Easy-Peasy Microwave Popcorn In Paper

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Popcorn is great. You could eat it for hours, mindlessly, and never get full. Microwave popcorn used to be a regular snack for me, ever since college where the only appliance allowed in dorm rooms was a microwave, but I could never get over the oily texture that would coat my mouth, or the slight chemical taste. After I learned how many chemicals were in those super-convenient microwave bags, I chucked them in favor of the more natural, albeit laborious, stovetop method, which actually tastes way better.

The downside? The effort-to-satisfaction ratio of making popcorn was now too high for me to actually make and eat any. All that pot-shaking, oil-cleaning, dish-washing effort for a simple snack? I’ll stick to cereal, thanks.

The solution? This neat trick has been going around that uses a paper bag to pop plain kernels. I tried it, it’s AWESOME. The simplicity of store-bought microwave popcorn bags joins with the natural healthfulness of the stovetop method in lazy person snacking holy matrimony. Seriously, you have to try it.

Some recipes suggest first tossing the kernels in a bit of oil before microwaving, possibly to help the kernels pop faster or more evenly. I personally disregard this step as it allows the paper bag to be reused several times. Any flavors are added post-pop and tossed in a bowl. Enjoy!

Microwaved Popcorn in Paper

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unpopped kernels
  • small paper bag, such as a lunch bag
  • optional: seasonings (melted butter, salt, powdered truffle, you get the idea)

Directions

  1. Place kernels in paper bag. Fold top of bag over a few times to seal the kernels in. (I like to do what I call the point fold: fold one side diagonally, then fold the other side diagonally so the end creates a point. Then, fold the point twice.)
  2. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. As with any method, keep an ear out for the time between each pop. I would suggest erring on the conservative side—a few unpopped kernels are better than a bag of burned popcorn. Just trust me on this. I know.
  3. Enjoy as-is, or toss first with seasonings in a large bowl.

Pastel Easter Braid Bread: Bet You Can’t Say That Five Times Fast

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If there was any appropriate time to turn food pastel-hued for the hell of it, Easter is it. Who can resist the adorable pinks, lavenders, and robin’s egg blues that adorn the shelves this time of year? And while I’m unsure how Jesus felt about this color scheme, I venture to guess that he would have been totally cool with eating this bread.

While the tradition of Easter bread originated from the Orthodox Christian church, the practice of eating sweetened bread might actually date as far as the Homeric Greek era. Since then, several iterations from Greece, Russia, Italy, and more have been born, all with their own unique flavors. Among them all is the same basic principle: sweet, slightly dense bread made with generous amounts of butter, milk, and egg. I can get behind that.

You’ll find this Easter bread is as simple as they come ingredient-wise and makes a standard fluffy bread everyone can appreciate. After Easter, this bread can also be easily adapted to make sandwich loaves.

Pastel Easter Braid

Pastel Easter Braid Bread

YIELD: 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 package/1 T active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½-¾ cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • Assorted food coloring
  • Oil
  • 1 T water

Directions

1. In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter to 120°-130°. Let cool for 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, mix sugar, yeast, salt and 1 cup flour. Add milk & butter mixture and 1-1/2 eggs; mix with stand-up mixer using dough attachment, or by hand with spatula. Stir in remaining 2 cups flour until just combined, then separate evenly into thirds. Dough will be very wet and sticky at this point.

3. Turn each piece of dough onto a floured surface. Add food coloring to each and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. I used 3 drops each of red, blue and green.

4. Place each in separate greased bowls, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 350°.

6. Punch down dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface and roll each portion into a roughly 12″ rope. Place ropes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and braid, pinching and tucking both ends to prevent unraveling.

7. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes.

8. Whisk remaining egg with water and gently brush over dough. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. Move to wire rack to cool.

 

Shop Now: Everything You Need For A Splendid Spring

It’s time to tuck those jackets away and air out them shorts, because 3/20 marks the official start of Spring! Are you ready for brunch picnics at the park? Lazy weekend chillaxing? Cute handmade accessories to match with your Spring florals? We’ve got all your fun plans covered with our Spring Livin’ Collection.

 

And don’t forget to stop by our Etsy store to see our growing collection of beautiful vintage jewelry (if that’s your thang).

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Roasted Cabbage Steaks: It’s Not Good…It’s GREAT.

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When was the last time you said, “Damn, that is some good cabbage”? It had been a while for me—until last night, when I tried roasted cabbage for the first time. If you’re skeptical, I don’t blame you. Cabbage isn’t the leafy contender I would have put my money on—it’s not ubiquitous like lettuce or spunky like kale. When I think of cabbage, my mind usually goes to the mushy, funky-smelling sidekick everyone is required to eat with corned beef.

And yet, here I am, singing its virtues. Roasted cabbage is delicious, nutritious, and incredibly simple to make. Using only four ingredients, you too can transform Plain Jane cabbage into the sexy, desirable dish you always knew was hiding within (a la She’s All That, Miss Congeniality, and The Devil Wears Prada).

Roasted Cabbage Steaks

serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized head of cabbage
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Slice cabbage width-wise in 1″ discs. Place on cookie sheet, using parchment paper if desired for easier cleanup.
  3. Brush top of discs with olive oil, then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Turn discs over and repeat.
  4. Cook in oven until edges are golden and crisp, about 40-45 minutes.

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Be Your Own Valentine: 7 Ways to Enjoy 2/14 Alone, Because It’s Just Better That Way

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Valentine’s Day, depending on who you are, can be either an opportunity for great romantic gestures or a harrowing reminder that you are so alone, so very alone.

But it doesn’t have to be. Alone doesn’t need to equal loneliness, despite what the commercials, chocolate companies, and your Aunt Martha who keeps trying to set you up may imply. There are so many things that are better left unshared (just off the top of my head: toothbrushes, cars, any kind of free food). Ignore the fad and spend the international day of love adoring and appreciating the most important person in your life—yourself. Because SOs come and go, but you will never be able to escape yourself.

1. Watch your biggest guilty pleasure movie.

Are you a tough-as-nails personality who tears up at every Hope For Paws video? A bubbly, sweet darling with hidden violent streak? A mainstream Marvel aficionado who secretly yearns for a whirlwind romance? Don’t be ashamed.

2. Walk around the house naked.

Because it’s awesome.

3. Don’t talk to anyone all day.

For introverts, taking a day off from socializing is not only rejuvenating, it’s necessary. Don’t answer texts, ignore phone calls, and just do you all day long.

4. Buy your favorite pie and eat it straight out of the pie tin.

Because using a plate would mean you’d have to wash it later.

5. Take an hour-and-a-half-long bath.

Candles optional, eating pie in tub mandatory.

6. Starfish the bed.

Lie in middle of the mattress, spread your arms and legs out as if making a snow angel, sigh in contentment. All the real estate the comforter touches belongs to you.

7. Lie down on the grass and relax.

Read a book, listen to your favorite podcast, or daydream under the sun. Talk just gets in the way of this simple joy, so don’t invite anyone because no matter how much you like them, they will ruin this for you.

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5 Wisdoms HBO’s Girls Taught Me

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From left to right: Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), Jessa (Jemima Kirke), Marnie (Allison Williams), and Hannah (Lena Dunham)

The Good News: HBO’s Girls will be returning February 21st for their fifth season. Starring many talented individuals, including (but not limited to) Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet, Jemima Kirke, and the now-infamous Adam Driver, Girls is a rare gem that is both superficially entertaining and subtlely complex, driven by exceptional writing and character development. Though older generations (read: my mom and her mom) may not develop a taste for it, it will sit quite well with younger folk.

The Bad News: the following sixth season, currently in the works, will also be their last. Lena Dunham has the rare sense to know when to end a good run (I’m looking at you, House).

For those unfamiliar with Girls, it’s a show about a core group of friends as they stumble, tumble, and bump through their 20s while living in New York City. Have you ever pondered the following:

  • How do I earn a livable income and at what point am I just selling my soul for money, working a job I have no interest in for people who don’t care about my future?
  • How do I have a functional relationship?
  • How do I maintain my friendships when life keeps dragging me away and work makes me so tired?
  • How do I deal with my dad coming out as gay?
  • What are boundaries and how do I draw them?
  • Am I a narcissist?

If so, Girls may have the answer for you. Or at the very least, watching their attempts at steering through these life questions will make you feel better about yourself.

Note: if at any point you find yourself questioning whether Girls has any real substance, watch Lena Dunham’s thoughtful interview on Q on CBC.

1. No body’s perfect.

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Lena Dunham gets naked on the show. A lot. No, she’s not a size 2 model, and no, she’s not one of those conventionally beautiful actresses that are absolutely EVERYWHERE on television. And that’s kind of way better. Her nudity in the show adds an authenticity to the vulnerability these characters feel as they take their baby steps into real life.

Lena is also a strong advocate for healthy body affection. Despite her imperfections, she’s not ashamed of her body—and you shouldn’t be, either. I think that’s a message we can all get behind (no pun intended).

2. Strong bonds hold tight.

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Despite the moments of anger, hurt feelings, and disconnect throughout each season, these girls are tight, yo. No matter what, they always end up falling back to each other. Because true friends are like family—honest, sometimes hurtful, oftentimes dysfunctional, but will stand with you when it comes down to it.

3. We are all grossly—but not wholly—flawed.

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Marnie the Control Freak can’t stand best friend Hannah’s self-absorption. Jessa, a free spirit, doesn’t get Marnie’s neuroticism. Hannah, the narcissist, despises Jessa’s tendency to abandon her without thought. And superficial Shoshanna, the youngest, suffers from a naive outlook and extreme social anxiety. Their friendship is constantly tested, broken, and mended. Each character has emotional issues they are dealing with, most of which germinated from their parents’ own dysfunctionality (big surprise, right?). Hannah’s overly doting parents, Marnie’s ‘cool mom’ mother who constantly nags, Jessa’s absent father, Shoshanna’s divorced parents who hate each other: when you meet the parents, it’s an “oohhh” moment that makes you realize that they, like you, are products of their environment.

Despite their long list of flaws, each character has slivers of goodness that grow over the course of the show as they evolve into fully-formed adults. The end of season 4 is where the big revelations happen, and then you finally decide that you don’t hate them, after all. Whew.

4. Not everyone is born with a life’s purpose, and that’s okay.

Growing up is hard. It really is. Perhaps the hardest part is realizing that the days of “I want to grow up to be a ____!” are over, and you still have no idea what that is. There’s a certain romanticism to believing one was put on this earth for a beautiful, meaningful purpose, but I think the reality is that most of us spend a good portion of our better years trying to figure out who we are and what we want.

Uncertain? Yes. Daunting? Yes. Sad? Absolutely not. Just how no two people are exactly alike, no two lives are alike, and it’s important to embrace that. When you stop trying to be great and instead focus on being better, life stops being a chore and becomes a privilege. Most of the time.

5. Grad school is not for everyone.

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When I was fresh out of college with nary an idea of my life’s purpose, my parents pushed the idea of grad school. Oh God, I thought, more school. But I applied anyway—I filled out applications with no personality, sent writing samples that hadn’t been meticulously edited, paid the application fees. One day, during a conversation with my stepdad, he turned to me and said plainly, “You really don’t want to go to grad school, do you?” Stunned, I realized that no, I really didn’t.

It was hard to admit to myself that I had no idea what I wanted and that I was too “lazy” to go through another round of education. It was also hard to admit that I was no longer a child and not only could, but needed to, begin making my own decisions. Despite my parents’ best intentions, they couldn’t read my mind or predict my future. And to be honest, while grad school would have been its own adventure, I kind of like the one I got.

Bottom line: Take control and figure out what you want, your way. It’s your life, it’s now or never. You ain’t gonna live forever.

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Chewy Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies: Not Your Grandma’s Cookies

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I consider oatmeal raisin to be the misunderstood sibling of the cookie tribe. With oatmeal labeled as the official breakfast of health nuts and raisins being a fruit, it seemed inevitable. Who wants to eat healthy cookies? Oatmeal raisin is the option dieters reluctantly consider before succumbing to the more popular chocolate chip or peanut butter. And don’t worry, one cheat cookie ain’t gonna kill ya.

Here’s the misunderstanding: oatmeal raisin cookies AREN’T healthy, and they ARE delicious. My favorite recipe for these treats have converted oatmeal raisin-shamers from all walks of life. Many times have I heard, “Man, I don’t normally like oatmeal raisin cookies, but these are great” as hands reach again for that sweet, sweet, glorious little circle of love (still talking about the cookie). The secret is copious amounts of butter and sugar, generous helpings of spices, and raisins that have been soaked in rum (optional, but greatly encouraged).

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Chewy Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins (optional: soak raisins in dark rum for 2-24 hours beforehand)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Stir in the oats and raisins. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets (I use a large cookie scoop to create more uniform shapes).
  3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until light and golden. Keep an eye on the bottoms of the cookies—do not allow to burn. Let them cool for 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheets to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

 

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“Holiday Hangover…Help!” 5 Ways to Get Over the Slump and Ensure a KA 2016

The holidays are such a tease. They’re absent for ten months, then just tumble into your life like an obnoxious, narcissistic, flakey friend and demand all of your attention. And then disappear again without so much as a goodbye, leaving us to pick up the pieces and put our lives back in order. If there isn’t already a medical term for post-holiday blues, there should be. Here are a few tips to help you fight the feeling of emptiness.

1. Clean up your shiz.

They say that discord of the environment reflects discord of the mind. If you’re feeling a bit antsy in your pantsy, why not do a little pre-spring cleaning? It’ll help to channel out some nervous energy, and you’ll gain some added peace when you rediscover that your place is actually a lot bigger when it’s tidy.

2. Set your goals for 2016. Then cement it with your 2016 personal fight song.

They don’t have to be lofty goals. Anything that sounds doable and that will make your life easier/richer/more exciting is great. One of my 2016 resolutions is to remember to take my vitamins. Not the most thrilling of goals, to be sure, but I’m cool with it because fish oil is really good for you.

Afterwards, decide on your personal song mantra to get you pumped up. (Yes, it can be “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten.) When you lose motivation, play it. If you play it so much that it begins to annoy you, find another fight song. Here are a few options:

“Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor

“We Will Rock You” – Queen

“Dance (A$$)” – Big Sean, feat. Nicki Minaj

“Shake It Off” – Taylor Swift

“Kill V. Maim” – Grimes

“Zero Gravity” – Borgeous, feat. LIGHTS

“I Love It” – Icona Pop, feat. Charli XCX

3. Reflect on 2015.

Introspection is an absolutely necessary step on the road to self-improvement. Remember the good times, the bad times, and the ugly times of 2015. Think about how you acted and reacted, and what you’d like to do differently this year. Remember that time you were on a date and didn’t realize you had spinach between your teeth until afterwards? Or that time you drunk texted your ex? Or how about that time you tried to build the cheap dresser you bought yourself, only to end up supergluing everything together and having it break down a month later? Remember it allllll. What doesn’t kill you makes you more self-aware.

4. Eat some fruits and veggies.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve…they don’t call it holiday weight for nothing. Maybe the reason you’re feeling like crap is because you’ve been eating crap for two months. Try to incorporate some good ol’ grown-from-the-ground goodness. It’ll up your energy levels, reduce your bloating, and make you feel less terrible in general.

5. Do a good deed.

Pay for a random person’s meal at a drive-thru. Help an old lady cross the street. Give your mother flowers “just because”. Forgive a driver who cuts you off. Doing good makes you feel good…er.

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Stay in Summer With Our Watermelon Collar Necklace!

We love watermelon. Watermelon reminds us of summer, and summer reminds us of beach days, booty shorts, and ice cream.

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These watermelon necklaces are made of multicolored tourmalines on delicate 14.5″ or 16″ sterling silver chains. You can find them on our Etsy store for $32. Simple, petite, and adorable, perfect for layering or wearing alone. Handmade by us.

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I Tried This: The PB&P(ickle) Sandwich

When I first heard about this combo, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. Sure, I like peanut butter and I like pickles. But together? It just felt wrong somehow, like a racist who frowns at a black guy and white chick holding hands on the street but can’t completely explain why they find it so distasteful. It is sometimes instinctive to reject that which we do not understand. Not saying it’s right, though, which is why I decided to try it for myself.

Supposedly, peanut butter & pickle sandwiches emerged from the Depression Era (as is the case with most cheap meals); however, asking my grandparents if they’d ever heard of it only procured blank stares and looks of revulsion. Peanut butter and what? Peanut butter and pickles. What? PICKLES. Oh. No, but that sounds just awful.

Most recipes use bread and butter, but a minority swears by dill. Wanting to cover all of my bases, I opted to make one of each.

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There is a method to building this sandwich: in order to keep the pickle from turning one-half of the bread into a soggy, vinegary mess, you must spread a thin layer of peanut butter to both sides, then add one layer of pickle slices on top of the peanut butter.

 

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Bread & butter on the left, nuclear-green dill on the right.

The Verdict

PB&(B&B)P Sandwich: Wow. So not only is this edible, it’s also enjoyable. The bread & butter pickle lends a sweetness that echoes the flavor of the all-American PB&J we know and love. There is a vinegary acidity that, surprisingly, works well with the peanut butter, offsetting its richness. And the two flavors don’t fight each other at all—the PB’s stable, hearty flavor stays decidedly in the background, which gives the pickle room to flamboyantly flounce around on your taste buds for attention.

To describe it another way, imagine Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak (a.k.a. Fred) from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. That’s kind of how it is.

PB&(D)P Sandwich: I’m not sure what those fools were thinking, but I did not get this at all. It wasn’t terrible…but it was a far cry from good. I’d call it averagely adequate—it’s the sandwich you would have made as a poor college student who was hungry, opened the fridge, and made do with whatever was on hand. I got no pleasure from eating this. In fact, I threw the rest away so I could finish the other sandwich.

To describe it another way, it’s kind of like counting rice grains in a jar. Sure, it passes the time, but why would you do it unless you absolutely had to?

Don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself and tell me what you think!

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