So, one of the biggest drawbacks of being a food- or DIY-focused blogger with a 9-5 job is that you can’t really snap pics of your projects during daylight hours. And this is what happens to pics when you try to take them with regular old light bulbs:

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Vegan risotto with mushroom “bacon” from my new favorite cookbook Isa Does It? Boy, that’s really going to make you guys want to try it. Snark!

So when I received an email from a PR team to try the new GE Reveal Light Bulbs, I thought to myself, “Hells. Yes.”

After all, this was the pic they sent to show the amazing powers of these halogen bulbs:

GE Before and after 650 px

Hubba hubba, right?

Meh.

What you don’t notice is this fun little caveat on the pic, and the box the bulbs come in:

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“Photos enhanced to dramatize difference in color.”

My photography skills are minimal at best, so all I’ll say is that the above photo was snapped with the new GE Reveal bulbs installed. Way less yellow than the risotto, but not blog-worthy without a heavy dose of color correction. I will say that these GE Reveal bulbs are, yes, less yellow than the bulbs we were previously using. But dramatically so? Not really.

On the plus side, they’re energy efficient and not as expensive as compact fluorescent bulbs. I received Halogen samples, but they also come in LED, which is pretty fantastic. And, they’re available at Target, so you can pick them up when running your usual errands– no special trips to Home Depot or other home improvement stores to get pretty new bulbs. Round of applause all around.

Just, like with any product, take the packaging with a grain of salt. Any think that has to rely on a bit of Photoshopping to sell? Maybe just save some cash and open up the blinds instead.

*I was not monetarily compensated for this review of GE Reveal light bulbs. All opinions are my own.

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Valentine’s Day? What’s that?

Not a big holiday ’round these parts– I’m not the Kay jewelers’ kind of gal who expects presents on February 14th. But considering the next major holiday is St. Patrick’s Day (and I am decidedly *not* Irish), it’s the last chance I’ll get til the Fourth of July to decorate.

Enter Bic® Magic Marker® brand Window Markers!

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I received two different kinds of markers: a jumbo pink chisel-tip marker and a two-pack of bullet point markers in red and white. All of these– and other colors!– are available at your local Staples. (That’s easy! Heh.)

Now, first I have to point out that these markers– unlike other window markers I’ve used in the past– don’t smell. They wipe off glass with warm water, and they’re non-toxic. Super cool!

I tried working with the bright-pink marker because I loved the color so much, but since I wasn’t using it on a  window or large surface of glass, it was a bit too clunky for what I had in mind…2014-02-03 17.01.40

Womp. But that has no Photoshopping, if that gives you an idea of how bright the paint really is!

Instead, I worked a bit of crafty magic on that mason jar with the two pack of bullet-tip markers…

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I freehanded two pointillism hearts on the side of a mason jar. Not exactly symmetrical, but it’ll do :-)

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I also added bands of chevron arrows down the side. I couldn’t believe how opaque the white paint was!

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This is going to get some super cute red flowers in it for our dining room table– a perfect crafty vase for a last-minute Valentine’s Day.

What are your last minute craft ideas for the day of loooooooooove?

You can shop all Bic® Magic Marker® brand products on Staples.com!

I was not compensated monetarily for this use of Bic® Magic Marker® brand Window Markers. Just got some cool products :-)

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So, a little bit earlier I mentioned the phrase “new blog” on Twitter. And it’s the truth– I am moving to a new space! You can now visit me at www.YankeeSmartass.com

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 4.44.50 PM

Why the change?

Well, for the most part, it’s due to a change in myself. I’ve been getting really exhausted with trying to keep up with a project-only blog. I’ve always felt strange about putting something up on The Happy Home that wasn’t about baking, cooking, DIY or cocktails.

Yankee Smartass is the nickname David gave me after a particularly interesting conversation we had a few years ago– my Texan loves my unique and decidedly North Eastern sense of humor. The ambiguous name gives me an opportunity to talk about more than just whipped cream and vodka, and also gives me a kick in the pants to be truer to my own voice and sense of humor– and not so much focused on being, say, family friendly or Martha-ready.

I hope that you’ll come and visit me over on the new site. The first few weeks of content will definitely be the same that it is here, with more editorial and op-ed kind of stuff.

Thank you so much for many years of readership on The Happy Home. Off to a new adventure!

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I was recently contacted by the lovely people at Partida Tequila and asked if I wanted to try their wares– blanco, reposado and añejo tequila, made from carefully cultivated blue agave. Of course I said *yes!* but for not the reason you think*

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*(if you think the reason is because I just wanted free hooch)

The fact of the matter is, I LOVE LOVE LOVE tequila but NEVER EVER EVER order it at bars, and NEVER buy it for myself. I honestly have no idea why. Tequila is delicious. Good tequila is even better. I won’t knock the Cuervo because it has its place and time, but if you ever splurge on fine tequila.. you’re doing yourself a mitzvah.

Boring people would put this in a regular margarita– fancy it up a bit if they wanted by using a splash of Cointreau. But I’m not boring people.

I’m a lady with a bushel of organic thyme in her fridge and some mason jars.

First step: make thyme tequila.

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  • Thyme– somewhere between 15-25 stalks (fronds? branches?)
  • Tequila (about 4 ounces total, to make two drinks)
  1. Wash thyme. Shove into bottom of mason jar.
  2. Add tequila.
  3. Shake. Put in back of fridge. Shake every day for 5-10 days. Depending on how herbaceous you like your drinks.

Now, you have thyme tequila.

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Let me be clear with you: I tried the tequila by itself and it was glorious. Smooth and a bit sweet, clear and none of that, “It tastes like college” sort of backlash. This could be– and even more so in its aged forms– sipping tequila. It’s damn good.

But the thyme flavor with it? Life-changing. Forget infusing vodka for a while. Tequila is where it’s at, kids.

tequila thyme margarita.jpg

 

Oh, but if you want to make a Tequila Thyme Margarita…

  • 2 ounces thyme tequila
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau or Triple Sec or Grand Marnier (optional)
  • Salt
  • Ice
  1. First, rim your glass (this is a Champagne coupe, which is smaller in capacity than your classic restaurant Margarita glass, which looks like an upside down sombrero) with kosher salt. 
  2. Then, in a shaker over ice, shake together the tequila and lime juice. I did *not* use Cointreau in my drink, because I wanted it herby and tart. David wanted his sweeter, so that’s where the Cointreau comes in.
  3. Strain into your prepared glass and garnish with a lime wheel.

Cheers to a Cocktail Friday, everyone!!

To keep in the loop with Partida Tequila, follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook.

I received no monetary compensation for talking about their product. Just free samples.

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So, a little ways back I received an email introducing me to Hatch Hub.

hatch hub

 

What is Hatch Hub? Only, like, the best idea for product innovation since sliced bread. Behold:

Hatch Hub was created to make sure nothing stands in the way of exceptional design. We know the process to bring products to market can be archaic, so we’re removing those old barriers and giving independent designers a place to showcase their talent, interact with a design community and succeed in a new and progressive marketplace.  With on-going design challenges for up and coming designers, a community of design lovers, creators, and makers, and behind the scenes designer profiles, Hatch Hub is focused on bringing community engagement and involvement back into the retail scene. 

BASICALLY, product designers and artists put up their wares, and then we get to SHARE our ideas of what we might want to see, VOTE on designs that are submitted & realized, and then …

well, SHOP what’s made.

You can bend the numbers out on this gorgeous, minimalist clock to highlight your favorite time of day. (For me? 6pm. Start of cocktail hour.)

This tealight holder by Craig Varterian was inspired by lilypads. Also? It’s only $49. So just remember that gorgeous design doesn’t have to cost more than something you pick up at IKEA.

These might be my go-to housewarming gifts from now on– brushed gold-tone coasters. So chic.

To shop their first round of products, or suggest new ideas, sign up for Hatch Hub!

(Or like them on Facebook for more info)

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In previous years, my Valentine’s day drinks have been pretty tame– a strawberry drink here, some wacky sparkling wine there. But this year, I wanted to make something pink and fruity and sweet that just screams, “LOVE ME!!”

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Enter the sparkling wares of Cascade Ice Sparkling Water. The people at Cascade Ice asked me if I wanted to try their sugar-free, caffeine-free, and gluten-free sparkling beverages, and I was very excited. While they didn’t explicitly say so, I think the understood subtext was, “… and mix them with spirits to make a fizzy, fruity cocktail.”

I was jazzed about the Wild Berry flavor they sent (along with other flavors like Orange Mango, Mackintosh Apple, and Coconut!) because it would be PERFECT for V-day.

The Cascade Ice Sparkling Water is refreshing and fruity, with no hint of that horrible “cough syrup flavor” you sometimes find in sugar-free waters. I loved sipping on the crisp flavor, and am jazzed to try the other flavors and variations on the product!

Here’s what you’ll need for a Sweet Sparkly Kiss:

  • 2 ounces dark rum (NOT spiced rum!)
  • 1 ounce amaretto
  • 1 ounce Maraschino cherry syrup
  • Cascade Ice Wild Berry to fill
  • Ice
  • Cherries to garnish
  1. In a shaker over ice, mix together the rum, amaretto and cherry syrup. Make sure it’s frosty!
  2. Strain into a collins glass OR a Champagne flute. Top with Cascade Ice Wild Berry.
  3. Garnish with three Maraschino cherries on a pick, and toast to love and pink, fruity cocktails

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If you want to make this a Virgin sparkling drink, chill your Cascade Ice generously, then pour into a flute. Top with a float of Maraschino cherry juice or grenadine, and — if you have it– a few teaspoons of almond syrup like the kind from Torani.

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To find out where you can pick up Cascade Ice Sparkling Waters, check out the Where to Buy page on their website. Los Angelenos, the answer is “Albertsons.”

 

Cheers, lovebirds!

And to keep in touch with Cascade Ice Sparkling Water, follow them on Twitter or Like them on Facebook!

Note: I was not monetarily compensated for reviewing and using the Cascade Ice Sparkling Water. 

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Having not really grown up in a part of the country with good Mexican or TexMex food, I’m still astounded every time I eat tacos that aren’t big blobs of grease wrapped in sub-par tortillas. Yes, even after living in LA for almost eight years.

Recently, I took a trip to Guisados in Echo Park, which isn’t a “new” discovery in the grand scheme of taco places in LA, but it was my first time going.

photo 2

 

First off, they draw happy faces on your queso blanco tacos with the chili sauce. Right?!

My favorite was the Calabacitas taco, with the fresh, spicy corn, but the hongos con cilantro (mushrooms) was also quite good, but a bit heavier and slimy. Frijoles con queso (bean and cheese) was much lighter with the black refried beans than most bean and cheese dishes usually are.

photo 4

 

Everything was so bright-tasting, even the cheese!

photo 3

 

Also, to top it all off, they have the very best drink I’ve ever had with tacos– an Armondo Palmero, which is hibiscus tea mixed with lemonade. It’s super sweet, but so good!

photo 1

 

All of this can be made at home– especially the Armondo Palmero!

What’s your favorite Mexican food?

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