15 Minute Morning Yoga

Do you have 15 minutes to spare? No? Think again. You most likely do. 15 Minutes in the scope of 24 hours is really no time at all.

When I woke up this morning I felt like I had been run over by a bus. I was having some insane dreams last night. I was chasing something, then I’d wake up, glad to be awake only to realize it was already 1 pm!! How did it get that late!?!? I never sleep that late! Turns out I was still dreaming. It was only 9:30 am. Dream with a dream. It was all very Inception.

Since I felt awful, but the day was still young (Hey, I got 3 1/2 hours of my day back in a matter of minutes!) I decided to use that time towards something productive: working out. Lifting weights just didn’t sound appealing but this 15 minute yoga session did.

15 Minute Morning Yoga from Yoga By Candace

Check out her website for other great yoga videos. I’ve already followed her on Facebook. I’ve found that on your most stressful or unproductive days, yoga is the way to go.

If you’re having reservations about this, don’t. The 15 minutes flew by. Before I knew it I was halfway through the session and I felt I hardly did anything. This isn’t very hard and gives you a good stretch. You don’t need incredible flexibility for this. I’d say it’s perfect for beginners. Both feet are on the floor for most of the routine, so balance isn’t a huge problem either.

 

Grade: Cost: Time:
A+ Free 15 Minutes
Level of Difficulty:
Easy-Medium
What I Would Change:
Nothing. You can check out her website for longer videos
Overall Impression:
I felt so much better after I did this. Not just better, refreshed. It only takes 15 minutes and those 15 minutes were well spent.

Fresh Spinach Tomato Garlic Tortellini Soup

I pinned this recipe originally as a Slow Cooker. Turns out it’s just a 30 minute meal on the stove. I’ve been hoarding tomatoes for awhile. Recipe calls for 2? Oh I’ll buy 3… Suddenly I have 4 tomatoes and no idea what to do with them. A few nights of negative temperatures and suddenly nothing sounds better than soup.

I had to make a few adjustments to this recipe. Turns out I didn’t have everything I needed, but I already started so there was no going back. I’ve included my changes and comments in Bold. 

Original Recipe:

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: About 6 servings

 Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 lb Roma tomatoes (about 9 medium) (I had 4 roma tomatoes, so I threw in one can of garlic roma tomatoes to offset buying more)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion finely chopped (1 1/2 cups) (I guestimated. I think I only added about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (more or less to taste)
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) low-sodium chicken broth (I only had 1 quart so I added an extra cup of water and used half a cup of Cream of Chicken Soup. Really not sure that is a great substitution.)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (20 oz) package refrigerated three cheese tortellini
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar (Didn’t have any, so didn’t add it” 
  • 6 – 9 oz fresh spinach, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (My basil plant is dying, so I only had 2 fresh leaves and had to use dried basil instead) 
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, for serving (I had fresh mozzarella instead) 

Directions:

  • Heat a pot of water to a boil and fill a medium mixing bowl with ice water. Once water in pot boils, carefully drop tomatoes into water and boil until skins burst, about 3 – 4 minutes (if a few of them are having trouble bursting, you can remove them from the water and cut an “X” in the bottom of the tomato then return to water for about another minute until skins slightly pull alway). Remove from boiling water and transfer to ice bath, cool slightly then peel, seed and dice into bite size pieces, set aside. ( I overcooked my tomatoes. Once they burst they are done. I cooked them a few extra minutes so they were all mushy)
  • In a pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Pour in chicken broth and water, then increase temp to moderately high heat and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, add tortellini, season with salt and pepper to tastes and boil 7 minutes (or longer if directed on tortellini package). (Watch out. The tortellini cooks fast)
  • Stir in sugar, tomatoes, spinach and basil and cook until heated through and spinach wilts. Serve warm topped with Parmesan cheese.

*If it’s winter and you’re having a hard time finding good Roma tomatoes, you could sub 2 cans regular/petite diced tomatoes, but during the summer when tomatoes are in their prime I highly highly recommend fresh. They make such a difference. (My diced tomatoes already came with garlic so I adjusted how much I added earlier) 

Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

My Result:

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There was something missing… I can’t blame the recipe because I had to improvise quite a bit. Perhaps it was the lack of sugar, or the lack of fresh basil. I could’t quite put my finger on it.

image

The soup we had was what a soup should be. Quite a bit of soup with some tortellini. Overall I wished I had less liquid and more noodles, but this could be from my changes. I also felt the tortellini were really big. I wished I had used a smaller noodle. Does anyone make smaller tortellini? If so, use those. One noodle would take up the entire spoon and leave you with little broth.

image

A few weeks ago my sister made a different, creamier version of a tortellini soup. Honestly, I liked that one a little better. The tortellini worked better with the creamy soup. If I were to make this soup again I might opt for smaller noodles like ditalini or Orzo.

Grade: Cost: Time:
A <$10 <30 Minutes
Level of Difficulty:
Medium
What I Would Change:
Do some prep and make sure you have all the ingredients. Change the pasta to something a little smaller.
Overall Impression:
I think that if I followed this recipe a little closer it might have been a little bit better. My creation was decent in its own right, but there was just something a hint off. Regardless it did a great job warming us up on a freezing cold night.

How to Clean Stainless Steel

When I first checked out my apartment I saw the stainless steel appliances and though “oooh fancy!” After two weeks and countless water stains I was less than impressed. After a month I wanted to scream! For someone who is a little obsessive about cleaning this endless battle was going to be a problem. That is on top of my endless battle to keep light gray tiled floors clean (NEVER EVER EVER
add light colored tile to a floor of a main walkway.

Back to the stainless steel. How do you clean it? I began to search over and over for different methods. I’m glad I did my research first. I read one suggestion that said to use a lemon to lift hard stains. Turns out it ended up stripping part of the color. I did NOT want that. I’m not sure what’s more petrifying: experimenting on a brand new stainless steel fridge you just bought or experimenting on a brand new stainless steel fridge your landlord bought. Both are pretty frightening.

I found a couple pins that suggested using pledge to clean the fridge. Really? Pledge? I thought it was just for wood shelves. I never would have thought to use it for stainless steel.  I read up a LOT about this because I wanted to be positive that it wouldn’t ruin it. Not only was Pinterest adamant that it works, but I also read that it’s the choice product for professional cleaners. That was it. I was sold.

Use Pledge to clean stainless steel appliances.

Use Pledge to clean stainless steel appliances.

What do I need to do?
Just buy a regular bottle of pledge. It should say on the bottle it can be used on stainless steel. Do NOT use anything with bleach! I also read to not use the vinegar trick. It says it works, but if you leave it on too long it will cause problems like the lemon trick. In simple terms it’s bad news bears.

When you get home, spray pledge on a cloth or paper towel. Do NOT spray directly on the appliance. I used a washcloth and it worked well. I sprayed very little on the cloth when cleaning the microwave, and stove. They seemed to do the trick. The dishwasher needed a lot more help. I wiped it down probably 4 or 5 times until I was happy all the stain were off.

Tip: make sure you are wiping with the grain, not against it. If you look close enough, you can see whether it’s horizontal or vertical. Nothing bad happens if you go the wrong way, but it will look nicer if you go in the same direction.

Before:
image

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After:
image

image

Grade: Cost: Time:
A+ $4 for Pledge 5 Minutes
Level of Difficulty:
Easy (unless you’re seriously stressing like I was)
What I Would Change:
Use a flat cloth like an old t-shirt.
Overall Impression:
IT WORKED!!!! I wanted to hug my appliances when I was done. They look beautiful again.

Last Minute Halloween Costume – Deer

Two weeks ago I was invited to a Halloween party that was happening the same day I was helping with a baby shower.  Between crafting the decorations and baking a cake and 2 dozen cupcakes, I did not have time to think of a costume.  Once the shower was over, my sister and I packed up the car and headed to Salvation Army to see what we could find.  I pulled up my Pinterest app for ideas and found this Deer Make Up Tutorial.  Sidebar:  I don’t own a lot of make up.  I literally have the bare bones essentials.  For this tutorial I bought some white and brown grease make up from the pop up Halloween store by my house.

Deer Make Up

My sister and I as a deer and Medusa.

At Salvation Army, I found a long brown velvet dress complete with long sleeves and a turtleneck. Um no. I cut off about a foot from the bottom because this is Halloween.  As much as I don’t want to be a slutty deer, I also didn’t want to be a frumpy deer. Under the dress I put on some brown tights, brown knit socks and some low boots.  So in review, the only items I purchased was the dress for $3, and the cheap make up from the Halloween store. Not too shabby.  I also braided my hair like I did in this post. I went without antlers because I didn’t want to put sticks in my hair.  I am telling people I’m a doe.

Deer Costume Boots

My hooves

Grade: Cost: Time:

A

$12 including clothes and make up.

The make up takes about 30 minutes if you have had practice.

Level of Difficulty:
Pretty hard if you are by yourself
What I Would Change:
I wouldn’t go out and buy the make up she uses in the tutorial.  The grease make up is much more cost effective.
Overall Impression:
This was pretty cheap and cute. It is a little time consuming, but if given the option to do this or buy an overpriced costume at a Halloween store – I would choose this every time.

Halloween Boo Nail Design

Halloween is only a few days away. I still haven’t settled on a costume idea but I did find this cute nail design!

Halloween “boo” nail design

It looks easy enough. You’ll need:

  • Orange nail polish
  • White nail polish
  • Black nail polish
  • Thin paintbrush, toothpick or dotting tool.

The original pin had some instructions but they weren’t really helpful.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. Add a base coat of white. This will help make the orange pop. If it’s a thick white you only need one coat.
  2. Once the white is dry, add 1-2 coats of orange.
  3. After the orange is COMPLETELY DRY, use a toothpick/painbrush to create the ghost. Here is a great tutorial on how to make ghosts.
  4. How to make a ghost nail design. Step by step guide.

  5. Next up is the letters. the easiest way is to make the lines first. Example of how to make the “O” below:
    1.  _
    2. | |
  6. Once the lines are in place, use your tool to curve the edges. You can use the dotted technique if you’re not too steady with your hand to make lines.
  7. Next, add the eyes and mouth to the ghost. You don’t need a lot of paint on the tool you’re using.
  8. The thumb is optional and all up to you. Originally I tried to do a cobweb that just didn’t look right. Instead I covered that in black and outlines the shape of a pumpkin. I added thin black lines to create the grooves in the pumpkin.
  9. For the right hand, I started the “boo” on the pinky finger.

image

Grade: Cost: Time:
A Free Active: 30
Dry: 2 hours approx.
Level of Difficulty:
Medium/Hard
What I Would Change:
The thumb is optional. I created a pumpkin. I’d have liked to move the pumpkin up to be in the center of the nail. You could add an extra “O” to the “boo” and move the ghost to the thumb.
Overall Impression:
I received lots of compliments on this! It’s fairly easy to do if you have a steady hand. Personally I liked having the ghost at the end of the “boo” but both hands are cute.

Pumpkin Rice Krispies Treates

Disclaimer: NO they are NOT pumpkin flavored. If you wanted to I’m sure you could find a way to make them pumpkin flavored but personally I think that’s overkill. There is already too much pumpkin in the world.

Last weekend my local target had a sale on Rice Krispies and marshmalls. It’s been awhile since I brought a treat into work and I thought this would be the perfect little treat. Who doesn’t love a rice krispie treat? I personally don’t like marshmallows but still rice krispies are yummy.

If you’ve made regular rice krispies before then you’ll know how to make them but in case you need a reminder (like I did) here’s how you make them:

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You will need:

  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • red & yellow food coloring or orange gel coloring
  • 5-1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal
  • mini tootsie rolls

Instructions are simple:

  1. In a large saucepan, melt and slightly brown butter on medium heat. Add vanilla extract and marshmallows. Stir until marshmallows are completely melted. Add food coloring until desired orange color is reached. Add cereal and stir until completely combined. Turn off heat and let sit for a few minutes, until cool enough to handle.
  2. When mixture has cooled enough, spray your hands with cooking spray and mold cereal mix into circles. (I made nine medium sized pumpkins). Unwrap a tootsie roll and press into each pumpkin top. Add candy for the eyes and noses (we used a little frosting to adhere). Eat and enjoy!

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Some tips I learned:

  1. Don’t try to mold these until they are almost completely cool. If they are still too warm they will stick to your hands regardless of how much oil you put on them.
  2. Remove from othe stove once you add in the rice krispies. I mixed them all in the pot. Even though the heat was off it still crystalized the bottom. I lost a bit of the mix to this. It does NOT taste good (trust me).
  3. Make the pumpkins small. You’ll get more out of a batch.
  4. Candy faces are optional. Personally I like them better without. You still get the impression it’s a pumpkin and you save money.
  5. Double the batch. This didn’t make as many as I expected.
  6. Mini marshmallows melt faster, but large marshmallows work just as well. It will just take a little longer for them to melt.
  7. Make sure you put enough butter on the bottom so it doesn’t burn or stick.

I brought these in to work in my new (free) chip and dip bowl. It held them perfectly.
image

 

Grade: Cost: Time:
A $3 Active: 5 minutes
Cool: 10-20 minutes
Molding: 3 minutes
Level of Difficulty:
Easy
What I Would Change:
Double the recipie. Don’t leave on the stove to cool. Mix in a separate bowl instead.
Overall Impression:
Super cute. My boyfriend isn’t one into holiday decorations but he even agreed that this was a pretty clever idea. Thanks Pinterest!

Slow Cooker Sundays – Chicken Stroganoff

Grab those crockpots! It’s time for a new edition of Slow Cooker Sundays!

Today I bring you: Chicken Stroganoff. When I pinned this it came with the tagline “HEALTHY”. BAHAHAHAHA! Who are they trying to kid?… Take a look at the ingredients and judge for yourself how “healthy” this is.

  • 1 can Campbell’s 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
  • 16 oz fat free sour cream
  • 1 envelope of Lipton onion soup mix
  • 1 lb of frozen boneless skinless chicken breast

Alright, now that we have that out of the way it’s time to look at this as a great comfort food on a cold day to be eaten sparingly. Maybe once a month. Like all slow cooker recipies, this one is really easy to make. It’s also great for tight budgets.

  1. Put chicken breast in crockpot.
  2. Mix all other ingredients in a bowl and pour over chicken.
  3. Cook on low for 7 hours.
  4. Shred the chicken and stir back into sauce.
  5. Serve over egg noodles.

This recipe is delicious! Perfect on a cold day, but it CAN use some changes. I let it cook all day and while the sauce was good it needed something else. I felt like the sour cream was in your face. It was just too tart for my liking. My dad puts Worcestershire sauce in the beef stroganoff he makes at home. I added about a tablespoon to this recipe and thought it really improved it. It cut in half that tart taste of the sour cream.
Slow Cooker Sundays - Chicken Stroganoff. Tested on Pintertesting.com

Another thing I would change is adding more chicken. We only had 4 chicken breasts left. It just wasn’t enough. The sour cream and soup make for a lot of liquid. I prefer to have almost equal amounts chicken to mixture. This was more like 1/4 chicken and 3/4 mixture. Maybe 6 chicken breasts would be a better amount.

Grade: Cost: Time:
B+ approx $5 for sour cream and Lipton soup mix 7 hours on low
Level of Difficulty:
Easy
What I Would Change:
Add some worchestershire sauce. The sour cream is just a little TOO tart. Perhaps a little ketchup too? Trust me on that. We add both to a beef recipe we make and it’s perfect! I’d also add more chicken and maybe throw in some mushrooms with this.
Overall Impression:
Good but just a little off. That may be personal preference. A few changes and it’s perfect. It’s just want you need on a cold day when you’re looking for something different as comfort food.

 

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