Month: November 2013

96456-xmas12_3

great is thy thankfulness

Thanksgiving is a holiday I have not been able to spend with my family in over 5 years. Living in Florida, now living in Puerto Rico – it’s always been too expensive to travel back and forth for only a couple days spent at home. We’ve had to get creative – spending this time with friends instead, and cooking or helping with a special feast to share in a unusual tropical setting. But regardless of the food or company, it is always a time I like to reflect and count blessings. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday? Health? Financial security? Love and life? Small things, large things? I’d like to take a minute to share with you the blessings I’m remembering today, tomorrow and every day following: 1 // A healthy family whose always supported me near and far – I’m grateful that my grandparents are alive, healthy and still seeking the most out of life! And I’m grateful for my parents, in a long lasting marriage that has set the example for …

df5b6-culinarylifehacks

menagerie: culinary life hacks

Browsing Pinterest lately brought about several life hacks for culinary purposes. Ah ha, remember when I taught you how to properly use Pinterest? Perfect example of how well that works right here! So for your reading and learning pleasure on this lovely start to a short week, here are some culinary delights to make your time spent in the kitchen more enjoyable and productive! How to Make Caramel Sauce | How to Make Brown Sugar | How to Make Cashew Cream | How to Freeze Cookie Dough | Pumpkin Spice Latte at Home | Difference in Baking Cocoas | How to Make Fluffy Marshmallows | Homemade Winter Squash Butter | How to Clump Granola | Three Tips for Better Oatmeal | Almost Instant Chai Recipe | Canning 101 Tips | Homemade Kettle Corn | How to Make Cake Flour & Self Rising Flours | Maybe some of these will help with the upcoming plans for Thanksgiving?

be917-beautpurp

be beautiful: search your soul, with e.l.m

A completely new spin in the “be beautiful” series on the blog — this is a soul beautifier! Meghan from Eat.Live.Make and myself are partnering up for the next three months to read a special devotional that we felt would really speak to our hearts at our respective stages in life. Meghan and I have been “blog buddies” for some time now – and I’m constantly inspired and enlightened by her. I approached her to see if she would be interested in taking part in a little devotional and then sharing our thoughts with each other through blogging. She loved the idea and even took it a step further and suggested we let our readers know we’re doing this, and invite all of you to take the journey with us. So, consider this a special invitation to join Meghan and me as we work through Your Beautiful Purpose by Susie Larson! I’ve always struggled with the “knowing” of what my purpose is in life. I’m not the only one, right? I have put my faith …

cbb9e-carrot5

culinary: whole wheat carrot cake

I made a carrot cake. A delicious, healthy whole wheat carrot cake. A cake of all cakes, because its Evan’s favorite cake – and Evan doesn’t favor desserts (it’s ridiculous, I know! Who doesn’t like desserts? pishh). It was his birthday on Nov. 15, so I baked him a cake. Because that’s what I do on birthdays, I bake cakes or cupcakes. So dessert-fearing Evan got a cake, and he loved it. A two layer little personal cake, with none of the ingredients he dislikes: super refined sugars, white bleached flour, loads of butter – you know, all the good things that make cakes “cake”. But, this one turned out excellent!! So much so, that is now on the rotation of everyday cakes. Because I’m also an everyday dessert kind of gal, I like cakes year round (week round?). So here’s how you can make one: ¬†Makes one 9×13 cake, or two tiny round cakes + 1 bread loaf cake What You Need: 2 cups whole wheat flour 1 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. salt …

travels & trabajo

Well hello, lovely readers back from the weekend! Thanks for stopping by this morning! If you want to find out who won the AFAR magazine giveaway, then check it out here. Thanks to everyone who entered! For today, I’d like to share some details from my latest travels and my latest work endeavors here on the island. My trip to Texas was a professional career boost, and an opportunity to meet and mingle with some of the top experts in my field. Not only that, but I presented some preliminary research and had the chance to get insightful feedback on my project. This was my second conference as a presenter, but my first one to present a poster – which by the way, is a huge pain to travel on a plane with hah! Overall, I met some great researchers and professionals, got to know my own university colleagues and advisor a bit better and explored a new area of Texas that I had never before visited. AND to add more icing to the cake, …

26073-18_lemon_blueberry_coconut

cookbook: sugar & spice

I’ve been featured! You may or may not have known that I occasionally collaborate with Ruche on their blog, sharing DIYs and recipes. They recently asked me to take part in their holiday cookbook, and I couldn’t be more delighted! So find me in Sugar & Spice amongst some amazing recipes and bloggers. I shared three of my favorite recipes: almost vegan chocolate fudge pie, lemon blueberry coconut cake and spelt & yogurt biscuits. I hope you take a look and try some of these awesome dishes and desserts. I’m looking forward to trying a few new ones myself! Oh, and today is Evan’s birthday! He turns 31 today so we are celebrating all day long. I’m so thankful God has blessed my life with such a wonderful man to share it with. I want to share more about Evan with you next week; give you a glimpse into the man I call my better half. I hope you all have a beautiful weekend!

4bcfa-soapnuts2

sustainable living: wash n’ dry

The last installment of sustainable laundry from the Homegrown Collective – and I saved the most interesting for last! I bet you haven’t heard of either of these two laundry options before (and if you have, then I definitely live under a rock). These are soap nuts. Crazy looking, right? They are the the pulp and skin of a fruit or berry – where the pulp is the source of saponin (soap). You literally throw the muslin bag of soap nuts into your washing machine – the hulls will naturally break down over time after which they are then compostable! So apparently soap nuts are used to give body and life back to your clothes – but are also special because these are 100% pure and natural earth candy. There are no chemicals at all, so these are perfect for people whose skin is irritated by softeners or fabric detergents. You can find these at several places online (try here, here and here). The big ball of fluff is just that — a natural ball …

68fc9-thredup8_edit

be beautiful: wardrobe on a budget

I’d like to share about a great idea I saw on Meghan’s blog one day, where she introduced us all to online consignment – buying new or like new clothes from online retailers, and sending in your own old (gently used) clothes for money or store credit. It didn’t take me long to realize this was a pretty smart and spendthrifty idea. I jumped on that train and explored two of my favorites: ThredUp and Twice, and had a few new pieces sent my way. My experience with both companies has been wonderful – I’ve sent clothes to both sites, got paid, and made purchases that resulted in great quality items from brands I love. ThredUp will even donate items that they deem are not resellable, which I’m thankful in knowing that my clothes don’t end up in the garbage if they don’t meet the high standards for resale. So maybe it’s time to revisit some of those clothes with the tags still on them? Or time to bring out the favorite scarf and shoes …

6781a-armhammer3

diy: kitty litter dehumidifer

This is a little trick suggested to me by my grandmother (they are full of such wisdom, right!?). Living on an island poses a threat to all my clothes and precious items subjected to high humidity all year round. When I first moved here and didn’t know a thing about protecting my items from this weather, I would constantly discover pieces of clothing in my closet with mold (yuck!). This is certainly not healthy. I was talking to my grandmother one day and describing this problem, telling her I’m going through numerous Damp Rid packets every week trying to control the dampness in my closets (= lots of money). She knew a solution:¬† a cup of Arm & Hammer kitty litter. The litter provides a nice smell, and the “pellets” do not turn into water when grabbing the excess moisture from the air, so it’s essentially a product that never gets old, or used up. Perfect! A solution for my wallet and my closet. So I’ve placed little cups and jars in my closets and …

2b5c8-afargiveaway_edit

win a year subscription to Afar magazine

Surprise!! I have a special giveaway for November that is sponsored solely by me. That’s right, I’m giving YOU a chance to win a year subscription to my favorite travel magazine, paid for by me. All you have to do is be a legal US resident with a legit US mailing address (sorry, this one is not open to my international readers, but do not fear, there is always another giveaway in the making!) I will never sale, distribute, or do anything weird or crazy with your mailing address and myself + the marketing folks at Afar will be the only ones to see it. Afar magazine has been a delightful read for me since I discovered them back in 2011. I’ve posted about them previously ( see here and here ) and have been featured in the magazine and on their website quite a few times. I post my own highlights and travel and have actually been deemed the Local Expert for Puerto Rico. Want to visit this beautiful island? I can give you …