Summer Project Inspiration

Well, hello there.

I’ve missed you.

Have you missed me? Don’t be coy ūüėČ

If you follow me on Facebook, you would know that I’ve been in a bit of a slump; crafter’s block, if you will.

It’s pretty frustrating to feel uninspired but I’ve somehow been able to keep myself busy with other things (ahem, life). I’ve never been more on top of laundry. Which, I know my family appreciates but it’s my least favorite chore.

In the next few weeks, I plan on shirking my household responsibilities completing several summer wardrobe projects in anticipation for a 5 day¬†trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico¬†with the hubs (no kids! Thanks to my¬†bestest¬†friend and¬†*other* soulmate, Hollie, for “volunteering” to keep them!), which, will take place mid-March. This is a work-related trip for him so there will be a few mandatory events that I need to keep in mind when deciding what to pack. Specifically, we will attend a formal Awards Banquet that I’ll need an outfit for and I’d love to DIY¬†it¬†(I’m thinking the sequin maxi below). I wore this to the banquet last year and I felt just a smidge too casual (I also just realized that I never showed you how I made the bodice. shame on me). The event is not really black-tie but it’s full of suits and evening gowns and, in case you haven’t met me, I’m not an evening gown kind of gal. So, I will definitely be going for separates.

I realize it’s still winter but, what better way to kick the gloomy weather blues than by immersing yourself in summer colors and daydreams of the beach?!? Sooo…today’s post is a list of DIY inspiration I’ve found out there in the blogosphere. Perhaps, these projects will motivate you as much as they have me.

Two Harbors Tote

Two Harbors Tote

 

La Vie En Rose Victoria's Secret Inspired Beach Cover-up

La Vie En Rose Victoria’s Secret Inspired Beach Cover-up

Prudent Baby Shirt Dress

Prudent Baby Shirt Dress

 

Cotton and Curls Tulip Wrap Skirt

Cotton and Curls Tulip Wrap Skirt

 

A Pair and a Spare Sequin Maxi Wrap Skirt

A Pair and a Spare Sequin Maxi Wrap Skirt

 

Sincerely Kinsey Urban Outfitters Inspired Lace Shorts

Sincerely Kinsey Urban Outfitters Inspired Lace Shorts

She is Red Glittered Sunnies

She is Red Glittered Sunnies

 

Manzanita Flip Flop Refahion

Manzanita Flip Flop Refahion

 

What I Wore Striped Summer Hat

What I Wore Striped Summer Hat

 

 

What do you think of these projects? I hope you’ve been inspired to start some summer projects of your own. If you do, please share them!

I’m off to walk the lake trail with the little one since we finally have some sunshine! I love Thursdays and I am so greatful¬†to have nice weather today.¬†Hey, that reminds me, I heard an interesting statistic the other day (not sure from where) that said that most women are happiest on Thursday. That was speculated to be a result of anicipation for the coming weekend but also attributed to the fact that most women have sex on Thursdays more than any other day of the week. I’m not really going anywhere with this except to say enjoy your day!

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Crunchy Zucchini Sticks with Greek Yogurt Dipping Sauce

First of all, it SNOWED here in north Texas this morning. I wasn’t expecting that when I gathered up the kids this morning to take my son to school.

Now, before I get into the recipe I want to share a little something with you that I am crazy excited about.

You’re going to want to check this out.

Ipsy

Here’s a little description from their site.

“Each month, subscribers will receive a beautiful Glam Bag

with deluxe samples and full-sized beauty products

All for only $10 a month.”

I signed up a couple of months ago and I love everything I’ve gotten! I just got my January bag today, here’s what it included.

Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange Body Butter, SOHO Ergonomic Concealer Brush, Sexy Hair Volumizing Hair Spray, Josie Maran Argan Oil, and Nailtini Bloody Mary Nail Lacquer

Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange Body Butter, SOHO Ergonomic Concealer Brush, Sexy Hair Volumizing Hair Spray, Josie Maran Argan Oil, and Nailtini Bloody Mary Nail Lacquer

Well worth $10 and I love being able to try out products that I otherwise would probably never buy! Last month I got an Urban Decay¬†eye¬†pencil and¬†Yves Saint Laurent Mascara¬†that I’m hooked on!¬†It’s also nice just to get goodies in the mail ūüôā You can give these as gifts too which is fantastic. I gave them to all the women on my Christmas list this year and it was definitely a hit!

Speaking of a hit…these crunchy zucchini sticks were a score for this mom tonight. Both of my guys groan every time I make zucchini. I’ll admit that sometimes it seems to turn out a bit watery and soggy no matter how I cook it, and I’ve cooked it just about any and every way possible. Well, I have now, anyway.

We’ve been trying to keep things healthy around here, mostly by loading up on veggies and reasonably avoiding carbs. I had strip steak, zucchini and salad on the menu tonight but I wanted the boys to like the zucchini and since we had no other carbs planned I thought treating them sort of like mozzarella sticks seemed like a good idea.

I used a few unique ingredients that you can replicate or replace with something similar. In the egg wash that I used to get the bread crumbs¬†to stick I used a dressing (homemade) that I had left over from last night. It’s a mustardy tarragon¬†lemon vinaigrette (I’ll try to get the recipe posted this week) but you could replace it with a light Caesar, greek dressing¬†or just use a bit Dijon. For the dipping sauce I mixed plain fat free¬†greek yogurt with lemon artichoke¬†hummus and feta¬†water. If you have a Central Market near enough to go shopping you can get the hummus¬†from the bulk section and the feta water is just the liquid that is in the container with the cheese. I get the one that’s labeled ‘superior sheep’s milk feta’. Its the best! If you don’t have access to fresh feta in water just use plain water and salt to taste.

 

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Ingredients:

3 medium zucchini

1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan

1 cup bread crumbs

2 large eggs

1 Tbsp Mustard Tarragon Vinaigrette

1 cup AP flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce:

1 cup fat free greek yogurt

3 Tbsp Hummus

1/4 cup feta water (more or less depending on how thick or thin you want sauce to be)

Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prep a baking sheet by lightly oiling or covering with foil.

Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise then cut each half in half lengthwise and then cut each quarter in half lengthwise. Cut all of them in half (on the short side).

Get three medium/large bowls. Mix together breadcrumbs, parm and a bit of salt and pepper in one of the bowls. Wisk eggs and dressing in another bowl and mix flour with salt and pepper in the third bowl. Coat zucchini on all sides with flour, dust off excess and dip in egg mixture then toss in bread crumbs and lay them out in even layer on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 10 min then flip each one and bake 10 more min.

Mix together sauce ingredients until combined. Salt if needed.

Sit back and enjoy watching your family devour their veggies ūüôā

This should serve 4 and is right around 200 calories per serving. Not bad, huh?!

Mmmkay, it’s late (for me) and my couch partner is watching Silence of the Lambs soo…gotta go!

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Basic Marinara

I’ve had a request for my favorite spaghetti sauce recipe so here is the basic red¬†sauce that I use. I don’t have pictures of my own so I’m borrowing some from the sources linked¬†and you’ll just have to use your imagination¬†for the steps¬†(perhaps I’ll add some next time I make it). Also, I’m sorry if this is hard to read I never measure this stuff so…

cut the ends and peel outer layers off of¬†one medium/large onion quarter it and put it into food processor (if you don’t have one you can just finely chop everything)

add 4-6 cloves of peeled garlic

one large or two small washed carrots with end cut off (don’t bother peeling it, it’s edible!)

2 stalks of celery chopped into a couple of pieces so they’ll fit

lots of fresh herbs (a hand full) I use what I have on hand but ideally it would be basil, oregano, Italian parsley and thyme

process this stuff until it’s like a fine dice, doesn’t have to be pureed

Heat up a large pot¬†(medium heat)¬†and add a bit of olive oil, if I had to guess, I’d say about a tablespoon.

Once the oil is hot add the veg mixture, salt and pepper to taste and sauté until translucent and soft.

Mix in one small can of tomato paste and stir until it is completely incorporated with the veg.

Pour about a cup to a cup and a half of red wine into the pot and let simmer until reduced by at least half. Please only use a wine that you would drink since you will be concentrating the flavor.¬†“Cooking wine” is useless.

Once it’s reduced you can use 1 large can of crushed tomatoes or two cups of pureed¬†fresh tomatoes. If you use canned tomatoes simmer for at least an hour with the lid on (stirring occasionally) then taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. At this point you can add a bit more fresh chopped herbs and then simmer for an additional 30 min with the lid off. If you use fresh¬†you may need¬†to simmer it a bit longer to achieve right flavor and consistency. If it’s too liquidy, simmer longer with the lid off to reduce the liquid. If it’s too thick add a bit of chicken stock until you get it how you want it.

This is obviously something you need to do well ahead of dinner time. Good sauce takes time people!

If you¬†are short on time you should try a puttanesca¬†(which literally translates to “whore’s style spaghetti” in Italian. Maybe because its fast and easy??). It’s rustic and¬†tastes different than¬†marinara (think spicy and briny)¬†but it’s really delicious and looks pretty (healthy too, tastes great with spaghetti squash)!

 

 

My quick recipe for that is to sauté chopped garlic and anchovies (yes) in olive oil in a large skillet. Add chopped peppers (sweet or spicy, whichever you prefer), halved or quartered cherry tomatoes, halved pitted olives, capers and chopped fresh herbs. Add a splash of dry white or red wine and then simmer and reduce. Toss it with al dente pasta in the sauté pan and allow the pasta to absorb some of the liquid.

There ya go!

Have a great Thursday! I’ll be celebrating a friend’s birthday tonight so see you tomorrow.

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Simple Scrumptious Apple Butter

I’m going to make this pretty short and sweet because I’ve got New Girl and Project Runway waiting for me on DVR.

If you don’t know, apple butter is¬†similar to¬†peanut butter in that there is no actual dairy butter in it. The butter part refers to it’s spreadable consistency and the applications it’s used for. Think toast, bagels, sandwiches, English muffins…cardboard. All examples of things that taste better with apple butter.

Seriously.

So, here we go.

Oh, and let me just disclaim that this is only simple if you have access to a couple of key gadgets.

Back home on Christmas Eve making apple butter for tomorrow's breakfast

 

1. Apple peeler. Not expensive and easy to operate; I can assure you that I would never make this without one.

2. Apple corer/slicer. Also, not expensive and easy to operate. This one isn’t as important but it certainly makes things so much faster.

3. Crockpot. I don’t want to fiddle with stove time and stirring and this is part of what makes this recipe so simple. You can prep it after dinner and it will be ready by breakfast.

You’ll need:

5 pounds of apples peeled, cored and sliced.

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Tbsp ground cinnamon

tsp ground cloves

tsp ground ginger

tsp salt

Tbsp vanilla extract

Juice of one lemon

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Throw all of the apple slices into the crockpot¬†and set it on high then dump the sugar, spices and salt on top. Resist the urge to stir! This part is difficult for me but you want to bring the whole thing up to temp and melt the sugar so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. After it cooks for an hour or two you can stir it up and then leave it for another 10 hours. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract, stir and cook for about 2 more hours. Turn off your crockpot and use an emulsion blender to make it¬†smooth and buttery. My favorite way to eat it is on a toasted sourdough English muffin. yum!

 

Goodnight!

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My Holiday in Review

Wow! It’s been a while. I’ve had a nice little vacation with both of my boys having two weeks off and getting the chance to visit with lots of friends and family. I’m going to share the highlights with you photo journal (insta) style and starting tomorrow it will be back to bloginess¬†as usual (that doesn’t exactly have the impact I hoped…how about¬†buis-og?)

Anyway, a few of the things I have to share with you in the coming days are related to some of these pics…can you guess which ones??

Ft. Worth Sunset as we head south to Austin

Ft. Worth Sunset as we head south to Austin

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Visiting my grandparents’ ranch west of San Antonio we were able to get some baby love from the newest addition to their family of Barbados sheep and fed their bodyguard the Bethlehem donkey.

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We hiked to the top of the “mountain” on their property where we encountered serious lack of a trail but at least J had a machete to clear the way. Isn’t it beautiful? Ok, maybe you have to be a Texas girl to appreciate the beauty in this terrain riddled with rocks and cacti…it makes me happy.

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Mountain Conquered

Mountain Conquered

Back in Austin we drove by the Capitol building so the kids could see how massive it is. It's pretty impressive.

Back in Austin we drove by the Capitol building so the kids could see how massive it is. It’s pretty impressive.

6th street during the day is quite charming.

6th street during the day is quite charming.

Goodbye Austin!

Goodbye Austin!

Back home on Christmas Eve making apple butter for tomorrow's breakfast

Back home on Christmas Eve making apple butter for tomorrow’s breakfast

The kids and I got up early to get breakfast, coffee and a fire made before waking up dad.

The kids and I got up early to get breakfast, coffee and a fire made before waking up dad.

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LOOK WHAT MY WONDERFUL HUSBAND GOT ME!!!

LOOK WHAT MY WONDERFUL HUSBAND GOT ME!!!

After opening gifts heading to see more family. We were all pretty tired.

After opening gifts heading to see more family. We were all pretty tired.

We've been promised snow and we're patiently waiting.

We’ve been promised snow and we’re patiently waiting.

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What can I say? This was a great snow for these parts!

What can I say? This was a great snow for these parts!

Broccoli thief

Broccoli thief

Cute cousins :)

Cute cousins ūüôā

helping with dinner <3

helping with dinner ‚̧

New glasses. Like?

New glasses. Like?

Found the most ridiculous shirt on the clearance rack at Old Navy while clothes shopping for J. After all of my mockery of this "sandwich" I couldn't pass it up!

Found the most ridiculous shirt on the clearance rack at Old Navy while clothes shopping for J. After all of my mockery of this “sandwich” I couldn’t pass it up!

 

Hope you all enjoyed your holiday time as much as we did!

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