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!

Blog Signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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.

 

IMG_1774

IMG_1770

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!

Blog Signature

 

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.

Blog Signature

 

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

IMG_1483

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!

Blog Signature

 

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

IMG_1446

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.

IMG_1463

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.

IMG_1447 IMG_1449 IMG_1452 IMG_1453 IMG_1464

IMG_1465 IMG_1466

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.

IMG_1509 IMG_1510

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.

IMG_1551

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!

Blog Signature

 

The Best Hot Cocoa

I shared my best meatball recipe last week and I figured, at this time of year it would make sense to share my hot cocoa recipe. This is a pretty basic recipe you could use as a jumping off point if you wanted to have something more elaborate. I came up with this because I have always loved the frothy yumminess that you get when your marshmallows melt in the hot cocoa so one day when I was making a batch I threw in a handful of them and it was delicious!

DSC_0340 DSC_0306

Makes two servings.

2 cups milk

4 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1 cup mini marshmallows (plus extra for garnish)

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

2 candy canes for garnish (optional)

In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan heat the milk on medium-low heat until warm (stirring constantly so the bottom doesn’t¬†scorch). Once the¬†milk is warm, whisk in the cocoa powder until fully integrated then at the marshmallows. Whisk the mixture lightly until the marshmallows are melted then add the sweetened condensed milk and stir to combine.

Divide among two mugs and garnish with mini marshmallows and a candy cane. When you stir the cocoa with your candy cane you will have mint chocolate! I recommend you cozy up by a fire for this one. Christmas music optional but also recommended.

I have some shopping to finish up…do you think the mall will be busy? Yes, I’m afraid. ūüė¶ It’s what I get for procrastinating.

Blog Signature

My very best Meatball

Show of hands; Who likes tender juicy meatballs??

Yea, me too.

This recipe kind of happened by accident. Well, maybe less an accident and perhaps more divine intervention. Who cares about the why or the how, though, these chubby little guys turned out delicious!

I must warn you though, every time I make meatballs my boys tell me that they’re the best ones I’ve ever made. So, if we meet back here next month (the next time I make them again) and I have a new recipe for my very best meatballs…don’t blame me!

The accident part is that they involve ground turkey. Which, I think any self-respecting meatball lover/maker would agree that lean (i.e. flavorless) meats are not usually invited to the meatball party. I pretty much never buy ground turkey either but when I left the market with my groceries this time there was a pound of it in with all my other goodies. I’m not one to complain about free food so I decided to use it and hope for the best.

And, surprisingly,¬†that’s what I got.

I’m just sharing my meatball recipe here but if you want my recipe for red sauce I can share that sometime soon. (?)

Ingredients:

1 lb 90/10 ground beef

1/2 lb ground turkey

3 Tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1 large egg

1/4 cup good red wine

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (oregano, thyme and rosemary)

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

IMG_0908

Put everything into a bowl and mix together gently. Don’t leave weird clumps of tomato paste and unmixed egg but you don’t want to over mix it either. The heat from your hands will begin to melt the fat and that’s no bueno.

IMG_0909

Make golf ball-ish sized balls and line them up on the baking sheet. I got 21 meatballs out of this. Bake them until they look nicely browned. I’m ashamed to admit that I have no idea how long this takes. I don’t do timers or watch clocks so I don’t even have a guess. :-/

IMG_0911

Once they are done (you can check by breaking one open) I nestle my little handsomes in a pot of red sauce (set to low) and then grate parm over them, lid the pot and let them sit there for a few minutes while I set the table and/or drink a glass of wine.

IMG_0912

Very. Best. Meatballs.

FYI: Just went to the bathroom and came back to find this…

523675_4789188249906_1624339525_n

She claims she’s working but I bet she’s online shopping. ūüėČ

 

Enjoy your weekend!

Blog Signature

Crazy Easy (and cheap!) Curtains

IMG_1245

I told you this would amaze you. This seems to be the thing I get compliments on the most in my newly updated dining room. Perhaps it’s because it seems so unique. The first question people seem to ask after they comment “I love the curtains!” is “How did you do that?!?” which is inevitably followed by something like, “Wow, that’s so cool!”

I’ve never been one for curtains. I like simple d√©cor and curtains always seem fussy to me but I knew that if I wanted a complete make-over I had to do some kind of window covering. Plus, if I had to see the hideous top of the blinds anymore I may have¬†gone postal.

My criteria for window covering was 1. no “curtain rod” (I just don’t like them) 2. nothing too heavy/still allow light in 3. cheap 4. easy

DSC_0153

So I picked up 12 yards (but I only used 6) of a lightweight white cotton jersey knit on clearance at a discount fabric store for $2.30 per yard and an 8 foot 1 x 4 at my home improvement store for $6.

I stained the wood with the same stain I used for the dining table and chairs then did a coat of spray polyurethane. Once dry, I predrilled a hole in each end of the wood piece about an inch in from the ends and centered from top to bottom.

I cut 2 panels of 3 yards each of the fabric which, since it’s jersey, doesn’t need to be hemmed (yay for no sewing!) and stapled each one to the back of the wood flat (with no gathers and overlapping in the middle).

I screwed the wood directly into the wall and then used screw in hooks and cotton twill tape as tie backs.

IMG_1246

So, for less than $20 I have curtains. Unique ones. I like that.

In hindsight, I would have made the board and therefore the curtains stretch much further past the edge of the window. It was actually an error either in my measurement of the window or perhaps I was flustered during one of my 25 trips to Lowe’s in a 30 day period (most likely). I thought that the piece of wood that I bought was going to be 1′ longer than the window opening on each side. What I ended up with was 2″ on each side -_- not happy about that. Oh well. Hopefully, if you try this out you’ll learn from my mistakes!

I believe this concludes my dining room make-over project. For now, anyway. I still want a rug and a new light fixture…sometime in the future I will get that done. For now, I’m going to get a roast started for dinner and then¬†finish my Christmas shopping.

I’m thinking tomorrow I’ll share my very best meatball recipe with you. I made them last¬†week and took a couple of pics so get ready!

Blog Signature

 

Holiday Decorating

I’m gradually phasing out some of my holiday decorations. I have had the same stuff since I got my own apartment when I was 18…so 10 years. I have been given some things here and there but most of it doesn’t really match. My original stuff is bright colors like purple, turquoise, fuchsia, red¬†and lime green. The majority of Christmas or holiday themed decorations don’t necessarily match those colors so there’s no style or cohesive theme. I have¬†wanted to switch it up¬†for a few years now but wasn’t sure how to start over without breaking the bank (the thought of shopping after Christmas sales gives me the willies).

Going forward I want something a bit more modern but since I do love glitter I’m keeping an element of glam just toned down a bit with neutral colors and elements of nature. I dare say I’ve come up with a new style I like to call Modern Rustic Glam (too much?).

This is just the beginning and I hope to complete some other projects before we go out of town next Friday.

I didn’t take step by step pictures (what’s new?)¬†of the projects I did¬†but I’ll explain for you after the pics. By the way, I did these “instastyle” with my phone because taking pictures with the good camera requires editing which takes too long (for today anyway). I know it’s lazy but I just don’t have time to do it right!

IMG_1242

IMG_1241

IMG_1223

IMG_1218

IMG_1240

IMG_1238

IMG_1239

The glittered votive holders are one of the simple and inexpensive projects I completed yesterday. I bought plain glass votive holders from Wal-Mart for 50 cents each and then with ModPodge and glitter I already had on hand I glitzed up the bottom 2/3 of them. VERY easy.

Another super simple project was the pine cones. I bought a $3 bag of plain pine cones from Wal-Mart and with the same glitter and modpodge I brushed the glue onto the tips of a few of them and sprinkled them with glitter.

The last project is the glittery reindeer on canvas. I painted a canvas black and then with a cut out reindeer silhouette (I snagged from google images) I modpodged the reindeer onto the canvas (after the paint was dry). I did a coat of mod podge over the whole canvas and let it dry then did just the reindeer and sprinkled on the glitter. Once that is dry you can use a spray sealer to keep your glitter from shedding.

I recommend doing all three of these projects in an airtight disposable room in order to avoid picking glitter off of EVERYTHING IN YOUR HOUSE for the next three years like I’ll be doing…

Tomorrow I’ll show you how I did the curtains in my dining room. Be prepared for amazement at the complexity and high price tag (jk, it’s¬†super¬†easy and cheap as usual!)

Happy Hump day! (sorry, I had to)

Blog Signature

DIY Buffet from Coffee Table

I kind of got lucky with this one. I scored this coffee table for FREE from someone on Craigslist!

IMG_0407

That bottom portion is some kind of metal and is not attached to the top wood portion which is painted black.

When I picked it up I really wasn’t sure what I would do with it since I don’t need a coffee table but how could I pass up a perfectly good piece of free furniture?? I couldn’t.

Even though it wasn’t ideal I decided to see if I could make a buffet for my dining room out of it.

IMG_1167

 

Soooo, I talked my husband into building a new base for the wood part of the table with some scrap plywood I snagged from a trash pile a while back. We didn’t have enough to add shelves like I wanted but we will definitely add to it later (perhaps sometime after Christmas when our bank account stops hemorrhaging).

IMG_1168

 

We painted it white and gave the draw pulls a coat of silver spray paint. I would have preferred to change them out with something a bit more modern but the budget didn’t allow for that…for now anyway.

You may have noticed a few Christmas decorations. I’ve finally¬†got the whole house littered with little touches of holiday cheer ūüôā

Tomorrow, I’ll share with you a few ways that I’ve added a bit of sparkle to some ordinary objects to make them look festive. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of the same decorations I pull out of my attic every year. I don’t really want to go spend hundreds of dollars (and I easily could) on new stuff every year…soooo, I found some inexpensive ways to update and modernize what I already have. I think you’re going to like it!

Have a fantastic Tuesday evening!

Blog Signature