Classic Pumpkin Muffins

If there is one thing I always have on hand around the holidays is pureed pumpkin. So on New Years Day, when everyone else is nursing hangovers & kickstarting new diets, I opted to make some classic pumpkin muffins.

Pumpkin Muffins

My husband hates cream cheese anything (frosting included *GASP!*), so I use the most basic of recipes, but sprinkle a cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the muffins for a yummy sweet crunch. I made Pumpkin Bread for Thanksgiving and Q (then 11 months old) LOVED it. I decided to give him a couple of bites of the muffin, and again this kid went gaga for it, which is funny because he wasn’t too enthralled with his birthday cake. In short, this recipe is kid and hubby approved!

Pumpkin MuffinsINGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place 12 liners in muffin pan.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, & pumpkin pie spice in small bowl.
Beat pumpkin, sugar, oil, and eggs together. Add dry ingredients–stirring until just combined (be careful not to over mix)
Fill liners about 3/4 full.
Stir cinnamon & sugar together for your topping.
Sprinkle the mixture over each muffin.
Place in oven, bake for 25-30 minutes (or until toothpick comes clean).
Cool on wire rack.
Enjoy!

Pumpkin Muffins Cooling

 

Urban Decay Naked3 Palette Review & Swatches

Urban Decay Naked3 Palette

Urban Decay’s Naked and Naked Basic palette have been essential to my beauty routine in 2013. This past year I have simplified my routine greatly, but thanks to these two palettes I can create really beautiful neutral looks without dragging out every shadow in my train case. In the past, I have been very skeptical of UD’s new palettes because of their tendency to repeat shades. I completely skipped UD’s Naked 2 palette, because I simply had no need for it, but when I saw that Urban Decay was releasing a palette of 12 completely new rose/pink shades I was intrigued.

Now, I know plenty of people who steer clear of pink shadows, but I for one have always loved a touch of pink eyeshadow. My Fresco Rose paint pot has long been a favorite, and lately I have really been drawn to rose gold, so I thought I would use my Sephora VIB discount to get this palette. The palette features 12 shadows in shades of pink, mauve, rose, and brown, and retails for $52.

The shadows are packaged in a “tin” palette much like that of the Naked 2 palette, and have a “ruffled” appearance to the outer tin. I am typically drawn to smooth and sleek palettes (along the lines of Nars, Bobbi Brown, & even UD’s own Naked Basics case), so I wasn’t wowed by the packaging. Also, unlike the original Naked palette, the Naked3 palette comes with a sample pack of UD primer variations. The palette, does come with a dual ended eye brush. I tested the brush a couple of times, and I was pleased with its initial performance.

Urban Decay Naked3 Palette Packaging

Urban Decay Naked3 Shadows

Strange (pale neutral pink matte-satin)
Dust (pale metallic pink shimmer w/iridescent micro-glitter)
Burnout (light pinky-peach satin)
Limit (light dusty rose matte)
Buzz (metallic rose shimmer w/silver micro-glitter)
Trick (light metallic pinky-copper shimmer w/tonal micro-sparkle)
Nooner (medium pinky-brown matte)

Urban Decay Naked3 Shadows

Liar (medium metallic mauve shimmer)
Factory (pinky-brown satin)
Mugshot (metallic taupe shimmer w/slight pink shift)
Darkside (deep taupe-mauve satin)
Blackheart (smoky black matte w/rosy red micro-sparkle).

Below, you will find swatches on my pale mid-winter skin: 

Urban Decay Naked3 Swatches (Fair Skin)

As you can see, Strange matches my skin tone exactly! It completely blends in, but I expect in the summer this will look really lovely as a soft highlight on me. Now, it is sort of a waste.  Dust I found to be very glitter-y and a bit hard to work with. When used with a bit of M.A.C. Fix + it looked quite pretty. That said, I don’t exactly have time for fussy eyeshadow, so I will probably skip this shade on most days. Trick & Buzz have glitter, but wore much better, and had a higher color pay-off on me. I did experience a bit of fall-out with both, but found the colors to be very pretty. Trick seems to be the most similar to previous UD shades–think a rose gold version of UD’s Chopper. Buzz was unlike anything I own, so I was especially drawn to this shade.

Burnout is a gorgeous light pink/peach shade that goes on so smooth and blends really well. I think this shade really compliments my fair skin tone.  Limit and Nooner are matte shades that went on very smoothly and were very blendable. I can see myself incorporating these into looks quite a bit. Definitely good “basics” to have on hand.

Mugshot & Liar while both beautiful shades, though not exact, are similar to other UD shades. I found Liar to be extremely close to UD’s Toasted (from Naked 1).

I found Factory to be a stunning shimmering brown shade, and expect this one will be in my rotation quite a lot.  I LOVE Blackheart as a shader and Darkside reminds me of an old MAC shadow, “Moth Brown”, that I was obsessed with.

Overall, I think this is one of Urban Decays finer palettes, offering a good range for a variety of skin-tones even for those of us who are ultra- fair.  Urban Decay’s Naked3 Palette can be purchased for $52 at Urban Decay, Sephora, or Ulta.

New Year’s Eve Look

If there is one thing I love it is an excuse to dress up (bonus points if the occasion involves champagne!). My favorite way to ring in the New Year is at a house party with my closest family and friends. Tonight I am planning on making some cranberry ginger champagne cocktails! Whatever your plans are this evening, this the perfect outfit to wear while ringing in the New Year!
New Years Look

Lace in this color is so much better than the standard LBD. Also, New Year’s Eve is always cold (hello, I saw SNOW falling from the sky in NYC today), so long sleeves and black tights will keep you warm waiting 2 hours for a cab while still looking fabulous. Take the look to the next level by wearing your hair in a low chignon or with glam Hollywood starlet waves (think Sienna Miller red carpet circa 2009).

Diane von Furstenburg ‘Zarita’ Lace Sheath Dress in Brazen Plum $325 @ Nordstrom
Charles by Charles David ‘Pact’ Pump in gold metallic $66.29 @ Nordstrom
Sillage Turn-Lock Clutch $198 @ Anthropologie
Crystal Zodiac Bracelet $36 @ Bauble Bar
butter LONDON ‘West End Wonderland’ Nail Lacquer $15 @ Nordstrom
Deborah Lippmann ‘Harem Silks From Bombay’ Nail Color $19 @ Nordstrom

 

Happy New Year dolls! See you in 2014!

Chocolate Covered Oranges

Craving something sweet, but don’t wish to steer to far away from your post holiday diet? This sunny spin on the chocolate covered strawberry will satisfy your sweet tooth without forcing you to do a burn out session on the treadmill.

Chocolate Covered Oranges Steps

 

When offered a tray of Florida oranges this weekend I accepted but quickly realized I had far far too many than I knew what to do with. I decided the oranges didn’t need to be relegated to our breakfast routine. Instead, I opted to slice & peel the oranges and dip sections into chocolate for a delicious after dinner snack.

Chocolate Covered Oranges:
Ingredients:
3-5 Oranges (I used 5) -sliced, peeled, sectioned and patted dry (patting them dry is important because it will help prevent your chocolate from seizing in the dipping process)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips)

Instructions:
Once you have your oranges prepared, it is time to melt the chocolate. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or by microwaving in a microwave safe bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes (or until completely melted).

Dip each orange section into the melted chocolate until about half covered.

Place on parchment or wax paper covered cookie sheet. Add sprinkles or nuts if you like at this point.

Once you have all the oranges placed on the cookie sheet, allow the chocolate to set by placing in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Covered Oranges

Homemade English Toffee

Homemade English Toffee

I have always had a love of baking, but this past year I have been making every effort to try new things in my kitchen. Because my husband isn’t big on “sweets” but LOVES toffee (Remember my coffee toffee cupakes?) I decided to try my hand at making english toffee. I used Paula Deen’s English Toffee recipe, but instead of putting the pecans IN the toffee, I sprinkled them on top. The end result is a gorgeous and delicious treat. I am NEVER buying toffee again! Next holiday season I will be gifting tins of this stuff (you are welcome!)

INGREDIENTS:
1 stick + 6 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dash of salt
1 (6 ounce) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:
Generously butter a cookie sheet (Give it a twice over-it will make your life easier).

Combine butter, sugar, and water in a heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add a dash of salt. Remove spoon from pan and cook until a candy thermometer (I use this one here) reads 300 degrees F. Stir in vanilla. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet.

Homemade English Toffee How To Steps

I typically move the cookie sheet around slightly to get the toffee to spread evenly aiming for a 1/4 inch thickness. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Spread melted chocolate on slightly cooled toffee. Sprinkle with chopped nuts (I used pecans, but almonds would be amazing!). Allow toffee to cool completely. Once cooled, break toffee into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

 

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