Saturday, May 31, 2014

Inspiration: Sunsets

As a freelance artist, it is crucial to be continually inspired. Without inspiration, there is less creativity, and thus my output is lower quality.
One thing that always inspires me is sunsets. I love how they can display so many vibrant colors all at once, almost like a giant rainbow!
I painted this a while ago. I am sort of mortified by it now, but still love the colors.

What inspires you?
~~{~@ Danielle

Friday, May 30, 2014

Blog Spotlight: A Beautiful Mess

I've been following A Beautiful Mess for almost a year now, and I have to say I am still thoroughly impressed with the work that the ABM team does. Everyday they crank out multiple posts involving DIYs, recipes, blogging/small business advice, photography tips, decorating ideas, and so on. As a (beginner) blogger, I know it isn't easy to write daily posts, so I can't even imagine more than one post a day. And what they publish is quality stuff accompanied by gorgeous photos, it's not like they just churn out a bunch of junk.

In fact, A Beautiful Mess is what inapired me to start this blog. Their work inspires me daily and has majorly helped me to think outside the box. Check out their website at the link above and comment below on your favorite post!
 ~~{~@ Danielle

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies are AMAZINGLY AMAZING. They are incredibly addicting, and superbly delicious. And you don't need to feel too guilty about eating them.
Seriously, I cannot stop eating them. Make sure to invite all your friends over when making them so you don't eat the whole plate in one sitting. Or you can lock all the windows and doors instead, to avoid sharing. It depends on your point of view.
Either way, make a double batch because enough is never enough.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, unpacked
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Thoroughly combine first 5 ingredients. Then add the chocolate chips and mix until they are dispersed throughout the dough evenly. Then, roll into one-inch balls and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and press down on the tops lightly with a fork to flatten a bit. Return to oven for another minute. Allow to cool on the baking sheet fo about five minutes before moving to a cooling rack. I cannot tell how long they keep because I've never seen them past day one. Use your best judgement.

~~{~@ Danielle

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

On the Hunt for a New Food Processor

Hello All,
 For the past year, I have been enduring the hardship of a poor quality food processor. It's terrible! For one, it's a mini model so it only holds about three cups. (Although this can be a blessing as well as a curse because with a mini, smaller batches of recipes can be easily made.) Also, its got a rather weak motor uncapable of running longer that sixty seconds before getting hot and smelling funny. But the worst factor of all is this problem it developed after only several uses; the bowl and blade are near impossible to remove from the base. I usually am forced to  pull at it with all my strength for a solid 3 minutes or so before it becomes unattached. In fact, last week I was pulling so hard that when it finally did pop off, it flew up and gave me a good cut in my nose. Believe me, I have never been so attractive! Not!

Anyway, I'm looking for a new processor, and thought I'd show you my candidates.
 First up:Cusinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless  $133.97

This is a slightly more expensive one, but I'd rather spend more on a better quality one than have to replace a cheaper model multiple times.

Option no. 2: Ninja Master Prep (QB900B)  -- $39.99
I have a picture of the Ninja Master Prep, but the blogger program is being quite the pain, so to see the machine, click on the link above.
This food processor is a lot more affordable, and I've heard many good things about it, such as it's comparable to a Vitamix.

The third and final option is thisHamilton Beach 70670 Chef Prep 525-Watt Food Processor, Black --$47.59
Another budget-friendly purchase, this processor has some pretty good reviews that boosted is position into the top three on my list.

So, comment below your suggestions!
~~{~@ Danielle

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Homemade Almond Milk

I used to drink at least 5 cups of cows' milk a day. Seriously. But since I follow about a gazillion food/health blogs, I couldn't help but notice how big of a fad almond milk is becoming-- it's everywhere! So, I did the sensical thing, and tried a store-bought version. My dear fellows, I have never looked back. Although I still drink a bit of dairy milk (only for the extra calcium it provides), almond milk does not stick around long in my house!

I was galivanting around fields of rainbows and butterflies until I read the side of the carton. Whoa Nellie! Sure the first ingredient was filtered water whick was followed by almonds. Then came the storm. Chemicals I couldn't pronounce, and I think I even saw a food dye in there. Uh-oh. That had to go.

But I couldn't just give up almond milk, could I? So I made my own. Wanna know how? Of course you do. And if not, wow. You're missing out!
Soak raw almonds for at least 6 hours. Alternatively, they could also be boiled for at least one hour.
Discard the soaking water and place the bloated almonds and fresh water blender. Blend them until the liquid looks milky and frothy.

Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or a very thin (clean) cloth to remove the almond pulp. 

If you want, experiment with adding extracts, honey, agave, molasses, etc. I've also made this once with peanuts and once with pecans. The peanut milk turned out good, but with a very distinct peanutty taste. I wouldn't use peanut milk in any recipes that would not pair well with peanuts! But then again, everything goes with peanuts, right?

1 cup raw almonds, soaked in water for at least 6 hours
4 cups filtered water
Any extracts or sweeteners you desire

1) Add all ingredients to the bed of a blender. 
2)Blend until frothy and no longer transparent.
3) Strain through cheese cloth or nut milk bag.
4) Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for
up to one week.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review: My Lucky Life in and out of Show Business

I've always been a HUGE Dick Van Dyke fan. A lot of the time actors and actresses can seem so genuinely friendly on-screen, but then it gets out what a pain in the rear are. When I hear this, it always makes me sad because I grow attached to their characters and then almost expect the actor who portrayed him to be him, if this makes any sense. Not that I'd expect them to be exactly the same, but similar somehow. Really, if I found out Julie Andrews was a major jerk, I'd be super dissappointed (especially after The Sound of Music)!

All this to say, I was not dissatisfied with Dick Van Dyke's personality. While I did not agree with many of his views, he has a wonderful moral and a likeable character.

As for the book, it is definitely the best written autobiography I've ever read. It kept me entertained, which is not an east feat for autobiographies to complete! The stories he told, some hilarious, some saddening, some thrilling, were usually quite relatable, even if nothing I've never neen through anything he has.

I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

~~{~@ Danielle

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Caramel Date and Nut Bars

Hey All,
I made us a treat! Last summer, I wouls buy boxes and boxes of LaraBars, spending tons of money. I'd seen recipes for homemade ones on Pinterest, so I figured I should give it a whirl! They were SO GOOD. Of course I didn't follow any of the recipes I found. I never do follow recipes; they're so restricting! I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Caramel Date and Nut Bars
1packed cup unsweetened, pitted dates
1cup walnuts
1 1/2 tsp. Caramel extract
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract

Pulse nuts and dates in food processor go desired consistency. Add extracts and give another few pulses to incorporate. Spread into a wax paper-lined loaf pan, an pop in the freezer for twenty minutes. Cut into six bars*.  Store in refrigerator.

*I individually wrap each bar in plastic wrap.

Seriously, try them!
~~{~@ Dani

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Daily Workout Routine

   I do this every day except Sunday. I started last summer using half pushups and half planks instead of the full ones, and struggled even then, but now I'm strong enough to do all full ones with ease (usually). Its been fun to see muscle development take place!
   Once this routine has become easier, do 150% of everything, (15 pushups, 30 lunges, 1.5 minute plank, 30 squats, 30 mountain climbers, and 2.25 minute wall sit). I have also added a 1-minute superman, just for  giggles and grins :)
So do your best, and if this is too hard, take it down a notch and work your way harder! If it is/gets too easy, just add more rounds or burpees or something.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Over in the Garden

Hey All,
For the past several years, I have had the rather fun job of upkeeping my family's garden. The fact that a tiny seed can sprout into hundreds of tomatoes, berries, squash, and so on just thrills me for some reason. This year so far, I am planting watermelon, several varieties of squash, LOTS of tomatoes, cucumbers, canteloupe, basil, and hopefully I can get my hands on some brussel sprout plants. . . . I also have a rhubarb plant that grows back bigger and bigger every year (hello pie and jam!). I'll keep y'all updated on the progress. Now, off to till.
~~{~@ Danielle

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Why Exercise?

Do you work out? Most people come up with lousy excuses to not work out. "I don't have time", "It's too hard for me", "I eat healthy, ao why should I work out?", "I don't need to, I'm not overweight", "gyms are too expensive", and so on and so forth. I'll be the first to admit: exercise is not always fun or easy. But it's worth it! I'm gonna go through that list of excuses and explain why none of them are valid.
"I don't have time."--- Do you have time to watch TV, read books or surf the web? If you say no you are probably lying. (What are you doing right now?) Workouts can be as short as fifteen minutes. Surely everyone has an extra fifteen minutes, even if it means setting the alarm clock fifteen minutes earlier! *gasp*
"It's too hard for me."--- Nonsense. No one runs a marathon or lifts 100 pounds on their first try! Start of easier and work at it until you're ready to take it up a notch! A year ago, I couldn't do a single push-up; heck, I struggled with modified push-ups! Then I started small and worked at them (daily) and now, I do 45 real push-ups a day! You can do it too!
"I already eat healthy." Good for you, be proud of yourself! But our bodies need exercise to build up a healthy heart and immune system. Exercise also releases chemicals in the brain that boost happiness.
"I am not overweight." See the response to the previous question.
"Gyms are too expensive." Don't go to the gym! I've never gone to the gym I work out in my house, and go on daily hour-long walks in my neighborhood. I personally prefer it because the scenery is always changing, as opposed to staring at the same object at the gym while running like a hampster in a wheel.

There you have it. Now, GO EXERCISE!
~~{~@ Danielle

First Post!

Hello All,
Wow! I've been dreaming up a blog for quite some time now; it's exciting to see it become a reality! In this blog, one could expect to see:
·Book reviews
·Health tips
·Exercise routines
·Small Business tips
·Beauty tips
·Random rantings
I'm totally new to this, so buckle up and get ready for a wild ride!
~Danielle Grace
P.S. Sorry, but for a while, there will be quite a shortage of photos due to lack of equipment. Hopefully this will change superfast.