Thursday, June 28, 2012

One Crazy Summer

I know I said I'd be back with another DIY involving the purple flowers from this month's Eco Emi, but I just had to do a quick post, inspired by Sunwarrior's latest contest. All you have to do is leave a comment on this YouTube video to enter, and Sunwarrior will pick their five favorite comments to win a Sunwarrior product of their choice. I don't know how long you have to comment before the decisions are made, so I thought I should give you a heads up asap.

I commented about how the video reminded me of the movie, "One Crazy Summer" (yes, I'm showing my age), and how the main character Hoops would sketch out his thoughts on his journey to find love that summer. Unfortunately, the cute and fuzzy bunnies always got in the way.

That's like how some protein products used to get in my way of feeling my best a number of years ago, when I was consuming soy protein powder. I just didn't digest well for me. Fortunately, Sunwarrior Brown Rice Protein and Warrior Blend are much kinder to my tummy. I think I'm in love. Ha ha :-)

Anyway, my kids like it, too. We like quick and easy "monkey shakes" (there are monkeys in the video, so it made perfect sense to mention this simple smoothie) made with just some frozen banana, almond milk, vanilla Sunwarrior (the classic rice protein or the Warrior Blend) and a spoonful of natural peanut or almond butter. Yum!

Seems like we are ready for Charissa of Colourful Palate's July smoothie challenge. Are you? Check it out, while the kids and I go riding off into the sunset with our Sunwarrior (I know; I didn't draw my hubby in the pic, but he's at work right now). Actually, we have an outdoor party to go to, so fingers crossed that we stay cool :-)

*Sunwarrior did not ask me to do this post, although they have sent me products to try in the past. I've really enjoyed their products, continue to buy them and wanted to share this contest with you.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer essentials from Eco Emi

The kids and I were just taking it easy today, when surprise, my Eco Emi arrived. I had a hunch it might be here closer to the end of the week (actually I was worried I wouldn't be here when it did, due to our hectic schedule as the week progresses), but I was pleasantly wrong (as if being wrong could ever be a good thing). Luckily, I had a moment to show what was inside.

As usual, Hayden and I revealed the contents and shared our thoughts in a video, which you can watch above. Since it's summer and we are cutting back on computer time/posting, here's a quick view of the products we received in the first of three summer-themed boxes.

Owner/founder of Eco Emi Christine wrote in her note, "This box has a little bit of everything to cover your needs traveling or possibly just for a long day out running errands."
Okay, time to get back to my family. Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer so far. Maybe I'll post again soon with a project using the purple paper and flowers from this box.

*Just a reminder that I pay for my Eco Emi subscription. I have fun showing you what we got in our box, much like various other bloggers and YouTubers.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Breaking the ice

Now that it's summer, I thought it would be nice to check in every once in a while to share what we've been doing. It's crazy hot around here lately (I'm amazed that my internet is working, because it tends to go out when it is extremely hot; it's 100 degrees today), so we were all extra grateful that my friend Becky found this fun idea on Pinterest (I'd link to it if I knew where exactly she found the idea) and brought it to us to play.
I've mentioned Becky various times on my blog, as you may recall some of our play dates now that she has a young child around Hayden's age. Another childhood friend, Stacy, recently moved in a couple houses down from her, making it easier for her to come hang out, as well.

Yesterday was slightly cooler than today, but it was still a scorching 98 degrees. We had hoped to hang out at the boardwalk, do a little window shopping and go to our area "Cupcake Wars" bakery (a local bakery was featured on the show earlier this year). Unfortunately, the heat changed our plans.


Instead, we met up at my parents' house, since I was dropping Jacob off there anyway (and it was closer to where my friends live). We played outside with this homemade iceberg, and then went out to lunch nearby.

The kids had a blast chipping away at the blue ice to release the small toys inside. They first tackled it as a group, but then took turns with the mallet. Jacob even showed Hayden how to use it correctly.

Then, Colin helped Leo have his own turn. Look at those boys go. They are really up for the challenge.

To our surprise, the iceberg wasn't melting as fast as we thought it would in that heat. The kids let us adults take a turn, but just long enough to pose for a pic.

In the end, Jacob and Colin finished the job, while Hayden and Leo detoured off to the playhouse. I think they were really trying to escape the camera, though.

Anyway, I just wanted to share our day with you. What's everyone else up to this summer? Got any other creative ways to stay cool while having fun in the sun?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A stellar finale

My favorite kind of finale is the one that follows a meal. Of course, I mean dessert. I may be a bit "cupcaked out," but there is always room for dessert. Therefore, I finished my "Cupcake Champions" taste challenge (I decided to take on the challenge of making a Rawdorable cupcake, following the rules of the taste round, from each of the five episodes) with a Giada-inspired dessert in a glass, rather than a cup or cupcake liner.

Basically, it is still in cupcake form, but one that is worthy of being viewed through a translucent glass. The luscious layers were begging to be seen.

In case you missed the "Cupcake Champions" finale, let me fill you in. The theme was Food Network stars, and the taste round involved making a cupcake inspire by either Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis or Alton Brown, and some of the flavors they use in their recipes. As usual, it was hard to figure out all the ingredients on the tables (they tend to highlight only a few and then you get to see what the competitors decide to use), so I had to take some educated guesses.

I've always been a fan of Giada De Laurentiis (I've even made some of her cupcake recipes in the past; I actually have a funny memory of burning the pine nuts I was toasting for the garnish), so I knew right away that she would be my pick. Only one of the competitors selected her, but I loved the lemon, basil and mascarpone cupcake she created. I took that idea and combined it with Giada's Lemon Hazelnut Tiramisu to come up with my version of it. Essentially, it is a Rawdorable take on the tiramisu with the addition of some herbs (I used an herb nutmilk cheese in place of the mascarpone).

Here's a quick play-by-play of how I made it, as I'm slacking off a bit in the blogging department. Jacob is officially off from school for the summer, so I'm making more time for him. Anyway, here's what I did:

Okay, so I don't have a photo of the lemony date puree, so I'll just tell you how I made it. The night before, I soaked 1/4 cup of chopped dates in a 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice. I pureed it this morning to use as the main flavor of this cupcake/lady fingers in this recipe.

To make the lady finger part of the cake, I finely ground 1/4 cup hazelnuts, 1/4 cup oats (you could also substitute quinoa flakes or a combo of more nuts and protein powder) and 1 Tbsp. Sunwarrior Warrior Blend in natural flavor to create a "flour." Then, I transferred the "flour" to a bowl, and added 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. of the lemony date puree, 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract and a dash of sea salt. I whisked it to combine.

The "cake" was formed into lady finger shapes and a cupcake top. I set it aside, while I whipped together the creamy component (room temperature Punk Rawk Labs macadamia nutmilk cheese in herb flavor whipped together with some canned coconut whipped cream and more lemony date puree, to taste).

Then, let the layering begin! :-)

First, I put two small lady finger pieces in the bottom
of my serving glass.

Next, I covered them with the first layer of my "cream" mixture
and some crushed hazelnuts.

Repeat with more lady finger pieces ...

... and more of the "cream" mixture and crushed hazelnuts.

Add the "cake" top ...

... and then more "cream," hazelnuts, lemon zest and a star fruit garnish on top (it is representing a Food Network star). Yum!

Happy summer vacation :-)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The "Brave" little cupcake

Okay, I have to admit that I'm getting a bit "cupcaked out" (as if that was possible), but I decided to stick with my plan to post Rawdorable cupcakes based on the taste round of "Cupcake Champions." Counting today's post, there are only two more episodes to complete my personal challenge.

Sunday's episode (which aired again Tuesday night) highlighted the new Pixar movie, "Brave." Contestants were challenged to make a delicious cupcake containing one required Scottish ingredient, which they were assigned based on their archery skills (They had to shoot an arrow at a target of possible ingredients and use the ingredient marked where their arrow landed).

I didn't have a labeled target at which to shoot, so I just pretended as if I made a perfect shot at the oats. Besides, I wasn't about to make one with mutton or whiskey. However, I did base my Rawdorable cupcake on the Scottish dessert, Cranachan, which traditionally contains whiskey.

Basically, Cranachan is a parfait-like concoction of whipped heavy cream mixed with toasted oats, honey and whiskey, layered with fresh raspberries. It's simple and tasty, and just right for cupcake unbaking (it even layers like a parfait in cupcake form).

Since I'm not a whiskey fan, I just got a little heavy handed with my pure bourbon vanilla extract. To my surprise, it was stronger than I thought, but worked well for a nondrinker like me.

The best thing about this cupcake is that it gave me a chance to test out Sunwarrior's Warrior Blend (Warriors are "Brave") in something other than a smoothie or just mixed with some almond milk (which is so good, BTW; I think I like it better than the original Sunwarrior rice protein powder). I finally got around to trying it, after I saw a blog post on The Real Food Runner Blog, mentioning the fact that Sunwarrior is kind enough to send samples to those who request them via e-mail. Thanks Katherine (whose current post is a Magic Bullet Blender giveaway) for the tip, and thank you Sunwarrior for sending me a sample of all three Warrior Blend flavors (Vanilla, Chocolate and Natural).

Anyway, enough for the intro; let's get to that cupcake recipe:

My "Brave"
little Rawdorable
Cranachan Cupcake

*Makes one Rawdorable cupcake, inspired by the "Brave" episode of "Cupcake Champions;" must include oats
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup oats, plus an extra 1 Tbsp. of oats to add after grinding for texture
  • 1 Tbsp. Sunwarrior Warrior Blend in Vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. date paste
  • 1/2 tsp. raw honey or 100% All-Natural Bee Free Honee
  • 1 tsp. pure bourbon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. organic raw apple cider vinegar
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp. broken up raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • *"Butterdream" or whipped canned coconut milk "cream" for topping, mixed with pure bourbon vanilla extract, raw honey or 100% All-Natural Bee Free Honee, and oats, to taste (I mixed about 1/2 tsp. pure bourbon vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp. honee and 1/2 to 1 Tbsp. of oats into 1/4 cup of whipped canned coconut milk "cream," although I didn't use all of it on the cupcake)
  • Fresh or frozen raspberries for layering and garnish

In a mini food processor or blender, grind the almonds, oats and protein powder into a flour-like consistency, and transfer the "flour" to a bowl.

Next, add the extra 1 Tbsp. of oats, date paste, honey or honee, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, and sea salt. Whisk to combine (a whisk helps keep the "batter" fluffier). The batter should be moist, but not so damp that it requires "baking" in a dehydrator (although you could if you desire). Reserve a sprinkling of the "batter" to garnish your finished cupcake.

Stir in the broken raspberry pieces, and then form the batter into a cupcake shape, using a reusable silicone cupcake liner or small ramekin.

Slice off the top of the cupcake and set to the side, while you place a dollop of the "butterdream" or whipped canned coconut milk "cream" (allow a can of coconut milk to set unshaken in the fridge until chilled and the "cream" has separated to the top. Remove the "cream" and whip to a fluffy consistency) mixture and some berries on the bottom half of the cupcake. Place the cupcake top back over the berries and "cream" layer, and add another layer of berries and "cream" on top of it.

Garnish with some reserved cupcake crumbs and a raspberry (I also made an arrow out of a toothpick with more reserved batter pressed onto the ends, in the spirit of the movie, "Brave"). Enjoy!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The noncommittal mermaid

As promised, today's post is another Eco Emi DIY, using the fun filler from my May Eco Emi box. I always like finding ways to utilize everything in the box (check out my January, February, March and April projects), so this month was no exception.

This one was definitely a challenge, as it contained a small amount of pink and blue tissue paper and these crinkled green shreds. Lucky for you, I came up with something quick and easy you can do with it.

I actually saved the tissue paper for some gifts I needed to wrap (see what I made for my sister at the bottom of this post), and then tackled the shreds, which reminded me of seaweed, probably due to the mermaid-like photo on this month's description card. The results were mermaid-inspired and totally commitment-free; if you don't want to keep this beach look, then you can easily remove it.

The first thing I made was a pair of embellished flip flops for when your inner Ariel (you know, the mermaid from the Disney movie) magically gets her land legs. All you need is a pair of basic flip flops (I love a skinny metallic strap on my flip flops for a more glam look), some of those green crinkled shreds (from your Eco Emi box), two tiny rubber bands (I've got a lot of these for doing Hayden's hair), two clip-on earring backs (I have a package of these from a past project, but I bet paperclips would also work) and some beach-themed charms (I used some old earrings).

Here's how to make them:

Grab a bunch of the crinkled green shreds, so that all of the pieces are parallel to each other and pinch the center like a bow.

Wrap a rubber band around the center of the bunch of shreds to hold them together, leaving a little slack for attaching it to the clip-on earring back (or paperclip).

Wrap the slack from the rubber band around the clip-on earring piece to attach the shreds to it.

Clip it onto the center of the flip flop strap, and fluff/trim to the desired length. At this point, it will look like a little seaweed pom pom.

Add your charms to complete the look. I used old earrings, simply slipping the hooks through the rubber band. If using charms, attach them to the rubber band with jump rings. Then, repeat with the other flip flop to match.

This is what they look like on. I apologize for posting a pic of my less-than-attractive foot.

I've actually been doing this trick for years. If you get tired of this look, then remove the clip. You can also embellish your basic flip flops (or flats or heels) with old clip-on earrings, like I did here (these earrings belonged to my grandmother).

After making the flip flops, I still had some more crinkled green shreds leftover, so I made something for Hayden, too. She loves to play dress up and was fond of the whole mermaid idea. Therefore, we added some of the paper "seaweed" to tiny hair clips, like green mermaid extensions. So pretty :-)

If you got Eco Emi's May box, what do you plan on doing with the packing filler?

Oh, and before I forget, this is what I made of my sister, Lori. It's a pair of earrings (yes, I'm a bit obsessed with that wire), designed especially for her. The birth flower for June is a rose and the birthstone is pearl, so that's how I came up with the idea (I even named them "June in Bloom").

I presented them in an Eco Emi bag from a past box, which I tied to another reusable bag, full of her other gifts and that pink tissue paper from this month's box (I know my sister will reuse it, too).

Lori seemed to be happy with her gift that I gave her last night. Her birthday isn't until Thursday, but I wanted to wish her a happy birthday early :-)