Category Archives: Living

Sweeten Up Your Valentine’s Day with Chocolate Body Paint

chocolate body paint No matter what your plans are for this upcoming Valentine’s Day you can always make it a little sweeter and your sweetheart will be glad you did. This delicious chocolate body paint will have your honey clawing the bedsheets as you lick it off.

You will need:

  • 17.05oz high quality dark chocolate (semi-sweet or bittersweet) chopped
  • 13.5oz cream
  • 1/2 bunch mint, finely chopped
  • 1 chili pepper, finely chopped
  • double shot espresso

1. Divide cream into 3 indivdual pans.

2. Add mint into 1 pan, chili into the second pan and espresso into the third pan.

3. Slowly warm each pan to a near simmer and remove from heat allowing flavor to infuse for 15 minutes.

4. Place dark chocolate in a small bowl and set over a small saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir this constantly until chocolate melts.

5. Remove pan from heat.

6. Divide chocolate into 3 small pots.

7. Return pans of cream to heat and once hot, strain each pan of cream into 1 chocolate pot, creating 3 separate flavored chocolate body paints.

Get a soft paintbrush and let your imagination take over!

Pretty in Pink Pig

Pink Pig is perhaps the most interesting and unique name for any kind of boutique that I have ever come across, which is easily understandable since Pink Pig Cottage Antiques and the new Pink Pig on Main Street in Westport, New York offers truly unique collections of country cottage and farmhouse style furniture and country accents for home decorating. With just one, quick look around their website you are sure to be inspired to re-decorate your favorite rooms and even your entire house with the furniture and other items you see; I know I was.

When it comes to items for home, I am most interested in the small things–Knick knacks, wall decor, and most particularly, candles. I have a very large collection of different candles that I pull out depending on what kind of mood I’m in. Candles are very relaxing and work wonderfully for sprucing up the feel of your home, so I was delighted when presented with the opportunity to review Pink Pig’s signature, natural soy candle.

Pink Pig Debbie Schrodt, owner of Pink Pig spent numerous hours developing a pleasantly scented candle sure to be loved by anyone. The candle is a blended scent of florals, including tuberose, Indian jasmine, lavender, geranium and white rose and is the first candle in what will be a series of six available at Pink Pig.

The first thing that I noticed about this candle was the packaging it came in. Pink Pig is indeed pretty when it comes to their packaging; the box the candle box came in was even lined with pink wrapping and the box itself came tied in a black bow.

The candle is all natural soy, which has more benefits than you may realize. The first thing that I noticed upon burning Pink Pig’s candle is that the aroma was not only pleasant, but unlike a great deal of candles I have melted due to the fact that the aroma was stronger, but not overpowering in the least. I always have a candle burning in my office when I am working, and what I noticed about this particular candle is that it has lasted the last couple of days and with the amount of hours that I am in my office, that is longer than a great deal of candles I have come across. Upon further investigation, I found out that soy candles last longer than your average candle and this particular candle burns for approximately 60 hours, which is absolutely amazing, especially considering this candle is 7.5oz.

Pink Pig’s signature candle is available for just $24 and I have to say that it is most definitely worth the price. You can purchase the candle at the Pink Pig shop in Westport or you can shop online at PinkPigWestport.com.

Garlic Pasta

garlic pasta If you like garlic, butter, and olive oil, then you’ll love this.

You will need:

  • 1 lb. box of pasta (we use spaghetti or angel hair)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (don’t use any other kind)
  • 2-3 tbsp. – or to taste – minced garlic
  • 6 tbsp. butter (NOT margarine)
  • 3 tbsp. minced parsley
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package but before draining, reserve 1 cup of the hot cooking water – set aside. Place pasta back into pot.

2. While pasta is finishing cooking, in a small pot heat the oil, butter, and garlic until butter has melted.

3. Pour the hot oil mixture over the pasta and stir; add in the cheese and stir until well-mixed.

4. Add as much of the reserved hot cooking water as needed to keep pasta moist- it may not take the full cup.

5. Sprinkle in the parsley, and salt & pepper to taste.

6. Serve immediately. This also reheats well the next day, just zap it in the microwave.

Best Kept Recipes This recipe is brought to you by Best Kept Recipes.

Donate or Recycle Your Old Mattress

What did you do with your last mattress after you bought a new one? Haul it out to the trash and let the garbage truck take it away to a landfill? If you’re like most people, then you did and when most people are throwing away their mattresses, landfills are filling up with everyone’s dirty mattresses. About 20 million mattresses are thrown away every year just in the United States and for every 10,000 people that either donate or recycle their mattresses, it would save eight feed of landfill space–An entire American football field.

In some places, throwing out your mattress is illegal requiring people to donate their mattresses where recyclers can separate the fiber, foam, steel, and wood for remanufacturing and can make new mattresses.

There are a few options for you if you’re looking to get rid of a mattress. You can either donate it to either a crisis center, halfway house, Craig’s List or Freecycle. Make sure you clean your mattress before donating it! For instructions on how to properly clean a mattress, check out Instructables.

To recycle your old mattress, go to Earth 911, type in “mattress” in the start recycling “what do you have?” field and your zip code in the “where are you?” field for a recycling drop off sight near you.

Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks? The Truth is Out!

Dunkin Donuts Starbucks Which do you prefer, Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks coffee? Well, if you’re like 54.2% of frequent (or obsessive) coffee drinkers, you would be shouting from the rooftops about just how much you love Dunkin’ Donuts. I mean, come on, there is absolutely nothing bad to say about Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (their flat bread sandwiches, however, well yes, there are a lot of negative things you can say about those) it’s insanely affordable and downright delicious and according to that 54.2% of frequent coffee drinkers, it’s better than Starbucks, not to mention more than half the price of what a Starbucks coffee costs.

An independent taste test was conducted by A&G Research Inc., under the counsel of claims test advisor Al Ossip, of coffee drinkers across ten major US markets last May and June. The US markets included Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, and Starbucks’ own home of Seattle. The taste test included 476 adults, all of which had consumed regular, brewed coffee within the past week.

A&G Research served each of the participants fresh packaged coffee in the most popular flavor purchased in each brand’s stores, Dunkin Donuts Original Blend and Starbucks House Blend. The coffee was brewed using the exact equipment recommended by each brand and was served black.

The independent taste test results clearly showed where each coffee brand stood when it came to consumers because among all participants, 54.2% preferred Dunkin’ Donuts coffee compared to just 39.3% who said they preferred Starbucks and 6.3% expressed no preference.

Dunkin Donuts was founded in 1950 and with a little under 60 years in the coffee-making business, this taste test has proven that no other coffee chain, sofas, music and ambiance included, can be matched by Dunkin’ Donuts, which is proven with the fact that nearly 1.5 billion cups of coffee are sold each and every single year by Dunkin Donuts.

Above all, this taste test has proven that America really does run on Dunkin.

Dunkin Beat Starbucks

Visit Dunkin’ Beat Starbucks to see how Dunkin’ Donuts unmistakably delicious coffee is made and also for hot deals going on at Dunkin’ stores near you!

Stay Warm with Chicken Noodle Soup

chicken noodle soup Whether we like it or not, winter is pretty much upon us. In fact, where I live there is currently a snow storm going on outside and with the entrance of winter, comes the colds and the flu. What better a way to stay warm and also ward off illness than to indulge in some savory chicken noodle soup!

You will need:

  • 5 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts – parboiled, cut into chunks
  • 1 quart canned or boxed chicken stock
  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves (from the jar)
  • 3 large peeled, carrots, cut into coins
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • Thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • Uncooked egg noodles, or ditalini – that’s good, too

1. Place the chicken stock and 1 quart of cold water into a large pot and bring to a boil.

2. Add all the veggies and spices. Simmer about 20 minutes.

3. Add about 1/2 the bag of egg noodles and bring to a boil. Add the chicken chunks. Lower heat to a good simmer and cook until noodles are done.

4. Remove bay leaf, check seasonings. Serve.

Best Kept Recipes This recipe is brought to you by Best Kept Recipes.

Relieve, Refresh and Revitalize with Cabaret Brewed Chocolate

brewed chocolate Cabaret Brewed Chocolate is probably unlike any other drink you’ve had before. Made by brewing whole raw cocoa beans in water, sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice and reduced into a concentrated syrup, brewed chocolate is a light, chocolate drink with the same consistency as tea.

Taking inspiration from the ancient Mexicans, the makers of Brewed Chocolate realized quickly why the ancient Mexicans valued it so much. Adding a teaspoon of Brewed Chocolate to just 4oz of water, after about 20 minutes you realize something…different. You realize that all of your stress is gone, the day before melts away and you are calm, content and refreshed. Brewed Chocolate is the ultimate treat to have about an hour before bedtime.

This calm and relaxed feeling comes from something called theobromine, a cousin of caffeine, but without the jittery side effect; in fact, theobromine has significantly different effects from caffeine–Theobromine is a long-lasting stimulant that cause a mood enhancement and that feeling of overwhelming calmness; a feeling I had very seldom before Brewed Chocolate came into my life.

As a freelance web designer, developer and writer, my life is very hectic and because I work at home, I never really get to say ‘Okay, I’m done with work for the day.’ Instead, it’s more like ‘Okay, I can’t stay awake any longer and need to go visit the bed for about 8 hours before I get up and do this all over again.’ Because my life tends to get a bit hectic every day, it’s great to have Brewed Chocolate to look forward to during the day and enjoy after a relaxing bath and snuggling up on the couch before I head to bed.

I was personally taken a little aback by the taste of Brewed Chocolate, but like the ancient Mexicans, I value this drink for what it makes me feel and to be honest, I think most of us out there would drink gasoline straight from the pump if it was healthy and brought out the feeling that Brewed Chocolate does and when you try it, you will know what I mean. The unique taste of this drink is caused by the fact that it contains very little fat; only 24 calories and less than a half gram of fat per teaspoon.

If you are usually high strung at the end of the day or crave relaxation in the form of a tea-like drink that you can relax with in front of the television or while reading a book before bed, you need to try Brewed Chocolate.

Top 10 Produce You Should Buy Organic

USDA organic Ideally, everyone would be eating the freshest and safest foods possible–Everyone would be eating 100% organically, however, budgets are tight and a great deal of people simply cannot afford to purchase a great deal of organic foods. That’s completely understandable, I can’t afford to eat all organically, but it is important to make sure you’re purchasing some organic foods, mainly produce.

Produce, as many may know, contains a great deal of pesticides if not grown organically and more than 80% of the most common pesticides are potentially carcinogenic, meaning that they contain an agent directly involved in the promotion of cancer or in the increase of its propagation. Scary, right? I know! Luckily, the Environmental Working Group has put together a downloadable wallet guide containing the worst and best produce, in terms of pesticide levels.

For your immediate attention, here is a list of the top 10 produce you should most definitely be buying organic, every time.

1. Peaches – pesticide load: 100
2. Apples – pesticide load: 96
3. Bell Peppers – pesticide load: 86
4. Celery – pesticide load: 85
5. Nectarines – pesticide load: 84
6. Strawberries – pesticide load: 83
7. Cherries – pesticide load: 75
8. Lettuce – pesticide load: 69
9. Grapes (imported) – pesticide load: 68
10. Pears – pesticide load: 65

But can’t you just wash or peel your produce to get rid of pesticides?

While you may think that washing or peeling your produce can effectively remove pesticides from your food, the truth is that while these tactics may reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

Let PartyBluPrints Do the Party Planning for You

PartyBluPrints There are a lot of people who absolute love to entertain; when buying a house, they make sure that there is ample room in order to throw dinner and cocktail parties or intimate gatherings of friends and family. I have never been one of those people and I’ll tell you the main reason why–I hate planning something out meticulously. I really wouldn’t have a clue where to start when planning the execution of a dinner party or even a small get together; I can’t even have all parts of dinner done at the same time night after night and I have had a lot of practice with it and just can’t seem to get the timing right. I believe that there are a select few out there who can plan the perfect party and have it pan out the exact way that they had planned and if there are people out there who love throwing parties but can’t plan it out, they hire party planners. I have never had a small fortunate laying around to hire a party planner, either, so I figured I was simply out of luck.

That is, until I found out about PartyBluPrints.

PartyBluPrints gives you the luxury of not having to worry about planning a party and not knowing where to start or even coming up with the theme that is just right for your gathering. They outline your blue print to success starting with the key elements of a party; the menu, cocktails, music, favors, activities and invitations. Not only do that go in order with what you need to start and then to finish, they give you ideas and inspiration to take with you and best of all, their blue prints are all in PDF form, not prone to getting lost or ruined in the midst of your party, but conveniently on your computer at all times to consult.

Their website is often updated with holiday ideas and also a few free guides, this season’s being an Election Party and Girls Night In. Other parties they have planned are ready for you to dig in to are a holiday parties, wine tasting parties, sports parties and a few different exciting themes specifically for women and that coveted “girl time” that is so hard to make time for sometimes.

When choosing a party plan of my liking, I went for A Night in Venice, with a festival, cosmopolitan, radiant and harmonious vibe.

As I took my first glance through my PartyBluPrint, the first thing I thought was “Wow!” They did not miss a beat when it came to planning the perfect party to encompass the entire vibe and not only that, but they include a little background history on, in my case, Venice, and while taking some ideas from history and from the place itself, they tune your entire party to that theme and it is amazing, really.

PartyBluPrints steps

My PartyBluPrint started with the invitation and how to make it appear its absolute best. It then went on to not only the cocktail and meal menus but also the recipes and the preparation for each item, which I was pleasantly surprised with, as I need a recipe for soup! If you are planning your party ahead of time, they also include websites where you can buy the exact ingredients for the menu right online, making it convenient and super easy.

We all know that any gathering is not complete without ambiance and PartyBluPrints even thought of that! Giving you an overall idea and also distinct instructions, they make it a cinch to turn your home into a luxurious, magical place where the theme of the party greets your guests as soon as they step through your door.

While the Eparty plans PartyBluPrints have set up are remarkable in their entirety, the very best aspect of their party plan is that they give you an entire shopping list for your party in a list format with little boxes next to the items to ensure sufficiency in your party planning, making sure you have everything you need for a remarkable evening with your guests. For people like me who, like I said, cannot plan dinner to be done at the same time, they give you a step by step guide right down to time measurements, making sure that everything is completed and you’re ready for your guests when they start to arrive.

PartyBluPrints offers an exceptional service to party planning newbies and offers ideas and inspiration to those comfortable with throwing a gathering of any size. I would definitely recommend them for any type of party you are thinking about planning in the future, you cannot get more efficient or aesthetically pleasing.

Healthy Three-Pepper Pasta Topping

bell peppers Bell peppers are great for you, yet not so many people eat them as much as they should. They contain high levels of vitamin C which can act as an anti-inflammatory to decrease symptoms of arthritis. They also contain carotenoid compounds, which may enhance vision and decrease the risk of cataracts.

So here is a recipe for a delicious pasta topping using three peppers to help your health.

You will need:

  • one yellow, red and green bell peppers
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • whole wheat pasta

Directions:
1. Cut yellow, red and green bell peppers into thin strips.
2. Saute 1 cup of peppers in 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
3. Toss peppers with cooked whole-wheat pasta (2 ounces dry).

Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenol compounds, which help increase good HDL-cholesterol levels and decrease bad LDL levels.