Fashion Sense 2014

I love this plaid pencil skirt. The cropped neutral colored knit sweater is a great topper. Casually professional.

This look packs a little more punch. The mannishly- is that a word?! tailored ankle skimming pants are a personal favorite. These pants become very sexy by allowing a full view of those wonderful heels! Again a cropped sweater, this time showing a little glimpse of tummy.
Fabulous looks both from Zara. Photos via Dust Jacket.
Our workplace,  lifestyle and of course our budget dictate the fashion choices that end up in our closets. I have enjoyed the fashion savvy expressed  here by Robyn Dowsett.
She is the owner of  SecondDebut clothing store. Self proclaimed fashion rebel, she says that you should wear what makes you 'most happy and authentic'. In other words, lets not get totally caught up in a particular 'color' that is this seasons favorite just because a celebrity is wearing it. To avoid a 'fashion disaster', wear styles that work for you, in colors that appeal to you. Have some fun your next fashion purchase. Clothing stores that carry previously enjoyed merchandise allow you to explore some new color and style combinations without breaking the bank. In any case, what we are wearing does affect our mood. Today, it's -27 degrees Celsius where I live. That means VERY cold, so... no bare feet in high heels for me or cropped sweaters... I'm wearing my comfy fleece shirt and jeans, sipping coffee to stay warm and dreaming of Spring weather and the fashion that arrives with it!...


Cast Iron Skillet-How To Care For It!

Your cast iron skillet, when cared for properly should last a lifetime or most probably several lifetimes. With one of these pans you can, bake a cake, sear your roast, fry a crispy edged egg, or potatoes, even stir fry your vegetables. Here are just a few simple instructions to help you enjoy this type of cookware.
 Remember to preheat your pan before using. To help you make sure that the temperature is perfect, some water droplets in the pan should sizzle and roll around. If they evaporate immediately on contact with the pan, then your pan is too hot. With some experience, you will get to know the right heat setting for your iron cookware.
After use, let your pan cool, and wash it very briefly with soapy water. Add a small amount of coarse grain salt and then canola oil to the pan. If there is stubborn food residue left in your cookware, return it to the stove top with this mixture over low heat and stir/scrape with with a spatula. I find that simply rubbing this salt/oil mixture against the bottom of the pan with my fingers effectively removes any food bits left in my skillet.
  Then simply flush out the salt/oil mixture with warm water and wipe out the pan with some paper towel. This should leave a very light coating of oil in your pan. Here's a little video via Design Sponge to show just how easy the salt/oil clean up is.
 Never leave water  in your pan in an attempt to remove food residue, as your pan will rust. If  a rust spot happens, scrub that rusty spot with steel wool and re season your pan.
Iron skillets that are properly seasoned and used over appropriate heat are generally as non stick as Teflon pans. If you find that foods are sticking then you are probably cooking with too high of a temperature and/or your pan needs to be re seasoned.
Proper seasoning of your pan is very simple. Apply a light coating of canola oil on your pans' cooking surface either with a small brush or paper towel. Remove any residue with a paper towel. Turn your pan upside down on the middle rack of your oven. Heat the pan in the oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Let the pan cool down and repeat. Usually twice is sufficient to restore the smooth dark surface of a properly seasoned pan. Here is some extra reading on cast iron cookware from Whats' Cooking America.
The image above is courtesy of the folks at Uncrate.
Cooking with cast iron cookware is a unique and enjoyable experience. Once bitten by the bug, you'll want to add a dutch oven or griddle to your collection. Armed with the above information for seasoning and caring for cast iron, don't be afraid to purchase a good vintage piece of cookware even if it has a few rust spots.


Chocolate Pudding Recipe

Chocolate pudding in a cup. The perfect small indulgence to compliment a wonderful meal or a decadent delight to savor on a lazy Sunday afternoon. To make this, are no extravagant ingredients to purchase. The hazelnuts called for are readily available in the 'baking' aisle of your grocery store. They are quite often referred to as filberts. If you have purchased them as whole nuts, you can simply grind them in a spice grinder or blender for this recipe. These easy to make puddings are self saucing by the addition of sugar, cocoa, and some boiling water poured over the top before baking.
 Photo and recipe adapted from Donna Hay.
 If you're intrigued by the simplicity of this recipe and the wonderful taste of chocolate, read on...

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Here's a simplified version of one of my favorite meals. This mac and cheese recipe, inspired by Donna Elick is prepared in about 20 minutes. Make this in an oven worthy skillet as you are putting this dish together on top of the stove and finishing by melting the cheese under your broiler. This means there's only one pot to wash.
 Buy your cheese already grated to save time. Use frozen broccoli for added convenience. Throw in some left over cooked chicken and this can become your main dish for dinner at the end of a crazy busy day. If you're looking for the great taste that home cooked, real food provides, then continue reading this easy recipe after the jump...
Photo courtesy of  Parade.


Spaghetti Recipe

Simple spaghetti sauce. If you love the taste of real food but your hectic schedule leads you all too often to eating fast food for your main meal, here's a clever alternative. How about serving spaghetti for dinner with a sauce made from fresh tomatoes? Don't stop reading...chances are you have some over ripe tomatoes on your counter since you either haven't been eating at home or your dinners of recent have been the "pick up on the way home variety".  If you have 4 to 6 ripe tomatoes, some onion and pasta of your choice, you are about 30 minutes away from this simple flavorful dinner. I know,...I know...since when would you have 6 tomatoes hanging around? I'll share this bit of advice with you.
 The next time that your tomatoes stay on the counter too long, instead of throwing them away, or in the compost, simply core the over ripe tomato and place in the freezer. The next day or later that evening when the tomato has frozen, place the tomato in a freezer bag large enough to hold several tomatoes. When frozen singly in this manner, tomatoes are easy to remove from the bag as needed. Simply rise the tomato under warm water and the skin will slide off. There's a plethora of delicious quick sauces that you can make easily from a peeled tomato. So, don't hesitate to include a couple of tomatoes when you pick up your groceries. If you don't manage to eat them when they're fresh, just know that you are on your way to having ingredients for a great pasta or marinara sauce when you freeze them. Read on after the jump for this one. This recipe was inspired by the folks at 100 days of real food and the photo is courtesy of the Steamy Kitchen.


Brined Pickles Recipe

Salt, water and a little bit of time are all it takes to transform a cucumber into a totally different kind of food. Many store bought varieties of pickle use vinegar to guarantee the sour flavor and act as a preservative. However, using vinegar instead of salt and water actually stops the natural fermentation process. Without fermentation, live bacteria necessary to turn cucumbers into a probiotic food are not there. Also, pickles soaking in vinegar for a long time seem to get overly sour tasting and soft in texture. This recipe was adapted from The Food Network but contrary to their recipe, we opted to not add any spices to the mixture in an effort to taste the effect of brined only cucumber pickles! We couldn't have been more pleased with the result. Wonderful 1/2 sour pickles after 10 days. We have taken them from the crock and placed them in jars in the brine and refrigerated them. A simple adjustment of the water/salt ratio should allow you to make up a single large jar quantity to try this. Keep reading after the jump for the simple instructions. Photo Courtesy"Marks Daily Apple