Hot Mamas Know: Eye Secrets

Since you are supposed to play up your best feature, I always keep my lips simple, and play up my eyes.

Disclaimer: This is geared towards my skin complexion which is very fair, but with tone changes should work for anyone.

First, I occassionally always have dark circles under my eyes, so I use a yellow tinted under eye concealer. The yellow neutralizes the purplish tone of dark circles.

Second, I use a light pink or light cream (depending on the shadow going over it) eye base across the entire lid. This keeps my shadow in place for the evening and prevents creasing, which is especially obvious if you use more dramatic colors for a special occassion.

Third, I use a white or very light pink pencil to line inside the lash line, not too heavy. This helps your eyes appear more open and awake, especially helpful when you are sleep deprived.

Fourth, I use a bit of white shimmer powder up by the eyebrow arch. Again, this serves to help your eyes appear more open and awake and draw attention to your eyes.

Then I apply eyeliner, shadow and mascara as usual. If you haven't had much sleep lately and your eyes are a bit red, go with a blue toned shadow. It helps your eyes appear less red.

I use Clinique, but I'm sure you can find similar items in most cosmetics lines.
These are the products I use:

They no longer carry my favorite undereye concealer. This one works, but not as well, so I'm up for recommendations.

Fair Airbrush Concealer

Touch Base for Eyes in Light Canvas or Petal Shimmer

Sephora Slim Pencil in White

Colour Surge Eye Shadow Soft Shimmer in Sugar Sugar

Better get going if we're going to stay ahead of the weather...

Last night, hubby and I were delivering orders from a Southern Living At Home party I threw earlier this month... Of course, we choose the first real wintry day to do so. I can't complain much, we have had a very mild November. And this was our first real snowfall of the year. We've been lucky. However, a 40 degree drop in 2 days doesn't give you much of a chance to acclimate. It was 5 F when we were delivering last night, -7 F when I woke up this morning and about 2 F right now. I'm betting hubby wishes he hung the Christmas lights this weekend when it was 40F.

All day long I hear from various people I'd talk to "It's cold out there today". Which makes me want to start quoting Groundhog Day... Every time someone said it, these lines would play through my mind...

DJ 1: All right, campers, rise and shine! — and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooooold out there today.
DJ 2: It's cold out there everyday. What is this, Miami Beach?
DJ 1: Not hardly!

So, if I start quoting Groundhog Day, blame it on the weather...


My friends and I are particularly fond of a wine called Evolution from Sokol Blosser winery in Oregon. It's soooooo smooth and easy to drink, that you have several glasses down before you know it.

So, for the cocktail party/drink fest, I had 1 1/2 bottles, bought 2 more, 2 other people brought 3 more bottles between the 2 of them. We had 6 1/2 total for the evening, along with an assortment of other wines. After about 3 hours, approx 4 people give or take a glass or two finished off the 6 1/2 bottles and more would have gone if we had it.

Every year after the party, my hubby makes a list of what we ran out of or are almost out of. He put all the alcohol on the list, and added Evolution to the bottom with a note "(Buy by the case next year)"

"Now Everyone is More Important"

Ok, I thought I was doing him a favor...

My hubby wants green bean casserole with Thanksgiving dinner, and since it always gets all gloppy, and is really high in sodium, I told him I was going to try a few substitute recipes and see if he likes any of them better as a replacement.

So then after watching too much FoodTV Thanksgiving Specials last week, I told him that Alton Brown said that the only acceptable Green Bean Casserole is the one with all the French Fried Onions and Cream of Mushroom Soup. So I thought about it and figured all the sodium on one day shouldn't kill him and I was going to make his Green Bean Casserole. I thought I was doing something nice for him... I was wrong.

Instead he says it's not enough that he wants it, I have to listen to the opinion of a chef instead... and that it's not just the whole world wide web that's more important, now everyone is.


Oh well, I was trying to be nice... By serving him high-sodium glop...

Christmas Shopping Already?

Ok, normally I'm fairly creative and at least have some ideas as to what to get adults for Christmas. This year, I have nothing, nada, zilch, zip, zero... Kids are easy, plop a bit of cheap plastic in wrapping paper and they writhe in delight upon opening. (Actually, no cheap plastic this year, too many toy recalls are freaking me out!  Books and the like for all of them.)

I don't think my hubby would be too thrilled to open a box of nothing Christmas morning... "It's um... quarks... from um... the planet um... Pluto..." And of course, I'd be caught in a lie, because well, we all know Pluto isn't a planet.

My hubby is an Electrical Engineer, so when I look at lists they tend to be the "Gifts for Geeks" type lists. Problem with this, as anyone married to a tech geek knows, is that these tech geeks do research.

They don't want just any gadget, they want this brand, this model, with this and this and this option in this color. And they know this because they did a gazillion hours of research to figure out which one they want.

And well asking for all those specs while scribbling furiously is just a little too obvious.

So unless you are super-crafty and discrete and can get him to give you all the specs above without him knowing it, you will inevitably get the look when they open the gift.

The look is really a 3 for 1 deal, you get the "This Is Awesome" look followed by the "Quizzical Analyzing Specs" look followed by the "Not Quite Right, I Wonder If I Can Exchange It Without Her Noticing" look.

This look is also commonly seen after a gift of tools...

Apple Galette

Ever since I saw this Apple Galette at Angry Chicken, I've been wanting to make one. Since I had a TON of apples, well more like 8-9 lbs, I finally threw some spiced apples together for canning and used some of them to make one. This is an easy substitute for an apple pie, when you want a pie without all the hassle of a perfect crust and sealing the top and bottom crusts together. Simple, but just as tasty.

For a Galette Pie Crust, you want enough for about 1 1/2 pie crusts. This is a basic pie crust, yielding a great flaky crust. To make this quick, I use my food processor, however you can use your fingers, two knives, or a pastry blender to cut in the butter.

Apple Galette

Apple Galette

1 1/2 cups white flour
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into Tbsp sized pieces
ice cold water

2-3 cups Spiced Apples

Mix together flour, sugar and salt (Pulse twice if using FP)
Add butter, toss in the flour to separate, cut in butter into flours mixture until butter is in pea-sized pieces (Pulse 5-8 times if using FP)
Drizzle in ice cold water 1 Tbsp at a time, until just moistened and sticking together, usually 4-5 Tbsps (Pulse after each Tbsp)
Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap, and pour on dough bits
Form dough into ball in center using the plastic wrap to pull it together.
Pat down to about 1 - 1 1/2" round
Let rest 20 minutes in the refrigerator
Lightly dust surface with flour and roll out dough into circle (adding as little flour as possible, but enough to keep it from sticking)
Transfer dough to circular pizza pan or stoneware circle
Fill center with Spiced Apples about 3/4" thick, leaving about 1 1/2" crust at the outer edge
Fold the outer crust with no filling on it up over the Spiced Apples
Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until crust is lightly brown.

1 party down, 2 to go

For the past 2 years in the middle of December, we throw a cocktail party. This year it will be next Saturday, so I have to start planning a menu. Figuring out what mixers we need. I made nice little elegant looking PDF invites...

Cocktail party, you say?

Are you imagining wine and quiche and women in cocktail dresses?

Yeah, there's a little of that. There is about 10-15 wine types/brands, 3-4 beer options... oh, and about 75-100 bottles of different liquor types, combined with's In My Bar feature and the Pick A Random Drink option.

That's the reality.

By the end of the night most people have sampled about 15-20 half shot sized portions of who knows what...

This year I'm going to actually make an effort to keep track of what we try.

Usually by the time my 5th shot comes around I don't really care anymore anyway.

Then we have the annual tasting of the Brennivin, an extremely strong Icelandic Schnapps. Those new to the party that year get the honor of tasting it first. There will be a few grimaces to look forward to.

Last year they decided to scour the list and only sample the drinks with at least mildly offensive names. I have to say I kinda liked the "Duck Fart".

The whole web is more important?

I was trying to figure out ratios for my Balsamic Vinaigrette for Kitchen Comforts and asked hubby for a little taste testing assistance.

What was I thinking?

First of all, I'm a dump cook, I don't measure things out. However, for this foray into food blogging, I have to try to be better about amounts. I have to give verifiable quantities, not a pinch, dash, bit, smidgen, shake, etc. So, I had my measuring spoons out.

Second of all, I'm a dump cook, I don't measure things out. This drives my hubby crazy when he's helping, as I tell him to add a pinch of this, a dash of that...

Well, I was adding more honey and since I had to keep track of how much, I added another tsp.

"You're using a measuring spoon?"

"I have to, so I can give amounts for the recipe."

"You never give me real amounts."

"It's different, I can watch what you are doing, and see whether it's right."

"So the whole web is more important than me?"

"It's a dressing, I have to give right amounts or it won't taste right"

"So the whole web is more impor..."

As I stuff a piece of bread soaked in vinaigrette in his mouth...

For the record, I still didn't get the vinaigrette quite right. It's much easier to gauge just the right squeeze of mustard, it just didn't look right sitting in the teaspoon.

Hot Mamas Know

Ok, I'm sure some of you are wondering what that last Hot Mamas Post was all about. It was getting late and with no explanation I interrupt our regular programming to jump in talking about body oil and scrubs. So, here's the scoop.

Jen over at Absolutely Bananas has come up with a way for women (real women!) to share their beauty secrets. What works, hopefully even some of what doesn't so we don't all make the same mistakes. I love this idea and will be posting my favorite beauty tips on the 1st of every month, along with lots of other women. Click on the Hot Mamas Know graphic to find all the tips and learn more. Hopefully, I'll be able to get my hands on some of the recommended items, not always easy in ND. What would a girl do without the internet?

Oh, and next month there will be an EXTRA SPECIAL Hot Mamas Know PARTY GLAMOUR edition, woohoo!

Velvety Soft Hands

I go through this routine about once a week and just love the way it makes my hands feel. A similar oil, scrub, cleanser routine was used on me during a manicure, and I just adapted it to use products I could find easily.

I douse my hands well with Neutrogena Body Oil, it's a light sesame oil.

Then I put about a dime sized about of body scrub in the palm of my hands and massage my hands thoroughly, especially my cuticles and nail beds. St. Ives Apricot Scrub is easy to find just about anywhere, I use Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula.

I rinse this combination off and lather with whatever moisturizing body wash or soap I have handy, usually Oil of Olay or Dove Body Wash.

Of course, don't forget to moisturize your hands daily as well. This is especially important in the winter months.

Tuesday in the Nursery: Janie & Jack

I love Janie and Jack's clothes for children. I've been very happy with the quality and the details. My husband likes that you can buy from the same collection and not worry about whether it matches. Purely guessing, but they seem to come out with 35-45 new collections each year rotating with the seasons. At any given time you can pick your favorite of about 7-8 collections for girls or boys and 2-3 for layette. These numbers are purely estimates based on what I've seen over the last 12-18 months. Their newest layette collections are called Little Penguins and are just adorable.

It's Thanksgiving Over at Kitchen Comforts

I'm getting ready for the Thanksgiving kickoff for Kitchen Comforts. November is my busy entertaining month every year, so I'll have tons of recipes, tips, download samples, planners and other goodies.

Bathroom Update

I wanted to get the bathroom repaired before November, since we are having three different events at our house then. Otherwise, it would wait until Spring.

The project was supposed to be:
  1. Remove wallpaper
  2. Paint

The project turned into:
  1. Remove wallpaper
  2. Remove next layer of wallpaper
  3. Remove drywall (It wasn't properly prepped and started falling apart in step 2)
  4. Replace drywall
  5. Mud and Tape
  6. Sand
  7. Patch walls
  8. Sand
  9. Patch walls (due to shrinkage)
  10. Sand
  11. Prime
  12. Scrape ceiling
  13. Patch ceiling
  14. Patch walls (a few dings that weren't visible until primed)
  15. Sand ceiling
  16. Sand walls
  17. Prime ceiling
  18. Prime walls
  19. Patch walls (ladder dings from priming ceiling and a few final tiny dings)
  20. Sand walls
  21. Prime those spots
  22. Paint ceiling
  23. Paint walls

So now we have two more coats to go on the wall (we're painting it a deep red), but it's almost done! A one day job is now on it's 4th week. Gotta love home improvement.  Not done, but at least you can get an idea of the color.  Also, can anyone give me tips on how to photograph red paint?  They all look orange to me, but the paint is actually a deep blue red.

Tuesday in the Nursery: Wubbanub

I know Wubbanubs have been making the rounds on the nursery/mom/baby blogs. Otherwise, I'd have never known about them. However, being that they are basically unknown up here in North Dakota, so I figured I'd mention them.

Wubbanubs are Soothie pacifiers attached to small stuffed animals to make it easier for baby to hold on to and keep the pacifier in the mouth. And, easier to find if they happen to fall out. Everyone I've given them to so far just loves them.

I can't even remember what site I first read about them on, I'm guessing it was PoshCravings, since that was the first baby one I started following. However, when I saw them I put them on my list of "Baby Stuff I Want" right away. When Baby Dagny had their big moving sale a few months back I bought a dozen. I've hoarded a few away to keep and have been giving the rest away as baby gifts.

I love the red dog, it reminds me of Clifford the Big Red Dog. And the bright color makes it easy to find among other baby stuff. Which I'm hoping it will make it easier to see once we are trying to juggle a baby and all the paraphanelia that comes with one.

Soundtrack to my Life

I never did finish this "project", there are so many great songs. All I could do is narrow it down to a handful of songs that would have to be included, for one reason or another. My intent was to come up with a soundtrack of 15, but depending on my mood on any given day that I thought about this I would replace half the songs. These were the constants.

Pipkins - Gimmee Dat Ding
Simple Minds - Don't You Forget About Me
The Cure - Friday, I'm In Love
Depeche Mode - Somebody
Modern English - Melt With You
The Pixies - Gigantic
Holly Cole Trio - Onion Girl
Leigh Nash - Charmed Life

Apple Butter - Recipe

What do you do when you are given two huge bags full of apples? I love apples and I've been munching on a few, but there are only so many I can eat at once. I've decided the majority of them are going to be peeled, sliced and used for baking and making apple butter. Fitting them all in one bowl doesn't make it look like a whole lot, but that is the largest bowl I own, 42-cup capacity.


I was in 7th grade the first time I ever tasted apple butter. I was spending the weekend with my best friend at her father's house, and they had a small "orchard" for a back yard. Her step-mother made apple butter every fall, and I remember when we arrived the whole house smelled like apple, cinnamon and nutmeg. We had fresh baked bread with apple butter at just about every meal, and ever since I anxiously await jars of apple butter to show up at farmer's markets in the fall.


With a surplus of apples, my first thought was to try my hand at making apple butter. So, I went shopping last night for all the ingredients to make apple butter. I'll put some apples aside for Apple Galette and Caramel Apples as well, but the majority will go towards the Apple Butter. I'm hoping it turns out well and I will hopefully have enough jars to give a few away for Christmas.


Apple Butter
2 (12 fluid ounce) cans frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 cup apple cider
8 pounds tart apples - peeled, cored and chopped
1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2 cups brandy or apple brandy
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

In a large saucepan, bring apple juice concentrate, apple cider, and apples to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Stirring occasionally, simmer uncovered about 1 hour, until apples are easily mashed.

Mix dark brown sugar, apple brandy, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves into the apple mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Transfer to sealed sterile containers, and cool at least 1 hour before serving.

I have a huge stainless steel pot I use for making up larger batches of soup, chili, which handled the apples perfectly.

Just before transferring to jars, the steam made this quite a blurry picture, but the smell is heavenly.

Crash Into Me

I just LOVE this photograph, which I just purchased. Yay!

I stumbled on Bueller Designs a while back and immediately subscribed to the RSS Feed. Every post is a bit of eye candy. So, with the announcement of her new site today, of course I had to peek. (*NOTE* Bueller Designs is now found at From London With Love and previous links have been removed. For photography, visit Alysia Cotter Photography directly.)

I was immediately smitten with the photo titled "Crash Into Me". I have 2 possible locations for it, I'll try them both and see which I like best. One is a wall which will be painted Valspars "Posh Red" when we finish it this weekend, the other is my office which will be painted Valspars "Irish Paddock".

I'm leaning towards a simple black square frame at the moment. I'll have to think about it a bit. I'm open to suggestions. When I get the photograph I'll take a quick snapshot with each wall to give you an idea.

Round Crib

There are so many blogs out there covering modern design and modern nursery accessories and modern this and that. To take it a step further, there are a lot that even narrow it down to mid-century modern. I have a hard time finding blogs that really concentrate on decor and design that feels very traditional or vintage even. While I like the simplicity of modern, I don't care for a lot of the fabric choices or all the straight lines. Simply not my taste, I like a little frou-frou, or fussiness as my sister-in-law calls it.

I keep hearing that there are too many breakables and that my house won't work for children. Growing up my mother had plenty of breakables, but we were taught to stay out of certain rooms and that some things were to look at, not to touch. I knew this at a very young age. When I was 2, I knew my grandmother's figurines were very precious and not to be played with like toys. I was always fascinated though, and one day my mother and grandmother puzzled at what was wrong with the figurines. What looked like a strange shadow on them was in fact jelly, since I had very carefully kissed each one after having indulged in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My point is that children can be taught to be respectful. Since we will have our own munchkins running around the house soon I will let you know how things go.

So, in my more traditional preferences, I'll highlight traditional children and nursery items that I absolutely love on Tuesdays.

I absolutely fell in love with the round cribs that have been in the market for a few years now. I couldn't wait to get one, since we finally have our own nursery to plan. There is quite a selection at All Things Creative, including some that are geared specifically towards each gender. These are the cribs I coveted.

Recently though a more affordable option is available for those of us looking for a round crib on a more modest budget. Last year JCPenney started offering a limited selection of round cribs, they are much more affordable and still look great. For mine, I picked a gender-neutral cherry panelled round crib from JCPenney that will be used for all of our children. I absolutely love it! I am very happy with the quality, and I also got the optional canopy intending to use it with a canopy for a girl and without for a boy.

The crib in my nursery

Daring Book For Girls

I'm eagerly awaiting The Daring Book For Girls which will be released on October 30th.

I purchased The Dangerous Book for Boys shortly after it came out and pored over it for days, calling out to hubby every so often "Come look at this", "This is pretty neat", "I can't wait to go through this with our kids someday".

The book for boys covered so many things necessary for childhood fantasies: building a treehouse, making slingshots, folding the best paper airplane, tying knots, morse code and so much more. I wouldn't limit yourself by the titles, since I liked treehouses and strong knots as much as my brother ever did. I'm hoping The Daring Book for Girls covers as many adventurous things as the boys book, and it's not too girly-girl. As long as it isn't a dissertation on tea parties, it should be just about perfect.

Office Project

Tomorrow I'm planning on organizing and revamping my office/library. I'll take a few before and after pictures. I know I'm going to need some additional storage options. There are 2 file drawers, but no smaller drawers for misc stuff. So I'll improvise with containers around the house for now. However, I'm going to have to start a list of everything that will need their own place eventually.
I'd love to find something like the Bisley Drawers from The Container Store, but in colors that actually work in my office. I'll have to see what I can come up with.

Pumpkin Cookies

Kelly over at Buzzville just posted what sounds like a delicious pumpkin bar recipe and requested a pumpkin cookie recipe. So I shared mine. Fall has arrived and isn't shy about making itself known. The air is getting crisp and quite cold in the evenings here in Grand Forks, and the leaves are turning a creamy butternut squash color. So, thanks to her post I'll be making pumpkin cookies this weekend.

Pumpkin Cookies

1 c sugar
1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c butter softened
1 Tbsp grated orange peel
2 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c golden raisins
1/2 c chopped nuts (your choice)

1/4 c butter
2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 375
Cream sugar, pumpkin, butter and orange peel
Sift together dry ingredients
Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients and mix until blended
Fold in raisins and nuts
Drop by teaspoonful on ungreased cookie sheet
Bake for 8-10 minutes

Heat butter in saucepan until delicately brown
Stir in vanilla and powdered sugar (I sift mine into the pot to remove clumps)
Add milk until smooth
Dip cookie tops in, or drizzle on top.

*UPDATE* I've cross-posted this to Kitchen Comforts and will put any future recipe cooking type posts over there instead.

Thursday Thirteen - Songs of the Moment

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Favorite Songs of the Moment

The Cure - Friday, I'm in Love
The Zombies - She's Not There
Cake - Short Skirt, Long Jacket
Dar Williams - When I Was a Boy
The Connells - Disappointed
Harry Nilsson - Coconut
The Cranberries - Dreams
The Smiths - How Soon Is Now
Lagwagon - Angry Days
Patty Griffin - Mad Mission
The Pipkins - Gimmee Dat Ding
The Psychadelic Furs - Pretty in Pink
Mephiskapheles - Saba

Tomorrow Never Comes

I keep thinking that I'll get around to being a more active blogger and focusing my content and writing about something meaningful... tomorrow. First, it was "when I'm done with school", then it was "after things settle down at work" (as if that happens), then it was "when I'm done filling out all of the paperwork for adoption", now it's "when the nursery is done, baby is here and I'm on maternity leave". I can almost hear the echo of laughter from mothers reading this.

I actually would like to write a book or two or ten or whatever eventually. I've always wanted to write children's stories about a mythical fantasy world for young kids just learning to appreciate reading, a la Enid Blyton. I suppose if that is to ever happen I have to start giving myself deadlines... I'll have to do that tomorrow...

My dumb... or very smart... dog

We have two dogs, Zaya, a small cocker spaniel, and Blackie, a larger black lab mix.

Blackie is the dumb or smart dog of note...

Last year she walked through the screen early in the year (accidentally) so the lower inner corner was pulled out and effectively open all summer. Paul fixed it last fall...

Tonight Zaya pushed against the screen to come through and it didn't give, no problem... she backed off and left it alone.

Blackie then came up about 30 second later and went to push through with her head and it didn't give, so she backed off.

I was telling Paul what they were doing (he was outside at the grill, I was just inside the screen door), because I thought it was funny.

Well as I was telling Paul, all of a sudden Blackie comes barrelling at the door, head down to push through the screen...

She hadn't backed OFF because the screen wouldn't budge... she backed UP to take a running start at it. So anyway, the screen corner is pulled free again... and Paul has to fix it again...

Dumb dog.