Thursday, September 11, 2014

Style: Amanda

Today I (Jessica) get to introduce you to one my favorite young women I've met here in Idaho, my friend Amanda. This gorgeous girl and I met when I complimented her dress...she was wearing a floor length formal dress in a very casual setting with low-key accessories and was pulling it off. My kind of girl! And that kind of style takes guts when one is only seventeen and living in small town Idaho, and I do like my friends to have some guts.

As it turns out, creative fashion is kind of her thing. She's always rocking either fun, quirky clothes, daring makeup, or both. So when we decided to do a "back to school" post, I knew I wanted to showcase her independent style.

This dress was her favorite, because of the sheer black overlay, a slightly different take on the current high/low hem trend. "I LOVE it!" She told me, "It's so simple and elegant." I loved that she added her signature fun eye makeup art, it kind of looked like a butterfly heart to me. Gorgeous!

To make it more casual, she threw on a black cardigan and flat sandals. Because why not? Now it's something she can wear to school!

I knew when we started shooting, that I wanted to photograph her in front of this awesome mural of a mustached man, which is on the side of the Puffy Mondae's building in downtown Nampa, Idaho. This was so perfectly Amanda, quirky and fun. This outfit is about as basic as Amanda gets, which is to say not basic at all!

I had to get the combination of the gigantic eyeball in the background and her creative eye makeup.

This last dress was my own favorite, because it's a dress after my own heart! She found this black dress with white embroidery at a thrift store, but it had terrible boning in the top, and was an unflattering mermaid shape. Rather then let such pretty details go to waste, she cut off the top and turned it into a classic knee-length dress instead! She made it more casual with a knit cardigan and knee high boots.

She managed at the same time to look both so sweet and so unique!

I had so much fun shooting this amazing girl! There's nothing I love more then spending an afternoon having fun with good friends, and showing off the talents of people I love. Amanda always inspires me with her choices and her risk taking, and I'm so glad I could share that with you all today!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Another love letter to a giveaway!

As you all know, we LOVE Target.  There is one super close to us and we go there all the time. Sometimes we shop for clothes and home decor (remember when we shared our favorite Target finds in March?) and sometimes we buy things for our homes (like toilet paper, beauty supplies and home decor).

One of the best parts of Target (besides their gorgeous clothes and quieter atmosphere than other stores) is their up & up product line.  Up & up is Target's generic store brand, and over the last few years, we've noticed that Target has expanded the number of items under that brand.  This excites us since we are always looking for lower-cost items for our homes and children!  Hilary used up & up formula for her children (on her pediatrician's recommendation!), we both use the up & up diapers, and most of the medicines in our cabinets are up & up brand.

Just for a laugh, Hilary took pictures of just a few of the up & up products she uses at home:

As you can see, we're not kidding. We love Target.  The products are as good as their brand-name alternatives and they are always really affordable.  So when we found out that Target was adding new products to their up & up line, we jumped at the chance to review them!  We literally go to Target about every second day around here. Our kids even get excited to go, mostly for the $1 popcorn. Check out this cuteness, Jessica's son Ender (yes, that's his real name!) eating his "Pa-corn."

I (Jessica) got to test out a couple of newer up & up products Target provided for us. But I have to be honest, some of this stuff is actually things that we already use around here! The mouthwash and the children's body wash are things I've purchased before:

I was however, super excited to try out the nail polish drying spray! Our local Target hasn't had this product in stores yet. I painted my nails especially to test it out, and it worked perfectly. Score!

My daughter was also really excited to try the "new octopus body wash." Previously we've only used the bubble gum flavor, and a different sea creature on the front was a huge selling point for her.

And since we love Target so much, we are excited to giveaway a $100 Target GiftCard® to one of our lucky readers! Are you excited? Because WE wish we could enter too! To enter, simply leave a comment and let us know what your favorite Target product is!
Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#OnlyAtTarget” and “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 9/8-10/22.
Be sure to visit the Target up & up brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!
Thursday, September 4, 2014

Trendy Makeup Tutorials and a Mary Kay® Product Giveaway!

Even though we don't talk about it much on the blog, we love makeup.  We find inspiration everywhere for makeup (magazines, TV, and celebrities), but lately we've been inspired by some of the makeup techniques we've seen on Project Runway.  As you all know, we. are. obsessed. with Project Runway.  Sewing + Fashion + Makeup = Joy, so when we were given the opportunity to use Mary Kay® (who is the official makeup sponsor of Project Runway Season 13) and recreate some Project Runway-inspired looks at home, we said yes!

We got to try out two different styles.  Jessica tested out the Graphic Eye--a totally modern two-tone cat eye (in TARDIS blue!) and Hilary tried out the Emerald Smoky eye which made her green eyes pop!  We love tutorials around here, so we thought we'd show you how we created these dramatic (but still totally wearable) looks.

Plus, since we had so much fun playing with the Mary Kay® makeup, we wanted to share some with you!  Check out both of our looks and let us know in the comments which one you like best (Jessica's Graphic Eye or Hilary's Emerald Smoky Eye) for an entry into our giveaway.  One of our lucky readers will win a $100 Visa gift card plus a collection of Mary Kay® products to create one of the looks featured + some beauty essentials!

Jessica: So it may not be exactly common knowledge around here, but I like to dress up. And by "dress up" I don't mean fancy-dress-and-heels dressing up, though I do that as well. I mean the kind of dressing up that includes costumes. So I was really stoked to see this amazing Mary Kay® Blue My Mind eyeliner, (or, as Hilary mentioned above, TARDIS blue. And I'm so proud of her for knowing that). There are many events in which TARDIS colored eyeliner would be appropriate, right? And what better combo then funky blue eyeliner and an Alex Vause-style graphic 1960's cat eye. Because Alex Vause + Doctor Who seems like an obvious combo, right?

1. I started out by applying two shades of taupe on my eyelids, Mary Kay® Mineral Eyeshadow in Moonstone over my whole lid, and Driftwood on the crease and under my lower lashes.

2. Next I applied the awesome blue eyeliner in a thin line across my entire upper lash line, and followed up with a gel eyeliner in Jet Black, starting at the center of my eye and sweeping outward into a cat eye, and lining the inner part of my lower eyelid. 

3. The last step was, of course, about 12 coats of mascara. I'm kidding! It was two coats of Mary Kay® Ultimate Mascara in Very Black. Which actually didn't irritate my eyes at all the way most mascara does. I wear contacts and have horrible seasonal allergies, so most mascara is just impossible and makes my eyes red and itchy. This was great!

The final step was bronzer on and under my cheekbones, and a swipe of neutral lip gloss (I used Mary Kay® NouriShine® Plus Lip Gloss in Au Naturel). When you're doing an eye this bold it's pretty important to keep the rest of your face neutral! Otherwise you just look like Dr. Frank N. Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which actually would be fine if you're attending a midnight showing of said movie (which I have, of course! With newspapers and toast.) but if you're just hanging out seems a little overboard.

That being said, the season 8 premier of Doctor Who will be in theaters here in Boise on August 25, and the TARDIS blue may in fact get busted out then, possibly along with my DIY Circular Gallifreyan t-shirt. Fun will be had. And actually I got quite a few compliments on this look while I was just wearing it around for the day as well! 

Hilary decided to try a completely different kind of look, one that involved her favorite color, lime green (seriously, she's obsessed!)!

Hilary: I got to try out the Emerald Smoky eye which I was thrilled about.  Often I don't wear a lot of green eye shadow because green eyes + green eye makeup can be a lot, but I decided to experiment and see if the green shadow would make my green eyes stand out.

I started with Mary Kay® Cream Eye Color in Meadow Grass all over my eyelids and in a thin line under the eye as a base (1).  Then I layered Mary Kay® Mineral Eye Color in Emerald all over the lid.  I used Mineral Eye Color in Lime on the inner third of my eye lid to create a natural highlight (I always use a lighter color on my inner eyelid to make my eyes look bigger!) (2).  I lined the top line with Mary Kay® Eyeliner in Black and swiped on two coats of Mary Kay® Lash Love Lengthening Mascara in Black (3).  Sooo easy and yet totally dramatic.

I finished off my look with a light layer of Cream Blush in Cranberry and True Dimensions Lipstick in Mystic Plum.  The original look used a lipliner, but it was a little dark, so I used a light layer of the plum lipstick and I topped it off with some of the Au Naturel lip gloss Jessica used for her Graphic Eye look!  After looking at my before and after pictures, the Emerald Smoky eye TOTALLY made my green eyes look bigger and brighter!  I'm a fan, especially of that Lime Mineral Eye Color.

So what do you all think?  Which look are you wanting to try? The Graphic Eye or the Emerald Smoky eye?  Leave a comment and you will be entered for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card and a collection of Mary Kay® products to create one of the looks featured + some beauty essentials.
Still confused?  You can visit Mary Kay® on Project RunwayFacebookYoutube, and of course, their website for more ideas and information! 

Sweepstakes Rules: 

No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
1.  Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
2.  Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
3.  Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
4.  For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 9/4/2014-10/7/2014.
Be sure to visit the Mary Kay brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

pumpkin pie pancake recipe

So around here, we love us some pumpkin. Last year we went a little crazy on pumpkin recipes, it's true. And mostly because I (Jessica) start hoarding pumpkin the second it hits store shelves in the fall and obsessively bake with it all year long. I also have been known to buy enough pumpkin spice coffee creamer to last me the full nine months until next pumpkin season. At one point I had no less the 30 cans of pumpkin in my pantry, because God forbid I go without pumpkin during the summer months.

Given my love of all things pumpkin-y, if you follow us on Facebook it probably come as no surprise to anyone that I celebrated the first official day of September by making pumpkin pie spice pancakes for breakfast, and posted a luscious picture of the resulting goodness.

pumpkin pie pancake recipe

And then I topped said pancakes with melted cream cheese frosting, cinnamon, raw sugar sprinkles and chopped walnuts. Because the official beginning of pumpkin season requires beginning with a luscious, creamy, sugar overloaded bang.

pumpkin pie pancake recipe

And because I'm a blogger who loves you all very much, today I'm going to share my recipe with you! So you, too, may enjoy the pumpkin-y goodness.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling!)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1  tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla

In a bowl. combine all the dry ingredients and mix well. In a second bowl, combine all the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together gently.

Heat a pan over medium heat, and grease with cooking spray (or butter, if you like). Scoop batter onto the pan using about 1/4 cup for each scoop. Cook until one side is done, then flip.

I garnished my pancakes with cream cheese frosting using this recipe from Not So Humble Pie, which turned out amazingly creamy and perfect with the pumpkin flavor! But you could also use syrup, in a pinch.

At this point, the only thing to do is eat them.

pumpkin pie pancake recipe

I hope you enjoyed this, the first pumpkin recipe of the season! Don't worry, there will be many more to come. And in the mean time, if you're looking for more of our delicious recipes you can check those out on our recipes page!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

End-of-month Recap: August Edition!

Whew!  We made it to September!  August was a crazy month for us, lots of travel (some unexpected), family issues, the kids started school and we both worked!  Our posts were a bit light around here in August, but we did share some fun things.  Here are a few of our favorites!

Our kids went back to school (hooray!), but with school comes things like packing school lunches!  We both try to feed our kids healthy foods, but its often easier to buy processed/very sugary foods for lunches.  Jessica rounded up some healthy and easy school lunch ideas:

10 healthy fun quick and easy school lunch ideas

Our kids being in school meant we had some more time for sewing projects!  Jessica showed you how to create adorable doll leggings:

18 inch doll leggings from baby pants sewing tutorial

As well as how to alter and take in a too-big skirt:

basic alterations 101, taking in a skirt on the side seams tutorial

Hilary's been on a natural cleaner kick, so she shared her favorite way to clean a microwave with one ingredient (and no chemicals!):

How to Clean a Microwave Naturally

And she got back from an amazing vacation to Mexico and shared some pictures and tips for visiting there:

Tips for Traveling to Los Cabos, Mexico

We have some great things coming up in September - makeup tips, fashion (hooray for leggings and sweater weather!), crochet, jewelry and more PLUS two HUGE giveaways!

Want to see more?  Don't forget to follow us to see all of our posts!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tips for Traveling to Los Cabos, Mexico

Hey all!  A few weeks ago, I (Hilary) went on an amazing anniversary trip to Mexico with my husband.  We went to Mexico for our honeymoon, so we thought it would be neat to return there to celebrate our 10-year anniversary!  It was an incredible vacation and I thought I'd share a few pictures and a few tips from our trip to San Jose del Cabo!

10 years ago, we stayed in Puerto Vallarta in an all-inclusive resort.  The resort was beautiful, but when we left the property, the town around it wasn't as nice.  This trip, we wanted somewhere safe that we could explore the city and walk everywhere.

I've heard a lot about Cabo San Lucas and researched the hotels there. The tip of Baja California is called Los Cabos and has Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo (plus a few other small towns):

We picked San Jose del Cabo, which has the reputation of being a quiet little fishing town (versus Cabo which has more of a party/nightclub scene), but still very beautiful.  We were not disappointed.  Here are some of the highlights of our trip as well as a few tips for people traveling to Los Cabos!

Tips for Traveling to Los Cabos, Mexico
(The view from our balcony!)

There were so many plants and flowers.  My favorite was seeing palm trees mixed with cacti!  I'm so used to seeing palm trees in southern California and cacti in Arizona!  Our hotel especially had tons of species of cacti, of which I took tons of pictures while my husband laughed at me!
Cacti in San Jose del Cabo

There were all sorts of other creatures and beautiful flowers:
Tips for Staying in San Jose del Cabo
(Horseback riding on the beach is SUPER popular there so there were horses everywhere!)

We also saw a lot of wildlife.  Our hotel was right next to the Estero San Jose, which is this gorgeous estuary with birds and wildlife.  We walked through it several times (and took a guided bike tour through it as well!):
Estero San Jose del Cabo

The tall grasses reminded us of Jurassic Park, so here's my husband re-enacting a "running from dinosaurs" scene:
Tips for Traveling to San Jose del Cabo

One day, we took a guided bike ride to historic downtown San Jose del Cabo, then later walked to it from our hotel along a really beautiful street.  The vendors were a little pushy, but much more polite than the ones we met in Puerto Vallarta.  We toured the town square, the old mission and saw lots of pharmacies selling drugs without prescriptions (hence the Viagra man sign in front of one of the stores!).  In general, it felt very very safe to me and everyone (locals and tourists alike!) were very nice.  Our tour guide said many people move to San Jose del Cabo to raise their families because it is safe and low-key:
Tips for Traveling to Los Cabos, Mexico

So after spending 4 days there, here are our:
Tips for Traveling to Los Cabos, Mexico

1. Bring lots of clothes!  It is super humid during the summer and hot, so we sweated a lot.  We had to change clothes multiple times a day to keep from being soaking wet.  I didn't even bother with makeup after the first day.

2. Bring lots of sunscreen and reapply often.  Between swimming and sweating, I applied sunscreen 3-4 times a day and STILL got super sunburned.  Make sure you are continuously putting it on!

3. Bring spending money.  When we stayed in Puerto Vallarta, things like souvenirs were really cheap.  Los Cabos is more expensive, so take a decent amount of spending money with you.  Cabs were not cheap (although not super expensive) and most souvenirs were comparable in price to American products.  Many of the restaurants were comparable in price to American restaurants as well.

4. Stay in a hotel with a pool (or three!).  Our resort had three pools and we spent all our time in there.  The ocean around San Jose del Cabo is intense, with lots of riptides and an intense surf.  There were signs warning us to stay out of the ocean.  The marina had some swimming and Cabo San Lucas has some beaches to swim in as well, but it was not an ocean you can just run into and swim anywhere you want.

5. Try to see both cities.  We stayed in San Jose del Cabo because it was slightly cheaper and much closer to the airport (which kept transportation costs down), but Los Cabos has a really good bus and taxi system, so lots of people stay in San Jose del Cabo and spend the day in Cabo San Lucas snorkeling.

The verdict?  We will definitely go back to Los Cabos next time we stay in Mexico!  What a beautiful place!

What about you all?  Have you ever been to Los Cabos?  Did you have the same experience?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to roast corn in the oven

We love corn on the cobb! It's such a dinner staple, and it's one of the few things I can serve in our house that everyone likes, even the under six set. I have been wanting to try roasting corn in the oven for a while now and since our grill is out of commission for the winter (our usual method of cooking corn is set it directly on the grill--delish!) I thought I'd give it a try!

As usual, I read about several other people's attempts at roasting corn, and they sounded kind of complicated. So I decided just to make it up as I went along.

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take your corn and leave the husks on but cut off the silks:

Cover a baking sheet with tin foil and arrange your corn on it:

Bake your corn for 30-45 minutes depending on the size of your ears. We had big juicy ones so I baked ours on the longer side of that estimate.

When they come out of the oven, you will want to let them cool a bit (I totally didn't and burned my fingers! I was too excited for corn.) and then take a large knife and chop off the base like so:

Note that the end you cut off is the end where the stalks were attached to the ear, not the silky end!
Then you may either gently peel the husks away from the corn, or you can squeeze it out like I did! Squeezing is more fun and so much more impressive:

The corn will magically come out of the husks smoothly and with no silk to pull off:

And it will have a fantastic roasted, slightly nutty flavor. Amazing! And the clean up is almost nothing, just take the tin foil off of the pan and throw it away, done!

This was such good corn, everyone in my kids loved it. My picky five year old ate an ear and a half by herself! I think next time I am going to try opening the husks and adding some spices and butter, then baking it. I'm hooked! This was so much easier then waiting for water to boil and dirtying a pot, and had so much more flavor.

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