Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pumpkin Carving

I finally got around to carving some pumpkins!  Better late than never, right?  Traditions are a big thing in my family.  My extended family has a few traditions we do every year, and me and my Dad have a lot of our own traditions as well.  One of which is carving pumpkins together every year.  I will never be too old to carve pumpkins.  Especially when it involves spending time with my Dad.  Family is super important to me, and I like keeping these traditions alive, as silly or random as they may be. 

So my Dad invited me over the other night to carve pumpkins and watch the Giants game.  Honestly I think he just wanted some distraction while watching the game so he wouldn't be such a nervous wreck.  Sadly, it was a terrible loss for the Giants that night.  Which I guess was good that we had the pumpkins to carve instead of watching the game. Not to worry though, they won when it really mattered last night and are now our CHAMPIONS yet again!! GO GIANTS! 

As with everything else in my life lately, I turned to Pinterest for some pumpkin carving ideas.  Last year I made a Mickey Mouse pumpkin (even though it kind of turned out looking like Miley Cyrus).  This year I wanted to do something more scary.  My pumpkin was inspired by Jack Skellington.  The mouth was a little hard to make, but I love the eyes.  My Dad's pumpkin on the other hand is just a goofy one.  He loves to add ears to his pumpkins, and this year even added some boogers.  

I hope you guys don't throw away those pumpkin seeds!  Put them aside in a bowl while you're carving and roast them later.  Makes for such a good snack, and super easy too.  Just rinse them off to get rid of any extra orange stringy goop, lay them out on a baking sheet and bake @350 for maybe 20-30 minutes (mix halfway through).  You could also season them with anything you like: salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon; the options are endless. 

I'd say this was another successful year of pumpkin carving.  


Monday, October 27, 2014

'Salem's Lot

This month's book club choice was 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King.  It was chosen in hopes to get us ready for Halloween!  I have read Stephen King books before (and liked them), but I had never heard of this one so I wasn't too sure what to expect.  When I picked up the book at the library my first impression was, "I probably should have picked this up earlier" because the book is HUGE!  It's 500-something pages long.  Which is not a problem, unless you wait to start two weeks before it's supposed to be done, like I did. 

The Plot:
The book is about a writer, Ben, who goes to visit the town he grew up in (Jerusalem's Lot) in hopes of finding inspiration for his next book.  Soon after moving into town, Ben makes friends with a few locals and even gets himself a girlfriend.  Ben's biggest inspiration for his next novel is the Marsten House where he had a bad experience as a kid.  But when Ben tries to buy this house he soon finds out it has already been sold to an "immigrant", Barlow, who hopes to open up a furniture store in town.  This is when bad things start to happen.  People start going missing and others are dying.  It all happens so quickly that the townspeople are having trouble figuring out what's going on before the next person dies.  Turns out the town is turning into vampires, thanks to Barlow.  It is up to Ben and his friends to try and kill Barlow before he kills the rest of the town. 

My Thoughts: 
I'm glad to say that I was able to finish the book, even in the short amount of time I had.  I have to admit I am not a huge vampire or zombie fan.  I just find them to be too unrealistic and therefore not scary.  But I did like that the author included some mystery with the story.  It kept me wanting to read more and find out if the whole town dies or survives.  I did find it kind of odd that the rest of the town didn't seem to be too concerned about finding a solution to all the missing and dead people.  Their answer was either the person had a heart attack or some other illness.  Not even the cops were the ones trying to fix this, it was just Ben and his friends.  Overall, it was a well written book with an enjoyable story.  It may not have been my favorite book, but I am still glad I read it. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

31 Day Nail Challenge: Day 10 (Gradient Nails)

This week was all about the Gradient nails. What does that even mean?  It's more of a technique or pattern than a color.  Usually it consists of 3 different shades of the same color that gradually get lighter/darker across your nail.  The hard part is making the color change look smooth rather than just looking like stripes across your nail.  

With it being Breast Cancer Awareness month and all, I thought it was only fitting to use pink nail polish.  I used Wet N Wild megalast in Sugar Coat, Spoiled in Cotton Mouth, and Covergirl outlast stay brilliant.  To get the gradient design I used a cotton ball.  I first tried a sponge (the little ones you would use for applying makeup), but they were too thick and absorbed too much polish.  It wasn't a good look.  Since I wanted the gradient effect to go up the nail, I painted the darker color on the bottom and the lighter one on top.  You need to overlap the two colors a bit in the middle. 




To apply the polish to the nail, I pressed down from left to right across the nail.  Don't worry if you got polish all over your fingers (like I did), that can easily be cleaned up with a q-tip and some nail polish remover after.  Once that is dry, apply your top coat and you're done! 

I really do like this design for nails, but I always have such a hard time getting it to look as perfect as it does on Pinterest.  Don't you just hate that?  Next time I will try using a sponge because the cotton ball kept getting stuck to the polish.  I couldn't find a lighter sponge, but I think it would provide the best results.  That's it for the colors though.  Next up is patterns! 

Any suggestions for polka dot nails?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

All things pumpkin (except for the actual pumpkin)

I think I have reached my limit on all things pumpkin.  Except for the actual pumpkin carving, which has yet to happen.  It's still too early for that.  We don't want any rotting pumpkins on our porch.  But as far as pumpkin flavored things, I think I have had enough already.  Note to self: never buy a huge can of pumpkin puree unless you need it all at once.  Or better yet, freeze it! Why didn't I think of that earlier?!

After buying a huge can of pumpkin puree for these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, I had about 3/4 of the can leftover.  The first thing I decided to make was some pumpkin raisin bagels.  I ended up cutting the recipe in half because I wasn't sure anybody would like them, but they turned out so good I didn't even have time to snap a picture before they were all gone.  I used this recipe and I highly recommend you try them (and make the entire dozen while you're at it).  This is something I could see myself making again.  The bagels have a really nice warm spiced flavor without the pumpkin being too overpowering.

The bagels didn't use a lot of puree, so I was still left with a lot.  That's when I decided to try another cookie recipe.  The ones I posted about were good, but these ones were BETTER!  These had peanut butter in them, which always wins in my opinion.  The first kind (without peanut butter) was very moist but had a very strong pumpkin flavor.  The second kind (with peanut butter) was still moist, but the perfect richness and a more subtle pumpkin spice flavor with a hint of peanut butter.  I found the recipe here, which actually called for apple butter.  However, I don't know what that is so I used peanut butter instead and it was perfect! 

To go with the cookies, I also tried making a pumpkin spice latte.  Which included heating up some almond milk, pumpkin puree, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice), and a splash of vanilla.  Add this to a cup of hot coffee and there's your PSL. I have to admit it didn't taste quite as good as Starbucks though. 

That still wasn't the end of the pumpkin!  After a browse through Pinterest I found this recipe of Pumpkin Ice Cream.  I LOVE banana ice cream, and this just adds some pumpkin to that idea, so I knew this was gonna be good.  The banana makes the ice cream sweet, but the pumpkin and spices add so much flavor!  I would definitely make this one again too. 

Believe it or not, I still have a little bit of pumpkin puree left.  I am running out of ideas, and the interest to eat anything pumpkin anymore.  If I have enough I might just make those peanut butter pumpkin cookies again!  I guess a can of pumpkin can really go a long way. Now all that's left in the pumpkin madness is the actual pumpkin for carving! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Just Another Run

October 21 - Most Memorable Running Experience
Crazy, sad, awesome, surprising, or anywhere in between. Can be from a race or just a training run.

This one was hard to choose just one memorable moment.  There have been many.  Obviously completing any race could be considered memorable.  But this one is a different kind of memorable for me.  This may not be all that exciting to anyone else, but it is definitely a run that I won't forget.  It is not from a race, or even from training for a run.  It was just a regular run on a regular day.  I'm probably not setting this up very well to sound like a good story.  The truth is, it's a simple one, but I'm pretty sure some of you can relate. 

I went for a regular run on a regular day.  This was back when I was first started running, probably 5 years ago.  I was home for the summer from college and living at my parent's house.  They have a sports park right down the block which I found to be the perfect spot for my runs.  It was about 2 miles around the park, and with the run to and from my parent's house made this a 3-mile loop.  

Let me just preface this by saying I am by no means a fast runner.  Never was and still am not.  To be honest, I have no interest in trying to compete for time either.  I enjoy a nice jog at my own pace. 

For whatever reason, I was feeling really good about my run that day.  Pandora was picking the perfect songs for me, I could have ran for days.  So by the end I was surprised I wasn't even feeling that tired.  When I got home I checked the time, and to my surprise it took me less than thirty minutes!  To run 3 miles!  That's like a 10-minute mile!  I was so excited I ran inside and immediately told my parents.  Sadly, they weren't as impressed. 

Normally I was running at a 12-minute per mile pace.  But I realized that's because I was always doing my runs on a treadmill at the gym at school.  Once I actually got outside and let myself go, I realized I could actually run faster than I thought.  It was such a good feeling.  

So much so that it got me inspired to run outside more.  Which is now my favorite place to run.  I used to be scared I would run into someone I know and they would see me all sweaty with my face as red as a tomato.  I'm glad I now realize how stupid that was, and have enjoyed so many amazing sunrises, and seen the cutest dogs, and most importantly was able to push myself and see what I'm really capable of.