Sunday, December 30, 2012

DIY Tutorial: New Year's Eve Swizzle Sticks!!

Wow, has it been a LONG time since I've posted (!)  Here is a DIY Swizzle Stick Tutorial to break in the New Year!

I actually came up with this when I was rummaging through the Xmas clearance at Target like a little old lady.  I found a set of "swizzle sticks" half off at $2.50 for a set of 10 or 12, can't really remember.  They were cute, but...way too short, they would have made better cupcake toppers than swizzle sticks for a drink.  Plus, you could see the hideous clear rubber bands which were used to fix the tinsel on the stick.  PASS!  

I instead picked up a tinsel garland and a pack of bamboo skewers.  I had shorter ones at home but decided the longer skewers would make for more whimsical swizzles/cupcake toppers/*wands*...I have no intention of using these on New Year's, however they DO fit the bill:  sparkles.  (I'm saving mine for a UNICORN-themed birthday party.  Not mine, little girl's  ;c) 
 I simply cut approximately 1-cm-long pieces of tinsel, folded in half around a gob of hot glue on the end of each skewer.  On some, I started with a piece of star-tinsel decorative wire wrapped around the skewer, secured by a ring of glue before added the tinsel pouf via the "gob-and-go" method.  Haha.  

I trimmed the hot glue wisps off for a more finished look.

My materials and approximate costs are listed below:

Tinsel: Target, $3, *xmas clearance*

Wire garland:  Target, $1-2, *last year's xmas clearance*

Bamboo skewers (long): Target, $1.69 (already had the short ones)

Glue gun: Home Depot, $4.97

Glue sticks: Home Depot, $5.46

As you can see, this one is pretty much a NO BRAINER.  Hopefully, even a busy mom *with* a full-time job can pull these little suckers off.  Yes, by the way, I AM cheating.  I may have a full-time job, however my wonderful (?) company has given me over a week off of having any professional responsibility (I return to the daily dredge on Wednesday!) so I happen to have some time on my hands to craft and share my way-out-there musings with others.  Let's see if this crafty/bloggy part of my life can survive even after my return to work.

*fingers are double crossed*

I am finishing this post up after a stomach-churning meal at Sizzler with the husband's family.  They all seem to enjoy it, but I swear, that place is like the poison-acid trip from down under for my stomach.  It's really no better than a school lunch, and for someone's whose stomach is accustomed to more delicate, well-balanced and "organic" foods...well, let's just say the knot in my stomach won't go away without a trip to the bathroom in the morning.  lol.  Sorry Sizzler, not trying to tarnish your good name.  You just screw with my insides in the worst way!!  

Anyway...I am planning to blog a detoxifying V8 Vitamix concoction tomorrow to help ease my stomach pains.   Yippee!!!



Saturday, June 9, 2012

My New Thrifted Closet System

Earlier this week, the husband brought home a huge set of *real wood* closet shelves/drawers.  He and his sister split the closet system, which came from her boss's beach house on Fox Island.  I think he is some sort of cosmetic surgeon.  The system originally cost just under ten grand to purchase and install, but his wife wanted to switch it out for something different.  Good for you lady, put that man to work!  ;-)

Anyway, because our house and his sister's, we were able to fit most of this closet system into our walk in closets.  YEAH, I know, right?!  I wanna say this "beach house" is probably more like a beach Mansion!

So...last night Chad worked on fitting it all together how he wants it.  This weekend, he is going to build a base to lift the system about 7 inches, and also install molding at the top so it takes on the floor-to-ceiling-built-in look.

See the LEFT view, and RIGHT view (as best I could take the pictures, as I did not want to step into the disaster of a bathroom just behind me):
 And of course, the Grand Central view:
It's pretty apparent in the first view that the "light fixture" may just be a simple bulb on a dangling plate...LOL.  I would like to replace it with a cute, easy to clean fixture.  I like the idea of the EDEN pendant from CB2, but this is already in the attached master bedroom - so the light in the closet should probably be smaller, or different in its design.
I actually have this light in my daughter's room as well.  It is VERY well priced at $49.95 + $4.95 flat rate shipping.  Ceiling plate not included however.  We used this Conversion Kit from West Elm, in chrome.   It is $15, but we got it during a blanket Lighting sale, so I believe paid a little over $10 - we bought quite a few.  They are nice to have around since no other retailer offers this product to fit with modern interiors.  

I have been eyeballing the Black Iron Pendant from World Market, which shows $89.99 online, but I swear I saw this, or something very similar, on clearance for half the price in the store!  This may be a little too dark for a closet done up in dark cherry, however, the interior looks like hammered gold.  So maybe it would work?  
Or maybe that is my inner artist trying to convince herself to buy something based solely on its beauty - and not based on whether or not it would "work" in its intended space!

I should probably keep looking!  Probably will hit up Ebay for vintage milk glass pendants, Jetsons style  ;-)

Well, this is all for now.  I should get my bum out of this coffee shop before my husband suspects I have gone out for a good time after a long morning consisting of stops at the DMV, Vehicle Licensing (2 different places in this state), and the sweaty gym!



Friday, June 8, 2012

Amaretto Sour with REAL Juice

Yes, a return to my ever popular Tortellini Soup (well, at least popular at MY house)!  This bowl has spicy chicken sausage pieces, and baby carrots instead of cut carrots...because it is what I had.

I think I had this bowl of leftover soup a few Thursday's ago, and, due to a rash decision, I also made myself an Amaretto Sour to go along.  

Now, I am a firm believer in avoiding all corn-syrup-based anything, so I never bothered to purchase the sour mix.  Instead, I created this drink via the following recipe:

All-Natural Amaretto Sour
1 part Amaretto (I used Disaronno)
1 part lime juice (pulp and all - no need to put in the extra effort to strain it out)
1 chunk of pineapple (to stir, of course!)

If it is too sour, just add a little splash of Amaretto in.  Some use grenadine, but I am afraid that might be too sweet for me...?  However, I plan on making these tonight and experimenting with lemon juice and a bit of grenadine anyway - for the sake of trying it all  :-)

WARNING:  most Grenadines DO contain corn syrup.  If I come across an easy recipe for Grenadine, I will definitely be trying to make it at home!


Sunday, June 3, 2012

My Tortellini Soup and Editing Frustrations...

Last week, I made tortellini soup.  I made it this week as well.  I have been using a dry, cheese-filled tortellini pasta which I purchase at Costco.  I like it JUST FINE on a plate with simple Alfredo or marinara sauce, however the husband is not a big fan of it...until I put in in a soup!  I also like the soup, so it is a WIN-WIN.

I had originally planned to do a post on the easiness of this dish by superimposing a bullet-point list of the ingredients on top of the image:


My intent was to exclude any measurements because all I ever do when preparing this soup is EYEBALL it...or I use whatever amount or FORM of any ingredient which I find lying around.  For example, I either use a can or two of chicken broth, or mix chicken bouillon with water (TO TASTE).  I might use powdered Parmesan or shredded, or drop the Parmesan all together and use Pecorino~Romano.  I prefer fresh minced garlic, however occasionally use fresh crushed or garlic powder to save time.  I actually forgot the garlic the last two times I prepared this soup, and it was just fine!  Last week, I tried chopped carrots.  This weekend, a couple bags of single-serving baby carrots (I just bought another box of these from Costco so was trying to use up my old ones).  

Sometimes I add a diced tomato and/or tomato paste - especially if I am trying to use up the last bit of leftover ingredients from a past meal. Here are ways to "mix-it-up" with your soups:

diced tomato
tomato paste/sauce
chili oil or red pepper flakes
sausage chunks!
saute garlic/onions/tomato in olive oil before adding broth
bay leaves!
swap out cheeses

THE POINT BEING:  On a weeknight, (or any night for that matter?!) who needs measurements?  As long as it's quick, healthy, tastes good, and utilizes what you have on hand, it's good!!  Just remember, *to taste* is the key here.  If you are the type of cook who relies on measurements, when you try cooking without your measuring cups (saves on dish!  yay!!!) you should always taste as you go.  Don't over-salt-and-pepper your meal!

SO, MOVING ON...I thought I would be all cute and write my ingredients over image.  I know NOTHING about editing software, so I use paint.  Plus, this is sometimes my "lunch hour gig" at work, and Microsoft Paint is all we have.  We cannot bring our home computers to work, so no point in buying a fancy program for my laptop to bring with me.

See below for my FIRST attempt, I took a .JPG image, and saved as a .JPG image.  But the writing blurred!!! 
 On my next attempt, I tried saving as a .GIF, but that degraded the image quality - it looks like it was printed in a cheap newspaper (please click on the image to get the full cheapened effect...):
Then I tried saving in .TIF and .PNG, and I think got the desired effect FOR NOW. (By the way, the color difference in text across these images is intentional, I was experimenting with these shades of pink).

.TIF file:

.PNG file:
 I still notice a little bit of blurring around the word "YUM", but these two formats keep the quality degradation to a minimum.  Now I just need to find some time in my life to find out what sort of editing programs all the other food/fashion/fun bloggers are using to incorporate text on top of their images.  

Well, that's it for now, I hope you enjoyed my approach to easy cooking and comical view of a poorly-tech-savvy blogger's attempt to edit her images.

Until next time, XOXO.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bread Pudding from Apartment Therapy!

A couple weekends ago I made amazing bread pudding using a recipe I found at The Kitchn on Apartment Therapy.  I DID tweak the recipe a bit by adding a tablespoon of Knob Creek BOURBON (I've been calling it Rum all this time...) into the liquid mixture.  I also made a caramel sauce with cardamom to go on top.  It was for our neighbor's birthday down by the creek!  I liked my bread pudding so much I made it again last will have to excuse the stains on my oven window...  ;-)


Monday, May 28, 2012

More Thrifting: Vintage BKF Butterfly Chair for Kitty?

Look what I scored on Craigslist from a very nice lady in Silverdale?!  A truly vintage Butterfly Chair (complete with faded cover)!!  Not sure who has made this, as there are no markings to be seen.  However, I am SO happy this isn't one of those HIDEOUS knockoffs that has a bunch of stupid connectors at the intersections of the wires.  This baby is WELDED together...


Yes, I know...the wrinkles are actually my fault.  I let the cover sit in the dryer too long.  I was too excited to put it to use to iron the wrinkles out.  I just KNEW this would be an excellent chair for the Kitty cat.  I picked it up yesterday...upon waking this morning, I caught little Miss. Kitty lounging in the butterfly!  See how curled-up-comfy she looks...?

Of course, she lost interest in my and the camera PRETTY quickly when she decided it was time to return to her napping with a very obvious YAWN.  Translation:  "be off with you, Human!  Leave me to my beauty sleep!"

Leave her alone I did.  

Although I would like to replace this with a leather sling, I plan on starting out with a Mongolian sheep's wool throw or lumbar pillow, plus a little round pillow in either jet black or an eye-popping color.  I am leaning towards the black because I have SO much color going on in this room it's ridiculous!


MORE Thrfiting... Vintage Pottery!

I have been meaning to post about these two vintage finds the past few weeks...but meaningless things such as work and cleaning really take my precious time away from my posts.  I would MUCH rather have a four-day work week.  This 5-days-a-week thing is SUCH a drag...!  ;-)

The first one is an old Stanford Sebring piece, which I purchased off ETSY.  Founded in 1945, the company only produced pottery until 1961, when a fire destroyed the factory.  I LOVE the pink and black combo! I don't know anything about the blue tray, only that it has been hanging out at my favorite thrift mall since its opening.  So I finally bought it.  :-)

Thrifty! Vintage Hot Air Balloon PRINT!

Look at this amazing print I scored at Goodwill last Tuesday!  The print itself if very uplifting, although I do plan on changing the frame sometime down the my budget permits!

I stuck this in my yoga room/office for the time being, as it coordinates TOO well in the main room and I am trying to get away from perfect color coordination.  It always ends up too thematic and matchy-matchy for me, so I try to blend a couple themes and color schemes in each room.

It looks like an old Serigraph-type print, but I really have very little clues of its history.  There is the last name "Carter" on the lower right hand corner, but that is pretty much it.  One of the balloons has "Double Eagle I" written across it.  I am really curious where this came from...anybody out there that knows anything??


Baked Falafel!! NO DEEP FRYING! WhooHoo!!

I came across an easy, interesting recipes for baked Falafel...yes, that's right, I said BAKED.  I found it on Apartment Therapy; the original recipe can be found at Chow Vegan .   I recently started reading this blog - Today I found a sushi BURRITO posting which I am also excited to try out for myself  :-)

These Falafel turned out perfectly spiced and with plenty of crunch!  

Both my husband and Little A enjoyed them.  I served them with cucumber, but one could also serve with greek yogurt for dipping.  Or, my personal favorite, Raita, which is yogurt, cucumber, onion, tomato, and herbs and spices such as mint, cumin, and chili powder.  YUM.  Chow Vegan stuffed them in a mini pita pocket with yogurt, and that tastes great as well!



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

St. Germain Elderflower Liquor

Look!  What is that pretty bottle hanging out next to my egg-basket-turned-garlic-holder?  

Ever since I read about it on Apartment Therapy/The Kitchn, I've always wanted a bottle of St. Germain at home.

So, I finally caved in and bought this.  At just under $40 for 750 mL, it's a GREAT deal.  It even comes with a recipe booklet(!)  Well, okay, a little black book of drinks.

This is a VERY sweet liquor (think ICE wine), floral with a faint hint of passion fruit quite possibly?

I mixed it with ginger ale.  I also mixed it in a shot glass with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (yes, the lengths I will go to for a good anti-corn syrup drink) and a dash of bitters.  (I used angostura by the way...don't ask me how this differs from other bitters, I have not a clue).  

In both cases, the drinks were too sweet, but nonetheless intoxicating!  Next time, I will go for the recommended champagne or simple carbonated water.

I HIGHLY recommend this one to include in your collection.  Sweet, smooth, sophisticated, and unique.  It will WOW your guests, or keep this one all to yourself.  Whatever YOU *wish*


My first Banana Bread!

On a WHIM last Wednesday I thought I would try my hand at banana bread.  It was SO incredibly convenient that I happened to have ALL the ingredients ON HAND!!!!  Even the BOURBON the recipe called for.  I used Knob Creek.  See Little A's little hand trying to snatch away my hard work!?  She gobbled this stuff down like CANDY!
 I snagged the recipe from DEB at Smitten Kitchen.  GOOGLE HER SITE PLEASE, SHE ROCKS.  See below for the recipe (I know, you can't read it...I just wanted to demonstrate how neatly it prints off her site).  Deb, can you come over and organize my kitchen AND my blog PLEASE?!  ;-)

What We Did on Mother's Day

We took a walk down to the creek...this part belongs to our neighbors.  Our side needs some work (CLEAN UP).  And we have yet to tear down a ramshackle cabin (think Seattle's Hoover City during the depression...)  A tree during the last storm took care of some of the demolition work.  SEE:
 We (I mean CALLIE) enjoyed a dip in the creek.  That dog was happy to the Nth power!
She even enjoyed shaking it ALL off...
And here is the biggest trip of the day...there was an Airstream parked near our cabin (ON our property).  SILLY me thought it was a Mother's Day present!!  But NO, it turned out someone parked her Airstream on our property because she didn't have ANYWHERE ELSE TO PUT IT.  She basically bought it, turned the "for sold" sign over, then wrote us a note "dear neighbor, sorry for parking here without your permission..."

Luckily, it's gone...but it came very close to me selling it off.    So anyway, NOW my husband has a VERY clear picture of what I want:  Airstream, DWR edition.  Yup, I'm going for the big bucks on this'll be WAY cooler than this, but I thought I'd share a picture of the rogue Airstream regardless, so you all could see how AWESOME these look in a little clearing in the woods.  ENJOY.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Getting CRAFTY Again!

Late last week, Little A and I had a really crafty day.  It made me HAPPY.

I recently bought her a pack of gel-crayons. They are as bright as highlighters!  She LOVES them!  The drawing on the left is of a yellow caterpillar with spots, while the blue object on the right is the sun.

In her world, the sun comes in all colors of the rainbow  :-D

We also created our very first embroidery project using a simple hoop, floss, and piece of felt.  I supervised while Little A used the tapestry needle. 

These are ALL easy, cheap craft ideas to keep her busy when we visit my parents in a couple months.  :-)


Awesome Cardamom Cookies

I took Little A to a friend's birthday party.  Everybody brought their kids so she had a pretty fun time.  The birthday was butterfly themed!  (YES, adults can have cool parties too!)  There were butterfly gummies, butterfly cookies made by a friend, as well as a caterpillar pinata! (made by another friend).  Towards the end, we (tried to) released a butterfly which the birthday girl had grown from a caterpillar...Little A and I were super-blessed to be surrounded by such creative people!  It was pretty awesome.  :-)  We brought a yellow orchid in a dark lilac pot.

Anyway, we took home a couple of those AMAZING butterfly-shaped cardamom cookies.  She enjoyed them the next morning (Mother's Day!) with a white peach and some milk, while on the phone with Ba and DaaDaa!   

  These cookies were so super awesome, I was told the recipe came with the ceramic cookie mold from Brown Bag Cookie Molds.  I printed some recipes from the company's website, however, was unable to find the cardamom cookie recipe.  I am confident, though, that I can probably add this spice to the plain cookie recipe provided.  Maybe also mix in some lemon OR orange zest!  I might just try this recipe out when visiting my parents! 

XOXO for now!

Fatty Callie in the Yard

I absolutely LOVE my dog.  She's super sweet, and I love sharing the goofy pictures I take of her, like this one:
Of course, that is if she has the patience to sit still long enough!!  Usually, most of the pictures I am able to take of her are of her rump, like this one:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Toy for Little A!

Little A Got ANOTHER Toy...

 This one fits her MUCH better than the other two. However, as you can see, she is still really little.


And here are the Doggies roaming the yard...

Mikio is plotting to pee on my birdhouses...and Callie is grazing again like the Fat Girl she is.