Thursday, February 28, 2013

Just in time for a test video with our new camera

I can't believe it's the last day of February, as well as Eco Emi's 2-year anniversary (I'm so proud of Christine; check out the Q&A I posted with her on my blog last year). I was wondering if this month's box would make it on time, and to my surprise, it arrived in my mailbox this afternoon.

Although Hayden and I were caught a little off guard (we were busy having another spa day, doing foot soaks from "Green Beauty Recipes," applying that fun peppermint foot stick from our November Eco Emi and painting our toe nails), we were excited to test out the video function on our new camera. Watch our video and see what you think.

For those of you who are unable to view the video, here's a list of what we received and our thoughts:

Serenity Vegan Hair Gel by ily: This is a really nice size sample of hair gel. It has a refreshly light fragrance, probably due to the agave extract in it. Since my hair has a tendency to get frizzy, I can't wait to use this one, if my hubby doesn't snag it from me first. I did, however, apply it to a section of my hair as a test. It made my hair silky soft and held my curls in place.

Exfoliating Foaming Vegan Cleanser by Suki: I'm familiar with this brand and have only heard good things about it. This particular product smells like those hard candies that are shaped like lemons and have a dusting on the outside. It must be the sugar in it. I wonder if it is edible. Ha ha :-)

Berry Red Lip Gloss by Purely You Minerals: I have to say that this color is sexy and reminds me of fresh crushed berries. It's a little sticky at first, but it looks great. The texture and shine is similar to MAC lipglass, although Purely You is probably better for you.

Peppermint Spice Lip Balm by Moody Sisters: Hayden and I just adore the little kitty cat on the tube. We also like the oval shape that makes it easier to hold on to, especially when the person applying it is only 3-years-old (the lip balms are usually Hayden's favorite item in the box). It has a mild peppermint scent that is perfect for my little lady.

The Amazing Trio Packets (Barley Grass, Wheat Grass and Alfalfa) by Amazing Grass: I am a huge fan of Amazing Grass. I received a sample package of Amazing Grass Amazing Meal in a past Eco Emi box and have been stocking up on the original flavor ever since. I have it multiple times a week. This green trio has my name written all over it.

Pumpkin Spice Bars by Athena Bars: Apparently, the blueberry bar from the November box was so popular that it was requested to be featured again. I gave my blueberry one to a friend last time, since the bars contain dairy, and it was well received. I happen to know someone else who'd love this pumpkin spice flavor, so it won't go to waste.

Collagen & Almond Enriching Moisturizing Lotion by Aubrey: I like this brand and am curious about this lotion. However, I'm not sure about the collagen and elastin. Although this lotion is Leaping Bunny approved, I don't think it guarantees that it is vegan. I'm assuming collagen and elastin come from animals. Does anyone know the answer to that one?

Key Lime and Mint Gum by Vitacare: I received this gum in pomegranate and mint in a past Eco Emi. I liked it so much that I usually have some in my purse for when I'm unable to brush my teeth after eating. The key lime and mint gum is the same flavor as the mouthwash I use by the same company. Love it!

Thanks for checking out our video and reading today's post. We hope to do a follow-up DIY, as usual, soon. Any ideas?     

Monday, February 25, 2013

A taste of Oscar Night

The other day, I shared my Oscar Night inspiration in Rawdorable cupcake form, as well as some of my other ideas for celebrating the big night. As you know, it's a family tradition around here to dress up, walk the "red carpet" (it's literally a scrap piece of red carpet or material), vote for our favorites (who we think will win the real awards) and eat foods fit for the occasion.

For example, I opted to make Wolfgang Puck's Kale Salad with Date Compote he planned to serve at the Governor's Ball. That's my plate at the top of today's post. I just had to take a pic for you. I loved the combination of kale, other greens, fresh herbs, paper-thin radishes, fennel and shallots tossed/marinated in a lemony vinaigrette, sprinkled with sliced almonds and drizzled with some aged balsamic. So good.

Oh, and the date compote took the dish to a whole new level of deliciousness. I highly recommend this recipe.

As for the attire, we opted to dress like Academy Award nominees or characters from the nominated films. I decided to go as Best Actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence (she won BTW). Here I am getting glammed up for the evening. 

Since I thought my sisters could be showing up as her character in "Silver Linings Playbook," I put together some pieces from my closet (a tank top that I tucked the straps in to create a strapless bodice, a sheer slip that I allowed to slip out beneath it and a matching long narrow skirt) to resemble her possible wardrobe malfunction at the Screen Actors Guild Awards (it really wasn't a malfunction, although she did reveal the concealed sheer part of her dress).

I, on the other hand, was dealing with my own possible wardrobe malfunctions. Due to the fact that my top wasn't meant to be strapless, I kept having to adjust it throughout the night. I wouldn't say it was flattering, but posing with this cute little lady was worth it. She was going to be Cosette from Les Miserables, but a Sugar Rush character from "Wreck-It Ralph" won out in the end.

Two of the boys also went with the "Wreck-It Ralph" theme. My nephew Colin was Fix-It Felix, while my son Jacob kept it simple with an old school Nintendo controller shirt. The controller was used in the movie to type in the Contra code for all you classic Nintendo fans. My other nephew Cameron took a more grown up approach as a dapper (Hayden loves that word) James Bond.
Of course I was right about our guys. My sister April's boyfriend Jack, my hubby Matthew and my other sister Lori's hubby Darren all sported the sweats and trash bag look that Bradley Cooper wore quite a bit in "Silver Linings Playbook."

April and Jack made the perfect couple from the movie. Not only did Jack come as Bradley Cooper's "Silver Linings Playbook" character, but April dressed similar to Jennifer Lawrence's character.

Lori surprised me by having a costume change, neither costume involving Jennifer Lawrence. She started out as a character from "Les Miserables," which you'll see in our group pic, and later paired up with her hubby, representing "Argo" (yes, Darren had a costume change, too). 

My mom also took on "Les Miserables" by putting together a silly interpretation (it's more like a serious tearjerker in the movie, though) of when Anne Hathaway's character is forced to cut her hair for very little money to pay for her child's care. Notice the scissors in her hair? Please kids, don't try this at home.

My dad went all out as Lincoln. Need I say more?

Here is that group photo I mentioned (just ignore the fact that Jacob is pretending to eat Hayden's arm; the "Wreck it Ralph" Sugar Rush game is full of candy). We definitely had a blast.

Hope you did, too :-)   

Friday, February 22, 2013

Flowing with Oscar cupcake inspiration

In my last post, I mentioned getting ready to celebrate the Oscars (Academy Awards) with my family this Sunday night. I shared my costume ideas (we are all dressing up like nominees or characters from the nominated movies), and now I'm ready to showcase this year's Oscar-inspired "Rawdorable" cupcakes.

Wolfgang Puck usually feeds the celebrities an elaborate meal for the event, so it is no surprise that I'd look to him for ideas. First of all, I plan on making this Kale Salad with Date Compote from his menu posted on the Today Show website, but I'd also like to serve one of his sweet treats. His gold-coated chocolate statuettes are a signature topper for his decadent chocolate molten cake. Since I can't find my edible gold leaf (I think I still have some somewhere), I got creative with some piped date paste (dates soaked overnight and then blended into a paste) on top of a Rawdorable Chocolate Molten Lava Upside Down Cupcake. Here's how I made it:

Chocolate Molten Lava
Upside Down Cupcake

*Makes one decadent upside down cupcake
  • 1/8 cup almonds
  • 1/8 cup almond pulp (leftover from making fresh almond milk) or more almonds
  • 1/8 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/8 cup walnuts
  • 2 Tbsps. cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp. date paste (dates soaked overnight and then blended into a paste)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. "Butterdream" or coconut cream (leave a can of coconut milk in the fridge over night and the cream will separate at the top)
  • 1/4 tsp. raw organic apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • dash of sea salt
  • *quick and easy chocolate icing (cocoa powder mixed with pure maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt to create a yummy chocolate sauce) for filling
  • *a sprinkling of finely ground freeze-dried pineapple "sparkles" for garnish
  • *more date paste to pipe an Oscar statuette on top
In a mini food processor or blender, grind the almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and cocoa powder into a flour-like consistency, and transfer the "flour" to a bowl.

 Next, add the date paste, "butterdream," apple cider vinegar, vanilla 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).

Form the batter into a cupcake shape (with the help of a reusable silicone liner or small ramekin), leaving a melon ball size valley in the center and a small amount to the side to top it off.

Fill the cupcake with quick and easy chocolate icing (cocoa powder mixed with pure maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt to create a yummy chocolate sauce).

Top the filled cupcake with the excess "batter." Carefully blend in the seams.

Place the cupcake in the fridge to set for about an hour. When ready to serve, invert the cupcake on a plate and remove the silicone liner. Decorate with a sprinkling of finely ground freeze-dried pineapple "sparkles" and a piped date paste Oscar statuette (or stars would be nice, too).

*This chocolate molten lava upside down cupcake is also yummy when warmed in a dehydrator before serving. It makes it more authentic and creates a "crust" on the outside of the cake. So good!


Next up is a movie-themed Rawdorable cupcake snack. It's styled and tastes similar to popcorn. Here's how it's done:

"Popcorn" Cupcake 

*Makes one cupcake styled and flavored similar to popcorn
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut flour
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh or frozen corn kernels (if frozen, thaw first and use a towel to absorb the excess moisture)
  • 1 Tbsp. date paste (dates soaked overnight and then blended into a paste)
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • sea salt, to taste (remember this should taste similar to popcorn)
  • *"Butterdream" for piping "popcorn" on top of the finished cupcake
  • *some more fresh corn kernels for garnish (placed in centers of the "butterdream" frosting, like "popped kernels")
In a mini food processor or blender, grind the almonds, macadamia nuts and coconut flour into a flour-like consistency (you can also substitute some of the almonds for leftover nut pulp from making nutmilk to result in a lighter cake texture).

Add the corn and process to combine. Transfer the "flour" to a bowl.

Next, add the date paste, olive oil, vanilla, 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). 

Form the batter into a cupcake shape, using a reusable silicone liner or small ramekin (you can also form the batter into 2 or 3 mini cupcakes).

Frost the cupcake(s) with piped "Butterdream" icing to look like "popcorn."

Then, add some corn kernels to the centers to complete the look (I actually split them as if they had been popped and rolled them in leftover cupcake crumbs before adding them to the iced cupcake). Yum!


Hope everyone enjoys today's cupcake photos. I'm still getting used to my new camera. What are you doing on Oscar night? 


Need more award night cupcake ideas? Here are the two Rawdorable cupcakes made for the red carpet last year:

 Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Stiletto Cupcake
24 Carrot Golden Cupcake

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pure Bees Please

Hello busy bees! Thanks for stopping by today and especially on Valentine's Day. The blog traffic actually tripled that day. To show our gratitude, Hayden and I decided to share another "rawdorable" semi-homemade treat using more Pure Bars (gotta thank Veronica for adding my post to both the Pure Bar Facebook and Pinterest pages), although it can also be made with homemade or other store bought bars.

I just picked up some more Pure Bars from the local store. It seems that the more I buy the bars from there, the more flavors appear on the shelf. Although I've purchased every flavor online, it's nice to see more options available in my area.

Today, I was excited to see both the Banana Coconut and Dark Chocolate Berry flavors. They are extra yummy when eaten together, and since Hayden and I have been constructing cute critters out of the bars, this color combo had us thinking about making bees.

First, we unwrapped the bars and cut them lengthwise.

Then, we stacked the cut bars on top of one another, alternating the flavors (this is also a really cool way to increase your flavor options or when you just can't make up your mind; I wonder if Pure Bar would consider selling their bars like this).

We cut the four-layer stack into three equal cubes and softened the edges.

The cubes were set on a platter and the dark chocolate-covered almond "heads" were attached. 

We used banana slices for the wings. I recommend cutting a slant on the bottom of each slice, so that it sits on an angle.

Lastly, we added antennas and faces with quick and easy chocolate icing (cocoa powder combined with pure maple syrup to create a yummy icing), just like we did with last week's "love bugs." So cute and delicious, too!

Now we need to figure out what we should bring to this Sunday's Oscar party at my mom and dad's house. If you've followed my blog all along, you know about how we dress up for the event, eat fun fingers foods, take pics on the "red carpet," vote for our favorites (it's really competitive), etc.

This year, everyone is going as a character or a specific nominee. I figured it would be easy to get my hubby to wear a trash bag and have him run around like Bradley Cooper in "Silver Linings Playbook" (I highly recommend watching that movie). That means I should go as Jennifer Lawrence's character, although I think my youngest sister has the same plan (she is a dancer). So we both don't show up in dance wear, maybe I'll replicate her dress "malfunction" from the Screen Actors Guild Awards. I just hope my mom doesn't decide to streak the room as Helen Hunt in "The Sessions" (her character was naked throughout a lot of the film), as she wouldn't reveal her "costume choice." Ha ha :-)

Anyway, Hayden is going to be the young Cosette from "Les Miserables," while Jacob might be a character from "Wreck It Ralph." Anyone else doing something fun like this for the Academy Awards?       

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Last-Minute Love Bug Brownie Bites

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I wasn't planning on posting today, but at the last minute, I had a change of heart. I wanted to make something quick and easy that you could make on "the fly" (or in this case more "like a lady") to share with your "love bugs" :-)

Sorry I haven't been posting many elaborate recipes lately, as I've opted to simplify my life. Sometimes this means doing some semi-homemade recipes that give me more time to spend on other things.

Today's Valentine recipe is made of items found at my local store and only requires some playful assembly. Even a kid can do it (Hayden likes to help with these). All you need is a raw brownie bar (make your own if you'd like or purchase one of your faves; I selected a Pure Bar, which happens to be sold within 15-minutes of my house and is a bar I buy often), fresh strawberries, dark chocolate-covered almonds and some chocolate chips.

Start by cutting your brownie bar into squares/"brownie bites" (my bar yielded 3 squares).

Next, cut the top off your strawberries, shaping them to look like a heart. Slice the heart-shaped strawberries in half and then make a cut down the center to create "lady bug wings."

Put the strawberry wings on top of the brownie bar bites.

Add the chocolate details (a dark chocolate almond "head" and chocolate chip "spots).

To make them look even more like lady bugs, whip up some quick and easy chocolate icing (cocoa powder combined with pure maple syrup to create a yummy icing) and pipe on antennas and a smiling face :-)

Speaking of a smiling face. Hayden was checking out these tasty treats during their whole photo shoot. 

Just waiting ...

... and patiently waiting.

I think she just swiped some chocolate icing.

Okay, it's time to play "slumber party spa day," while we watch Max & Ruby's Valentine epsiode. I have a feeling these will be our "spa treats." :-)