Sunday, February 15, 2015

Raspberry Rose Pudding



Valentine's Day is synonymous with boring boxes of chocolate and cliché bouquets of roses. While some people may find those things lovely, I am just not one of those people.  I like to celebrate with things that are a little more outside of the box and thoughtful.  That's why when I found a recipe for raspberry rose pudding, I was immediately intrigued and got to cooking.

In a world full of truffles, brownies, and cake decorating, it seems as though pudding has become a bit of a lost art in the baking industry.  The lack of pudding popularity is actually quite curious, considering that it's innately gluten-free and when created from a purée (like this one is) it can easily become dairy-free as well.  These traits can be hard to come by in the traditional dessert market, so it seems funny that pudding hasn't quite found it's place amongst one of the many growing food trends. 

My favorite part about this homemade pudding, aside from it's tangy flavor and creamy texture, was the fun I had while dressing it up to photograph.  Serving the dessert in heart-shaped marbled chocolate cups helped give a little Valentine's Day spirit to the dish, while a dollop of whipped cream and some shaved chocolate added a hint of sweetness.  The end result is a unique, delicious dessert that will leave you begging for more.

Ingredients

1/8 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 large egg yolk
12 oz. fresh red raspberries
3/8 cup sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon rosewater
whipped cream, to serve (optional)
white chocolate, to serve (optional)

Directions

Whisk the cornstarch and water together in a small to medium-sized bowl, slowly pouring in the cup of water.  Continue to whisk until smooth, adding in the egg yolk.  Purée the raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a blender until liquified.  Pour the purée mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a 3 qt. saucepan, using a spoon to press as much liquid as possible out of the raspberry pulp.  Heat the purée mixture on high to bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.  Turn off the heat, and whisk about half of the hot raspberry mixture into the bowl of cornstach and egg yolk.  Pour this slowly back into the pan, whisking vigorously while doing so.  Turn the heat back on to medium, bringing the pudding to a full boil.  Let it simmer for 2 minutes, whisking frequently. Turn off the heat and whisk in rosewater.  Immediately pour the pudding into a shallow container, cover, and refrigerator for 2 hours or until completely cold.  Serve with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

Adapted from The Kitchn dessert recipe.

Valentine's Inspired Beauty Treatments



Valentine's Day is coming to a close and chances are that you are going to have some red roses and strawberries lying around for some time afterward.  So before you let those flowers die their eventual death or find strawberries going bad in your fridge, why not recycle them and pamper yourself in the process? Here are three homemade beauty treatments that will have you asking for roses and strawberries all year long:

Strawberries and Cream Face Mask

Mash 4 strawberries with a fork and mix with heavy cream and a dollop of honey.  Heavy cream provides great hydration for dry skin, but you can substitute with sour cream (for normal skin) or plain greek yogurt (for sensitive, acne-prone skin).  Generously apply the mixture to the face while avoiding the eye area, and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing clean.  The natural salicylic acid, vitamin C, and alpha hydroxy acids in the strawberries make this a great mask for clearing up your skin and lightening hyperpigmentation, but they can also be substituted with red raspberries if you have a strawberry allergy.  Note: You can store any leftover face mask in the fridge for up to a week!

Coconut and Rose Hair Oil

Begin by adding a cup of fresh red rose petals to a pot and cover with about an inch of water. Cover the pot and gradually simmer on low heat until the rose petals lose their color (approximately 15 minutes).  Once complete, melt 1/2 a cup of coconut oil in a separate pot, then add 2 tablespoons of the rose water and 1/2 a cup of fresh red rose petals (about one rose worth). Bring the mixture to a low boil, and let it simmer for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, and let it cool before straining through a coffee filter.  Apply the oil to dry hair and your scalp, letting it sit for 20 minutes - I recommend wrapping your hair in a gentle towel or using a shower cap - before shampooing out.  Note: Be sure to use organic or hand-picked roses to avoid applying a warm bath of pesticides to your hair!

Strawberry Sugar Body Scrub

Mash 7 to 10 strawberries with a fork and combine with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, and as much granulated sugar needed to create a gritty mixture.  Apply to your entire body using small circular motions, and rinse off in the shower.  The oils will help moisturize while the strawberries exfoliate, and the sugar will help shed dead skin cells.  You'll be left with unbelievably soft and glowing skin afterward.  As a person that suffers from moderate to severe eczema, this is a personal favorite!  Note: This is a sticky and messy one, so you should probably stand in the shower the entire time you're applying the scrub!

I hope everyone is enjoying their Valentine's Day, and let me know if you try any of these treatments (and how they turned out) in a comment below!

Watch YouTube beauty guru, Allthatglitters21, make each recipe here.  Also be sure to check out her blogs Dreaming in Blush and I Heart You Coffee for more beauty and lifestyle fun.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

When History Bites the Dust



Northwestern University recently finished demolition on the Historic Prentice Women's Hospital in order to make room for a new research center.  Many people loved that building.  Many more people seemed to hate it.  Regardless of your personal feelings toward the Brutalist structure, there is no denying that it played an important part in Chicago's history of modern architecture.  I have always thought the Women's Hospital was an intriguing building, and it makes my heart sad to know that it is no longer standing. As a designer, I can't imagine the feeling of having put so much time and dedication into a project just to potentially see it torn down one day.  The real kicker here, though, is knowing that a piece of history is gone.

In the wake of the building's long and methodical deconstruction, a door has opened for many interesting discussions regarding the role of historic preservation in modern society.  What makes us want to get rid of certain architecture styles but keep others?  What kind of meaning or value do we attach to the styles that have endured the test of time?  I think Denise Scott Brown's perspective describes it best: "There's always a reaction against the style of the most recent past." How do we as designers make sure that our projects will survive multiple generations?  Change is constant, and the U.S. is a young, progressive country.  Are all historical buildings in America doomed to a certain fate?  I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Erin Condren Life Planner



It is no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am an obsessively organized individual.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I rank off the chart somewhere near Monica Geller territory.  It's an illness - I've got into arguments with more than one person (usually my mother) about my need for organized systems - but one that keeps my daily life running smoothly and my mental space at ease.  I credit my Erin Condren Life Planner in large part for keeping me sane on even the most hectic of days. This little book hasn't left my side since I received it back in July, and I will continue to repurchase one every 18 months for the rest of my life.  It is that crucial to my functional well-being.

What I love about the EC Life Planner is that it allows me to break down my schedule from overall month to week to day to morning, noon, and night.  It's a flexibility that I have never seen in other daily planners or calendars, and I never realized how much I desired this feature until now. The ability to quickly see the major highlights of my day in the monthly overview to being able to break down my week and daily tasks...that alone is justification enough for the $90 price tag. Note: Erin Condren has more inexpensive planners available, but I chose a premium priced design with gold foiling on the cover and binding.  

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately about people who have started sticker collections to decorate their Erin Condren planners, which seems both time-wasting and SO FREAKING ADORABLE. Will I become one of these frivolous sticker people?  I may or may not have been found browsing the scrapbook aisle at Target lately, but I haven't boarded the crazy train yet.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, February 2, 2015

My February Playlists



At the beginning of each month, I like to take some time and create a new set of playlists for my iPhone and iPod.  I find that going to the gym is a much more enjoyable experience when I spend it actually working out and not constantly hitting the "next" button on one of my devices. Spending those couple minutes each month to download new music and mix it in with my old favorites really helps keep my routine from feeling stale, and I enjoy skimming through my music library to find songs I haven't listened to in a while.  Here's what I'll be listening to throughout the month of February:

Cardio Playlist
Pumpin Blood - NONONO
Deezy Daisy (Oliver Nelson Remix) - Portland
Heart Attack - Demi Lovato
How to Be a Heartbreaker - Marina and the Diamonds
Lips Are Movin - Meghan Trainor
Love Me - Charity Vance
Maps - MAX & Alyson Stoner
Out of the Woods - Taylor Swift
Right Where I Belong - Alex Goot
Runaway Baby - Bruno Mars
Shatter Me - Lindsey Stirling feat. Lzzy Hale
Tell My Mama - Christina Grimmie
Tightrope - Glee Cast
Uptown Funk - Bruno Mars
Whistle While I Work It - Chester See
Work B*tch - Britney Spears


Stretching & Cool Down Playlist
Sugar - Maroon 5
The Heart Wants What It Wants - Selena Gomez
Ascendance - Lindsey Stirling
Boom Boom Boom - Brandon & Leah
Will You Love Me Tomorrow/Head Over Feet - Glee Cast
Radioactive - Pentatonix feat. Lindsey Stirling
Chandelier - Sia

Friday, January 30, 2015

Beat the Winter Hair Blues



My thin, baby fine hair is hard enough to manage on a good day, but in the winter?  Nearly impossible.  It's dry, brittle, and charged with enough static electricity to hurt someone.  I'm no expert, but I think I've learned a trick or two over the years when it comes to battling a sad winter hair situation.

1. Turn on the humidifier
My first method of defense is always to run the humidifier during the night when I'm sleeping.  The added moisture in the air will keep that annoying hair static at bay, and the added benefits for your throat and sinuses are a major plus.

2. Replace your regular conditioner with a moisturizing hair mask
My regular hair washing routine is to shampoo every two to three days with daily conditioning, but I find that even that isn't enough during a dry, Indiana winter.  Replacing my regular conditioner with a deep moisturizing hair mask - I use the Macadamia Oil Deep Repair - two to three times a week really helps keep my hair looking shiny and healthy all winter long.

3. Use a hard plastic detangling brush or comb
This trick is a new development, but I could not speak more highly about my detangler.  Normally I would use a wide-tooth comb on wet hair and switch to my beloved Sonia Kashuk paddle brush once dry, but it just wasn't working anymore.  Every swipe of the brush left my hair standing on end and the paddle crackling with the sound of static.  So when I decided to make the switch and try a plastic detangler (mine is the Michael Mercier brand), and it flowed through my hair without a snag or spark...well, I assumed wizards were behind it.  Magic is the only reasonable explanation here.

4. Apply a light weight healing oil or serum
Because I have very fine hair, I don't like to use a lot of product and weigh it down.  A quick spritz of heat protectant usually does the trick, but I find that the dry winter months call for a little something extra.  I like to apply a small amount of Macadamia Healing Oil on the days that things are feeling particularly frizzy and unmanageable.

5. Invest in an ionic hair dryer
Ionic dryers help water evaporate faster, which leads to a quicker dry time and less damage.  I don't love blow drying my hair everyday, but the winter is not the time to go walking around with wet hair. I've already had pneumonia three times.  Testing the hands of fate is not on my to-do list.

And that's it!  If you try any of these tips and they work for you, please let know in a comment below. Also, be sure to tell me what your favorite products for battling dry, static hair days are...I always love to try something new!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Piña Kale-ada Smoothie



I once boldly stated, "Everyone needs to stop lying to themselves.  Kale is gross.  It will never not be gross."  And then just recently, I posted a broccoli-based guacamole recipe because "a dish is instantly ruined for me if there is even a hint of avocado."  Well, I want to retract those statements and apologize to my green friends.  I can admit when I am wrong, and this was one of those cases.

The piña kale-ada smoothie is so much more than a fun name, and it's all due to its ingredients. Pineapple is a great source of manganese and vitamin C, which is excellent for blood sugar control as well as your bone and skin health.  The avocado adds a creaminess factor, but it is also jam packed with healthy fats you simply can't get anywhere else.  Next we have kale, which is a bonafide superfood that speaks for itself.  And finally, with the addition of the protein powder of your choice - I use an organic plant-based protein called Perfect Fit - your smoothie will be ready to build, repair, and maintain muscle after any workout.  All you have to do is blend, drink, and enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup almond milk
2 handfuls of kale
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1 frozen banana
1/2 of a ripe avocado
1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (I use Perfect Fit)

This recipe was adapted from the Anytime Fitness blog.