Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"these treats will blow your mind."

That's what Alicia Silverstone promises in The Kind Diet's introduction to the recipe for Crispy Peanut Butter Treats with Chocolate Chips. And she is so totally right.

I've made several recipes from the book but only this one dessert. I want to try the cupcakes and peanut butter cups but I can't get past these crispy chocolate treats, as noted in this post. The ingredients themselves are a bit pricey but they're worth it. Plus, it's so simple and easy to make.

The first time I made them I didn't have enough of the syrup and so every time after that I've used the reduced amount for syrup as well as less of the other ingredients. I think any extra syrup would make them too sweet and take away from the crunchy rice flavor, which I like. But if you prefer the sweet syrup taste or want extra chocolate, by all means add in more. It's impossible to ruin this recipe.

I've made these a handful of times now and have shared them with everybody. And everybody really likes them. I hope you do too.

3/4 cup to 1 3/4 cups brown rice syrup
1/2 to 3/4 cup almond or peanut butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips or carob chips
1 box of rice crisps (a brand is not specified in the book so I just found one I liked: Perky's Rice Crisps; I only used about 3/4 of the whole box to test the crisp to other ingredient ratio)

The first few times I made the treats I used carob chips. I've also tried unsweetened chocolate and will next try dairy-free chocolate (which on its own tastes great) but right now in this recipe my first choice would be to use carob chips (not so great on their own but really great for the treats).

Heat the syrup on the stovetop. Once liquified, stir in the almond butter until blended. Pour the box of rice crisps into a bowl and then add the syrup/almond butter mixture. Stir well. Alicia suggests waiting until the mix has cooled before adding in the chocolate so it doesn't melt but I actually prefer the melted chocolate as opposed to whole chips. I still wait a bit for it to cool slightly and then mix in the chocolate.

Then transfer the gooey delight to an 8x8 pan and pat firmly in (if you use the whole box of crisps, you will have enough mixture to fill up almost two 8x8 pans). Let stand for about an hour or until firm. Cut into squares and eat up. It's quite likely the whole pan will be gone in two days.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

tee hee

stairs made of t-shirts

 I'm definitely a jeans kind of girl. A "t-shirt and jeans" kind of girl, not so much. I'm more of a "tank top and cardigan and jeans" kind of girl. What about you?

T-shirts are a little funny. The first image that pops into my head when I hear the word "t-shirt" is a chubby me in high school trying to hide my insecurity by wearing really baggy t-shirts. This then causes me to cringe.

The simple tee is on many wardrobe essentials lists. On the list I'm testing out, I had separated the striped t-shirt from the solid black and white ones. But now I'm lumping them together and you'll hear why.

A couple of years ago I decided that the simplicity of a (well-fitting) t-shirt was an essential. I bought three short-sleeved t-shirts in gray, black and navy blue. I wore them all the time. All the time. This was awhile after I had whittled my wardrobe down to just a few pieces so when I bought the t-shirts, it was a big splurge. The excitement of having anything new was heightened.

Then I bought long-sleeved gray, black and white t-shirts. I've worn the white one maybe twice and the gray one a lot (seen here).

Striped t-shirts are all the rage right now and I was won over by how cute people look running around in their striped tees and skinny jeans and flats. So I started looking out for a striped t-shirt. I have yet to find one. But then I realized it's still a t-shirt and I would probably end up forgetting to wear it, folded and squished into a drawer as it inevitably would be.

I haven't worn the short-sleeved t-shirts in a long time. They might be downgraded to the "chore" clothes pile. As for the long-sleeved ones, mostly they're just really great for sleeping in on cold winter nights.

T-shirts' Essential Test grade: C+

Read more of the Essential Test series here

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Beauty Bag: Diorskin Nude Concealer

My skin and I do not usually get along, as I've mentioned before. This makes it a bit challenging when it comes to trying new face care products, and even more challenging and strange to write about them. I never know if something is truly working; now I just base my experience on whether a product seems to worsen my skin issues. But I'll share more skincare drama with you in a future post.

Today is all about concealer, which is a miracle for people who have skin issues that can be improved with a bit of makeup. I'm the type of person who will stay brand loyal but given the last several months and the urge to experiment with fun makeup colors and other products besides the usual suspects, it made me want to reconsider that a better concealer was out there. After being loyal to Clinique's matte concealer for so long, I've since tried other brands which I wrote about here and here.

For the last few months, I've been working steadily and slowly on reconciling with my skin. In the midst of this I needed to buy concealer and didn't want to buy the same one again. My friend suggested Diorskin Nude and we happened to be right by the Dior makeup counter. So I bought it.

My skin is (hopefully) on the road to recovery. So it seems this may be why my skin reacts better to this new concealer. While the last one I used (Stila) started out good and well, near the end it seemed to feel greasy on my skin and the coverage didn't last long. I really think this had more to do with my skin dehydration and other issues, not the product itself. As my skin changes I'm willing to change up the makeup products too. This time around, Diorskin seems to stay on my skin better and just doesn't sit on top of my skin or feel cakey or bumpy. I don't feel like I'm putting on tons of it in order to have decent coverage. It's also lightweight and blends really well.

I was also given a sample of the Diorskin Nude Fluid Foundation and oh my, I loved it! Silky smooth and great coverage. Over the week I used up the foundation, it evened out my skin tone and covered up some of my scars with a minimal amount. I would love to purchase the foundation but I'm trying to see how my skin does with less product. There are so many factors to consider regarding my skin issues and I want to get to a happy balance and take things out of my routine before adding new things in. Less is more, which is what I've been trying to practice this year.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

trench coat redux

windy hair model shot (note: real, actual wind was used for this photo)

Well, well, well. What have we here?

Just when I had given up on finding a trench coat and lamented on how tragic it was, I nonchalantly tried on this very trench coat while out shopping with my mom and sister. It turned out to be just the thing. I didn't wear it for several months; it hung in the closet with that magical aura and awe given to items you never think you'll find (similar to the "fancy" makeup syndrome). I was too shy to test out its magic. But now I've been wearing it constantly. I can see why so many women own a trench coat and why it's on so many wardrobe essentials lists. It instantly provides a polished, pulled together look even if you feel anything but. 

So sometimes that may mean the trench coat falls into the "costume" category, as I had scoffed a few months ago. And I'm OK with that. But I'm happy to report there isn't any swishing and swooshing.

Trench Coat: Kenneth Cole (Macy's - 2011)
Jeans: Levi's Skinny Bold Curve
Boots: Steve Madden

Trench Coat's retake exam Essential Test grade: B+

Read more of the Essential Test series here

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Current Obsessions: 2012 so far

1. my sweater
2. fruit smoothies (see this post)
3. my green bag
4. The Kind Diet (I know, I know: an actress wrote it but something about it really spoke to me)

5. watching The Voice
6. crispy chocolate treats (from The Kind Diet; food post coming soon!)

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Dress: Lili's Closet (Anthropologie - sale)
Scarf: Rock & Rose
Tights: Hue (Macy's) - see the black version here
Heels: Kenneth Cole (old)

The dress also worn here and here

Monday, April 16, 2012

9 books for spring reading

1. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
2. Dorothy Parker: Complete Stories (I'm sure any of the other collected works editions would be great; this is just the one I happen to have read and loved)
3. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
4. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
5. a D.H. Lawrence novel, like Sons and Lovers (just seems like a good choice for a sunny afternoon at the park; I've only read his book St. Mawr but have wanted to read more of his work)
6. A Collection of Beauties at the Height of Their Popularity by Whitney Otto (a Portland author! Plus, it's a pretty book to own and it's a fun read)
7. The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
8. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
9. Just Kids by Patti Smith (I've heard great things about this so I picked it up at Powell's; the first sentence captured me. It's a random choice for me but it feels right for spring. Have you read it yet?)