October Favorites

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October is always such a fun month around our house, and this year was definitely no exception. From the changing of the seasons and Thanksgiving, to our first family trip to Disneyland and Halloween. This month has been packed full of favorites. Here are just a few:

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Fall would not be complete without jumping in the leaf pile :)

 

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Disneyland World of Color. Absolutely amazing experience!!

 

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Mom and daughter Halloween pumpkin.

 

From the Kitchen:

Epicure Perfect Petites Mold

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This month in the kitchen it hasn’t been so much a food item, but rather a food ‘tool’ that I have been loving. It’s the Perfect Petites Mold from Epicure. This thing is awesome! I have been using this at least once per week since I got it and I just keep coming up with ideas for more things I can use it for.

What I really love about it is the portion sizes it creates. These two bite little treasures offer just enough of whatever you end up making. This has been fantastic for kids lunches and class parties so far and I think it would also be amazing for appy’s, Christmas baking, or for a baking exchange. One tray gives you 30 portions so you get a lot of bang for your effort.

So far I have made several batches of brownies and I have also made some mini carrot cake petites. I also can’t wait to try cookie dough, two-bite cheesecakes, and I’m thinking an appy of some kind using puffed pastry would be really cool to try as well.

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Beauty Obsessions

Ipsy October GlamBag

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I think every month I could say that my Ipsy GlamBag has been one of my favorites for the month. I just love getting my little pink pouch of surprises each month and then I love using and learning about the products I find inside.

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado

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I have heard and read so may great things about this eye cream, so when I happened across a Kiehl’s store while changing flights in Portland recently I couldn’t resist the chance to pick some up to try.

This cream is thick and moisturizing with a very mild fragrance. I have an extremely sensitive eye area that is prone to dryness, especially in the fall and winter months so this creams thick formula is perfect. I have found it so difficult to find an eye cream that really moisturizes my eye area that doesn’t end up in my eyes or irritating the skin around my eyes. I am absolutely thrilled with it so far and will definitely be repurchasing. Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment isvwell deserving of all the hype it receives.

 

Wearing it Out

Scarves

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I’m that person who is always cold, and as the colder months approach I find myself looking to layer and bundle up for both indoors and out. For me, that involves the wearing of a lot of scarves. It’s like jewelry that keeps you warm and takes the place of my hair to keep neck and upper back warm when I want to wear my hair up. I don’t really get too fancy with my scarves, I just kind of fiddle with it until I’m happy with it, but with all the scarf tying videos out there the possibilities seem endless.

 

Tanya Time

Outlander Season 1 – iTunes

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I know this is the third time I have had an Outlander related item in one of my posts, but honestly I can’t help it. For a while now I have been hearing and reading about how great the Outlander TV series is, but have been skeptical to check it out for fear of disappointment.

I tend to become really committed to the character images I create when I’m reading a book and if a movie or show depicts the character differently than I have imagined it, then that show or movie is a complete write-off for me. That is why I will never see the 50 Shades movie. The casting of Christian Grey completely wrecked any chance of me liking the movie.

A..n..y..w..a..y to make a long story longer, after really needing a brain break from work a few weeks ago I sat down to veg out in front of the TV for a bit. Scrolling around I came across the Outlander Season 1 on iTunes. I decided to buy just one episode, convincing myself I would only be out 2.50 if I ended up turning it off after 5 minutes.

Well, needless to say that didn’t happen, in fact I ended up buying the next episode right after I watched the first :). I was blown away by how closely it depicts the book. Right now to the finest details, and although the main character looks slightly different that I pictured him, the strength of his character and the way its acted is spot on. I am hooked!!

iPhone App

Pinterest

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If you have read any of my other blog posts you will know of my deep love and addiction to Pinterest. This is not just my favorite app this month but perhaps my favorite app … EVER! Thanks to Pinterest I have no need for cookbooks when I’m looking for a new recipe to try or an old favorite to recreate, no need to buy magazines to look for inspiration for decorating, fashion, or motivation, and an absolutely endless source for ideas for everything for kids; from birthday party ideas to what to pack them for lunch. I use it almost everyday, if not everyday, and I consider it an invaluable resource for pretty much anything. You can find me on Pinterest @FindMagicDaily.

Well that’s it for another month of favorites. What have you been loving in the month of October? You can leave a comment here or tag me on Instagram @theeverydayjournalista #octoberfavorites. I would love to hear from you.

The Everyday Journalista

 

 

 

Everyday Granola Bars

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I think the thing I dislike the most about having kids in school is making lunches. I really dread it. I’m always struggling to come up with options that are new and fun but still provide a balanced meal. They don’t get nearly enough time to eat so it has to be something that involved no prep. and is easy to get into (my daughter has a terrible time getting into fruit cups). Then of course I don’t really want to be sending processed pre-packaged foods in my kids lunches because they are so filled with sugar and things I can’t pronounce.

About a year ago I stopped buying granola bars from the grocery store. I could no longer bring myself to buy these snacks that had sugar as the second ingredient no matter how convenient they were. I had tried numerous ‘healthy’ granola bar products but my kids didn’t like them. Then I started looking on Pinterest for help. There were lots of options, of course, but I wanted something fairly healthy, that my kids would actually eat and that was easy to make.

After a lot of testing of various recipes I came up with a granola bar version that works for me and my family. It’s easy to make,  you can substitute basically whatever you have on hand, and my kids love it!

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Here’s what you will need:

2 Cups of Oats

1/2 Cup of chopped Pecans (you could really use any nut)

1/2 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut

1/4 Cup Butter

1/3 Cup Honey

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar (lightly packed)

1/2 tsp of Vanilla

1/4 tsp of Salt

1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries (or any dried fruit)

1/4-1/3 Cup of Chocolate chips

 

Here’s what you do:

Set your oven to 350 degrees.

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While it’s preheating line a baking sheet with tin foil. Measure out 2 cups of oats, 1/2 cup of pecans, and the 1/2 cup of coconut. Spread it out evenly on the baking sheet.

Bake this in the oven for about 5 minutes. I usually just keep an eye on it. when the coconut is just starting to turn golden I take it out.

Remove from oven.

Using the tin foil like a funnel pour the coco-oat-nut mixture into a medium sized mixing bowl and set aside.

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While the dry ingredients are toasting you can add 1/4 cup of butter, 1/3 cup honey, 1/4 brown sugar, 1/2 tsp of vanilla, and 1/4 tsp of salt into a saucepan.

Over medium heat allow the butter to melt, stirring regularly until the sugar is completely dissolved.

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Pour the melted honey-sugar mixture into the medium bowl containing the coco-oat-nut mixture.

Mix well.

Add in 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and mix to combine. I have also used apricots, and raisins here and they both work well. I personally love the chocolate cranberry combination so I usually end up making it this way ;).

Set bowl aside for a couple of minutes.

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Take the tin foil you used to line your baking sheet and now re-use it to line a square baking pan. It’s too big but that is perfect for creating little handles that hang over the edge of your pan. Lightly spray it with cooking spray.

Going back to your granola mixture, now add and stir in a 1/4 cup of chocolate chips. These will start to melt a bit.

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Transfer the mixture into your lined and sprayed pan.

Take a length of parchment or waxed paper and firmly press the mixture into the pan. The more you press this in the better they will stay together.

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Lift up the parchment and sprinkle a few more chocolate chips on the top. Then follow once again with the parchment and some pressure to make sure all those chips are pressed into the pan.

Leaving the parchment on while the pan chills in the fridge for a couple of hours.

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Once chilled you can use your little tinfoil handles to remove the granola bar from the pan. The foil should then peel away from the bar easily and you can go ahead and cut them into your desired granola bar sizes.

I package these up into snack bags as I cut them up and then they at the ready for the dreaded packing of lunches.

Everyone in our house loves these Everyday Granola Bars. I hope you will too. If you decide to give these a try please Instagram your version and tag me @theeverydayjournalista. I would love to see :)

 

 

A Twist On A Thanksgiving Favorite

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It’s the Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and along with it the beginning of fall winter season that literally doesn’t stop until the new year.

For me, Thanksgiving means friends, family, fun, food and more food! It seems like most of our holiday celebrations revolve around food and at least at Thanksgiving that seems to make sense to me. I’m not always sure that’s a good thing but I really enjoy all that the harvest and Thanksgiving traditions bring together.

Thanksgiving growing up always involved my mom cooking a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings, followed of course by the pumpkin and or apple pies. Being the lover of traditions that I am I have not strayed too far from my childhood Thanksgiving routine, although I have definitely tweaked and changed some of the recipes I use. 

Last year I came across a recipe on Pinterest for a GingerSnap Pumpkin Pie. This seemed like a no-brainer for me to try as it’s the combination of two of my fall favorites. I decided to give it a try as my Thanksgiving dessert. It was a huge hit! and thus a new tradition was born.

This year as I sat down to prepare my menu and shopping list I knew that this would be my dessert of choice once again. Having made this dessert before I recalled that I wanted to change a couple of things so I have brought you along with me as I made my version of a GingerSnap Crust Pumpkin Pie.

Crust

Start off by preparing and baking the crust. As I mentioned, I found this recipe on freutcake.com and have adapted it slightly.

You will need:

1 1/2 cups of gingersnap crumbs

1/3 cup + 1 tbsp of melted butter

2 tbsp of sugar

Pinch of salt

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Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  • Place your gingersnap’s of choice into a large Ziploc bag and roll them into crumbs.
  • Pour 1 1/2 cups into a bowl and then add in 2 tbsp of sugar and a pinch of salt.
  • Pour in the 1/3 cup + 1tbsp of melted butter and combine.
  • You may have to play with this a bit. I found that I could have even used up to 2 cups of crumbs as my pie plate is quite deep. You want the texture of the mixture to be moist but still crumbly. 
  • Once mixed press into your 9-inch pie plate. I just use a soup spoon for this.
  • Bake in a 325 degrees oven for approximately 10 minutes. Keep an eye on this. You don’t want the sides to get over cooked.
  • Cool completely.
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Filling

Next it’s onto the filling. I made my crust the evening before and then made the filling and topping the day of the ‘event’.

You will need:

1 Cup of lightly packed brown sugar

1 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cloves

1 1/2 cups of canned pumpkin

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups of evaporated milk

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Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  • whisk together 1 cup brown sugar, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/8 tsp cloves. I tried to short cut my recipe by purchasing a can of pumpkin pie filling, but I was not happy with the spice level so I ended up adding the spices anyway… shortcut fail :(
  • Now whisk in the 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin, the 2 beaten eggs, and the 1 1/2 cups of evaporated milk.
  • Pour this into your cooled pie crust. Note: there was way more filling here than I had crust and I ended up burying my crust. So again, I would try to make more crust mixture next time.
  • Into the oven it goes for about 40-45 min. As the baking end time approaches keep an eye on your pie to make sure your filling is set in the center but not too dark around the edges.
  • Cool on a cookie cooling rack.
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Topping

This last step is not necessary but really adds a finishing touch and flavor to this yummy pie.

You will need:

1 cup of whipping cream

2 tbsp of maple syrup

1 tbsp of granulated sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp of cinnamon

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Directions:

  • Start by beating 1 cup of whipping cream until you have soft peaks
  • Add the 2 tbsp of maple syrup, 1 tbsp of granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon.
  • Continue to beat until you have firm peaks.
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Serve this to your friends, family, or yourself and enjoy!

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I would love to hear what you are serving for Thanksgiving dessert!

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours :)

August Favorites

August Favorites, Monthly Favorites, The Everyday Journalista, Everyday Journalista, Pixiwoos, Pixiwoo Madness, Sam Chapman, Nic Chapman, Voice Memo App, Simple Skin Care, Simple, Beauty, Rose Gold, Triangle Necklace, Jewelry, Menchies, Frozen Yogurt, Dinner, Summer, Corn on the Cob, August was an amazing month full of family fun, sun and adventure. I am actually quite sad to see it come to an end. It was difficult to narrow down my favorites for the month, especially in the area of beauty, but to keep this from being a novel I have stuck to just one favorite per category. So without further delay, this is what I have been loving during the month of August.

 

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Favorite Sweet Treat: Menchies

Typically I post a recipe here but this summer has been so warm that I haven’t done much in the way of baking or dessert making. This does not mean that I have missed out on satisfying my sweet tooth. Menchies, as I’m sure you are aware, is a self-serve frozen yogurt shop. There are an ever-changing number of flavors to choose from, including sugar and dairy free options, and you just help yourself. Then you move onto the toppings: candy, sprinkles, fruit and sauces; and again you come up with your own concoction. Then you take your bowl to the register and you pay by weight. It’s a lot of fun and we went a couple of times in the month of August. Just a little warning here: Keep a close eye on your kids, their eyes can be bigger than their tummies and you can have a $10 bowl pretty quickly, just ask my 11 year old son :).

 

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Favorite Beauty Product: Simple Skin Care

If you follow me on Instagram you will know that I love this brand. I’ve been using Bioderma non-rinse cleanser for years and it is amazing, but it can be a little pricey. I heard about a similar product by Simple that was a fraction of the price. Convinced it was too good to be true I was reluctant to give it a try but finally decided that for the price, if I hated it I wouldn’t be out of pocket much. Well that was three bottles ago! The Simple Cleansing Micellar Water removes all my make-up and is gentle on my sensitive skin, and as I mentioned the price is very affordable. But my love for the Simple Skin Care brand does not end there. I also use their Foaming Cleanser (read about it in my recent post about What’s In My Shower) and it is another amazing product. My other go-to product from Simple is their nourishing 24-Hour Day/Night Moisturizing Cream. I love this stuff!! So many moisturizers make my skin break out, but not this one. It’s gentle but moisturizing and does not irritate the more sensitive areas of my face; I even use it on my eyes. I only wish it came in different packaging as I would personally prefer a pump ;). I have been trying two other products from the line recently as well, the eye make-up remover pads and the revitalizing eye roll-on. A little early to make a recommendation but so far I am enjoying them. I would however, highly, highly recommend the cleansing water, foaming cleanser and moisturizer. I love this brand!

 

August Favorites, Monthly Favorites, The Everyday Journalista, Everyday Journalista, Pixiwoos, Pixiwoo Madness, Sam Chapman, Nic Chapman, Voice Memo App, Simple Skin Care, Simple, Beauty, Rose Gold, Triangle Necklace, Jewelry, Menchies, Frozen Yogurt, Dinner, Summer, Corn on the Cob, Favorite Dinner: Corn on the Cob

Okay, this may sound like a lame choice but that is perhaps because you don’t live where I live. Chilliwack is the Corn capital of Canada, or so I’m told, and for good reason. Around these parts corn becomes part of the summer, sold at road-side stands all over town and the constant source of small talk concerning which corn is the best (Tuxedo, Peaches and Cream, SuperSweet… the list goes on). It’s simple to make, fun to eat and of course with a little butter and salt it’s absolutely delicious! All I do is bring a big pot of water to a rolling boil, add a tsp of sugar or so (yes sugar), add in the cleaned corn, and about 8-minutes later remove the corn or drain the water. I’m getting hungry just writing about it. Around here corn means summer… Yum!

 

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Favorite Online Personality: Pixiwoo

Pixiwoo is made up of British sisters Nic and Sam Chapman who have been sharing their skills as make-up artists on YouTube for the last 7 years. These two ladies are awesome! They are knowledgeable, beautiful, and very likeable. The thing I like the most about them is that they are not twenty. They have fine lines and busy lives with children so the products and techniques they recommend are relevant to me. They have experienced quite a bit of success with a makeup brush line and a huge YouTube fan base and yet truly seem like really nice women :). Here is a link to there YouTube channel: Pixiwoo.

 

August Favorites, Monthly Favorites, The Everyday Journalista, Everyday Journalista, Pixiwoos, Pixiwoo Madness, Sam Chapman, Nic Chapman, Voice Memo App, Simple Skin Care, Simple, Beauty, Rose Gold, Triangle Necklace, Jewelry, Menchies, Frozen Yogurt, Dinner, Summer, Corn on the Cob, Favorite App: Voice Memos

This app comes standard with the iPhone and honestly I’ve never really paid it much attention. That is until recently when I was coming up with how to make the 6-minute Miracle Morning work for me (Read about it here in my post: 6 Minutes for me). I used the voice memo app to record my daily affirmations. This gives me more flexibility when it comes to listening to them. I can listen to them while walking or while meditating. It’s actually a really handy app and I think it could also be really cool to record a visualization or a list of my current goals. I think listening to something like this keeps these ideas, thoughts, and goals front of mind, and that can only lead to more progress toward those things.

 

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Favorite Accessory: Triangle Rose Gold Necklace

I bought this necklace in a super cute shop while on vacation in August. I have been looking for some Rose Gold to add to my jewelry collection and when I saw this little triangle necklace I knew I had found what I was looking for. It’s so delicate and pretty, and the really neat part is that the packaging explained that the triangle is a symbol of overcoming obstacles. I’m all about wearing things with meaning, so that just sealed the deal. I love it! And have been wearing it pretty much nonstop since I got it.

Thanks so much for letting me share my favorites from the past month with you. Please let me know what you have been loving this month in the comments (just click on the little comment bubble at the top of the post).

 

Just one more way we can find magic in the everyday ;)

 

Blueberry Dump Cake: Another Pinterest Win!

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I was searching my beloved Pinterest recently looking for a no bake cheesecake recipe, (which is my personal favorite style of cheesecake, it’s a childhood memory thing) when my search led into a blueberry cheese cake recipe, which then led into many many other blueberry recipes. Hopefully you can relate to the endless vortex of the Pinterest search. Anyway… I came across a recipe for an easy blueberry dump cake. I have to admit I have never heard of this kind of dessert but one look at the recipe and I knew I had to try it.

This recipe is super easy and would be great for a family dinner or pot luck type get together. I used a 10×14 glass Pyrex, a 9×13 was recommended but mine still turned out great!

So here is what I did to make this simple and very yummy dessert.

Blueberry Dump Cake
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 box of white, vanilla or yellow cake mix.
  2. 540ml or 19oz can of blueberry pie filling.
  3. 540ml or 19oz drained can of crushed pineapple.
  4. 1 cup of fresh blueberries.
  5. 1/2 cup of shredded coconut (I used sweetened).
  6. 1/2 cup of butter.
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Layer the following
  1. Blueberry Pie Filling
  2. Crushed Pineapple
  3. Shredded Coconut
  4. 1/4 cup of the Fresh Blueberries.
  5. Now sprinkle the cake mix on top.
  6. Cut off about 2Tbsp of butter and set aside. Melt remaining butter and gently pour over the cake mix.
  7. Cut the remaining butter into little slices and place on as many of the remaining dry areas of the cake mix as you can.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of fresh blueberries on top.
  9. Bake for about 45 minutes in your 375 degree oven, or until the cake is golden brown and the berries are bubbling.
Notes
  1. This dessert is super rich and that is really saying something coming from a dessert connoisseur like myself. A little goes a long way, and in my opinion is best served warm. I also thought vanilla ice cream helped to cut the richness a bit. A cup of tea goes quite nicely as well :).
The Everyday Journalista http://www.everydayjournalista.com/

 

The Everyday Journalista, Everyday Journalista, Baking, Easy Baking, Blueberries, Cake, Blueberry Dump Cake, Dump Cake, Recipes, Blueberry Recipes,The Everyday Journalista, Everyday Journalista, Baking, Easy Baking, Blueberries, Cake, Blueberry Dump Cake, Dump Cake, Recipes, Blueberry Recipes,The Everyday Journalista, Everyday Journalista, Baking, Easy Baking, Blueberries, Cake, Blueberry Dump Cake, Dump Cake, Recipes, Blueberry Recipes,I think there are endless possibilities here. From what I have read apparently cherry dump cake is the traditional form of this recipe.
I think it could be great to try a chocolate cake or cherry chip mix with the cherry pie filling, or a pecan cake mix with either the blueberry or cherry. I would like to try it with carrot cake mix and pumpkin pie filling and use pecans instead of the fresh berries. I think that will be a definite try come fall :).

I would love to hear from you if you decide to give this recipe a try or any of the versions I’ve suggested above. Please leave me a comment :).

Click here is the link to the recipe that I based mine on.

The Quickles Experiment

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I am super excited to have this week’s post by a guest contributor! On a personal note this is even more exciting as this guest contributor is my sister :).

She has been so supportive of my blog and has been known to text me with a typo I have let slip in one of my posts. She’s always got my back!

She loves to cook and is constantly trying new recipes, and I have been asking her for a while now to share her experience with a recipe that she has tried.

When she told me she had purchased this ‘Quickles’ spice from Epicure I mentioned that I really wanted to know how it turned out, as I too am a lover of pickles, and I think a lot of other people would be interested as well. So here we are.

So without further ado, welcome to the Quickle Experiment ;)


 

The Everyday Journalista, Everyday Journalista, Quickles, Epicure, Making pickles, canning, Easy pickles, Quick pickles, cooking, recipes, I’ve been a pickle lover for many years, and being someone who loves to cook, I’ve tried a few times to make homemade pickles. Sadly, they never seem to turn out right.

So when one of my favorite companies (Epicure) came out with a product called ‘Quickles’ I couldn’t wait to give it a try!

 Just as the title suggests these are quick pickles. A quick and easy option for pickle lovers.

 

 

Start with some pickling dills or mini cucumbers. The number needed will vary based on the size of the cukes you use. I just used Farmer’s Market mini cucumbers from my local grocery store.

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For the brine you will need:

1 1/4 Cups of Water

3/4 Cup of Vinegar

1 Tbsp of Epicure Quickle Mix

2 Tbsp of Sugar

1 tsp Course Sea Salt

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The instructions for the Quickles only makes 2 cups of liquid so I decided to make a double batch for my pickle-loving family of four.

Combine all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. This goes really quick, once the liquid is boiling you only have to simmer it for 5 minutes.

 

 

 

 

The Everyday Journalista, Everyday Journalista, Quickles, Epicure, Making pickles, canning, Easy pickles, Quick pickles, cooking, recipes,While the brine was simmering I cut my mini cucumbers lengthwise into quarters and stood them up in a clean glass jar. If you are using pickling dills you can probably skip the cutting step and place your cukes straight into the jars.

These pickles are really quick and easy to make and the best part is there is not sterilization needed!

 

 

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Once the brine is ready simply pour into your prepared jars. I used a little funnel to prevent any spilling. Put the lids on right away and allow them to cool completely.

Chill in the fridge and that’s it! Pickles for dinner. Store in the fridge and enjoy :).

 

 

 


 

I would like to say a big thank you to my sister for her blog contribution :). Sadly I did not get to sample the Quickles as we live on opposite ends of the country, but I am going to try my hand at making them and I’ve decided I will definitely be adding some of the dill I have growing in my herb planter :)

 

Now, I had a few questions for my sister following her Quickles experiment and I found her answers very helpful so I have decided to share them with you as well:

Would you make them again?

Yes! They don’t taste like dill pickles from the store, but lets be honest, they don’t have any dill in them. I thought they were yummy and will definitely be making them again. I am also excited to try the Quickles mix to pickle some beans and asparagus.

Would you do anything different?

They were good and flavorful and they are long gone. But I felt they were missing a little something. So next time I will be adding some garlic. Perhaps 2 cloves per jar.  Just place in the jar with the cukes and then brine over top. Might even try adding some dill.

If you want to take more time you can go ahead and add these other things, but really these are Quickles, the idea is that you can whip these up quickly with very little effort.

Were they crunchy?

Yes they were. Even several days later they had a good crunch to them. Not sure how long that lasts as they didn’t even last the week in our house.

 

If you decide to conduct your own Quickles experiment I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Happy Pickling, or should I say Quickle-ing… sorry I couldn’t resist :)

 

June Favorites

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June has been an absolutely crazy month! Between baking for pen pal picnics, year end school activities like a trip to the waterslides, and record breaking temperatures in our area things have been really busy and exhausting. Not to mention the work, the yard, a couple of painting projects I’m working on, household commitments and, you know, just regular life. There are just not enough hours in the day!

But among all the chaos that June brings I have come across a group of items that I have been loving this month. It’s during these crazy busy times that these types of simple pleasures really help me stay present and positive.

So lets just jump into the things I have been loving this month :)

 

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Favorite Sweet Treat: Brownie Raspberry Trifle

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my post of this sweet treat that is appealing to both the eyes and the taste buds. This is one of those recipes I have been making for years. You can make this as complicated or easy as time permits and the variations are endless, although I love this combination so much I have never strayed far. Here is a link to the recipe I used: http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/chocolate-passion-bowl-61814.aspx

I have baked the brownies from scratch, from a box mix, and even used pre-made brownies, and they are all yummy. There really is no substitute for fresh raspberries so I really would recommend using them whenever possible. For the topping I always grate a little dark or salted dark chocolate. It just gives it that finishing touch and makes the dessert look very labor intensive! :)

This dish creates that ‘wow’ reaction when presented and it doesn’t disappoint once it hits your tongue either. Give it try for your next dinner party or family gathering. I guarantee you will be bringing home an empty bowl.

 

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Favorite Beauty Product: Ispy Glam Bag

A few months ago I decided I really wanted to check out a subscription beauty box so I went about researching all the beauty box options to find the right one for me. After checking out the websites for boxes like Birchbox, Beauty Box 5, and Ipsy (to name a few) I decided to start my subscription box experience with Ipsy.

I was so excited when that pink bubble bag finally arrived at my home. Honestly the waiting is terrible! The good news is that it was totally worth the wait. I was really happy with my first Ipsy GlamBag and have been regularly using all of the products that I received, especially the Smashbox primer. With all this hot weather we have been having, it has really helped the longevity of my make-up throughout the day. The Formula X nail polish has been tested and loved on both my fingers and toes, I have been carrying the LaVanila hand cream in my purse and have worn the OFRA teal liner quite a few times as well.

I love this whole concept. You get to treat yourself to some really great beauty products built around a monthly theme that has been customized to your profile preferences as well as the coordinating make-up bag. It’s only $10 per month, +shipping and exchange for me, but in my opinion still worth it. The best part for me is getting the opportunity to try some products that I may not otherwise try, along with the fact that it’s this cute little package just for you that comes in the mail full of surprises! Let’s just say… I’m hooked. ;)

 

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Favorite You Tuber: Mark Crilley

Mark Crilley is an author, illustrator, and creator of how-to-draw videos. I recently started sketching again in an attempt to take some time to do something I love that I had let fall away.

Mark is an amazing artist and has videos on both realistic and animated subject matter. My personal favorites are his videos on drawing Manga. This is not something I have ever done before but I am really loving recreating some of the drawings he creates in his tutorials.

I’m not an artist at his level by any means but his videos guide you in such a way that you end up with a pretty neat picture. His videos have helped increase my confidence in my drawing as I reconnect with my creative side and I’m really enjoying it.

If you would like to check out Mark Crilley’s You Tube Channel go to: https://www.youtube.com/user/markcrilley/featured

 

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Favorite App: SkyView Free – Explore the Universe

My husband came across this app one evening after we were talking about what planet we were looking at in the night sky out our living room window. When he downloaded the app and then quickly identified the planet as Jupiter he mentioned that the app could be a lot of fun for the kids. While that is definitely true he and I have found it really amazing as well. It’s awesome!

The app runs through your camera and GPS and shows you where in the night sky stars, planets, and even the International Space Station are. The app works whether you are inside or out, whether the sky is clear or clouded over. Although I must say having a clear sky makes it even better. It has the option for some interstellar background music and even offers an infrared option in the settings. You can search for specific stars and planets and the app will show you where they are.

Apparently there is a Pro edition that is even cooler but this free version has me more than impressed. If you are planning a camping trip this summer, have the opportunity to sit out under a summer night sky, or have any interest in the stars and planets I would highly recommend checking this app out. You won’t be disappointed.

 

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Favorite Accessory: Long Earrings

As I thought back over the past month trying to figure out what my favorite accessory was I initially drew a blank. Our weather has been so hot that I’ve been keeping my clothing, hair, and make-up to a minimum in an attempt to keep cool and not turn into a sweaty mess by 11am. But as I got to thinking about what I did to make those simple looks, like a skater skirt or pair of shorts with a tank top, appear put together, two things came to mind. Nail polish, which I mentioned above in my Ipsy favorite, and long earrings.

I’ve been keeping my neck bare and just partnering my outfits with some big, fun earrings. I think this works whether you wear your hair up or down and can create both a sophisticated or funky look depending on what you do. Again trying to keep things simple I have been wearing a long earring, a bracelet I always wear and my wedding rings (of course) and no other jewelry. That partnered with simple clothing, and make-up, a messy updo and a bright coral lip make for an easy summer look. It’s my everyday go-to right now and as I look ahead with no end to this incredible heat in sight, a look that I will be continuing  for the foreseeable future.

As always I would love to hear what you were loving in the month of June. I hope you are having an amazing day and remember to try to find some magic in everyday.

T ;)

 

 

 

 

Birthday Cookie Squares

Baking, Cookie squares, The Everyday Journalista, Fun for kids squares, Easy baking, Oreos, M&M'sIt is my son’s 11th birthday this week! Whoever said ‘they grow up so fast’ wasn’t joking, and it really does feel like only yesterday when he was a baby in my arms. That is a post for another day.

My son’s school gives the kids the option of bringing in a treat on their birthday. I think it’s great, and my son is always excited to celebrate with his friends. Everyone always brings in cupcakes for their birthday treat, and honestly I’m getting a little tired of making cupcakes all the time. So this year we decided to try something a little different. I wanted to make something that looked fun, tasted yummy, and was simple to make.

I had tried this recipe in the past that I found on Pinterest that had Oreos and M&M’s in it. But after I made it the base was too crunchy for my liking. So I used my own base when I made it this time and I think it turned out really great. It was a hit with my son and his class as well :)

Here is what I did…

 

Birthday Cookie Squares
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups All-purpose flour
  2. 1 tsp Baking Soda
  3. 1/2 tsp Salt
  4. 1 cup Butter/Baking margarine
  5. 1 1/4 cups Lightly packed brown sugar
  6. 1 Egg
  7. 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  8. 14 Oreo cookies (cut up into course pieces)
  9. 1/3 cup M&M's
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line a 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray. Let the foil go over the edges of the dish to create handles for easy removal of the squares after baking.
  3. In a bowl mix 2 cups of flour, 1 tsp of baking soda, and 1/2 tsp of salt. Combine using a fork or whisk and set a side.
  4. Beat together 1 cup of butter with the 1 1/4 cups of brown sugar until creamy, then beat in one egg and 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla.
  5. Gradually add in the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  6. Stir in cut up Oreos.
  7. Scoop batter into baking dish and spread evenly.
  8. Now sprinkle the top with 1/3 cup of M&M's
  9. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden around the edges.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool. I used the tin foil handles created when I lined the dish to remove the squares to a cooling rack to prevent over baking.
  11. Once cool cut into squares.
  12. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. I made this recipe without using my mixer but using a mixer would be great as well.
  2. I baked my squares in a Pampered Chef stone baking dish so I took the full 35 minutes as the stone bakes at a slower, more even rate.
  3. I think the stoneware is awesome and use it all the time. I really want to try this recipe with FudgeeO's and M&M's next!
The Everyday Journalista http://www.everydayjournalista.com/
 Baking, Cookie squares, The Everyday Journalista, Fun for kids squares, Easy baking, Oreos, M&M'sBaking, Cookie squares, The Everyday Journalista, Fun for kids squares, Easy baking, Oreos, M&M'sBaking, Cookie squares, The Everyday Journalista, Fun for kids squares, Easy baking, Oreos, M&M'sBaking, Cookie squares, The Everyday Journalista, Fun for kids squares, Easy baking, Oreos, M&M'sI will definitely be adding this recipe to my list of go-to sweet treats for school events as well as a fun kids dessert option for family gatherings. Just think about the various combinations of things I could incorporate into this recipe in the future!

If you try something different I would love to hear about it in the comments.

May Favorites

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With summer just around the corner I decided that this month I better start doing something to ‘deal with’ this ‘winter weight’ I’ve been collecting. So for the past two weeks I have been following a nutrition and exercise plan. Needless to say a couple of my favorites this month are reflective of this focus on health and fitness.

 

Favorite Sweet Treat: No Sugar Banana Bread

I know that by the title this choice seems to violate the idea of a favorite sweet treat but I was really impressed at how this healthy banana bread option satisfied my need for the sweet. The recipe I used is from… you guessed it, Pinterest. I did not have almond flour so replaced it with a mix of whole wheat and unbleached flour (I decreased the amount to 1 1/2 cups), but if you chose to follow the recipe completely it is grain-free as well. The use of coconut oil makes it nice and moist too. If you’re looking for a healthier option for a sweet treat I would definitely recommend trying this recipe: Banana Bread. I apologize for not having a photo. I forgot to take one when it came out of the oven and it was gone by the time I realized how good it was!

 

Favorite Beauty Product: Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Mascara

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I am always on the lookout for a great mascara. I have sensitive skin around my eye so I can’t wear a lot of mascaras. A lot of mascaras out there smudge or breakdown throughout the day and although they all make promises of longer fuller lashes very few are able to deliver. Well that all changed for me when I opened my Roller Lash Mascara from Benefit! There has been a lot of buzz about this product and in my opinion every bit of it is justified. I cannot tell you how much I love this product! It’s a game changer! I have been using it for several weeks now and every single time I use it I am impressed with the results.

 

Favorite Book: Dragonfly in Amber (from the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon)

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Ok, nerd alert, I love historical fiction. This goes for both books and television. There is just something about the beauty and drama of European history that I just get drawn into. Along with my recent run of self-development audiobooks I have been reading The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. I am currently on the second book of the series Dragonfly in Amber. I’m not going to go into detail but if you love intense relationships, historical contexts, drama, and intrigue you will enjoy this book. Each time I sit down to read I’m on the edge of my seat racing through the pages to find out what will happen next. It’s crazy! And each time things seem to settle down its not long before the next riveting adventure begins. I just never know what to expect next and I’m really enjoying every page of it :).

 

Favorite Blog: Tastes Lovely

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This is a blog I recently stumbled across while searching for a recipe on Pinterest. Anyway, Natalie has a great site, cute layout and great recipes. The part I like the best is that when you subscribe to her blog you get this amazing email every Sunday. It’s a meal plan for the coming week that starts off with an overview in photos, followed by a day by day description and photo. And then at the end she includes a “Sunday Prep list” of things you can do ahead of time to make things easier through the week, as well as a shopping list. This is pure genius! Not only is this a great idea with truly helpful and time saving tips, the recipes themselves seem varied, relatively healthy and not too difficult to prepare. Check it out if you get a chance :). Link to Tastes Lovely here.

 

Favorite Accessory: Misfit Shine

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I got this for Mother’s day and I have been absolutely loving it. If you haven’t heard about the Shine it’s a personal activity monitor. This system monitors my fitness activity as well as my sleep. I’m still relatively new with it but so far I am really enjoying it. I have set a goal for how much activity I want to get per day and I’m able to track my progress toward that goal as the day goes on. If I’m working a lot I sometimes find it’s late afternoon and I haven’t even reached half of my points. So I know I need to get out and do something active in the evening. It keeps me accountable. I also really like the sleep monitor. As I have mentioned before I have some serious lack of sleep issues. The shine has helped me to not only track how much sleep I’m getting but also the kind of sleep I’m getting. Once again confirming that I need more sleep ;). The set I got includes the wrist band, clasp, and a beautiful necklace. This gives me a lot of variation so I’m not stuck wearing a bracelet all the time. The shine also does not need to be charged which is awesome. The battery will last about six months and then I think it’s about $10 to replace it. Great for the value that allows you to be carefree when it comes to the day-to-day upkeep. Finally, it’s waterproof, which means you can swim with it, and it is able to track cycling, something a number of other fitness monitor systems are unable to do. I think it’s great! and the best part is it looks great too!

Well that is it for this month’s favorites. I hope you have enjoyed checking out what I have been loving this month. I would love to hear about something you have been loving over the past month.

Remember, there is magic to be found in everyday! J

 

Yummy One Dish Dinner: Coconut Thai Chicken

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Today I thought I would share with you the recipe for a dinner that I made earlier this week, and that my family has not stopped talking about since. It’s a coconut Thai chicken dish with rice. One of the great things about this meal is that it is prepared all in one dish, which I just love because the last thing I want to do after making dinner is clean up a big mess of pots and pans! The other great thing is you can customize the heat level to suit you and your family. The recipe I used was from Martha Stewart but I tweaked it a bit for my preferences and ease of preparation. Let’s face it we all can’t be Martha Stewart ;).

This is what you will need:

1 Tbsp Avocado oil (olive is fine)

4 Chicken breasts

Salt and Pepper to taste

1½ c Broth

½ c Water

1¾ c (14.5 Ounces) of Coconut milk

1-2 tsp of Thai red curry paste

1 c Jasmine rice

1 Red bell pepper

1-2 c of Green beans (fresh or frozen)

Here is what you do:

Heat your oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts to your preference and brown them in the heated oil. Once browned (approx. 8-10min) remove them to a plate and cover.

Loosen up all those caramelized bits at the bottom of your pan and then add the 1½ c of broth. I didn’t have broth so I just mixed an OXO cube with some boiling water. I mean just use what you have on hand. If you have veggie broth use that, if you have chicken broth use that… you just want some flavored liquid.

Follow this with the ½ c of water, the 1¾ c of coconut milk and the 1-2 tsp of red curry paste. This is where you can customize your heat. If you want less stick to 1 tsp, or if you want more add 2 tsp. I however got a little carried away and probably ended up with more along the 3 tsp amount and let me tell you it had some serious kick to it! It’s really up to you and may vary depending on your curry as well. I know last time I made this I used a different brand of curry and the flavor was quite bland, so you may have to play with this measurement to find what works for you.

Let this come to a boil, and then stir in the 1 c of rice. Layer the chicken breasts, along with any juices on top of the liquid and rice evenly. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Now leave it alone! No stirring or peaking for about 15 min.

When the rice is almost tender arrange the peppers and green beans on top of the chicken. Cover again and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes or until the veggies are tender. If you are using frozen beans this may take a bit longer.

I just love how the rice is cooked in with the chicken. It soaks up some of that amazing coconut and Thai flavoring leaving you with really moist chicken and a dish that is bursting with some major YUM factor!

And that’s it! Serve and Enjoy. I would recommend bringing a glass of milk to the table, if you are anything like me you’ll need it;).

 

Link to Martha’s recipe.

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