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The Better Martha Gets New Business Cards!

August 30, 2013

in the box 
USPS package from moo 
I have never loved the mail man like I loved him today. 

whats in the package 
Cards in box 
The Better Martha Confetti Card 

Life Is a Party Card 

chevron Have a business card!

The Better Sweet & Salty Salmon

August 28, 2013

When home from college, I'm generally in charge of making dinner. This salmon recipe from Pinch of Yum has saved me many times when I was lazy unsure of what to prepare. Super tasty and super quick, it's bound to be a crowd pleaser. The key here is just making sure that you are using a really fresh fish. Seafood shouldn't be discolored or smell strong and fishy. There should be a subtle salty smell, and the color should be bright and even. 
rawsalmon sugarandsaltonfish salmoncooking copy
It's really important to cook the salmon skin side down first. This ensures that the fish doesn't fall apart, plus it creates a delicious caramelized crunch to the skin.
crispysalmon salmonandspinachplated
I served the salmon with sautéed truffle salt spinach.

The Better Things Things I Want!

August 27, 2013

what I want now
For those of you with an annoyingly accurate memory, you might be saying, "But Monique, remember this post where you said you weren't going to buy any more heels?" And to those people I say, "Go away." When I made that statement, I was not taking into account that I might have found the glorious beauties (7&8). The pink pumps are super affordable, so it would be insanity not to get them while I have the chance. And as for the silver ones, I'm actually DYING over them. They remind me of these amazing Nina Ricci wedges which I would never be able to afford. Plus the silver heels are wedges, and everyone knows wedges are basically running shoes. But aside from the pink shoes and the bag, everything here is from Asos. Gotta love the huge variety and great prices. Am I right or am I right!

The Better No Machine Ice Cream

August 25, 2013

For the longest time I have refrained from making ice cream since I lack the storage space for an ice cream machine. I often look longingly at ice cream recipes on Tastespotting and pass the ice cream appliances in Bed Bath & Beyond while shedding a lone silent tear. For the sake of storage (and my wallet), I have to be ruthless when deciding whether or not to make any kind of purchase for our kitchen, and I know an ice cream machine just wouldn't see enough use.
Egg shells 
Then I started thinking how people have been making ice cream far before Kitchen-Aid or CuisineArt stepped in to help with the job. The process is a bit more tedious, but in the end you'll end up with a delicious ice cream and guess what? The $70 you would have spent buying an ice cream machine will still be in your pocket. 
This recipe calls for a bucket ton of egg yolks! Maybe it seemed a bit excessive to me since I tripled the recipe-- if I was going to do this by hand I wanted to have a lot of ice cream to show for my efforts. But anyway, you'll have the makings of a beautifully creamy custard before it goes into the freezer. 
In fact I made so much ice cream that normal mixing bowls for the ice bath wouldn't work. I had to get a little creative and use a soup pot and a dutch oven.
The vanilla ice cream recipe cake from David Lebovitz's blog. Oh how I love that man! What I would give to be his best friend that he bakes for. I'm sure he has a sparkling personality, but if I'm totally honest I just want to take his food and return home to eat and watch Netflix. Does that make me a bad person? Oh, it does? *Shrugs with indifference*
vanilla icecream
When my vanilla ice cream was at soft serve consistency I added some cherries that I soaked in sugar, lemon juice and whiskey (cherry recipe to come later). Summer is winding down at an alarming rate so make your ice cream before the chilly season comes around. But then again, does it really matter what season it is when it comes to ice cream? Answer: hell no!

The Better Ten Tips For Your First Year At College

August 22, 2013

image via
I wish someone told me this when I packed 1 suitcase dedicated entirely to shoes and purses. Really, you don't need thirty percent of what you originally packed. I promise. Those pair of heels that are really cute but pinch your toes? No. That collection of books you love and flip through occasionally? No. Simplifying makes life so much easier. You won't be paying for additional luggage, and your small dorm will stay cleaner without unnecessary items occupying precious space.

It's so easy to blur the lines between workspace and relaxation space, especially when you are living in cramped quarters. But I assure you, you won't make it to the second page of your international relations assignment when propped against your most comfortable pillow.

image via
I feel like this one is such a cop-out, because every list of advice for college first years says this. But I'm including it anyway because it's true! Make sure your professors know you by your name and not Student #17 (or worse the student that's always 5 minutes late). Go to office hours and actively participate in class. The latter can be difficult if you're shy, but if no cares enough to talk, they don't care enough to be annoyed when you do. When your professors like and care about you, your life becomes 20 times easier.

The Better Martha Talks Dorm Decor

August 20, 2013

It's the end of August and the Bed Bath & Beyond executives are just giddy as can be; 'tis the season for college students to spend boatloads of money. The question everyone has on their mind is how to turn their dorm room into an atmosphere that does not look like the set of Orange is the New Black. Am I right or am I right? For those returning to school this talk may be old hat (but you might still learn something new), but to the baby freshies out there listen up my dears. TBM is about to give you some very useful advice.

Tips for a Beautiful Dorm Room
image via
Freshly cut flowers or a reed scent diffuser are fantastic ways for your room to scream "home" rather than "prison."

image via
Just buy them. Over door hooks, command hooks, any kind of hook will help you utilize wall space and free up floor space for a more open feeling in your cramped room.

image via
A well organized closet is a must. If you have any hope of fitting a fraction of your at home closet into your dorm this is a rule you must adhere to.

The Better Martha Speaks #2

August 18, 2013

1. Can we just talk about the atrocity that is the Biebs? One second he was little girl boy on the radio melodiously singing a banal term of endearment for the object of his affection. And now he is this: 
Oh, and let's not forget this little gem of a quote. Looks like his atrocious attitude and wardrobe arrived justin time  for him to win this: 
image via
Congrats, JB. You earned it. (Would real Martha ever make such a floral arrangement? I think not, hence me being The Better Martha). 

The Better Reminder of Home: Glitter State DIY

August 14, 2013

Although this DIY project wound up being a gift for someone, my plan to make this adorable piece of art did not start off with such generous intentions. In fact, I struggled for a solid hour trying to think of a way I could get this from LA to NY in one piece, and thus keep it for myself. It's just that luggage--no matter how large --seems to fill up so quickly. Even I know that leaving your winter coat in California in order to have enough room to bring some art work is not the best of ideas. 
First image What You'll Need
1. Picture frame with mat/ 2. Fine glitter/ 3. Outline of your state/ 4. Heart shaped brads/ 5. Mod Podge matte/ 6. Cardstock (to cut state out of and to mat the glitter state on)/ 7. Foam paint brush/ 8. Small scissors/ 9. Pen/ 10. Hairspray
Step 1 Cut State Out
Step 1: Find an outline of your state by image searching "x state outline" in Google
Step 2: Cut state out and trace it onto cardstock
Step 3: Cut the shape of your state out of the card stock
Step 2 Cover w: Mod Podge
Step 4: Cover your state with a thin layer of Mod PodgeStep 3 Cover with Glitter
Step 5: Cover your state with a thick layer of glitter and allow to rest for 5 minutes
Step 6: Shake of excess glitter, then repeat step 4 & 5
Step 4 Paint
I chose to paint my brads pink, but this is optional 
Step 5 Paint HeartsStep 6 Cut Brad Ends
Step 7: Cut the back off the brad
Step 7 Hot Glue Heart Brads
Step 8: Spritz the glitter state with some hair spray so the glitter stays in place
Step 9: Hot glue the brad onto your home city
This DIY is a gift for someone who is from Massachusetts, but currently calls California her home. I thought I'd make two states (one on the front of blue paper and one on the back) to give her the option of which one to display.
In the end I'm glad that I gave it to her because she sent me this picture showing me just how well it went with her living room decor. Anyway, my good karma jar was starting to look a little empty, so maybe this gift will result in some good luck sent my way...or at least that's what I keep telling myself so I don't march to Taylor's house and take it back.

The Better School Supplies

August 11, 2013

Without a doubt, the best part of the back to school season is school supply shopping. I have fond memories of my mom taking me to Office Depot in junior high and patiently waiting as I spent over an hour coordinating my notebooks, binders and sticky notes. Snazzy school supplies were the easiest way to add a touch of excitement to Algebra I and Environmental Science (the latter of which I have NEVER used since 6th offense Mr. Somerville)  
school suppplies
Although I'm in college, the excitement still runs just as high. Here are some of the things I have ordered for my 2013-2014 school year. 

The Better Red Lobster Biscuits

August 09, 2013

There are things in life that you are not supposed to like, but you do anyway. For me these things include fitness infomercials, questionable journalism, and Red Lobster. Normally I am against chain restaurants unless I plan ordering a jumbo side of fries with my meal. But come on! If you've been to Red Lobster you can't deny that it's delicious. Their main attraction other than their over the top, over sugared beverages are the biscuits. These cheddar biscuits are so addicting that I'm always full by the time my entrée arrives. 
Since I would much rather avoid the restaurant altogether, it about time that I set out to create a home made version. I did, and not to toot my own horn, but they are pretty amazing (toot toot). 
parsleymeasuringcupredlobsterbiscuitdoughcut doughredlobsterbicuits

The Better Martha Works In the Garden...Sort Of

August 06, 2013

For me summer is kind of like the annoying cousin that you see at the yearly family get together; fun and entertaining the first hour or so, but by the end of the evening you are counting down the hours until he leaves. Aside from the delicious fruit and not having to go to class, summer pretty much offers me nothing. I guess I can only say this as a native Californian who experiences warm weather year round, but honestly I just want to go back to sweater weather.
water fountain plant bed
{Old water fountain used as a flower bed}

My parents, however, love the grueling heat since they are from Jamaica. On the weekends my dad isn't working they spend countless hours gardening and making multiple runs to Home Depot. I've always been the type who prefers getting glue and glitter under my nails rather than dirt. Today I just looked on, snapped pictures, then retreated to our air conditioned house as they strategically planted flowers in the front yard. 

{Backyard flower}

Dads working hands
{The surgery performing, video game playing, gardening hands of my parental unit}