Cassandra is a book nerd with a stalker-level fascination with fashion and food. Her dream closet includes Audrey Hepburn classics and Lisbeth Salander edge. She's a blogger and fiction writer, who is passionate about empowering others through the written word.
For more from Cassandra check out - www.justalittlepiece.com.
I’m addicted to rolls. Each and every time I’m at a Thai restaurant, a Vietnamese restaurant, an Indonesian restaurant, you name it, I’m looking at the appetizer list to see what kind of rolls they serve. Some rolls are enrobed in wonton-esque wrappers such as lumpia. Crispy spring rolls are wrapped in sweet mint and tender lettuce. These are delectable and delicious, but they are also fried.
Rice paper wrapped rolls avoid the fried calories and are remarkably easy to make at home with endless possibilities of fillings:
The mild flavor and tacky texture make rice paper a great mess-free transport for your favorite salads and sandwiches. Try pairing them with a variety of dipping sauces like:
sweet and sour
Rice paper wraps can be prepared easily even a couple days before without risk of drying out or becoming soggy. They are packaged much like tortillas but in their rigid state, and can be purchased at Whole Foods and many big brand grocery stores, as well as Asian markets.
Prior to using your wrappers, prepare a warm bath in a large-ish bowl. Place one wrapper at a time into the warm water until it becomes limp, then carefully remove it from the water allowing excess water to run back into the bowl before placing the wrapper onto your work surface (such as a plate or cutting board). Fill and roll up similar to a burrito. The tacky nature of the rice paper will grip to itself and hold its delicious contents in without unravelling, which is why I love rice paper rolls.
Each week I try to experience nature to clear my thoughts. Over the past year I’ve reconnected with my love of horses and horseback riding and as a result, I’ve started to feel more balanced and appreciative. Recently, I went on my first trail ride in a very long time. While I love being in the barn and in the ring, I found that being out on the open trail building trust with an animal as well as my fellow riders proved to be exhilarating.
When you ride a horse, especially in unfamiliar territory, all your attention must be focused: on the path ahead, on the surrounding ambiance, on the potential hazards that can spook a horse as well as excite her. With that focus as a rider, I’m not simply learning to anticipate the horse’s response; more importantly, I’m learning how to control my own response. In essence, I’m learning how to become more poised.
A horse weighs roughly 1,000 lbs. It’s an illusion to think my 110 lbs is really going to be able to control any horse. But when my horse stumbles, I must learn not to panic but stay steady and guide her to smoother trails. If another horse bursts into a gallop ahead of us I must learn not to give in to the peer pressure, but keep us both safely on the path. This practice of grace and confidence is something we can all take away from our outdoor escapades.
Now horseback riding isn’t the most financially friendly hobby, but you don’t need to be on the back of a four-legged animal to appreciate the lessons taught by nature. Everyone who was hiking, running, or riding their bikes that day at the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve also had to be vigilant, courteous, and focused on their task.
I challenge all of you — next time you have an anxious week at work or feel fogged over by a current problem in your personal life, get outside for an hour or two with your most comfortable shoes on. Keep your phone on silent and discover what solutions you can come up with when you’re no longer distracted by a screen or someone else’s two cents. Because whatever you encounter on the trail, you will have to respond to it all on your own and you’ll learn that much more about yourself.
Keeping my skin healthy from my face to my feet seems like a twenty-four hour job sometimes. I’m lucky to live in a city where temperatures are moderate, but that doesn’t mean that my skin doesn’t get worn by the elements. Here are five must-haves I use to keep my skin feeling fresh and supple regardless of the season.
Organic Rosehip Oil: After washing my face at night, I generally apply toner, which in my case is simply witch hazel. But what keeps my face bright and moisturized is a small dime-size portion of rosehip oil that I spread over my face and décolletage.
Good ol’ H2O:You can always find me toting a bottle of water or a reusable cup everywhere I go. Even if I’m going to a friend’s house or a restaurant, I usually have a full one ready in the car just in case I didn’t drink enough wherever I was.
Multivitamin: After breakfast, it’s my routine to take a multivitamin to make sure my body and my skin have everything they need in the way of nutrients.
Organic Shea Butter: A big tub of this sits right outside my shower, ready for me to slather on. Shea butter provides a thick cream that is absorbed into my skin overnight and creates wonderfully soft and supple skin when I wake up. Extra goes on the bottoms of my feet, followed by a clean pair of socks.
30 spf Sunscreen: Being fair-skinned, I’m apt to burn easily, but everyone should want to prevent skin cancer and promote skin health instead of becoming a leathery statue. I always make sure my face, chest, ears, hands, and tops of my feet (if I’m wearing sandals that day) get a coat, as these are typically the exposed body parts.
Whether they are old candle containers, sauce jars, or even alcohol bottles, repurposing your empty containers is an inexpensive and eco-friendly way to store, save, and decorate. Here are ten uses to consider before recycling that glass:
No need to spend money on expensive resealable containers and zip bags, clean out old sauce jars to use for your own sauces, soups, even salads for your lunches and leftovers.
Keep a few empty jars on hand as easy ways to give dinner guests leftovers.
Old candle containers with lids or tops are an easy way to organize your cotton swabs and pads.
A lid-less candle container can also be a great holder for makeup brushes or toothbrushes. Just fill the bottom with beads, river rock, or glass pebbles to make a base for them to stick up in.
Large liquor bottles emptied and cleaned out make beautiful and fresh carafes for water. Soak in sudsy hot water to remove the labels and maybe a little adhesive remover for any remaining stickiness.
Smaller alcohol bottles from bourbon or grand marnier are a perfect size to store homemade dressings.
Just about any jar can be repurposed as a candle holder…
…not to mention a funky and fun way to gift wrap small items.
Use old glass jars or candle containers to store dry goods like flour, sugar, and rice. They can be easily labeled and decorated with glass markers. Your cabinet will look much tidier and organized using repurposed containers than simply chip-clipping the original bags!
Use wine bottles and other slender liquor bottles as dispensers for your infused olive oils or vinegars. Just top with an easy pour spout.
Snapguide has a great technique that I regularly use to clean out the residual wax in used candle containers. Check it out here. One helpful tip to keep your jar lids reusable is to make sure you dry the tin tops right after washing as they rust quickly. Other than that, have fun repurposing!