Friday, March 30, 2012

Happy YouTube Friday



Happy Friday!



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Easy homemade vegetable broth

Wordless recipe. Go: 









The low down: keep scraps of veggies in a bag in the freezer, when bag is full boil for an hour or 2 in water and spices. Strain and use broth as needed. Easy, homemade and FREE.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Meals for the Week - March 25th


I'm back with our meals for the week. Guess what? It's all vegetarian. Again. We couldn't be happier about the low meat intake at our house lately. We stocked up with some goodies from Trader Joes this weekend. As usual we've got 1 pizza on the menu - ever noticed that we usually eat 1 pizza a week? I've slowly realized we do.

Happy eating!


Friday, March 23, 2012

YouTube Friday - the cat



Our cat Cornelius has learned a new trick! Yes he does tricks; he's special. We taught him the trick 'rollover', which we can get him to do whenever he's laying down - mostly in the kitchen. I finally managed to capture his skills on video. To see his other videos of Up, Sit, Shake & Speak watch here.

We're so proud.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Suave Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit review

While at the store a few days ago and feeling pretty bad about my hair I decided to pick up Suave's Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit. I have a huge love/hate relationship with my hair. Like every other girl I want what I don't have. My hair is sort of thick, with waves in some spots, curls in others, and often it's straight. With a lot of frizz. It does terrible with humidity, rain or wind. In other words it's a pain and I rarely think it looks good.

This keratin infusion kit is suppose to smooth your hair for 30 days. It claims to take unmanageable hair and make it smooth, sleek and straight. Yes I would love that.

The only love side of the love/hate thoughts on my hair is that it's dry; meaning I don't have to wash it that often. I only wash my hair every few days. In fact it looks better if I don't wash it. Day 2 or 3 are the best hair days for me. The other pro for my hair (if I really stop to think about any pros at all) is that it holds curls. For many I know holding curls can be a source of pain. For me, not so much. I can curl my hair and it'll stay for days; not hours. Wa-stinking-hoo.

The before shots (yes very myspace-esk I know sorry):
Suave Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit review blog, hair, suave professionals, straight
Don't know why I didn't ask my photographer husband to get better shots of my hair. They'd at least be in focus and show the texture much better than these "hey betcha don't think I'm 27" shots.
Suave Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit review blog, hair, suave professionals, straight
Regardless, you can see my hair is sorta wild, sorta weird, sorta normal. My ears tend to curl the hair behind them. These shots were taken 24 hours after washing and letting it air dry. I have in my 27 years learned how to successfully "do" my hair for social gatherings and what not. It takes a lot of product and heat. Both of which are not good for my hair and nothing good comes out of a small enclosed space with a person who's arms are tired from holding them up and a lot of hair spray. Ingestion of chemicals much? Who's found organic hair spray?
Suave Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit review blog, hair, suave professionals, straight
Onward. Here's the kit. So some of the reasons I actually bought this kit were that I had just received a $50 visa card from winning a blog contest a few weeks ago. Thanks BlogHer! Also I had a $2 off coupon from the newspaper. Plus Tony was egging me on "treat yourself" in the shampoo aisle. I gave in.

Suave Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit review blog, hair, suave professionals, straight
There are three steps which involve putting large quantities of semi gross smelling products in your hair. Step one was the worst. You have to put an entire bottle of product in your hair. It was something like 10 oz or more. Use in a well ventilated area; please. You basically put the stuff in your hair, let it sit, comb it and rinse. Then repeat for step two. 

Steps one and two made my hair pretty stiff and hard to comb through. Forming a paste of sorts while still trying to apply the last 6 oz to get the full benefit. I managed to get it all on without too much of my hair falling out. Good to know: there is no formaldehyde in this product. Sign of relief.

Suave Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit review blog, hair, suave professionals, straight
The third step is just using a little of the smoothing creme before you blow dry. That was easy and you keep it for using in the future. By this point my hair was stick straight and very smooth. I took care to rinse for the plus five minutes it said in the directions. Even still the front of my scalp by my hairline felt like it would never come clean. I suppose it did. You weren't allowed to use shampoo during any of this - or 48 hours after.
Suave Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit review blog, hair, suave professionals, straight

Total time? 1 hour, 45 mins from start to finish. That includes from the pre kit regular shampoo and the last of the flat ironing. Despite not being a pro (at all) with the hair dryer I ended up with this:

Suave Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit review blog, hair, suave professionals, straight

Looks pretty good I think! It is very smooth and soft. It falls between my fingers easily which is so different than before where I would rake my fingers through just to part the stuff. I've noticed it's really easy to comb, easy to dry, and easy to style. So far it has stayed the same way and behaved itself. Granted I've been indoors not venturing out post keratin cycle to test the weather. Big interview Friday to be pretty for. This picture below is the next morning after sleeping on it and dragging a comb through it gently once (since that's all it took). Photo above is about 5 minutes post hair dry and flat iron. I know that I need a trim and that would make it look better yes.

Suave Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit review blog, hair, suave professionals, straight

Suave Keratin Infusion 30 Day Smoothing Kit review blog, hair, suave professionals, straight

You can use the kit every 3 months and they kindly give you a coupon inside the box to buy another box. You also are recommended to you use the Suave special shampoo & conditioner line of products with keratin in it. I will not since I just got some free shampoo & conditioner from one of my sampling/survey companies to test. The kit cost $14.99 (I think, or was it $11.99?) and I had a $2 off coupon. Not a bad deal.

Overall I am very satisfied with the kit. I'd say it has done what it said it would. It has given me softer, straighter more manageable hair. It should last 30 days and then slowly go back to the way your hair was before. I'm hoping it'll last a little longer than that since I don't wash my hair every day. We'll see. 

 **This is not a sponsored post. Suave doesn't endorse this, they didn't pay for my product, in fact they don't even know who I am. All opinions expresses are solely my own.


Want more? Check out my 30 days later review here!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Yearbooks by shutterfly

You remember yearbooks right? Those old school true yearbooks that are now piled up in your parents house? I'm here today to tell you about an exciting offer from shutterfly. They have made yearbooks cool. c.o.o.l.

Shutterfly now has a great way for everyone to preserve school memories. All you lucky parents out there take note! Prices are as low as 5 bucks a book! Contact them for a quote and save up to 75%.



You may think that in this digital age your kids' school (or little league team, summer camp, church group etc) doesn't need a real yearbook. Ha. Fast forward 10-20 years. Nothing beats taking your boyfriend home as an adult and showing them your yearbook. My husband and I often still flip through mine when at my parents house. Nothing like looking at all the old hairstyles and clothes in those old photo yearbooks! Visit http://www.shutterfly.com/yearbook/ for more information.

They make it really easy to create the books and these memories that will last a lifetime. Professionally bound and made to last. Psst. you can re-order from their site anytime! I know a good deal when I see one and so I just had to share this. Fun fact: I was on the yearbook staff in high school. I was even the editor! Twice. Pretty snazzy. Yeah okay well we had a very small school but it was still a lot of work. I would have killed for something like this back in 2002.

Be sure to check shutterfly out on facebook, twitter and of course pinterest.

*This post is sponsored by Shutterfly. Though all opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Break 2K12!

I've been a little distant from the blog lately but only because we were out of town! Wahoo! I was so excited to find out we could go to the >>>beach<<< for practically nothing! Tony had spring break last week with an entire week off from grad school. He has a classmate with a family friend who has an incredible beach house in Pawleys Island, South Carolina that he let us use for... free. omg.

A bunch of people from CRNA school, their friends, family, significant others etc all piled in and we traveled down to South Carolina for the week. What a break! I had just finished up working a temp job here in Richmond so it was great timing. Since all the group had to pay for was the cleaning fee for the beach rental we figured we could actually afford a vacation. Normally an out of town week long trip would not be in our budget but we made it work! 

It was incredible and beautiful and relaxing and delicious and more! We did a lot of cooking at the house to save money and not eat out every meal. Tony and I made some great dishes!

Since we were down south we just had to make classic shrimp n' grits. We loosely followed Paula Deen's recipe. Pretty much following my way of cooking here. Using too much cream and bacon led to a food coma. narf.


We also made the southern classic a low country boil. This is a very easy one pot wonder. Check out this recipe http://www.coastalliving.com/food/entertaining/lowcountry-boil-00400000001984/. In case you're not familiar with this its basically corn on the cob, red potatoes, shrimp & sausage. Done and done.

We both decided we had meat overload after this trip. We ate it multiple times a day for a week. After going almost entirely vegetarian in 2011 and now eating meat again since January we both don't want it that much. It's really heavy and makes me drowsy (or was that vacation nap mode?). We both agree that we'll still eat meat but sparingly. We just don't want or need it that much. It also makes the 'sometimes' very special.

Yes that is the view out of our back window in the photo above - aka the beach. This was beachfront property with gorgeous views. You can spot the gazebo on the right in the photo. That leads down to the sand.

We explored some, relaxed some, hung out on the beach, got ripped off on buying sunblock (better safe and broke than sorry sometimes), and generally enjoyed a stress free week. We even woke up early to watch the sunrise one day.


The amazing beach house had some sweet decor. Check out this lobster lamp shade! There were two. The inside was kinda abstract art that made for really cool late night glow. We also noticed this kinda querky fish on the wall. It was a coffee mug holder over the coffee station. Notice anything funny. It's a sad fish. Yep - sad face. Bummer. Even decor fish should get excited about vacations + coffee (even if I don't drink it anymore).
If you still get a spring break hope it's a good one!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The recipe for how I cook

How do I cook? Often I post recipes here or tell people what I've made and this is how is really goes. I have my own thing.  I'm all over the place. I make it probably seem much easier than it is because I never strictly use one recipe. Here is my method.
  1. Decide what I want to make, or at least get an idea for what ingredients to start with. Soup? Casserole? Mexican?
  2. Look up legit recipes 
    1. online - you should see how many tabs I can open at once in Google Chrome. It's insane. I've always got 5 things going on at once. Looking up recipes, working on the blog, reading google reader, researching Christmas gifts, email & job applications. Phew. I normally just google the food or dish and see what comes up. I'll use the first couple top hits. Another tip I use a lot: 

    I search the recipe on google. Then hit the 'more' button on the left hand side of the screen. Then choose blogs. I love getting the blog worlds' perspective on stuff. Often you'll find the best, easiest to follow, most colorful recipes. No crazy links to get all 18 steps with no photos, or links that pop up all over the place. Usually blogs are simple, they explain what their doing, offer simple photos, and tips like what to pair this with, or what to do if your're out on an ingredient. I'm just a huge blog fan.



    2. our cookbook collection - I think we have about 15 cook books of which 2 are everything all purpose everything cookbooks.  I often browse them to see if they have the classic version of what I want to make.  The Joy of Cooking and Better Homes & Gardens are my go to day to day favorites.  The cookbook with the molecular gastronomy doesn't normally get pulled out.



3. Completely change my original idea
4. Go into the kitchen and check the pantry. Often if I see something fresh that needs to be eaten or an overstock of a certain product like pasta or rice I'll choose to go in that direction.
5. Change idea again - probably something close to what I had in mind in the first place.
6. Take bits of pieces from all of the recipes I've read.
7. Mentally merge all the ideas into Robin's version of the meal.
8. Go along cooking the meal often referencing recipes but changing quantities and versions. ie. brown rice instead of white rice, onions for leeks, homemade buttermilk for real buttermilk, changing the veggies up, excluding some items, changing the cooking times or vessels for baking in. Is almond vanilla milk interchangeable for skim milk?!? yikes. the answer: sometimes.
9. Often panic when I didn't read any of the recipes thoroughly and realize I almost missed an entire step.
10. Somehow manage to successfully merge all ideas and foods together and come out with something hopefully good.
11. No worries, I always end up with an amazing meal that tastes great. If I do say so myself.

This is my crazy method that I've been perfecting over the last few years. It seems to be working well for me. Who's hungry?

I should say that this method really comes out when I'm making something for the first time. Once I've made a dish a few times I get more comfortable and just cook from memory. I'd like to memorize all my favorite recipes because I think it'd make me look cool. (In front of who I ask myself!?) I know most people probably do best following one recipe to the letter but I'm often all over the place when it comes to cooking.

How does the rest of the world approach cooking (something new)?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hearty Tomato and Herb Dumpling Soup

This tomato and dumpling soup is a favorite. If our house was a restaurant it'd be a house favorite. We eat this every couple months or so and each time I make it everyone (all two of us) give a big sigh of yummy relief knowing what's to come. A delicious, filling and satisfying meal that we know will be good. Hakuna Matata - it means no worries.

It's a great pantry staple meal since the recipe calls for canned items and things you've probably always got around (or at least we do). Of course you can always use fresh stuff in season - like tomatoes. This to me is a great example of a vegetarian meal done right. Besides TJ's faux chick'n nuggets, I'm generally not a fan of fake meat products so this really provides it all for me. Veggies, protein (chickpeas), grains, herbs, spices and cheese. Hope those are meal requirements for your food too! Enjoy!


Hearty Tomato and Herb Dumpling Soup
Adapted from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

Serves 4 (ha, maybe 3!!)

Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 3/4 cup vegetable stock
1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes

Dumplings
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs
3 tablespoons water

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan and saute the onion for 2-3 minues or until soft. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander and chili powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and tomatoes and blend with an immersion blender (or skip for chunk style soup)

Stir in the chickpeas and bring to a boil. Once it boils reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 10 minutes.

To make the dumplings, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the chopped butter and knead with your fingers until the mixture starts to resemble fine bread crumbs. Stir in the cheese and herbs, and then make a well in the center of the mixture. Add in the water and mix together (use your fingers for this step).

Divide the dough into 8 portions and roll into small balls. Add the dumplings to the soup, cover and simmer for 20 more minutes.


Why we have organic cumin is beyond me. What's more random than having that spice in organic variety? Having TWO of those in organic variety. That's what happens when you combine forces (aka get married).


The smell of cooking onions is heaven over here. If I time it right I can be cooking just onions when Tony walks in the door at night and he'll say "dinner smells great!". Really all I've done is the onions but it elevates the entire meal because of those great smelling first expectations.


I took this photo last time I made the meal. It was before Christmas and I didn't have my immersion blender back then. I used our blender for the smoothing step of the soup. It works just as good but it such a hassle. The fear of having hot liquid all over the kitchen makes me go very slow in small portions. I use a step-stool so I can stand right above the blender and put my entire body weight on the lid so it doesn't pop off. That'd be a funny photo!


The (almost) final product!

Happy Friday. Enjoy!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Followers

In continuing with last weeks' tweet announcement I'm keeping with the social media theme.

Up next: the blog itself and that other web sensation: Pinterest.

Ya know what? I do look at how many followers I have. It makes me happy in a very small way. Now interestingly enough I have more Pinterest followers than blog followers. Not that I'm trying to keep score or anything but I started this blog waaayyy before Pinterest was popular (or I even became a member). Interesting how people lately have seemed to flock to Pinterest and follow anyone's boards they know.

Most of my Pinterest followers are just friends from college and such. I have started to gain random people (hello you) who have found me from the depths of the internet. So fun.
Follow Me on Pinterest
153 Pinterest followers! 87 Google blog followers. I'm really not with it regarding the proper way to follow blogs, the best placement for the button or if people even use this feature. Do you? I sometimes do. I know the  google friends connect gadget is going away soon for Wordpress members. Sad. I also know that I myself often just type a URL into my google reader then just read it from there. Does that count? Uh... I've been doing this for over a year and I'm definitely still a beginner. I'm okay with that.

I may have changed some things around since taking this screen shot.
also - banana ad? Oh google.

Thanks to all my readers. Official followers or not, whether you comment or not, keep it up. I'll keep blogging. Coming up: soup(s) recipe(s). 


Friday, March 2, 2012

tweet tweet

Guess what?

Our Semi Organic Life is on twitter! Well... has been, but I never published the fact. I'm still working on getting the little button on my sidebar to look normal and work properly. How the heck? I need coding help bad. Any recommendations?

But click away and be one of my 20 or so followers. Bonus points if we didn't go to college together.



I've been busy lately but plan on getting my blogging back up to regular speed. I've been working at The Lion King while the show is in town and those have been some late nights! I've got fun recipes and semi organic goodies coming up soon though! Have a great weekend!

while you're here  Follow Me on Pinterest just because I got some fun things going on there.

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