over for the weekend and we cooked up a storm! ~

Chicken Taquitos - with some homemade salsa and chorizo dip on the side!

Hot & Sour Soup (pictured above) - with (frozen) egg rolls

Baked Spaghetti Casserole - a winner, once again

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When I first saw these nails I knew had to do candy corn nails this Halloween season! I actually did not have a good orange or yellow but marked the perfect two to get before October and I almost forgot to order them in time. Whoops!

Candy Corn Nails

I used tape for the stripes but did the order a little different from my Patriotic Nails Tutorial, layering from the lightest to darkest color...

I used Milani "White on the Spot" for the base color. Since the other two polishes were so shimmery I wanted the white to match so I dabbed some China Glaze "Snow Globe" (a white/iridescent glitter) at the base of my nail. Then I painted the top half of my nail with Color Club "Daisy Does It" and covered everything with some topcoat (INM Out the Door).

Then I laid down a strip of tape along the bottom and top edge of my nail and filled in the middle with Color Club "Sparkle and Soar". I'm a bit of a candy corn purist, so rather than doing even thirds I tried to keep orange as the largest section with white as the smallest. (I probably could have done with even less white, but I was reluctant to cover up that pretty glitter!)

Now is the time to clean up any bumps that snuck under your taped edge. Just dip something pointy (like a toothpick) in nail polish remover and you can easily scrape it off. Coat the finished nail in some more topcoat and you are done!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dinners for the Week

This week we made ~

Faux Sizzling Rice Soup

Faux Sizzling Rice Soup (2 dinners) - This is my version of Sizzling Rice Soup, without the sizzle. (I've seen directions on how to make the rice sizzle, and it actually doesn't sound too tough. I'm sure I'll try it one day for fun.) Even Orson loved this!

► Pot Roast (2 dinners) - Tossed a roast in the crockpot with potatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, and a couple of soups. So easy and good - we need to do this more often.

I really need to sit down and start planning some Halloween themed goodies to make soon! Got any plans?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Spiders & Webs over Red

There are so many Halloween nail designs I wanted to try, but I only paint my nails once a week! I had to sit down and plan out each week of October to make sure I don't waste a week. (I'm sure December will be the same way!)

My first manicure is spiders & webs on sparkly red ~

Spiders on Red

The base color is China Glaze "Ruby Pumps", which is actually a bluer, cherry red (a color I find impossible to display on a computer screen!) & a very lovely, sparkly polish. I stamped the webs & spiders from Bundle Monster plate BM-13 with Konad special black & white. These two designs didn't stamp that well from my plate & I had to do a lot of touch-ups.

Apparently there are not many spiderweb stamping designs out there. Some of the nails blogs I read are doing a 'Halloween Challenge' where they create nail art based on specific themes throughout the month. While I really liked my manicure at first, apparently last week was the 'spiderweb' theme and I got pretty tired of seeing this same design stamped again & again.

Next week - candy corn! I'm going to try to get in the habit of posting my nail designs on Wednesdays so expect to see it then.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dinners for the Week

I am currently in the queasy stages of the first trimester and dinners this week were chosen solely based on what I thought my stomach could handle over the next few days. The funny thing is, as yummy as they were at the time I don't think I could handle them this week! I guess my tastes are a little more temperamental than I thought.

Spaghetti Casserole

Baked Spaghetti Casserole with Roasted Brussels Sprouts (2 dinners, pictured above) - minus the peppers, as usual

Chinese Roast Chicken & Corriander Rice with Roasted Green Beans (2 dinners) - Based on this recipe but multiplied enough to make 10 drumsticks

► Miso Chicken, Black Eyed Peas, and Hash Browns - We forgot about the chicken in the freezer that needed to get used up & put together the mish-mash of sides by further raiding the freezer. I mixed up a dengaku style sauce for the bite sized pieces of chicken.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Red Over Black Nails - Success!

You may remember me posting about my quest to find a red polish that would stamp over black and my many failed attempts so far. (Luckily I was able to sell the disappointments!) I gathered up my courage to buy the next lead on my list, No Miss "Palmdale Paprika", and we have a winner!

Red & Black Kanji Nails (Bundle Monster)

I created this fun manicure to wear to Japan Fest. I used No Miss "Palmdale Paprika" stamped over Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in "Black Out" and the Bundle Monster plates BM-203, BM-206, and BM-225 (all from the 2nd set). On my ringer finger and thumb I used Spoiled "Ants in My Pants" (a red glitter mix) over the black base and the reds matched so well!

The red showed up really well, especially bright light, but good indoors as well. So much, much better than my previous attempts!! "Palmdale Paprika" is a bit of a red/orange duochrome in the bottle it didn't seem to shift to orange when stamped (not sure if it would on a full nail). I've also got to give a nod to the Xtreme Wear polish, which had very little chipping after a week of wear.

The downside of No Miss "Palmdale Paprika" is the price. The polish is about $9, and once you add on shipping it's nearly $13! (Amazon) Much more than I like to spend on a polish, but I also know how hard it was to find a good stamping red. And I lucked out!! They accidentally sent my order twice and said not to return the 2nd bottle! I am a lot happier spending $13 for 2. Definitely check your local 'hippie grocery stores' for this brand to see if you can avoid the high shipping costs.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dinners for the Week(s)

We've had some crazy weeks lately! Lots of random eating out and, luckily, lots of leftovers. Sorry for all of the text - somehow we keep making recipes I don't have *any* pictures of! The last two weeks we made:

► Onion BBQ Chicken with roasted green beans - Apparently the recipe for this is no longer online, but luckily I made a copy & will have to post that soon. This time we actually forgot to buy the French onions & just used some panko crumbs instead. Not as good, but it will do!

► Jambalaya (2 dinners) - from a mix, with lots of veggies & kielbasa added in

Oven baked chicken fajitas (2 dinners) - After all of her talk of how much better the ingredients are grilled, we decided to cook everything up in a pan instead of in the oven! Justin thought these were incredible. I'm not a huge Mexican fan but enjoy Texas Fajita Nachos - I'd love to make something like this again with some nice white melty cheese & tortilla chips!

► Ritzy Chicken Casserole & roasted broccoli (2 dinners) - Our recipe is similar to this one but I layer 1/2 crackers, chicken, sauce, crackers, and then butter. Really good, but I always feel like it needs a little extra zing & can't figure out what to add? (Lemon? Vinegar?)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Teal Feathers & Abstract Monach Nails

I've been looking for a nice teal polish for a while but I'm pretty picky that it can't be too green or too blue. Looking at pictures online is no help, since the colors vary so much from one pic to the next! I finally saw the lovely ORLY "It's Up to Blue" at the store & snatched it up cheaper online. (Funny thing - the color is *very* similar to the teal polish I mixed up. I guess it really is my perfect teal shade!)

I stamped the teal with Color Club "Wild at Heart", a purple with a slight holo sparkle, and the feather print from Bundle Monster plate BM-212.

Teal Feathers, flat

Unfortunately the extreme glare made it pretty hard to see the print, and it usually looked more like this ~

Teal Feathers, glare

I tried adding a matte coat but the colors were so gorgeous shiny that I was willing to sacrifice the print. (Later in the week I did add the matte coat back to mix things up a little and added a few dots of Klencolor "Metallic Green" for a peacock look.)

For the next manicure I wanted to try stamping over a multi-colored base. I also wanted to avoid blue, purple, and green, since I've been using those a ton lately!

I had trouble finding a few colors that matched well enough & ended up a sheer pink and yellow, overlapping them at the center to create an orange strip. (The polishes are old and partially labeled - Colorbox #63 & "Luscious Lemon".) While this worked pretty well I think using three separate polishes would be much easier, especially when doing touch-ups!

Monarch, colors

Then I stamped over that with Konad special black and a shattered pattern from Bundle Monster plate BM-208.

Monarch, black lines

These nails were so bold, even prettier in person, and they got a lot of compliments! The colors remind me of the 80's, or an abstract Monarch butterfly look. Both of these manicures turned out so nice!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dinners for the Week(s)

Two weeks ago we were either out of town or eating cheap (grilled cheese & soup), but we did make recipes for some visiting friends ~

Pad Thai (pictured below) - I do buy the Taste of Thai sauce, but buy the rice noodles at the Asian store for much cheaper. The sauce is a little pricey too, so I'm hoping to find a good recipe for it too (but cooking for guests is not the time to experiment!). I'd recommend using about 2/3 of the noodles called for so the sauce is not spread so thin. We normally make this with cubed ham (like in the picture) but this time I used shredded rotisserie chicken - good, but a little too monotone.

► Molasses Cookies - Justin's grandmother's recipe! Crispy on the outside, chewy inside, and incredible flavor. We inhaled these. I don't have a recipe link so I'll just paste it below ~

1.5 sticks butter, 1 cups sugar, 1 egg, ¼ cups molasses, 2 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking soda, ¼ tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground ginger. Mix dough & chill overnight (or stick in the freezer for a few minutes!). Shape into 1” balls, dip into sugar. Bake 10 min. at 350 F. Makes about 40!

Pad Thai

Last week we tried several new recipes ~

Hashbrown Bites (for breakfasts) - Made these in regular muffin tins filled halfway and they barely crisped at all. Not very impressed, and even eating 3 (1/4 of the batch) left me feeling hungry.

Ranch Pork chops over mashed potatoes with cabbage & applesauce (2 dinners) - Really good! I don't like the texture that chicken gets in the crock pot so it's hard to find any recipes I like but I think we'll make this one again. We doubled the sauce, as recommended, and ended up with enough mashed potatoes for a third meal (forgot to mix in the Parmesan, no loss).

► Steak, (leftover) mashed potatoes, & roasted kale

Skinny Chicken Divan (2 dinners) - This was good but I was hoping for better. I'm not a fan of casseroles that involve a lot of pre-cooking before baking, but I know regular Chicken Divan takes a lot of work too, so I was willing to overlook that.

The chicken already had a lot of flavor from the cheese and being browned while the broccoli was a little bland. Next time I would pour all of the sauce over the broccoli (instead of half there, half on the chicken). We also ended up with a *lot* of water at the bottom of the casserole dish with no idea why.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bedazzled & a Stamped Franken

Claire's polishes are always on sale 'buy one, get one half off', so I grabbed a glitter top coat called "Bedazzled" when I bought the lovely "Candy Shop". Bedazzled is a copy of Deborah Lippmann's "Happy Birthday" polish, packed full of multi-colored glitter.

Purple with Bedazzled glitter

I layered "Bedazzled" over a dark purple polish but was so underwhelmed with the look that I removed it all right away to make room for a prettier manicure. I don't want to give up on the polish yet though - perhaps it would be prettier over a different color base coat, or maybe used for an accent nail or glitter gradient instead.

The purple polish was Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails in "Rock Bottom". I've been looking for a good purple shade for a while but everything is too blue, red, light, dark, etc. I was pleased to find this one but the polish was way to sheer, taking 3 or 4 slow drying coats which were easily marred. I've since added a few drops of more opaque, dark purples to the bottle to see if that makes it useable.

The next manicure is a special one because it features my first frankened polish! "Frankening" is a term used for mixing a few polishes together to create something new. It's an especially great way to use up a those nearly empty bottles!

I started with a heavily used bottle of Sally Hansen "Marine Scene". Below you can see I marked the bottom line to show how much of it was left, I'll say 3 parts. I then added 2 parts Sinful Colors "Pearl Harbor" (an iridescent green & blue glitter topcoat) and 1 part Pure Ice "Beware" (a silver glitter topcoat). "Marine Scene" is already a very sheer color, so I worried that adding so much clear coat would things worse & added in a few drops of dark blue & green to add in some more pigment and get the darker teal color I was after. The polish turned out really lovely & shimmery!

Teal franken with wavy silver dots (Bundle Monster)

Not wanting to cover up too much of the color, I taped off my nails diagonally & stamped the edge with Pure Ice "Silver Mercedes" and Bundle Monster plate BM-209. I love the look of the pattern but it was a really terrible choice! The stamp was so narrow it would not even cover this small section of my nail and I had to draw in missing areas on most of my nails.

I did not even want to mess with that on my right hand so I used bottom right print from Konad plate M63. This pattern did not match as well but I think it would be pretty if you used a 2nd base color before stamping.

Have you tried frankening yet?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Dinners for the Week

Doritos Casserole with corn - I've been slowly tweaking this one & think last night was the best yet! It's finally ready to share & that just gives us an excuse to make it again soon so I can take a picture! Until then I'll share the unfinished recipe page with you.

Chinese Roast Chicken with Coriander Rice (2 dinners) - We've made this dish a few times now & it is so good! I think I follow this recipe pretty closely except that I double or quadruple the ingredients so that we each have 2 drumsticks & one portion of rice (for 2 meals). 1 drumstick a piece isn't going to cut it!

This time I also threw a bunch of fresh green beans in with the rice (boiling it in the water  with the rice & mixing it all in the sauce). I love green beans but thought the rice was not quite as tasty as before, but Justin & Orson had no issues with it! We didn't think Orson would eat the drumstick & did not make any for him but he got ahold of his dad's and proudly took a few bites so I'll definitely count him in next time.

► (Frozen) Fish Fillets with roasted broccoli

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Red Test & Purple Netting Nails

A few posts ago I mentioned that I am on the hunt for a good red polish that can stamp over black. So far I've bought three that turned out to be duds. I did a test stamp (Bundle Monster plate BM-201) of each over white & black to show the problems.

Red Test on White

Pointer finger - China Glaze "Ruby Pumps"
I bought this polish after seeing it on this list of polishes that work well for stamping. It's a beautiful shimmery red that I am happy to own but I do not agree with the list. When you use this polish the first coat goes on sheer and purplish. It looks nothing like the bottle but the glitter builds up with a 2nd or 3rd coat to create a true fire engine red. When stamping you get the same look as that first coat - red-violet, not too bad over white, but too sheer to really be a 'stamping' polish.

Middle finger - Konad Special Red
A great, crisp print, just as we'd expect from Konad.

Ring finger - Jessica "Cinderella Red"
I bought this one after seeing this picture of it stamped over black (here's the post). Unfortunately the color looks nothing like the picture but is a dark burgundy color. The product shot is closer to the color but still not dark or brown enough. It stamped very purple and very smudgy.

And over black...

Red Test on Black

... they all disappear. The first two are only visible under close inspection. "Cinderella Red" does show up slightly, but only in the brightest spot of light.

This is probably the next polish I will buy in this quest, but I am a little worried after the Jessica picture faked me out. At least with the big brands I know I can sell them on eBay if they don't work (which I'm doing with those last two!).

And now for a happy manicure!

Purple with Netting (Bundle Monster)

The base is a generic old purple I have (Enamelettes “Pearly Grape”) topped with a coat of OPI “It’s My Year”. I recently figured out that polish is awesome layered over over pinks or purples, giving them a golden shimmer that reminds me of some Zoya polishes. I stamped over that with Konad Special Black & Bundle Monster plate BM-209, not wanting to cover up the color too much! This was really gorgeous in person & I couldn't help but stare at my nails.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ozotic 506

Today I have some pics of a very special polish for you!! I asked for this one for Mother's Day because it's quite a bit more than I would normally spend on polish ($20), but you'll see why it's worth the price below.

Ozotic 506 is a color shifting polish (a "multi chrome") that is very sheer on it's own & looks best layered over a dark polish to make the the colors really pop. Here I am wearing it over black & holding my hand up above my head. As I move my hand down you can see the color goes from a reddish purple through purple, dark blue, blue, and finally to teal.

Ozotic 506, 1


Ozotic 506, 3

Ozotic 506, 4

Ozotic 506, 5

Ozotic 506, 6

Ozotic 506, 7

And sometimes, when you have lights coming in from different angles, you can catch two colors on your nail ~

Ozotic 506, 8

These pics are a few months old but I kept delaying editing them (wow, my nails are so short!). Of course I had to try it out as soon as it arrived!

Tragically Ozotic recently announced that they will be discontinuing the whole 500 line, which includes other multi chromes, so it may be a bit harder to find now. I bought mine from the awesome Llarowe. It looks like she is out of 506 for now but 505 is very similar, shifting to a green instead of teal. I did see some 506 on Amazon & eBay for a little more $$.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dinners for the Week(s)

2 new recipes last week! ~

Asian BBQ Chicken with grilled corn - Very good! She recommends using thighs but we had some breasts to use up. I cut them at their thickest point & folded that out to give it a more uniform thickness for grilling. You can find directions for grilling the corn on their site as well.

Chicken Tikka Masala (2 dinners) with roasted butternut squash - The reviews for this one were right - amazing! Do take notes from the comments though. The salt amount is way off, so only use 1 tsp each for the marinade & sauce (about 1/4 of what they call for!) I used garam masala in place of the cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne in the marinade since it is a mix of those spices. And I left out the spicy stuff because I'm a wimp!

I've wanted to make this one for a long time but avoided it because it was hard to grill at our old place. Once we were ready to make it I notice that you only grill the chicken for a few minutes on skewers & then simmer it in sauce for 10 minutes afterward. We ended up skipping the skewer & grilling all together to keep it simple & just put the chicken into the sauce raw & let it cook through as it simmered.

► Grilled hamburgers, steak fries, and side salad

Thai Basil Curry

This week we were not as adventurous & stuck with old favorites ~

Thai Basil Curry (pictured above) - This recipe is not 100% finished but I'll share the work-in-progress. The dish ended up a little spicy this time - perhaps I added extra curry base?

Shrimp with Coconut Rice

Baked Spaghetti Casserole with green beans (2 dinners, pictured below)

Spaghetti Casserole

I also tried out a new breakfast recipe ~

Bubble Biscuits - These were good but the lack of amounts in the recipe was not fun. I used the 6 eggs called for, ham lunchmeat in place of bacon, & 3 cups of hash browns, which ended up making 20 biscuits (Grands Jr. biscuits). I'd halve that in the future!

However, both Justin and I agreed that the hash browns were really a waste in this one. The taste was too similar to the biscuit to be noticed & so I'd choose different fillers if I made these again.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Subtle Flower & Stained Glass Nails

Ever since I started stamping my nails I wanted to do a design with a pretty flower and some green leaves in the background. I tried early doing this early on & realized I did not have the right colors. The red ended up too purple, the green too blue, and both were too sheer ~

Flowers & Leaves on Silver (Bundle Monster)

Well, apparently I still don’t have good polishes! The colors are better but barely visible, only seen in the brightest spot of light. 

Flowers on dark gray (Bundle Monster)

The base is a dark metallic gray, NYC “Bowery Black”, and I stamped the leaf with Kleancolor “Metallic Green” and Bundle Monster plate BM-208 (the green is a little too sheer in this case, but shows up OK on some colors). I then stamped the flower with plate BM-06 and Konad Special Red. While this polish is meant for stamping it was totally lost over the dark color, I think you would need something metallic to stand out. I stamped over the flower with China Glaze “Ruby Pumps” to give it a little shimmer but it was still not clear at all.

I’ve bought three duds so far In my quest to find a red that will stamp over black. Who knew that would be so hard to find? I did some comparison stamping of the three & will post that for you soon.

After that fail I wanted to do something pretty & tried this stained glass look with my new striping tape. The colors were so much prettier in real life - the picture does not do this one justice!

Teal & Green Stained Glass Nails

Looking at the pointer finger, the colors used were - (top left) ORLY’s “Halley’s Comet”, (top right) Color Club “Cold Metal”, (bottom left) Sally Hansen “Marine Scene”, and (bottom right) Kleancolor “Metallic Green”. The black lines were added with the striping tape.

I followed the directions from the video, using one polish as a base color ("Marine Scene"), laying down tape as a guide for the colors, and then replacing that with new tape at the end. I would recommend doing one coat of each color, removing the tape, and then adding however many coats are needed so that it doesn’t get built up at the sides of the tape or dry too much before you pull the tape up.

The technique worked well but it was slow going. I’ve never worked with the tape before & it was much harder to manipulate those tiny pieces than I had expected! I do think I would get quicker at it with practice but by the time I’d finished my left hand I had no motivation to replicate that on my right hand. (Working at home it’s not like anyone is even going to see it!)

Unfortunately the striping tape does not want to stay down at the nail tip, no matter how much top coat you put over or under it. I was constantly trimming the end and filling in the missing line with a Sharpie! I bought my set of tape for super cheap on eBay & wondered if it was just a lousy brand, but looking online it seems most people have problems with it lasting. Taping side-to-side seemed to stay better, and perhaps some pricier or wider brands stick better, but I’m skeptical. So sad!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dinners for the Week

This week we went with some old & new favorites for dinners ~

Chicken Cobbler Casserole with side salad (2 dinners) - I do make a few changes to this recipe (more bread!) which I need to type up soon.

► Tacos

Onion BBQ Chicken with roasted broccoli (2 dinners) - It looks like the firs site is down but you can still see the recipe faintly in the background.

I did try out one new recipe for breakfast ~

Bacon & Egg Ring - I only used about 1/4 of the cheese called for and 1/2 piece of (thinly sliced) ham lunchmeat in place of the bacon slices. I cut the ring into 5 pieces for breakfast through the week and it was so good I'll be making it again this week!

Next time I think I will cut it into 4 pieces instead of 5 to make it a little more filling and easier to divide up. I checked the nutrition info (with my ingredient changes) and it looks like 1/5 is 250 calories or 1/4 is 300 - not too bad!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

China Glaze - flop & dots

I recently picked up 2 China Glaze polishes on clearance on Sally's. The first was a teal crackle polish which I thought was from their newer glitter set I'd seen pics of here, but I guess they were just selling off old ones to make room for those.

"Oxidized Aqua" is such a pale silvery blue that I think you would only be able to see the crackle effect over a dark color. I layered it over Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in "Black Out" and it looked pretty good on the thumb ~

Aqua Crackle - thumb

But failed on the rest of the nails. The middle two nails here had hardly any cracks, and none of them had a particularly nice pattern ~

Aqua Crackle

After seeing that I didn't even bother painting the other hand & moved on to another polish. I don't think I'll be keeping that one!

Now this is actually a manicure that I did while I was camera-less & I loved it so much that I re-did to take pics. The base is a shimmery dark green with a brownish tint called "Agro". I love the color and the fact that it's from the Hunger Games collection! (I'm so tempted to get this one but know I realistically wouldn't wear it that often.)

Agro with silver dots

Inspired by the ring finger here I used my largest nail-dotter to dot two lines down each nail with Pure Ice "Silver Mercedes". At first I tried using a smaller sized dotter to make two rows on the pinkie nail, but I didn't like the look & ended up using one row for the pinkie & three on the thumbnail.

I love the look of this & it is so easy to do! I'll definitely be dotting rows again in the future. My only qualm is this particular color combo - I feel like this shade of green would look better with a bronze or dark gold, but I use what I have!