Crafts & How-Tos

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The vacation posts continue! If you’re already over it, never you worry — this is the last one.

The title of this post should technically be “How to: Spend 12 hours in an airport (without losing your mind), but that seemed like kind of a long title for a blog post. Anywho.

As I mentioned in Wednesday’s post, our return flight included a 12-hour layover in the Moscow airport. I’m not sure what it is about me, international flights, and ridiculously long layovers, but apparently it’s my thing. And when you throw a little Russian into the mix, things only get more interesting.

All I can say is that the flights we booked were about $400 cheaper than everything else we looked at. Yes, we were aware of the long layover when we booked, but at the time we thought we could maybe turn it into a day-trip into Moscow. Fast-forward a few months later when we realized that you need a visa to enter and exit the city, a tedious (and kind of expensive) process we ultimately decided to skip.

What that meant is that we were now faced with an almost half-day stay in the airport. Clearly, something would need to be done.

Fortunately, my bizarre life is your gain! Here are my four tips for surviving a (really) long layover.

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1. Master the art of sleeping in an airport.
Airports are a notoriously difficult place to catch some shut-eye. It doesn’t help that pretty much every single bench has immovable metal arm rests between the seats, making it impossible to stretch out comfortably. We actually saw one family who had brought some sort of fold-up air mattress to counteract this — effective, but possibly overkill. And there was no way I could fit something like that in my carry-on.

Since we had arrived at the airport around 3 a.m., we started by grabbing a bit of breakfast and surveying the lay of the land. In our quick lap around the airport, Diana and I determined the two best techniques for sleeping on an airport bench. The first is the Upright Fetal Position, demonstrated by me above. You need two seats and a pillow. The second is the Origami Technique. We actually stole this idea from a few other passengers. It helps if you have three seats. All you have to do is hinge your body around the first arm rest and slide your feet through the second. It also helps to put your bag between your knees so there’s less pressure on your hip. We both slept for about four hours with these techniques. (Joey genteelly guarded us and then slept at a table later.)

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2. Spend a thousand dollars on snacks.
Obviously I’m kidding. The above receipt is in rubles. But now is definitely the time to treat yourself a bit. Spring for the large bottle of water (international flights are drying, yo), get a few snacks, and try to pretend like this is still part of your vacation.

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3. Eat real food.
Airport sushi might sound a little suspect, but stick with me on this one. Airplane food is never going to be anything to write home about, so you have to take advantage of real restaurants in the airport before you go. Eating something besides prepacked nuts and candy will help you feel like a human being — even if you’ve been in a terminal for over six hours. The Moscow airport has an actual sushi restaurant, so we made use of that before boarding.

4. Wash your face.
It sounds simple, but the face wipes that Diana packed were practically a Godsend. Napping on an off combined with dry airplanes turns my face into an oil slick, and it’s hard to feel comfortable if you feel gross. Pack face wash and a toothbrush and toothpaste and make good use of them both off and on the plane.

At the end of the day, the time we spent in the airport wasn’t that bad. We landed tired, but not feeling like total zombies. Hopefully these tips can help some of you get through any heinous layovers you have in your future.

Anyone else have tips I forgot?

You guys know my friend Diana, right? (Of Burpee Thursday and Philly Half and Avocado Toast fame?)

So you know that she’s an animal when it comes to working out and has great taste in appetizers. Well, one thing you might not know is that she’s allergic to gluten. (For realsies, not just because it’s trendy.) And while I am not and am, in fact, pro-gluten in most cases, being friends with Diana has made me much more gluten-aware.

It has also exposed me to a whole new way of cooking. Because on top of being super fit and having great hair, Di can also cook like a boss.

One thing I’ve grown especially fond of? Her gluten-free dark chocolate chip scones.

Her recipe is (gently) adapted from the Chocolate Chip Scone recipe in The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. Last night, I finally tried making them myself.

The problem was, I couldn’t find almond flour. I went to two different stores and they were both out. So I substituted quinoa flour, which meant changing a few other things in the recipe. (Side note: Experimentation in baking is HARD. This is why I never bake.) I’ve included both variations below.

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Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Scones

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 large eggs
1 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine the almond flour, salt, and baking soda. In a second bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave nectar, and eggs. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined, then fold in the chocolate.

3. Form the scones (about 1/2 cup batter each) and place on baking sheet 2 inches apart. You could make the scones smaller, but you’ll probably just end up eating two anyway.

4. Bake for 12 to 17 minutes, until golden brown or a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Let the scones cool before serving.

Quinoa Flour Chocolate Chip Scones

Ingredients:
3 cups quinoa flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/3 cup agave nectar
3 large eggs, 1 egg white
1 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate

Preparation instructions are the same as above, but heat the oven to 350°F and bake about 15-20 minutes until golden brown or a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean.

If I’m totally honest, I prefer the almond flour version. The quinoa flour tastes a bit like, well, quinoa. It’s still good and ridiculously hearty, but a bit rice-ier. Both options are incredibly satisfying, though, especially because the dark chocolate makes you feel like you’re eating a cookie. You could also add a tablespoon of flax for some extra fiber, dried cranberries or cherries for tartness, or chopped nuts for a crunchier texture.

Enjoy!

I knew training for a marathon was going to be time-consuming, but I’ve still been surprised how little free time I’ve had over the last month.

This is my public service announcement to my friends: If you only see me once (or less) between now and April, I still love you. I’m just running somewhere. Your best chance to see me is signing up for a cross-training class with me. (Seriously, get a Classtivity pass and we’ll book something together. We can do something not-exercise-related afterwards, I promise.)

Anyway. Another side effect? Running so much has the training hungers kicked into high gear (running torches calories, yo). And running for hours has me especially craving comfort food. But rather than simply consuming all the calories I’ve spent time burning, I like to find options that taste decadent but are still healthy.

Something I can’t get enough of lately? My friend Diana‘s Truffle Avocado & Ricotta Toast recipe.

Diana invented this recipe a few weeks ago, and it’s one of those things that sounds good, but when you actually bite into it: magic. She also gave permission for me to feature it here. (Because she’s just that good of a friend.)(And probably because she doesn’t have her own blog.) The point is, this is a great (healthy) option that still provides that comfort food punch because of the cheese and avocado — exactly what I’ve been needing lately.

Here’s what to do:

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Truffle Avocado & Ricotta Toast

Ingredients:
1-2 slices of whole wheat toast (or gluten-free bread, if you’re Diana)
1-2 T white truffle oil
3-4 T ricotta cheese
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
sea salt or flavored salt (Diana uses Lawry’s seasoned salt) to taste

Ingredients
1. Toast the bread.
2. Drizzle bread with truffle oil.
3. Top with ricotta cheese.
4. Add slices of avocado.
5. Salt to taste. Enjoy!

 

 

I’ve mentioned a few times how, ever since I started working in the city again, Joey has taken on a lot of the cooking.

It’s great for me because I’m usually exhausted at the end of the day, great for him because he actually really enjoys it, and great for us because it saves money and we don’t have to wait until 10 o’clock at night to eat.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen a few examples of me braggingsharing the things Joey has made, and because my Kitchen Adventures have become few and far between, I thought it could be fun to start sharing his recipes on the blog.

I’m accepting recommendations for what we should call this segment. So far, all I’ve got is “Joe on the Range.” (Yup, this from a girl in marketing. Sigh.)

We’re kicking off with Joey’s Cinnamon Crunch Toast Waffles, the perfect choice for a day-off breakfast.

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Stop drooling.

When we found out we both had the same day off of work, I requested a lazy-day brunch of waffles. Joey set to work. Here’s how to make ’em.

CINNAMON CRUNCH TOAST WAFFLES

Ingredients
2 cups pancake mix (Joey used Aunt Jemima)
1 cup water
1/2 cup egg nog
2 t brown sugar
1 T cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 c crushed graham crackers
1 banana, sliced
Maple syrup

Instructions
1. Turn on waffle iron. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
2. Combine pancake mix, water, egg nog, brown sugar, and 1 T cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.
3. Once waffle iron is hot, pour half cup of batter mixture and cook waffle to desired crispness.
4. Plate cooked waffle and sprinkle with crushed graham crackers and cinnamon. Top with banana slices and maple syrup if desired.
5. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite lazy-day breakfast recipe?

Similar to my annual sum-uppance, I also like to share a round-up of the top ten most-read posts of the year every December. (Last year’s winners here.) It’s usually fairly amusing — I mean, without this list, we would never have known how much people like reading about narwhals, right?

Let’s do this.

10. How to: Baby Gender Reveal Party
I loved writing this post almost as much as I loved planning my friend Megan’s baby gender reveal party, and apparently my readers have enjoyed it as well. You’ll also be happy to know that Bill and Megan had a healthy, adorable little boy that we all adore.

9. How to: Throw a Mad Men Party
So apparently I need to plan more parties? Our houseapartment-warming party was one of th most successful party I’ve ever thrown. I themed it (because I’m me), and the results were pretty fab. This post shared what I cooked, what we wore, and how I decorated.

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8. Get Your StitchFixMy post from the first time I used the service. In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote a follow-up about my other experiences with the company here. I actually did find something in the subsequent fix that I liked, which I have completely forgotten to blog about. But they made things up to me.

7. What Guys Should Wear for Pictures
Listen, dudes. I’m looking out for you. This will hopefully be helpful for any newly engaged folks out there.

6. How to: Nutella Hot Chocolate
Another repeat from last year. You just can’t argue with Nutella.

5. How to: Plan a Bachelorette Party in Chicago
I still think this is one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever written — and one of the best parties I’ve ever planned. I stand behind all of my recommendations, and people who attended have told me that people forward them this blog post when they come across it while Google-searching bachelorette party ideas. That’s some good SEO right there.

4. How to: Create “Disney Princess” Curls
I often joke now that my target audience is little girls between the ages of one and seven because of my cartoonishly large eyes and long blonde hair. But turns out that little joke was a great way to drum up some blog traffic. Go forth and learn how to curl your hair.

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3. So…this happened.
So…this one is weird. I mean, the post is funny. It was a funny thing that happened to me. But this post NEVER got any serious traffic until November 28th, when suddenly it exploded in popularity, getting about 5,000 page views in two days. (A sizeable amount for my little blog.) I know the traffic came from Facebook, but I have no idea why or where in the social network. If anyone knows why, I would love to have this phenomenon explained.

2. How to: Paint a Metal File Cabinet
The tale of how my father-in-law and I took a rusted out file cabinet and restored it like new. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll buy spray primer. Everyone wins.

1. How to: Skip Washing Your Hair for Six DaysIt’s like the little post that could. Thanks to a hefty dose of Pinterest traffic, this post has risen from the fourth most-read post last year to the most-read post of the year. Round of applause (and dry shampoo) for everyone!

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Thanks for another great year! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for this one.

When I posted the final reveal of my Blogger Style Swap on Monday, the strongest reactions went something like this:

“Yeah, sure, the clothes are cute blahblahblah HOW DID YOU DO THAT TOP KNOT?”

Seriously, a bunch of people reached out to me across various media and asked for a tutorial. You guys are way too nice.

BUT ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE.

I’ve actually made a bit of a study of the top knot/ballerina bun (not surprising, I know), so I know not one, but three ways to create it. And today, I’m sharing all my secrets.

First, collect the necessary materials.

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1. Goody Spin Pins
2. Pony tail holder
3. Sephora Collection Bunette (comes in blonde or brown…mine isn’t quite that yellow, I blame my camera)
4. Bobby pins

You want to start out with slightly dirty, texturized hair. If your hair is super straight, like mine, I recommend waiting until the day after you’ve curled it or used a bit of product. Dirty hair has more grip, so the bun with stay better. I’ll usually just wash my bangs so they don’t look gross, like so:

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Heeyyyy, it’s my face. Anyway.

The first way to create a top knot is the Roll-And-Twist Method.

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1. Start with hair in a very high ponytail. Think Barbie in Malibu. I usually create it by hanging upside down so gravity can help out.

2. Wrap the hair around the ponytail like a cinnamon roll.

3. Twist one Goody Spin Pin into either side of the bun, ideally interlocking them. You may need a few extra bobby pins for stray pieces.

4. Ta-da!

The next method is a true Top Knot Style.

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1. Again, start with your high ponytail.

2. Separate the ponytail into two pieces.

3. Tie the pieces into a knot.

4. Wrap the ends around the ponytail to form a bun.

5. Use bobby pins to secure.

6. All knotted up and good to go.

And finally, the Ballerina Bun. (This is the style I was wearing in the swap photos.)

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1. Again, you start with the high pony. Thread your hair through the Bunette and slide it to the middle/end of your ponytail. (The more layers you have, the less you will be able to slide the Bunette without hair falling out.)

2. Roll the Bunette forward toward your face. That is very important.

3. Bend the Bunette back into a bun shape. Use bobby pins to secure any loose pieces in the back.

4. Go on with your bad ballerina self.

So there you have it!

Are there any techniques I don’t know about? I’d love to hear how you create this kind of up do.

Thanks to my handsome husband for his help taking these photos at 7 a.m. You’re the best.