June 28, 2012

Queen for a Day!

Posted by Ethne~

As a special treat, my sister Whit recently signed me up for a Master Class at her ULTA Beauty store here in big city, MN, with Too Faced Cosmetics’ Celebrity Make-up Artist and Designer Kalina Fernandez.

Whit at ULTA

How lucky am I?!

I was supposed to be learning techniques, but I ended up being Kalina’s model!!!!

Kalina and me

And naturally, being the model, I was in close proximity to the artist herself, so I asked all the questions I could think of.

Here are a few things I learned:

1~ I am a total Too Faced convert.  Check out their website here to see all their great stuff, or check out your nearest ULTA, Sephora or Nordstrom.  {Thank goodness for the internet for the good hunk of us who live in rural areas. I count myself amongst you having grown up in North Dakota!}  Anyway, Too Faced products are first and best in the business, and if you learn a little about the company, you will see how great the people are who are creating the products.  For example, Too Faced are big into bronzers to give you a sunny, golden glow (that’s what my dad calls it) without the sun damage to your skin because one of the co-founders of Too Faced nearly lost his sister to skin cancer.

Look how blue Kalina made my eyes look!
The girls thought Mommy going to a make-up class was awesome
so I brought home mini lip glosses for them
I had to practice my skills on them
Theodore didn't care

2~ I have been a long-time user of mineral powder foundations, specifically bareMinerals in ‘fairly light’.  In my twenties, it was great, and just a dusting of powder was awesome.  But I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten into my thirties, the fine lines around my eyes (from laughter, no doubt, and a fair share of sun damage) have appeared.  And when that mineral foundation sits on my skin, the lines are visible to the public, not just to me staring at myself an inch from the mirror.

See this pic of me - my eye wrinkles being accentuated
by make-up - this is OUTRAGEOUS!

So what’s the solution?  *BB Creams*  a/k/a Magic.  Somehow these wonders of the beauty world were invented in Germany for burned and scarred skin, were then popular for several years in Asia as make-up, and are just now catching on here in the States.  I’ll give that a big ‘ol WTF!  Too Faced to the rescue!  BB stands for Beauty Balm so that’s what Too Faced calls theirs.  The point of a BB cream is that it serves the purpose of a moisturizer, a foundation, a concealer, an oil controller and an SPF all in one.  See, I told ya it was magic.  Read a little more about BB creams on Too Faced’s website here and on the Ulta article I linked here.  It felt amazing on my face and I didn't apply powder once the whole rest of the day - crazy for someone with oily skin like me!


3~ Applying eyeliner with a brush (as in rub the eyeliner pencil with the brush to transfer color and then onto your eye) makes the application look smudgier, less severe, way sexier and more foolproof!  How about those for some seriously great adjectives lumped together?  Now the old, dry eyeliner pencil your grandmother used isn’t going to work for this.  Throw that in the trash!  New liners these days are much more of a thick gel/caulk texture (those in the beauty industry are probably choking on my descriptions).

Specifically for the purpose of applying eye make-up, Kalina herself designed the Shadow Brushes Essential 3-Piece Set (see here).  Now, of course I knew that I would need a set of these brushes as I saw her explain to me how she was using them to apply the make-up to my eyes.  But, sneakily, Too Faced sealed the deal by packaging the brushes in their own pink, reusable metal cigar tube with a vellum page of application instructions folded inside.  DECISION DONE!

4~ Put a little eyeshadow underneath your eyeliner on your undereye to add some color and drama to the look.  It doesn’t have to make you look overdone, but the era of boring nudes and taupes is finished, my Friends.  A little color is in!  This is coming from a girl who could trademark the 'natural' look so adding splashes of color will take willpower.

5~ Kalina said that no woman should go without eyelashes.  Even if you are not born with long gorgeous eyelashes like my sister, you can have great eyelashes every day!  The drugstore lashes that come in individual lashes (I say individual, but they are actually clumps of 3-4 hairs) can be applied in the same amount of time it takes to apply mascara so can easily be part of your daily get-ready routine.  And they cost about $3 for like 30 individual lashes.

These are Whit's for reals, but false lashes are for everyone!

When Kalina and Whit were telling me how to apply these individual lashes, I tossed into the convo my one nugget of helpfulness – that Whit had just used a new professional lash glue by Ardell that kept a set of these individual lashes on her for a week and a half, through daily face washes and showers!  Hopefully it will be on the market soon.

And, Too Faced is coming out with a new mascara in July that has nylon fibers in it.  It’s pretty much too cool for me to even describe but the bottom line is that you can stretch the fibers over your lashes with the brush, making them longer and fuller, meaning genius, awesome lashes.

Future Whit’s Tips to come, Friends!  Please check back soon.  I know I’ve forgotten to tell you some stuff I learned at my Master Class.  Plus, Whit and I have a few posts brewing: as a special treat she got me all the make-up Kalina used on me for the Master Class and Whit is going to apply it to me step-by-step for a post so you all can try it out too.  We also want to try out and show you how to apply false lashes.  And Too Faced makes a new type of bronzing oil so we’ll do an Adventures in Sunless Tanning, Part 3!

Remember that disaster from last year?!?


Posted by Lori~

The garden is planted….and now it is time to do some major weeding.

I wanted to give you an update on our garden for this year.

Here’s what we decided to plant (keep in mind we have a small garden).  This is our very first attempt at growing a garden, so keep your fingers crossed it goes well!
A wide-view (ignore the weeds--please)



Peppers (different kinds)
Green Beans (my favorite!)

June 26, 2012

Bedroom Furniture Progress!

Posted by Ethne~

Remember my solid, yet homely, dark brown bedroom furniture?  No?

Well here’s a refresher.

And remember my sister Whit moved back to town from Georgia at last?

The best evidence Whit's back is her cat Largie - dressed up as a princess

Well, I wasn’t feeling up to painting my furniture, but Shaun and I needed to use it.  I was determined that if we didn’t paint it before we started using it, the painting would never get done.

So what does ‘Whit’s back in town’ + ‘Furniture needs painting’ with a little ‘Ethne complaining’ thrown in = ?  Why yes, it means I wrangled Whitney into helping Shaun paint the bedroom furniture!

Shaun got the girls sanding drawers

So it’s progress, Friends.  I’m determined to be using our bedroom furniture by the 4th of July!

Little Bitty Tacos!

Posted by Ethne~

It’s a fiesta for your fingers!

While waiting in the dentist’s office for the girls’ check-ups, I ran across instructions for making mini crispy cups out of oiled wonton wrappers and a mini muffin tin.

I LOVE anything mini and I am happy to report that KD and Easy Mac have inherited this gene!

Mini Me!

This was a simple enough premise, with loads of possibilities.

Brush wonton wrappers (find them in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle at the grocery store) on both sides with olive oil (I used my handy pink silicone kitchen brush).

Gently press them into a mini muffin tin.  You will need to make little folds so an open pocket remains in the middle in which to put your filling of choice.  Thrifty Nana (my mom) was helping me with these and she had the genius idea of using a teeny cordial wine glass to push the wrappers into the muffin tin.  It worked like a charm.  A shot glass might work, or be creative.

The instructions said to pre-heat the oven to 350ยบ and bake the wrappers for 4 minutes or until golden brown.  So we baked them for 4 minutes.  Then another 4.  Then we turned the convection fan on.  Then another few minutes and they were done.

Bottom line for baking: 

1)   I do not think 4 minutes will be long enough – but set your timer for that just to be sure.
2)   If you have a convection fan on your oven, use it – then watch the baking process closely.
3)   The best bet is to go for the ‘golden brown’ and just check on these guys every 2 minutes until they reach the perfect color.  You don’t want them blackened, but I found that until they were really golden, the bottoms were still doughy.  Ick.

Keep at it, though, because they will cook just fine.  The dough will bubble up, brown on the edges, and get crisp and even a little flaky.

For filling, I had tacos on the brain.  The girls love them, so they’re always a winner for dinner.  And I always love to make something at home rather than buying it fast food.

I made up taco meat just like I would any other time – a packet from the store and low-fat ground beef.  Shredded cheese.  Fresh diced tomatoes.  Shaun and KD went for the taco sauce.  Easy Mac and I went for the homemade Chipotle guacamole.

See how crispy and dark golden they got?

Yes, you read that correctly.  Homemade.  Chipotle.  Guacamole.  I was hungry for it.  I Googled it.  Lo and behold, Chipotle has its own video on how to make it.  You need red onion, jalapeno or Serrano pepper, avocado, cilantro, lime juice and salt.  Thas'it.

Anyway, Friends, we really enjoyed these.  They weren’t a lot of work at all and were a way-FUN twist on the blah-but-always-tasty taco dinner night.  [You can make these shells a day or two in advance (not more or they will get stale) and store in an airtight container.  When you are ready to use them, put them in a heated oven for a minute or two until they warm up.]

NOTE: I mentioned lots of variations on this recipe:  One that jumps out at me is brushing wonton wrappers with canola oil (I personally think it’s more flavor-neutral than olive oil if you’re gonna use sweet stuff), bake just like I talked about above except sprinkle the cups and edges with granulated sugar before baking, then when ready to serve, put a little dollop of ice cream in each cup, drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.  Yum!

June 22, 2012


Posted by Lori~

Remember last year, I posted about my toddler swing that I found during the annual curb-side pick-up week in our little city, ND town!

Mur-Man is lovin’ the swing.  And it was FREE!!

This year, it happened again!  I (along with my girlfriend Shelley) found lots of GREAT items.  And we had lots of adventures.

For this post..I will highlight the flower-pot.  That’s right, along the side of the road in very bad condition and considered someone’s trash. 

We knew…a can of spray paint would do the job. 

First, I lightly sanded it!
 Several thin coats of shiny black spray paint and it looked like new.

Coat one down...and several more to come!
More adventures of curb-side pick-up to come!

June 21, 2012


Posted by Lori~

We spent the weekend in big city, ND (AKA Fargo, ND).  And we were there to celebrate a wedding reception at the HODO (Hotel Donaldson in Fargo).
Sara and Zach
It was wonderful…not only that, but our hotel room was WONDERFUL!  Check it out!

Homemade Popsicles

Posted by Ethne~

There’s nothing better on a summer afternoon than a popsicle.  KD and Easy Mac love them.  Of course, my kids love anything with a granule of sugar in it so you know that means I want to control what is in the sweet goodies the girls eat.

Rhubarb - yum - add some sugar please, says KD

Then, of course, this past weekend both of the girls came down with the stomach flu.  Not the 24-hour version, but the full-on, days-on-end flu.  They are still not 100% over it, but a zillion times better than last weekend.  When we took them into the doctor, we were really worried about Easy Mac being dehydrated.  And what did the doctor suggest?  You guessed it – popsicles!  He really said anything she’d eat, including French fries, which we also got her, would be better than nothing.  But the liquids and salt (in moderation) are key.  Hence popsicles (which are fun, sweet and the kids can’t drink the liquids too quickly) and French fries (potatoes aren’t too likely to upset the stomach of their own right).

Poor Easy Mac

For the flu, Shaun picked up regular popsicles, though Thrifty Nana and I did pick up some Gatorade and we made some homemade popsicles with that successfully.  Pedialyte makes popsicles now too, but for the record, KD and Easy Mac refuse Pedialyte and generic versions from sip #1.  Don’t waste your money.

For regular sweet treats, I like to be more creative with my girls’ popsicles.  I picked up one of those homemade popsicle molds for super cheap.  You can get them about anywhere.  I chose a mold that didn’t seem too flimsy – and it’s pink of course!

I’ve been making a lot of fruit smoothies this summer to drink – and what better than making a little extra for the girls’ popsicles?  Plus, my smoothies don’t have any added sugar (maybe a little honey depending on what I’m making), just 100% fruits and vegetables.

These popsicles were banana strawberry
with pomegranate juice - whizzed up in my Magic Bullet!

Easiest thing ever.  Pour, freeze and serve.  You just warm up the outside of the mold with your hand for a few seconds to pull the frozen popsicle out.

It’s genius and the girls think I’m the best mom ever.  Well, not for the popsicles.  I’d say that title comes at 3 a.m. when I’m catching your puke in a bowl, my darlings.

June 20, 2012


Posted by Lori~

Steve, Mur-Man, and I are currently at the lake (let’s call it Lake Vacay)!

I apologize for not posting yesterday, however the internet is hit and miss and we are enjoying our time.

Unfortunately, it is mid-June and we are in the middle of a major rain (and hail storm).

We tried to move our vehicle, but were unsuccessful….so we made cocktails.  That’s right, hail cocktails.

Steve mixed up a Brandy, Amaretto, and Diet Coke cocktail…yummy!!!

More posts this week…I promise!