7.30.2014

A Garden Update + Homemade Dill Pickles

The end of July means that our garden is at it's peak.
My zuchinni and squash are still growing like crazy.
 Last week, I harvested tomatoes for the first time, I had so many! 
This was my loot from just one day last week! I picked more just a few days later.
Early Girl Tomaotes (Upper Left), Zucchini & Squash (Upper Right), Cucumbers (Middle Right), Green Onions & Carrots that grew too close to each other...Fail (Lower Right) and Yellow Pear, Cherry & Sun Sugar Tomatoes (Lower Left)
 

Every year our cucumbers are one of the things that grow like crazy and I get so many and I am not quite sure what to do with all of them.
I give them away to neighbors & friends.
I've had so many this year & decided to make some homemade pickles!
They are very easy to make & it only takes a few minutes of prep work.

 Here is what you need {per pint sized jar}
Sliced Cucumbers
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 sprig of fresh dill
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T sea salt
Water

I used cucumbers from my garden, but you can use cucumbers from the grocery store or Farmers Market (From this harvest of cucumbers below, I made 8 pint sized jars of pickles. 4 jars of pickle spears & 4 jars of sliced pickle chips)
 Slice your cucumbers:

Place in jar:

 Add spices to the top:
 Then, add the fresh dill:

Fill jar with water (leaving about 1/2 inch of space from the top of the jar) 
Make sure cucumbers are completely submerged. Put on lid.
Leave on the counter for 3-5 days. 
Test a pickle on day 2. 
If it is tastes good to you, then put the jar in the fridge.
{This stops the fermentation process}
 You know the pickles are perfect when they taste great & they still have their crunch. 
If you leave them out on the counter too long, they will lose their crunch and get really soft so it’s important to put them in the fridge when they have the flavor you desire. If you live in a hot climate, the pickles will get soft quicker.

Your pickles will keep for 4 months in the fridge. 

Enjoy!

So far, everything in our 2014 Garden has produced except the strawberries (I think something is eating them). I ripped out all the lettuce last week because it had reached it's peak and when the weather hits 100 + degrees, lettuce is not happy. I was thrilled with how my lettuce had been doing and I loved going out to my garden each day to grab some lettuce. I will miss that!
You can read more Garden Updates {HERE}

And, as a reminder, my Rodan + Fields Christmas in July Special ends on Thursday!
 !
Read more about it {HERE}

7.25.2014

Christmas in July and #RFGoNaked

Today is an exciting day....July 25th!
That means 2 things!
First, it is the start of my Christmas in July Special 
AND
Secondly, it is #RFGoNaked Day!

Who doesn't love a Christmas in July Special?
And, it's a GOOD one!
If you become a Preferred Customer today July 25 through Thursday July 31, you will get a $25 gift card to either Target, Nordstrom, Starbucks or PayPal Cash!
AND I will pay for your $20 PC Perks cost.
This is an amazing deal! 
Plus, you get 10% off your order AND Free Shipping!
If you have ever considered purchasing Rodan + Fields, this is a great time!
We have products for ALL skin types!
Anti Aging, Fine Lines & Wrinkles, Sun Damage, Sun Spots, Age Spots, Melasma, Acne, Acne Scaring, Sensitive Skin, Rosacea, Eczema and MORE!
What is your biggest skin concern? 
We can help  you love the skin you are in.
Want to know what products are best for you?
Answer these 5 questions {HERE}
Email me at melissa_larson17{at}yahoo.com if you have any product questions or if you want to claim this Christmas in July Special!

Today July 25th is also #RFGoNaked Day!
One of the things I love most about Rodan+Fields is the company's dedication to their motto "Prescription For Change". 
They aren't just changing people's skin, they are changing people's lives through their foundation BuildOn. 
BuildOn is an organization working to break the cycle of poverty, literacy, and low expectations through service and education, read more about it here: www.BuildOn.org
 
Our goal at R+F is to raise $30,000 today to build a school for students in need. 
Every makeup free selfie (guys included) posted today, July 25th, with the hash tag #RFGoNaked earns $1 for BuildOn. Probably the easiest fundraiser EVER. 
All you have to do, is literally lift your finger and snap a selfie and hashtag #rfgonaked. 
Here is my #RFGoNaked Selfie. 
No make-up, No filter. Yikes!
 
Your make up-free selfie equals $1, which will be donated to educate and empower students in need through the collaborative work of the Rodan + Fields® PFC™ Foundation and our partner, buildOn
Post your no-makeup selfie using hashtag #RFGoNaked on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

 I hope you join us in #RFGoNaked Day!
If you tag me with your no make up selfie on Instagram today, I will send you a free R+F mini facial!
Let's help Build a School!
What would you change about your skin?  
I am not wearing makeup all day so I hope I don't scare too many people while I am out & about running errands :)

7.23.2014

Beer Tasting Party + Beer Cupcakes

This past weekend our court held it's 1st Annual Brew + Chew.
What is a Brew + Chew you might ask?
It is a beer tasting (brew) with finger foods (chew)
My neighbors Steph & Patrick hosted this party.
It was so fun! 
It will now be an annual thing on our court. 
I was in charge of desserts, so of course I had to make cupcakes.
I make A LOT of cupcakes/desserts for our court. 
Almost every court function (which is 1-2 times a month) I bring the cupcakes
Most of my cupcake & dessert recipes can be found in my Recipe Box on my toolbar.

Because this party was a Beer Tasting, I knew I needed to incorporate beer into the desserts!
I made 3 desserts.
Caramel Candied Bacon Beer Cupcakes
Corona Lime Cupcakes
Double Chocolate Stout Brownies

All the recipes are at the end of this post.
You're welcome :)

Here are some photos from the Brew + Chew.
 There were 14 different types of beer to taste. 
They were all wrapped up & labeled with a number so that you couldn't tell what kind of beer it was.
 We were each given a little notebook to rate each beer we tasted.
 And, we each had our own mini beer tasting mug. Mine had a teacher sticker on it since I am a teacher :)
 I am not much of a beer drinker. I only like a couple types of beer. (I prefer Lemon Drops or Wine over Beer). Out of the 14 types of beer, I only liked 2 of them. The other 12 were rated like this:
After everyone had tasted we lined up all the bottles & then revealed what they were!
Kevin and I started a wine tasting group almost 10 years ago were we do wine tasting with brown bags, so it was fun to do this with beer.
I forgot to take photos of all the food...there were 5 types of sausage,  pulled pork sliders, salmon sliders and more....so much good food!

Then it was time for dessert!
Top: Double Chocolate Stout Brownies
Left: Caramel Candied Bacon Beer Cupcakes
Right: Corona Key Lime Cupcakes
After dessert, it was corn hole time! 
I know I say this all the time, but I really, really, really love our court and our neighbors. I feel so fortunate to live on court like this. It is pretty unique and I don't take that for granted!
I highly recommend having a Beer Tasting Party. It would be really fun for a birthday party or for Father's Day! 

+++++++++++++++
Now for the recipes (there are 3 recipes for you!)

First up...Caramel Candied Bacon Beer Cupcakes!!
{Recipe slightly modified from here
Oh my goodness...the guys loved these!
Here is what you need:
For the cupcakes:
- 1 box Butter Cake Mix
- 1 12 oz bottle of beer ( I used an IPA although next time I will use a Pale Ale)
 - 2 eggs

For the frosting:
- 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
- 1 box powdered sugar (1 pound)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 6 strips of bacon
- 1/4 cup sugar brown sugar
- Caramel Sauce

 Directions:
 Preheat oven to 350°F. 
Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. 
Add cake mix, beer, and eggs to a large bowl. 
Beat with an electric mixer according to package directions. 
Fill cupcake liners three-quarters full with cake batter and bake according to package directions, generally 12 to 15 minutes. 
Let cool while you prep your frosting and bacon topping.

For the Bacon:
 Preheat oven to 400°F. 
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. 
Lay bacon flat on parchment and sprinkle with brown sugar.
Bake for 25 minutes or until crispy and browned. 
Set aside to cool.
After your cupcakes are cooled, frost them:
 Then I use Caramel Sauce (pre-made like you would put on ice cream) and I squeezed caramel onto the cupcakes. Then chopped up the candied bacon and added that as a garnish.
 These were divine!


Next up...Corona Key Lime Cupcakes
Here is what you need:
For the Cupcakes:
- 1 box of White Cake Mix
- 1 bottle of Corona
- 2 egg whites
- 1 T lime juice
- 1 T lime zest

For the Frosting:
12 oz cream cheese, cold
6 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1 T lime juice
1 T lime zest
4 cups powdered sugar

These were delicious!
 I will definitely be making these again....especially on Cinco de Mayo next year!
 *All of the alcohol burns off when you cook these, so you will not really taste or feel any of the affects of alcohol with these cupcakes*

The final dessert I made is these:
 Remember last week when I made Red Wine Brownies?
Well, I decided to try the same thing and make Beer Brownies.
I followed the directions on the box of brownie mix, but  instead of adding the 1/4 cup of water, I added 1/4 cup of beer. ( I used a chocolate stout beer)
I also added a cup of milk chocolate chips to the batter.
Bake the brownies according to package directions.
These were divine!

Have you ever been to a beer tasting party?
If not, you need to have one...and you have 3 dessert choices to make!

Enjoy!

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