it’s a friday night…

Well, late afternoon….and I’m sitting here in my Halloween costume (minus blood makeup) fawning over $200 sparkly leather gloves from Neiman Marcus. What is my life?

(ps. We’re not actually doing dress up things til tomorrow, so there is literally no reason for me to be in my costume.)

#bunnybeautyshot ? I have no idea why my hand is up there.
#bunnybeautyshot ? I have no idea why my hand is up there.
Neiman Marcus/Diane von Furstenberg sparkly leather gloves that I need in my life.
Neiman Marcus/Diane von Furstenberg sparkly leather gloves that I’ve decided I need in my life.

Happy almost Halloween!

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Let’s be real, Netflix has some pretty awful movies

Freelancing at home every day allows for a lot of TV time (I work better with background noise, even if it gets a little distracting on occasion) since 1) our studio space upstairs isn’t quite set up yet, and 2) the heat doesn’t really seem to work up there. I emailed our landlady today. Anyway, thanks to our lovely Apple TV (seriously, get one) October has been full of America’s Next Top Model (I just finished season 6) and (mostly) terribly bad “horror” movies.

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Hey there, house! It looks much less gloomy outside in this picture than it really is.

It’s almost Halloween, so if you’re also looking for some terribly bad “horror” movies to watch (or partially watch,) here is the list of what I’ve been watching, along with some brief ‘reviews’ (if you can call them that, hah.) Continue reading “Let’s be real, Netflix has some pretty awful movies”

Review: Matrix 6 Mega Bright Eye Gel

Disclaimer: I was sent this product for review from OZ Naturals, with no compensation other than the product to try out. The following post consists of my honest thoughts & opinions about the product!

For as long as I can remember I’ve had somewhat noticeable (dark/puffy) circles under my eyes…and for just about as long, I’ve been trying out different “un-puffing” “brightening” “caffeinated” “cooling” etc. products to try to fight the circles – pretty much unsuccessfully. If I’m being truthful with myself, it’s probably in part because of not getting enough sleep and/or being dehydrated, but I’ve continued the hunt for a product that works like it says it does! Soooo when I was approved to review OZ Naturals Mega Bright Eye Gel, I was super excited to give another product a try!

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PSA for my followers:

I recently switched over to a self-hosted WordPress blog – and while I don’t completely understand the logistics, you might have to re-click the follow button, even if my posts are still showing up in your reader.

That is all 🙂

Oh, and here’s a bonus photo from one of our walks recently:IMG_3635

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pumpkins, etc.

As hectic as it can be, Joe and I really enjoy hosting gatherings – and going all out with them – because why not?

Such was the case with our pumpkin carving get-together last night. I made homemade guac, apple brickle dip, and a mummy version of pigs in a blanket, and we had a pumpkin keg with Oktoberfest beer inside 🙂 Oh, and halloween candy, of course.

Easy recipe #1: 4 avocados, juice from 1 small lime, salt, and garlic (to taste.) Mash!
Easy recipe #2: 8oz (softened) cream cheese, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar. Mix with beaters! Fold in 1 bag of Heath brickle bits.
Easy recipe #3: Eckrich breakfast sausages, croissant dough. Cut croissant dough into small strips, wrap around weenies. Cook according to dough directions.
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My dad gave me a watermelon keg spout (?) for my birthday – it also is perfect for pumpkins!
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I’d be lost without my Cricut.

I also (finally) replaced the happy birthday banner from a few weeks ago with one that says happy halloween!

I’m very glad we planned ahead in regard to keeping everything as mess-free as possible. Lots of newspaper and two cheap plastic tablecloths (one on a folding table, one on the ground) made the clean-up of 8 pumpkins worth of guts much easier, and super quick!

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Not everyone was 100% done with their pumpkins when we took the picture – but I’d definitely say the night was a success! This week is going to be busy – we accidentally sent my bunny tail to my parents house, so we need to find one of those, trivia on Thursday, movie night on Friday, and Halloween fun on Saturday…hooray for getting out and doing things with people 🙂

Now, back to freelance work! I feel like too many of my blog posts end with a similar statement. I’m easily distracted.

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claire cooks: chicken tikka masala

I’m pretty sure I’ve never used as many spices in a meal as I did for last night’s chicken Tikka Masala, but it was delicious! I’m also proud to say that I used the crock pot, and nothing went wrong – hooray 🙂 I’m pretending it’s in part because I took some tips from this article about “what is ruining your crock pot meals.”

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I’ve also never used as many bay leaves as I have over the past few weeks.

This was a perfect meal to make yesterday, since we had a lot of preparation to do for our pumpkin carving gathering (that’s worthy of another post though. When we host something, we really go all out.) We barely even had time to sit down and eat it…and I accidentally burned a lot of rice to the bottom of our pan. Oops. It was delicious nonetheless! The recipe I used is an adjusted version of this – from The Iron You. 

Ingredients:

2 lbs / 900 gr free-range organic chicken breasts, cut into 1½-inch chunks
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 (29 oz.) can of tomato sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Garam masala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust according to your heat preference)
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

1 cup / 250 ml heavy cream
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
juice of ½ lemon

We left out the cinnamon, because someone coming over later that night is severely allergic, and it tasted just as good! She actually ended up not being able to stay anyway, because our candle smelled cinnamon-y 🙁 Oopsies – now we know for next time!

Directions:

1.  Grease the inside of your crockpot bowl with a bit of olive oil. Set aside.

2. Finely chop onion, mince garlic, and grate your ginger. Combine all ingredients (except for bay leaves, heavy cream, arrowroot powder, and lemon juice) in a large bowl.

So much onion chopping lately!
So much onion chopping lately!
Grated ginger smelled SO good.
Spices are pretty.
Spices are pretty.

3. With a large large spatula, stir to combine everything, making sure that the chicken is well coated.

So thankful Joe comes home for lunch - I can't touch chicken - too gross. Maybe I'll get over that eventually :P
So thankful Joe comes home for lunch – I can’t touch chicken – too gross. Maybe I’ll get over that eventually 😛

4. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker and place the two bay leaves on top.
Cover and cook for 8 hours on low (or 4 hours on high).

5. When done, in a small bowl combine heavy cream and arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), and gently stir into the mixture. Let cook an additional 20 minutes to thicken up.

6. Finally add lemon juice and gently stir to incorporate.

Yay dinner!
Yay dinner!

I’m glad we made time to sit down and eat before everyone arrived – I’m looking forward to eating leftovers today, but I’m sure it won’t be quite as good as fresh out of the crock pot!

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happy monday!

It’s Monday again, which means it’s time for 5 things that have made me happy over the last week! Here we go:

  1. Trivia! One of Joe’s coworkers wives is now a host (?) for trivia at a bar in downtown Kalamazoo, so now every Thursday (or most Thursdays, at least) we’ll be meeting up with a group to stretch our brains a bit! We did pretty well last week…and ate some really yummy mozzarella sticks. Hooray for a way to put some of my useless knowledge to work 🙂
  2. I’m anxiously awaiting the delivery of my new Pure Barre equipment/DVDs so I can get to work on my abs and seat, but in the meantime, Kalamazoo Barre is continuing to grow on me (minus the minimal ab/seat work. I’ll try to stop complaining about that soon, I promise) AND two of the last 3 teachers I’ve had have asked if I was a dancer because of my awesome wide second position (knees at a 90 degree angle.)
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    hi basement!

    First – BAHAHA. I’m way too uncoordinated to be a dancer. Second –  That just makes me feel good! Third – I think all of the halloween candy I’ve been eating has been going to my previously non-existent butt. Slowly working my way up to the Lizzie McGuire butt jiggle! (You think I’m joking. That has been one of my aspirations since the movie came out.)

  3. We’re having a lot of Joe’s coworkers over tonight for pumpkin carving fun, and hopefully watching the movie that inspired our halloween costumes! We did a lot of cleaning up/decorating (ish) for fall this weekend, and this afternoon (in addition to some freelance work) I need to start making some snacks, and preparing (drumroll please) our pumpkin keg. Bwahaha. IMG_3571
  4. We went to the apple orchard yesterday morning, and picked the biggest apples we’ve ever seen in our entire life. They’re called Melrose apples, and are actually super delicious! It was their last weekend being open for apple picking, so many of their trees were apple-less, but we still filled our bag!IMG_3358

    Seriously, these apples are massive.
    Seriously, these apples are massive.
  5. Lots of cooking! We made French Onion Soup the other night, homemade pizza Saturday night, Broccoli Cheddar Bites yesterday, I’m making Chicken Tikka Masala tonight (well, starting it in like 30 minutes, hooray for another crock pot adventure!), and Thai Coconut Curry soup tomorrow or Wednesday. If/when I stop freelancing and get a full time job, I think I’ll miss spending as much time cooking/baking the most!

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, and happy Monday! 🙂

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Halloween Costume Prep!

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Last night was spent practicing a bloody face “makeup look” for my halloween costume (and binge watching seasons 4 and 5 of ANTM. I really do have the best hubby.) Hooray for inexpensive Target makeup and brushes! Also, the lady checking us out found it hilarious that we were buying fake blood.

Any guesses as to what I’m going to be? Hint: It’s part of a group costume. No guessing if I’ve already told you! 🙂

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PS. My hair is longer than it’s been in about 6 years. Oy.

claire cooks: french onion soup

I have lots of weird quirks, one of which is that I hate onions, but I like anything sour cream and onion flavored, french onion chip dip, funyuns (especially with mac and cheese), and I love French Onion Soup. Usually when I order the soup from restaurants, I request as few onions as possible…which garners strange looks from most waiters/waitresses. Oh well.

Anyway – soup is my absolute favorite food group (:P) and I really want to start making more, so what better to start with than French Onion?!

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Continue reading “claire cooks: french onion soup”

No Self Control.

Alright, it’s official. Having Halloween candy in our house 3 weeks in advance + living in a city full of breweries + working from the couch every day is taking a toll on me (aka I’ve gained 5 pounds in the past week. Womp womp.)

But it's just so good!
But it’s just so good! I have no self control.

I know, I know. I could probably stand to gain a few pounds anyway or whatever, but I’d much rather do it in a healthy way, like gaining muscle from barre vs. being as inactive as I’ve been in the past month or so! Unfortunately, like I briefly mentioned in my Monday post – Kalamazoo Barre is kind of lacking in the ab and seat department. I’ve been to 3 classes now, and each class spends about 5 minutes on abs, if that. I’m used to spending almost half the class on abs at PB! (that might be an exaggeration, but that’s certainly what it feels like!) I am enjoying the class as a whole much more than I did the first day though, so I suppose that’s good 🙂

Anyway – the beginnings of marshmallow fluff around my middle makes me sad, so to fix the lack of ab work (and seat) at Kzoo Barre, I just placed an order for a couple of Pure Barre DVDs! Heck, if our basement is set up for barre, I might as well take advantage of it! Hopefully by posting about it on my blog for however many people to see/read, I’ll be able to hold myself accountable and get my butt to our basement somewhat frequently! (Plus I’ll stay a bit more conscious of what we’re making/eating for dinner annnnd keep trying to convince Joe that we need a dog! Heh.)

But for now, back to watching old seasons of ANTM (finishing up Season 3 as I type this) and enjoying all of the yummy restaurants around us – tonight is trivia night!

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oh, PS: I’m going to try to drink more water too. I quite dislike plain water, but it’s gonna happen.