Halloween Nails!

You got to love the holiday! I do! That’s why I always go all out for some excellent Halloween decorations both in my apartment and of course, the nail! I’ve been doing Halloween nail themes for the past few years and every year I try to do a similar theme, but change it up slightly. There are so many options for this holiday, it’s usually difficult to choose where to focus, so instead of choosing, I do them all! haha

Clearly, I am not ambidextrous so I try to do the more complicated themes on my left hand (Frankenstein, eye ball, mummy etc.) and on my right I tend to do easier designs.

Left Hand: Eye ball, Spiderweb, Frankenstein, Mummy, and Jack-O-Lantern

Right Hand: Spooky eyes, Candy Corn, Spider, Dripping Blood, and Moonlit Night

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Right Hand

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Left Hand

Eye Ball: Paint your entire nail white. Let dry, then take a dotting tool and place a large dot in the middle of the nail (choosing a natural eye color; I chose blue to make the white and red pop). Allow to dry and while drying take a red and draw in little squiggly lines from the cuticle toward the blue. Place a smaller white dot in the blue so that the black dot shows.

Spider Web:¬†Paint your entire nail a solid color, but one that shows well with a gray or silver on top. I love purple so that’s why I chose it. Then take a striping brush and start in one corner of the nail (bottom left or right) and draw out diagonal lines with gray or silver. Then take a small brush and draw connecting lines to each diagonal that are perpendicular to the diagonal. These lines should be straight but also form a half circle.

Frankenstein: Paint your whole nail a lime green flat color. Take a medium dotting tool and use black to form curly hair at the cuticle line. I then used a Sally Hansen black nail pen to do the fine detailing. Make eyes and nose. For the mouth I drew a straight line then placed hash marks on it to represent a sewed mouth.

Mummy: Paint your whole nail a light gray. Then with a striping brush, make arbitrary diagonals all over the nail to signify the wrappings of a mummy. Place a horizontal thick black line 1/3 up the nail from the cuticle. Place two white dots on this line for the eyes.

Jack-O-Lantern: Paint the entire nail a bright orange. Take Sally Hansen’s black nail pen and go in with triangle eyes and nose. For the mouth, make it as happy or fun as you want. I aimed for a traditional Jack-O-Lantern face for mine.

Spooky Eyes: The aim here is to make it look like there are eyes in the dark. So paint your nails a dark color (midnight blue, dark purple, even black) and then go in with a dotting tool with different, vibrant colors and dot in eyes. Some people can make cool expressions with the eyes. Seeing that this was my right hand, I couldn’t. ūüė¶

Candy Corn: Paint 1/3 of your nail yellow, the next 1/3 orange, and the last 1/3 white. It’s best if you let the shades dry before you proceed to next color. Then go back in with a darker shade and outline the shape of the candy corn. This is the first year I did this, usually I just leave my nail the 3 colors. It looks really cool, but because when you start going over bright colors with a dark one. You can’t edit beyond this point!

Spider: For the base color(s) I painted my nail a gray and once that dried went back over with a shimmery purple to give a shine but some color for the spider to stand out. Then I took a dotting tool and made a large black dot in the center of the nail and from there I used Black Nail pen (Sally Hansen) to draw in 8 legs. Lastly, put in two little white dots for eyes.

Bloody Nail: I started with a flesh tone as the base (having to do multiple layers of this). Then I took a solid red and a dotting tool and made 3 dots at varying heights on the nail. I connected these dots to the tip of the nail and filled in the nail tip area with red.

Moonlit night: The base is a deep purple for this, and then I took a dotting tool and went back with a vibrant yellow (opaque yellow works the best). The top coat for this nail to give it the sparkle is a glow in the dark polish from Julep. It really does work and looks really cool, but you must shine a light on the nails beforehand in order to get the glowing.

 

I hope you all enjoyed, this was quite a bit of work to do, but oh so fun! Let me know if you have questions, comments, or suggestions as to how to do any other design!

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The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Being a fan of historical fiction, when¬†The Red Tent¬†was published I was driven to read it and potentially learn something about the characters of the Bible in BC-era. Biblical historical fiction is a challenging undertaking for any author, in my personal experience, mainly because very little is known about that era. Stories were passed down orally, and any information about people have been warped over time. This is especially true for females during this period of time, due to the importance of males and history relying only upon males and their deeds (even though there wouldn’t be males without females, let’s be honest here).

The Red Tent is a biography of the female Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob in the Old Testament. The first part of the novel begins of how Jacob came to be known to his wives. Yes, you read that correctly, Diamant says that Jacob took four sisters as his wives. Jacob is well-known in Biblical history for he was one of the founders of the Israelites. He had a dozen sons, yet he also had daughters, one of which was Dinah. Dinah is mentioned briefly in the Bible in Genesis 34: “Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her.” Diamant took this brief mentioning and the stories that surround Dinah and produced a biography (some consider an autobiography) of Dinah and her life.

The most epic story of Dinah’s life is how she met her husband and what befell the family of Jacob following that. Legend says (as well as Diaman’ts novel) that Dinah fell in love with Shecham, son of Hamor, and Hamor in turn asked Jacob for a bride-price for Dinah. Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, did not believe Hamor’s bride-price was the best so they secretly came into the palace one night and killed Hamor and Shecham and stole Dinah away. After that, the house of Jacob was forever shamed. From what I could gather from my readings other than Diamant’s novel, is that there is a lot of history that is foretold in this story concerning Dinah’s two brothers. Moreover, what happens after the brothers kill Hamor and Shechem is up for debate. I believe Diamant takes the higher road and allows Dinah to move on and meet another man who treats her well and lives a fulfilling life, even returning to her father Jacob and forgiving him for his sons’ deeds.

Clearly, the life of Dinah is up for debate and will probably never been truly known, unfortunately. Diamant paints a vivid picture of the life and happenings of people back in those days, especially concerning women and how they interacted. I found this portion of the novel fascinating. The meals that were prepared, how the women all had to escape into a red tent when their periods came (hence the novel title), as well as midwifery (Dinah’s supposed gift). I’ve never before read a novel concerning this portion of time, and I have watched a few documentaries about Biblical characters, but most after the birth of Christ, not way before. This story and the characters definitely shed some light on Judaism, the Old Testament, and even some of the current day struggles of Israel.

Even though I will have to say I learned a lot from this novel, I was not the biggest fan. It took me a great chunk of time to read, mainly because the beginning was really slow. Diamant really took her time to develop Jacob’s wives and their characteristics and personalities, but when it came to big life events of the main character, Dinah, it was as if Diamant rushed through to get to the next chapter of the book. The novel flows in chunks of years to days. One page can be the development of a few years, another is the development of one day, but there really is no rhyme or reason. Honestly, the part where Simeon and Levi kill every one I had to reread, because all of a sudden Diamant says how each of Jacob’s wives dies in turmoil and remorse. Literally, my thought process was: “Wait, what did I miss out on?” Dinah says she’s dead, then she’s not, then she is, then she feels dead but is alive. It was like literary whiplash; that’s my largest complaint.

In the end, I’m not surprised that something on my list of books that are NOT classics is filled with ones that I end up learning something about but not liking. It tends to be those novels in which I’m forced to read that I end up thinking “now I know why they are on this list!” and those that I hear great things about I consider “seriously, this did not deserve that much hype.” Oh well, at least I learned something historical and religious. That’s all I can really say, right?

The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport

The Russian Revolution in the 20th Century occurred in an incredibly tumultuous time for the entire world. In comparison, and considering that I took American History while in high school, the Russian Revolution was so much more bloody, destructive, and for lack of a better word scary than the American Revolution. The amount of people who were killed because of their political alliances, and “thought of” political alliances is saddening to say the least. But, it was the destruction of an entire family that really is the most devastating during this time.

I have been a big fan of learning all I can of the last Tsar and his family for a while now. I either own or read many of the biographies that have been published on their time ruling over the Russian Empire and how that came to end and they were martyred. Recently, in September 2014, Helen Rappaport published a new biography entitled The Romanov Sisters, emphasizing the four Romanov daughters: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia and their lives as daughters of the Emperor. Thus far, there has not been a nonfiction that specifically details the daughters personalities, how they spent their time growing up, or any specifics; most novels actually focus on the love between Alexandra and Nicholas and how they fell as Emperor and Empress of the Russian Empire. Needless to say, when this book was finally released, I just had to pick it up.

Rappaport does a fantastic job throughout the novel of incorporating  paragraph-long excerpts from the diaries of the Romanovs and their friends and servants. This incorporation was annoying at first, but really drove home the point that what Rappaport was discussing was actually stated by individuals who knew the Romanov sisters on a personal level. Moreover, I really enjoyed Rappaports level of detail throughout the work. She really focused on the personal lives of the Romanov family and I learned a substantial amount of information on such insignificant daily occurrences such as: the sisters tutors and what their day was usually made up of (i.e. tutoring, tea time, exercise, reading, sewing). Lastly, no such book has ever gone into detail of the personalities of the girls. Tatiana was very much like Alexandra, whereas Olga was the quiet one who kept to herself and was at times a bit depressing. Alternatively, Anastasia was crazy. Always laughing, always making others smile, and in considering that towards the end of all of their lives, they were in a place where they needed to laugh and smile, she was definitely a Godsend.

Two things I learned from the novel, other than the varying personalities of the sisters was the amount of time they spent nursing soldiers in their hospitals and their interactions with others (which is a vague statement, but you will understand). When Russia went to war in the mid-1910s, Russia saw a massive influx of Russian troops coming back from the battles injured. Alexandra was a huge proponent in establishing hospitals and aiding the recuperation of army members. What I didn’t know before reading this novel, was that all the girls aided their mother in the hospitals, and learned a substantial amount about nursing, caring for invalids, and the like. I never knew that the girls were that active in the hospitals and caring for soldiers, which really surprised me for royal children to get their hands that dirty in the care of individuals. Another piece of information that I did not know until reading this piece was the girls interactions with individuals “below their station.” When the sisters were young, the entire royal family would go to Crimea and take the Shtandart (a yacht) for the summer. On this yacht, the sisters interacted with all of the soldiers that were stationed to protect their father, and the whole family for that matter, and the girls showed their personalities with the soldiers. Moreover, as the sisters grew up, they were allowed to interact with individuals and continue to act and play as if they were young children. It’s incredibly interesting to me that as teenagers their parents would allow the level of interaction between young women and older soldiers, as well as perpetuate the girls not growing up. Rappaport presents an immense amount of evidence that the girls continued to act like children even as they grew up, as if Alexandra and Nicholas were both in denial that their daughters were not children but turning into budding adults. It’s almost as if A&N thought that they could keep their family close-knit for as long as possible if the daughters were not allowed to grow up. Something that history will never know though.

Now, for as much as I have learned from reading this novel (and this is not a con, but be warned, it took me a long time to finish because it is a tedious read), there were some things in which I was not a huge fan of. For how long this book is, there was an immense amount of focus not on the sisters, but actually Alexandra herself, her physical battles, her mental battles, and how she was as a mother. The title of the book however is¬†The Romanov Sisters not the¬†Romanov Daughters of Alexandra. I understand that a lot of how the sisters were raised was heavily dependent on their mother, but it’s almost as if Rappaport really painted Alexandra to be a down on her luck human being and wanted it conveyed to the reader that they should be sorry for her. I did, but I was a bit angry because I have read biographies of Alexandra, in which the focus was on her health (both mental and physical) so I knew already of the trouble that occupied her life, but I wanted to learn more of the daughters. Another major con of this work would also have to be the glazing over of important pieces of information. The most glaring would have to be the end of the family and how they reached their demise. I read an entire book that chronicled the last days of the Romanovs in Ekaterinburg. A lot happened between the time that the family moved there to when they were martyred, and Rappaport gives 6 pages to this time. More importantly there was half of a paragraph on how they were killed, and actually Rappaport just says they went in a single file line down to the basement and never actually says they were shot, by who, or how the orders were conveyed, nor does she go into what happens to their bodies and where they were buried. The end of the Romanovs is one of the most critical pieces of information out there, and to just blatantly glaze over it or not even say anything about it was incredibly disheartening. Rappaport pays more attention to love notes than this, which is, quite frankly, a bit sickening. Honestly, the sisters had nothing to do with the Revolution, and probably would never have fought for their seats as Empresses of Russia if they were to escape so their deaths were in cold blood and they were the true martyrs. This is a theme that I think Rappaport really missed, or didn’t even want to drive home, in that the sisters were innocent individuals who were killed because of their parents and what they did, and not who they were. Unfortunately, this negated most of the details that I didn’t know about the sisters and left me a bit angry towards the end of the work.

Regardless of the details that Rappaport leaves out of this work, I learned an immense amount of information about the sisters, who they were, and how they grew up to be the daughters of royalty. I hope I can one day go see their final resting place and pay my respects. They would have been great individuals, good people that the world needed in the dark times that were coming. It’s almost a good thing that they never saw the disaster that befell Russia following their deaths, but the world will never know. Rest in peace OTMA.

Turkey Florentine Meatloaf

I bought three pounds of turkey to make both this dish and my curry shepards pie. As you have probably perceived through my posts, I am not a big meat person. However, I rather enjoy turkey; it’s lean yet tasty and cooks easily. I have also not made a meatloaf ever in my life, so I thought “what the heck?” lets try this! But, of course being myself, and not being able to just cook a meat loaf I decided to add a little bit of something extra: cheese and spinach. This has morphed this meaty recipe into a florentine recipe, hence the name. The spinach went deliciously well with the tomato-infused turkey, cooks easily, and doesn’t dry out like some beef meatloaves do. I hope you enjoy!!

Ingredients: 2 eggs, 1.5 pounds of turkey, Italian bread crumbs, mozzarella cheese, pack of frozen spinach, 1/2 onion, pasta sauce

Directions:

1. Mix the turkey, eggs, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, and 1/2 onion in a bowl. Set in fridge, until you are finished with the spinach.

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2. Thaw your spinach and drain. Mix 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and spinach together.

3. Place 1/3 of turkey mix in greased oven dish. Place spinach on top of that turkey mix. Layer the rest of the turkey mix on top of that, sort of like a loaf of bread.

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Covered with meat

4. Cook in 375 degree oven for 45 min. Place 1 cup of pasta sauce on top of meat and cook an additional 15 min.

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5. Cute full pieces for a beautiful presentation!

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Rabbit Gluten Free Muffin Mix with Raisins

This blog is devoted to made from scratch recipes that do not come from a box. Even though at times I use frozen veggies, I try to use fresh items to cook my main meals. In saying that, I do have a sweet tooth and one of my favorite things to cook are pastries. Oh muffins, scones, cookies, cakes, oh my!!

Another fun fact is that I am obsessed with rabbits. I own shirts and necklaces of rabbits, have two pet buns, and occupy a lot of my time oogling over cute bunny pics on facebook. Yep, one of those. Now, my family knows this and so a while ago my aunt sent me this recipe mix. You can tell by the packaging it would be a hit.

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Anyway, I finally got the chance to make the muffins and I put raisins in the mix to cook. They are gluten free, which worried me and was part of why I didn’t cook them ASAP, and cooked really oddly. They didn’t brown like traditional muffins, yet were clearly cooked all the way through.

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If you ever stumble across this brand, try it out! The muffins were moist, they would otherwise be a bit land if only muffins, but the raisins added a whole different dimension.

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Painted Haunted House

Finding things to do that are relaxing and take your mind off of the realities of life should be top priority for all. One of my relaxing things to do is paint pottery and ceramic. Either going to a pottery place and selecting a piece, painting it, then getting it glazed or buy a piece at a Michaels and painting at home are some of my most favorite things to do in the world.

Now, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I enjoy decorating, all of the characters and haunted houses. Oh my goodness, haunted houses are great! So, when I rented a car a few weeks ago I took it to Michaels and bought a ceramic mini haunted house that lights up. The best part of painting something from a blank canvas is you can choose your colors and the color palette you want.

The suggested colors for the house had a lot of blacks and browns, and while that is truly a haunted house, I wanted to do something not so realistic but fun. So I threw the rainbow at it. Kind of literally for this house has lime green, red, yellow, gray, and of course, my favorite, purple. It turned out pretty good (and if you disagree with that decision, keep it to yourself).

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I currently have it on my end table. It came with a tea light electronic candle and is just so cute at night all lit up! I would highly reccommend painting one!

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Sweet Potato Curry Shepard Pie

Sounds gross, right?! Well, lets just be clear. This was so amazingly tasty! And a great introduction to fall delicious food, but with an ethnic slant. Ever since I moved away from home and now living on my own, I have been cooking more and more often with Curry and Garam Masala. These flavors, with all the others that are similar, are so aromatic and delicious to all the foods that I love. During winter, I enjoy cooking a lot with my crockpot, and lets just say one of the best meals is a curry stew cooked for hours in a crockpot. YUM!!!

Not only is curry among my many favorites, I love this time of year because of the sweet potatoes and yams that are all over the grocery stores! To bake one, cut it in half, and just eat the insides, then eat the skin…Oh, my goodness. Nothing on Earth has tasted that sweet! It’s like eating dessert for dinner. For this recipe, the top is a light whipped sweet potato and the inside of the shepard pie is a mix of ground turkey and root veggies. Surprisingly, the ingredients and directions will seem extremely labor intensive, but it’s really not. Especially once you pile a large portion onto your plate, you won’t even bat an eye lash at the time and sweat it took to make this dish.

Ingredients: 1.5 pounds ground turkey, 1 pound baby red potatoes, curry powder, can of chicken broth, white flour, pound of carrots, bag of frozen peas, fat free milk, butter, 3 large sweet potatoes, 1/2 onion

Directions:

1. In a skillet, heat a bit of oil and cook the turkey until it is not pink. Then, add 1 tbsp of curry and 1/3 cup of flour into turkey. Cook until well-combined (~2 min). Meanwhile, coat the inside of a pyrex dish.

2. Add can of chicken broth to the turkey and cook until it’s boiling. Place that mix in the pyrex dish, wipe clean and add a bit more oil.

3. Cook onion until its soft and brown. Then add peas and carrots to the skillet. Cover and cook until carrots are soft.

4. In a medium saucepan, place potatoes in water and boil. Poke with fork until soft. Remove from water and let dry then cut into quarters and place in pyrex dish with turkey mix.

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5. Microwave the sweet potatoes until soft to poke with a fork. Then cut in half and let cool (they will be REALLY hot!). Once cooler, remove from skin. and mash. Add 1/2 cup of milk and 1 tbsp of butter and combine well. Place this mix on top of the turkey and veggies.

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6. Heat oven to 375 and cook for 45 minutes or until the top of the potatoes are brown. Serve and enjoy!!

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