mélange - a mixture of often incongruous elements. Pretty pictures, yummy-looking recipes, money-saving tips, going green, noteworthy news, and stuff going on in my life. In no particular order.
Sometimes snarky. Oftentimes serious. Usually thoughtful. Never dull.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin Time!

One of my husband's friends hosts an annual pumpkin-carving party.

I daydream about my carving for weeks before the party, wishing I had this kind of talent:

When the time comes though, I face the facts: I am NOT creative.

Or artistic.

I stick to the templates she provides, and I often take the ones suggested for young children's carving abilities.

This year - no templates provided.

I had NO ideas. 

So I grabbed the tool that carves eyes for you and went to town.

Perfect circles all around.

I ended up with a polka dot disco pumpkin.

I kinda like it!

Are you carving/painting/decorating pumpkins this fall? Show me your talents!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I cooked! Quiche!

My husband and I have been together for almost 6 years, living together for just over 4, and married for jusssst about 3 [next month!]. He's been asking me to make him a quiche...that whole time.

Well, it only took almost 6 six years - but a few weeks ago, I finally did it! And not only did I make quiche, I made up my own recipe. I don't cook much, so the fact that it was even edible was an accomplishment for me!

I turned all of this [you don't see the garlic bread and Cheddar Bunnies - they're miiiine] -

With the addition of fresh eggs from good friends with a chicken coop,

Into this!

But not only was it edible, my husband came home yesterday from a potluck lunch at work to tell me that my quiche was BETTER than the ones served there! Go me!

Quiche Recipe
  • 8 slices crumbled bacon
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup baby spinach, shredded
  • 6 ounces herb feta cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • garlic powder to taste
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 9-inch deep dish pie crust 
1. In a large skillet, cook, drain and crumble bacon. Set aside. 
2. Sprinkle shredded cheddar into pie crust. [If using a frozen pie crust, don't even worry about defrosting it first! Seriously.] Push cheese into crust so it creates a barrier between the crust and the liquid ingredients [this helps avoid a soggy crust after baking].
3. Place crumbled bacon atop cheddar cheese.
4. In the bacon-greased skillet, saute chopped bell pepper, shredded baby spinach and the feta cheese until the pepper is slightly soft and the spinach is wilted. Pour into cheesed pie crust.
5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, garlic powder and salt & pepper. Pour over other ingredients.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour, or until the crust is a golden brown and the center of the quiche is mostly firm.
7. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes before serving.
8. Enjoy [or serve to someone else and watch them enjoy!]

Is there a recipe you've been meaning to try but just haven't gotten around to making quite yet?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Long time coming

The last two months have been quite a whirlwind in the Divine household. A new job for one of us, leaving a job for the other, a soon to be new apartment [yet again we're moving!], a family 'vacation', and several smaller adventures have made the summer of 2011 quite...interesting, to say the least!

I'm working on a big post o'awesomeness - How I Spent My Summer. Really though, I'm searching high and low for the cord that connects my camera to the computer so I can upload photos! Stay tuned.

Lately, I'm taking some time to reflect. Sometimes I need to simply remind myself that I'm awesome, just the way I am. Over the past few weeks, I've collected some more words of wisdom that make me smile.

If you could sum up your summer in just one word, what word would you choose?
What's your latest mantra?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A day all to myself.

Saturday was my Me Day: my husband's been out of town for a week, our dog has been...destructive to say the least, and I just needed a day to do whatever I wanted.
I had plans!

Look at that happy tail! And it's nice and cool out - 7:30am is a great time for a walk. So much for sleeping in late.

At this point, it feels HOT. It's about 75 and before 8 in the morning! But we get to stroll through the Incredible Edible Park, where the city r-epurposed a strip of land under power poles and next to the train track to plant food to donate to local food banks.

Make my list for the day. I love lists.

Take a quick cool shower, put on as little clothing and makeup as possible [it's about 80 degrees before 9am!] and hit the road.

Off to the farmer's market at UC Irvine after dropping Buttercup off at doggy day care.

My favorite part: the sample buffets! This particular market has over 100 vendors, so I easily round out a healthy breakfast here.

Fruuuuit. I love fruit. I bought a half-dozen of those black plums in the front - 24 hours later and there are only 2 left in the fridge!
 If I'm going to bake, I ought to clean the kitchen. Any excuse to use my new Swiffer WetJet [please tell me I'm not the only person who actually enjoys cleaning sometimes?].

All better. Moving to a new apartment every year for the past decade has taught me at least one thing: I'm NEVER having white tiled countertops when I have a house!

I'd also been asking my husband to scrub the shower/tub for over a month - I finally decided that if it mattered to me that much [and it does, I like bubble baths!], I should just shut up and do it myself. So I did.

The bathroom shines. :)

Pinterest and a popsicle break!

Nap time with a snuggly kitty.

I had a Target gift card, so I head in to stock up on laundry detergent. I can't help but browse the dollar bins, where this time I pick up an assortment of fun school items for a good friend who just landed her first full-time teaching job! [Kara, if you're reading this, look for a package next week!]

I treat myself to a manicure, something I only do about twice a year. Pretty!

Back in my car and thankful for air conditioning! I'm off to Cost Plus where I have a coupon for $10 off a $30 purchase.

I've been married for almost three years, and still get a kick out of finding products touting my 'new' last name!

I grabbed the basket for corraling books and paperwork on my coffeetable and then stock up on interesting treats for myself [and a few for my husband]. My total comes to $30.66 - I couldn't have planned it better!

Picked up the doggy - YAY for an excellent report card!

Good girl!

I found a recipe for EASY cookies on Pinterest the other day, from TidyMom.

I turn these...

Into these! These take FAR longer to bake than the recipe suggests, but mmmmmmmmm are they good!

Transition into exercises for physical therapy for my knee and chiropractic work for my back/neck. I love this one!

Dinner for me.

And then I decide I might as well make another batch of those cookies. These area a modified version of the recipe I used for the lemon cookies earlier - I added a bit of strawberry puree to the batter and a dash of vanilla extract. And baked them for almost double the time. Soooo good.

8:30 on a Saturday night and no plans, but can't leave the dog home alone. What to do?

I check out my 30 Before 30 list to see if there's a project I could start on tonight. But then something on the coffee table catches my eye.

BirchBox samples I haven't tried yet!

I grab the box and have myself a little spa time and a makeover. I've used the green apple peel [fabulous!], Laura Geller bronzer [too dark for me - I wiped almost all of it off for this photo], some strange PURPLE eyeshadow [I stick to beige/brown so this is just odd to me - what do you think?], and some orangey-brown lip paint [I liked this - AND it stayed on through washing my face for bed!]. That blackhead pore strip felt fabulous ripping off, but I can't tell that it did anything beneficial for me.

After my girly time is complete, we head out for our night time walk. It's finally cooled down! Forgive me, I still don't know how to take photos at night.

I install skype [how behind the times am I?] and video chat with my husband while he enjoys a beer up in Portland.

And then I upload the day's photo, take another cool shower, and head to bead with a book by 11.

Not as exciting as I'd hoped, but still a really great Me Day.

Did you have more fun than me this weekend? 
What do you do when you set aside time for yourself?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Saturday plans

I'm looking forward to a lovely Saturday - first day of a three-day holiday weekend!

I want to change things up a bit from the usual and treat myself to a 'Me Day'.
A day full of things just for me.

Fun things.
Relaxing things.
Perhaps even a few roductive things - but only those that I'd enjoy.

Here are a few of my intentions:

Four-ingredient cookies from TidyMom [if you can count a box of cake mix as a single ingredient!]. They are calling my name and I *must* try them!

A picnic in the park with a good book and my clever dog, Buttercup.

I have quite a selection of books to choose from - and these are just the ones i've recently borrowed from the local library! Let's not discuss the entire 'to-read' shelf of my bookcase.

We'll just pretend my bathroom is this beautiful. I'm loving trough sinks lately! Anyway, I'm planning to scrub my bathtub tomorrow. Lame and entirely NOT fun, right? However, once completed, this means I can indulge in bubble baths!

I also need to go grocery shopping - but that's actually one of my favorite 'grown-up' things to do! I follow my list to the letter [and use my coupons!], but I really enjoy strolling the aisles and comparing five varieties of orange juice, three slightly different raspberry jams, twelve assortments of crackers, etc.

And finally, I'll spend a good-sized portion of the day lounging. Pretending my living room looked 10% as fabulous as any of these I've recently come across on Pinterest:

What are your Saturday plans? Read any good books lately?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

30 Before 30

I like lists. Writing something down on a list makes it far more likely that the task will actually be accomplished.

Recently, it's come to my attention that I need to have more fun. As ridiculous as it sounds to compile a list of fun things I'd like to do...having them written and published means I may actually get around to having some [apparently much-needed] fun!

My weekend project was to finally sit down and create my list of 30 things to do before turning 30. I've been wanting to make this sort of list for years. So here it is! I've got a bit more than 24 months to tackle the list.

30 Before 30 [in no particular order]:

  1. Plant a flower garden
  2. Ride in a hot-air balloon
  3. Have breakfast in bed
  4. Spontaneous/surprise trip with my husband
  5. Get all dressed up and go to a diner
  6. Run an 8-minute mile
  7. Go away for a girls-only weekend
  8. Do nice surprise things for friends
  9. Find the perfect perfume
  10. Make my mom’s cheesecake
  11. Order room service in a fancy hotel
  12. Cook a multi-course meal for guests
  13. Volunteer with my husband, abroad would be awesome
  14. A second vacation with my sister
  15. Create an art project and display it in my home
  16. Make good cookies from scratch
  17. Get a pedicure
  18. Fun photography session
  19. Increase the 'house' fund and the 'retirement' fund
  20. Actually have a hairstyle
  21. Tropical vacation
  22. Make a $1,000 donation to a single charity
  23. Throw a wedding anniversary party for us
  24. Look good in a bikini
  25. Buy/send myself flowers
  26. Keep a potted plant alive for longer than a month
  27. Read a book and take a nap in a hammock
  28. Try 10 new foods
  29. Build something
  30. Take myself on a mini-vacation
Do/did you have such a list  - 20 Before 20, 40 Before 40, a Bucket List, a secret tucked-away list of dreams? Please share!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tour de Dessert

A small preview from my self-made Dessert Tour of Los Angeles from last weekend.

But first, two notes:
1. There will be additional Tour de Dessert - there are too many wonderful places to visit!
2. Calories don't count if you just look at pictures; I promise.

A map! You had to know I'd write an itinerary, right?And look, it's color-coded.

Only we didn't get to all of those shops. And we found new additions on the way. [Reason #1 why there will need to be at least one follow-up tour. Reason #2? Do we even need a reason #2??]

And now - a preview of the deliciousness!

Parisian macarons. Far superior to those coconut haystacks I grew up with at Passover.

Fried cheesecake. Seriously! Fried. Cheesecake. Amaaaaazing.

The rest will have to wait. Dessert is worth a wait, no?

Do you have a sweet tooth like me?
What is your favorite dessert? 


Thursday, May 26, 2011

We Baked! Beer Bread!

 Wednesday night's experiment: beer bread!

I only wish chocolate stout actually tasted like chocolate...

Ahhhh, the convenience of just dumping everything into the machine, pressing a couple of buttons, and walking away!

While your bread is baking, you can relax. or...do what I did: go to Costco!

See that mop? I don't think I've ever been so excited to clean floors!

A couple of hours later and voila!

It's actually not as...beer-tasting as we'd hoped. But still quite yummy!
We've thought of two ways to enjoy the fruits of our [machine's] labor:

A nightcap for Eric - beer bread toast and his favorite Old Man Drink - a Manhattan.

And this morning's breakfast - toasted with a spread of blueberry goat cheese!

Recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens' More Bread Machine Bounty (1994)
  • 1 cup plus two tablespoons dark beer 
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour 
  • 1 cup bread flour 
  • 2 tablespoons honey or 2 tablespoons molasses 
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

  1. Add ingredients to your bread machine in the order recommended by its manufacturer [in my case, liquids, semi-liquids, salt, flours, yeast]
  2. Program your bread machine to a whole wheat cycle
  3. Enjoy!

Do you enjoy cocktails that are 'inappropriate' for you generation?
Any suggestions for the next yummy bread concoction?