13 Aug

Make Delicious Iced Coffee At Home!

I’ve never been a huge coffee drinker, but the first few weeks of parenthood have me realizing that a jolt of caffeine in the morning will be a mandatory part of my day for the foreseeable future.  (Hazel was awake from 3-5:30 this morning just hanging out… she wasn’t even fussy, she just felt like that would be the best time to be awake.  How fun for mama.)

Since it’s summertime (and since it’s so delicious), I decided to do some research and figure out how to make the perfect iced coffee at home.  I found that cold brewing seems to be the preferred technique and the trusty Pioneer Woman had this easy recipe, so I went for it.  (Seriously, everything she posts is genius.)

After brewing my big batch of coffee using her recipe, I set out to give it the perfect sweet-but-not-too-sweet twist and here’s what I settled on:

1) Dump some ice cubes into a mason jar (or other 12-16 oz glass).  Bigger ice cubes are preferred, since they take longer to melt and won’t water down your coffee.  If you like it super strong, you can freeze coffee in an ice cube tray instead of water and add coffee cubes.

2) Pour your coffee to fill about 3/4 of the glass.

3) Add 1 generous tablespoon of caramel Torani syrup.

4) Top it off with half and half to taste.

5) Stir it up and enjoy cafe-worthy iced coffee every morning from the comfort of your own kitchen!

This simple recipe is super delicious and I can whip it up quick, even with a fussy baby in one hand, which means it gets the new mama stamp of approval :)  Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

15 May

DIY Summery Nail Inspiration

I thought I’d share a snapshot or two of the DIY manicure I gave myself earlier this week.  I’ve been sticking to pretty basic shades lately, but I had fun switching it up with this gold and coral combo.

To get the stripes, I painted my nail coral and let the polish dry overnight.  (You don’t have to wait that long, but you’ll want to wait at least an hour or two to make sure you don’t smudge your base color.)  Then, I cut tiny strips of washi tape at a diagonal and laid them across the nail.  Washi tape is great because it’s not too sticky and peels off the nail really easily.  I painted two coats of gold over the entire nail and made sure to carefully remove the tape before the gold was completely dry.

Pretty darn easy!

My coral shade is Sally Hansen’s Coral Reef.  The gold is Sally Hansen’s Golden-I.  And the top coat is Seche Vite (which is so much better than anything you’ll find at a drugstore… it keeps nails from chipping for days and creates the perfect shiny finish!)

18 Oct

How to Gracefully Grow Out a Pixie Cut

Last December, I finally got the pixie cut I had been dreaming of for years.  (Click the link for the dramatic before and after photo!)  I was so excited to make a big change, and I was also looking forward to the challenge of growing my pixie out as gracefully as possible.

It took a lot of work— when my hair was super-short, I had to trim it every two weeks!  But I thought I’d share the stages with you lovelies to give you some ideas of how to rock your hair as it goes from super-short to an average bob (which is what I’ve got going on now.)  Care to see?

The Pixie- just a refresher of how my hair looked after it was first cut…

Add body- pixies are all about structure, which is why they often look bad when they’re growing out (they get floppy).  You can work with this, though, buy adding curl and body to your hair with a tiny flat iron or curling iron.  And don’t forget to rock cute hair accessories!

Needs a cut- I knew I needed a trim when my hair would start to get this mullet-y quality.  It was still short in the front because of my original pixie fringe, but the back was losing shape fast.

Quick fix- If I didn’t have time for a trim, I’d wear a front braid to pull the bangs back and tiny pigtails to keep the rest contained.

Neck trim- Otherwise, I used a razor along my neck line to keep the back nice and short while the front layers were growing out.  You can see in the photo below that my front layers were allllmost in line with the back.  When the front and back are even, you can let all of your hair get longer and it’ll naturally turn into a bob without much fuss.

Half Up- While I was waiting for everything to even out, I often pinned the short layers back, giving the illusion of a half-up style (even though I didn’t actually have enough hair to pull it into a ponytail in the back).

My Little Pony- Finally, as the entire look grew, I was able to pull my hair into a mini ponytail (with the help of a few bobby pins, of course!)

A Bob with Body- This photo was taken a month ago, when we were in Italy.  By this point, I had a bona-fide bob and could play with a curling iron to give it bounce and curl.

Now that I have a short bob, I can let my hair grow without having to cut it much.  I’ll clean up the layers every couple months, but I’m finally done with the bi-weekly trim that I had to deal with at first.

Overall, when trying to grow out a pixie, invest in some cute hair accessories and don’t be afraid to trim your neckline on your own with a razor (the kind for cutting hair, not the kind you shave your legs with).

Have you gone through the process of growing out a pixie?  Any tips or tricks that I didn’t mention?  Got photos?  Email ‘em to kim@blendingbeautiful.com or share your thoughts in the comments!

16 Oct

Easy, Delicious Beef Stew

The weather was gloomy last week, so I tried to get into the fall spirit by whipping up a big pot of stew.  When Travis came home from work, he immediately dubbed it “the best stew ever” and we’ve been enjoying the leftovers for days!  Want the recipe?

Here’s what you’ll need:

-1 onion

-2 lbs. beef (many grocery stores have “stew” meat that’s already been cut into chunks— how convenient!)

-3 celery stalks

-red wine

-2 carrots

-6-8 small white potatoes

-1 container beef broth

-1 packet McCormick beef stew seasoning

-flour

The recipe:

1) Chop up the entire onion and sauté in your stew pot.  Once the onions are nearly cooked, add in the beef and chopped celery.

2) Cook the beef until lightly browned, then pout half a bottle of red wine into the pot and simmer with a lid for two hours.  (Feel free to pour yourself a glass of the leftover wine around this time.)

3) Check in on the meat every half hour or so and give it a stir to make sure the wine isn’t evaporating too quickly.

4) When the two hours are up, mix your McCormick seasoning with 3 cups water (per their instructions) and pour it into the pot.  Add the entire container of beef broth as well.  (Some people call cooking with a packet “cheating”.  I call it convenient and delicious.)

5) Continue to cook your stew on low heat as long as you’d like— the longer, the better!  About 90 minutes before dinner, add in your chopped potatoes and carrots.

6) Just before serving, mix 1/2 cup of water with about 1/8 cup of flour and whisk until there are no lumps.  Stir this flour mixture into the stew and turn off the stove.  This will help to thicken it to the perfect consistency.  (Add more flour if it’s not thick enough for you.)

7) Serve with a big slice of sweet french bread for dipping and enjoy!

Are you a fan of beef stew?  What’s you’re favorite cold weather dinner?  How do you feel about “packet” cooking?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

8 Aug

How to Create a Top Knot

The top knot has become a style staple in 2012— it’s the perfectly-imperfect look that will keep you looking chic without being overdone.  Reader, Carissa, wants a step-by-step guide… here you have it!

My hair is currently too short for this look, so I’m using my trusty mannequin, Amanda, as a model.  (You may remember her from my post on ombre hair color…)

For this look, you’ll need:

-1 hair elastic

-bobby pins that match your hair color

-a comb

-hairspray

Step 1: Use your fingers to pull your hair into a high pony.  Skipping the brush and using your hands will add texture and dimension to your hair so it’s not too perfect.

Step 2: Use the comb to backcomb your ponytail a bit.  My mannequin has very thin hair— the thinner your hair, the more you’ll want to backcomb.  (It helps to create a voluminous bun.)

Step 3: Collect all of your hair above your head, smoothing the outer layer slightly with your hands.

Step 4: Twist, twist, twist your hair until it starts to wrap around itself like a bun.

Step 5: Pin your wrapped bun into place with your bobby pins.

Step 6: The bun will probably be a little smaller and tighter than you’d like, so once it’s pinned, lightly pull it apart with your hands.  The backcombing will help it all stay together.  (And if little pieces fall out, all the better!  It’s supposed to be somewhat messy.)

Step 7: Spray with hairspray, and you’re done!

What do you think of the top knot look?  Do you ever rock it?  Excited to try out this tutorial?  Share in the comments!