Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pinned there, done that!

Sorry for the cheesy title. I love puns!

For the past few weeks, I've been challenging myself to actually TRY the things I pin! (Gasp, I know!) So I thought I'd share the results of several Pinterest recipes, tips, and projects that I've tackled. (There are a lot of recipes on here...don't judge me, I like food!)

Pin #1: Easy Masumun Curry from Shugary Sweets.

The verdict: DELICIOUS! To cut down on calories I used the low fat coconut milk and it was still great! I was happily surprised that Ryan enjoyed the dish, too. I added a little bit of sriracha to the recipe because I love it, but other than that followed the recipe. I'll definitely make it again--it could probably be made in the crockpot, too.

Pin #2: Mississippi Sin Dip from Plain Chicken

The verdict: Another winner! I have a reputation for being the dip queen at parties here. I love to make "grandma dip" (my grandma's recipe), cheese dip (the typical rotel + Velveeta mix--why mess with what works?!), and spinach dip especially. But for a post-reading reception last weekend I decided to try out this Mississippi Sin dip, so named because it contains hot sauce (again, I used sriracha) and is sinful (i.e. not for the dieting sort). Judging by the amount I brought back home (not a ton), it was a hit. And I didn't mind munching on the leftovers, either.

Pin #3: Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

The verdict: A pattern emerges--yes, another yummmmmy recipe from Pinterest! I made this for lunch today (and another to heat up for lunch tomorrow) and oh my goodness it was delish. It satisfied my huge Chipotle craving (minus the lime rice, of course--now I just gotta try this pin) and it was pretty easy! I added a little salsa to the wrap, but it would've been great without it, too. Definitely repeating.

Pin #4: Easy way to clean the microwave from Crafty Little Gnome (what an adorable blog name!)

The verdict: :( I was so hoping that this would work. The blog suggested combining water and a dash of vinegar, then heating it in the microwave for 5 minutes. The steam is supposed to loosen up stuck-on foods, making it super easy to wipe away messes! Unfortunately it didn't work all the way for me. I tried 5 minutes and wiped and a few smaller stains came out, but most were still stuck. So I did 5 more minutes and tried again--same sort of thing. Some of the more stuck-on ones came off, but not all. I ended up dipping my rag into the hot water/vinegar mix and using it to scrub off the stains, so it didn't go to waste, but I still had to use some elbow grease. Alas!

Pin #5: Yarn wreath from Decor Chick

The Verdict: Judge for yourself!

I love my wreath and plan to change it up for different holidays. Of course I'll probably retire it after Thanksgiving and put up a more wintery wreath, but I definitely see myself pulling it out in the spring and adding some Easter-y embellishments, then some summer-y ones after that, and maybe some Mizzou ones for football season next year! The leaves, pinecone thing, and Thanksgiving bunting are all detachable. Decor Chick's is still more gorgeous, but I like my version too!

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

All "Fall"ed Up: Halloween

For the past few weeks I've been getting our apartment all "fall"ed up for Halloween! I thought I'd share a few pictures. I'm listing where I got each thing under the photos. After Halloween, I'll switch some things out for Thanksgiving and share the changes with you again :)


Miscellaneous glass pieces: Goodwill, Ross, or on hand
Labels: Martha Stewart Halloween collection from Michael's
Keep Calm and Scary On: Craftily Ever AfterEat, Drink, and Be Scary: Craftily Ever After
Trick or Treat chevron print: Sprik Space
Chevron pumpkin print: Two Twenty One
Halloween subway art: Eighteen25
Boo! bunting: here (with white paper backing) and somewhere else...can't find the BOO one at the moment!
Halloween-y sticks: Target
Raffia pumpkin: Target (last year)
Lantern: Michael's (summer sale)
Candle inside lantern: Michael's
Candle next to lantern: Ross
Orange candle holder: Ross
Black glitter pumpkin: Michael's
Large white frames: Walmart
Black frame: Walmart
5x7 white frame: Target
8x10 white frame: Target
Beware: Target dollar spot

Coffee table:

Bamboo platter: Ross
Gourds: Walmart
Orange candle: Crate & Barrel
Wicker balls: Pier1
Pine cones: the great outdoors
Leaf napkin: Crate & Barrel outlet
Apothecary jars: set of 3 from Ross
Acorn vase filler: Walmart
Wood vase filler: Walmart
Mini pumpkin vase filler: Michael's

Side table 1:

Glass pedestal bowl: Thrifted
Potpourri mix: Walmart
Candle: Target
Candle tray: Thrifted
Green lamp base: Walmart

Side table 2 (aka our creeeepy bar):
Miscellaneous glass pieces: Goodwill, Ross, or on hand (My fave is the pitcher from Goodwill--it has a spooky quality to it!)
Labels: Martha Stewart Halloween collection from Michael's
White tray: Target
Spider: Target dollar spot

TV stand:

Pumpkins: Walmart
Halloween sign: Pier1 (last year on sale)
Large apothecary jar: Ross
Pillar holder: Pier1
Maize: Walmart
Pine cones: mother nature
Candle: Target
Candle holder: Thrifted
Scent jar: Target
Branches: Target
Blue/bronze vase: Ross
Quatrefoil votives: Carnation Collection
Bronze tray: Walmart
Orange candles: Target

Kitchen table:

Large mason jar: Michael's
Quart-sized mason jars: Thrifted
Acorn vase filler: Walmart
Wood vase filler: Walmart
Centerpiece mat: orange scrapbook paper with ivory lace vellum overlay from Michael's
Vase: Pier1
Wheat: Ross
Label: Martha Stewart Halloween collection from Michael's

Dining Room wall:

White frames: Michael's
Wreath: DIYed with coffee filters & Michael's flat wreath form
BOO hanging: Pier1 (last year on sale)
Halloween art: framed scrapbook paper from Michael's

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cider Cream Chicken

When I saw that the fabulous Caroline at Good Times Never Seem Sew Good was hosting a fall recipe party, I instantly knew what I wanted to make! It's one of our favorite dishes: cider cream chicken. MMMM. Who doesn't love cider in the fall?

Lemme tell you, the first time I encountered this recipe I was skeptical that it would be good--cider and cream and onions? What? But trust me, it's veeeeerrrry good. Just thinking about it makes me want to eat it up! Since I just made it on Tuesday night, I'll have to hold off for a while--so you all need to make it now so that I can live vicariously through you!

The best thing about this recipe (besides its deliciousness, of course!) is that you only need 6 dishes to make it: one dutch oven, one spoon, one knife, one cutting board, and two measuring cups. I don't know about you, but the less dishes to wash, the better!

If that isn't appealing enough to you, here's a picture:

Looks good, right?

So here's the recipe (serves 2):

10 minutes

COOK TIME: 40 minutes

  • One large thawed chicken breast. Make sure you thaw it, or you'll go to cook the dish at 5:30 and then realize that you didn't thaw the chicken and you'll be very upset that you can't eat the delicious food that night!
  • One medium onion
  • 1 tbls minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup of milk (or heavy cream or Half and Half if you want it a little creamier). We're on a diet so I made it lighter by using milk.
  • 3/4 cup of apple juice or cider
  • EVOO
  • Pam cooking spray
  • Tarragon (or Thyme will work, too. I've used it in a pinch).
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spray the dutch oven with Pam or other cooking spray and drizzle the a little olive oil in there, too. (I started using Pam as a low-cal sub for olive oil per HungryGirl's suggestion and it usually works so well! Olive oil has a ton of calories, ick. I still add a tiny bit of oil to this recipe, though, because once I did all Pam and the onions stuck a bit.) Place it on medium low heat.
  • As the cooking spray heats up, halve your onion, then cut both halves into 6 pieces. When you've cut it all up, throw the onion in the dutch oven along with a little salt and pepper.
  • While the onions cook, prepare your chicken. Cut off all that nasty fat and dispose of it, and then cut the chicken up into pieces, around 1.5 inches long, until you have 10-12 pieces.
  • Return to the onions. By now they should be a little golden brown. Add the minced garlic and stir. Move the onions to one side of the ducth oven and give the free side another spray of the cooking oil. Turn the heat up just a tad over medium. Wait around 2 minutes for the oil to bubble.
  • Transfer the chicken to the dutch oven. Cook for around 3 minutes each side, until golden brown.
  • Pour in the juice/cider and let bubble for 2-3 minutes. Then turn off heat and add the milk/cream.
  • Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme, then pop it in the oven for 40 minutes.
I like to serve it with couscous and buttery brussel sprouts. The cider cream sauce and sweet onions taste delicious on the couscous!

Now hurry up and grab yourself a jug of apple cider--you can drink some of it and make my recipe! :)

Linking up to Caroline's recipe party--head over there to check out some more delish dishes :)

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cheap and easy spice shelf makeover

This week I headed to our local Goodwill in search of a purple dress to use for my Halloween costume. I'm going to be Ms. Frizzle from "The Magic School Bus," like so:

{via here}

Sadly, I didn't find a dress, but I did pick up several other goodies, including some cute "Flour" and "Spice" tins ($1 and $0.50, respectively), some assorted glassware (I'll show you project I used them in later this week!), and this lightweight wooden shelf:

You've probably seen shelves like these in many thrift stores. Usually people put little tschotskes in them, but I knew right away that I wanted to use them as a spice shelf. We have a dedicated spice cabinet (see this post for a picture), but it always irked me a little that we weren't really using all of the space in the cabinet. I figured I could place our most frequently used spices out in the open and take advantage of the cabinet more!

Of course, I wanted to gussy it up a little. The backing of the shelf was this dark green color that didn't really suit our kitchen color scheme, so I picked out some colorful scrapbook paper to coordinate, then measured the backing and popped the paper in! Easy as pie! I decided not to modge podge it so that I can easily change it out as desired, but if you're using paper that you'd want for the long haul, then you could seal it in. Obviously you can customize the color & pattern of the papers you use, too--I'm a bright and colorful gal, but that might not suit everyone's tastes :)

Ideally, I'd like to paint it white, but we live on the third floor of our apartment and don't really have any place to spray paint. (I'm a spray paint addict. I'll admit it, when I paint by hand it's very streaky. Plus I don't have any white paint.) So I decided just to wipe it down before adding the paper. Luckily, it matches our kitchen cabinets very well!

When I went to hang up the spice rack, I realized that best place for it would be on the side of our fridge, since there isn't really available wall space near the stove. Our fridge was pretty cluttered (see picture below!) so I took this as an opportunity to clean it up, too!

I just took everything off of there and decided what needed to stay. All of the magnets were fun, personal, and colorful, but I think they just made things a little visually distracting. In the future I'd love to add a magnet board to the office, so I could use the magnets in there. I decided just to keep our menu planner and fridge inventories, along with a few wedding invites from friends (and ours, too!) I moved my aprons from the side of the fridge and hung them elsewhere in our kitchen/dining area.

Once everything was clean, I popped some command strips on the back of the shelf and placed it on the side of the fridge! It's so lightweight that I only used 3. For a larger one I'd use more, or even those velcro picture hanging strips, but these work just fine for my shelf.

With the shelf hung, I got out my most used spices and arranged them on it:

But then, because I can't just let things be, I decided the spice bottles needed a little spicing up (har, har)--so I grabbed more colorful scrapbook paper and used my favorite font, Honey Script, to add labels to the front of each! Here they are now, all colorful and happy:

And I still have two cubbies to fill! Exciting!

So, again, here are the befores of the plain ol' spice rack and the messy fridge:

And here are the afters:

I'm already loving how clean the fridge looks and how easy it is to grab the spices! The pegs are a bonus, too--now my measuring cups are close at hand and I have a place to hang our box tops collection & oven mitt without over-cluttering the fridge. And in the future, I plan to grab more of these little shelves--they also look great as craft storage, as Beckie uses them:

{via here}

What do you all think? Anyone have other ideas for how to use these ever-present wooden shelves?

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Crafty to do list

Since I can't do any wedding crafts for a while, I'm trying to keep my crafty side occupied. Here are a few Pinterest projects that I hope to do over the next few weeks to keep my mind off of the W word:

{via here}

Eat & Drink: These would be so colorful and fun over our dining room window! I have the perfect scrapbook papers to use and I picked up the letters from Michael's today. This one should be done in a jiffy.

{via here}

Felt ruffle wreath: I know I'm light years behind on this one, but I've never made a felt wreath and would love one in a cheery color. I'm thinking a mustard yellow that I can dress up for various seasons: with black for football times, with fall leaves for autumn, with greens and pinks for spring, etc. It would probably look at home above our sink, since the gallery wall there is full of yellows, grays, and teals, and the high ceiling allows for plenty of space:

{via here}

Yarn Wreath from Decor Chick: I love this wreath for fall. It would look fab on our otherwise drab front door. Seems easy enough to do while watching TV, too!

{via here}

Tile coasters: I plan to use scrap paper from the Eat & Drink project so that they coordinate. I will probably make some as gifts, too. They'd be great for the holidays, for housewarmings, for hostesses, etc.

{via here}

{via here}

Cupcake storage: Love these ideas from 20 going on 80--storage for sprinkles and cupcake liners! As a huge cupcake lover, I want to recreate these ASAP. A trip to Goodwill is in store!

{via here}

Plastic bag storage: Though I love my reusable shopping bags, inevitably I forget them on some trips to the store and have to use plastic bags. So I love this fun, functional, and green (reusing old containers) storage for bags crafted by Beckie at Infarrantly Creative. That way I can easily keep the bags on hand to reuse or to take to Walmart & recycle!

So that's what's on my crafty plate for the next few weeks! I'll let you know how they turn out!

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ding, dong, the bells are gonna chime!

Lately, the biggest thing on my mind hasn't been school or work. It's been wedding! With tons of our friends tying the knot--the soonest in October, which we're going home for, YAY!--it seems like weddings are all around us, including our own.

Luckily, I finished up most of the planning when we were home for the summer (two things left: signing the floral contract and sending my lovely MOH/sister Megan to meet with the cake decorator) so my wedding fever mostly consists of daydreaming rather than stressing/planning. Thank heavens--planning from home was crazy enough, but planning from 2000+ miles away? That would suck.

Anyway, the fiance and I will be waltzing down the aisle on Friday, January 13, 2012. (Yes, you read that correctly. We are crazies who are messing with fate/superstition and picking the unluckiest day of the year. Please cross your fingers for us that there isn't a freak snow/ice storm.)

Of course I don't want to reveal all of the deets on here (gotta surprise the guests and leave some stuff out so I can recap it later!) but I thought I'd use the blog as a mood board for what our wedding will look like. So, without further ado, some wedding inspiration!

{via here}

I obviously can't show my dress on here in case the fiance might see it, but here are the bridesmaids dresses in our three colors! Originally I wanted orange and pink, but that felt too summery for our winter wedding, so using the peacock feather as an inspiration I chose this trio of jewel tones. The girls will wear them in that order (one lapis, one sangria, one jade, one lapis, one sangria...and so on). The boys were going to have matching vests and ties, but one of the vests (the lapis) came in a different pattern than the rest of them, and it drove me bonkers, so they're all wearing goldish vests and matching ties. The girls get their pick of goldish shoes (flats, pumps, or pumps with cute bows!)

{via here}

I am obsessed with this bouquet. Our wedding has a loose peacock theme, so the peacock feathers got me. And the colors are exactly what I'm looking for! I also love the eclectic look of the arrangment.

{via here}

Also obsessed with these adorable shoe clips from The Headband Shoppe.

{via here}

More peacock goodness. I love the look of this cake! I have a few ideas up my sleeve to make it my own, though...

{via here}

{via here}

A few fun diversions for guests at their tables--perfect for the reception! I plan to personalize these in our colors.

{via here}

This is my inspiration for our table numbers: a menu glued to the bottle and the number stuck in the cork. Unfortunately we can't have full bottles of wine at our tables (the bartenders have to serve all alcohol), but on the bright side, that means my family, friends and I have to consume enough of a specific wine so that we have empty bottles at each table ;) ha ha. I'll share the results of this wedding craft after the big day!

Our reception hall has tons of bulletin boards, so we want to personalize those as well. Here are some ideas I have for decorating the boards:

{via here}

{via here}

{via here}

{via here}

I absolutely can't wait to start crafting for the big day! I've had to hold myself back for the past few months. Once we get back home for winter break, I'll break out my (huge) wedding to-do list and get crackin'. (Preview of that list: 1) make 60 tissue poof balls; 2) prepare decorations for bulletin boards; 3) make thank-you cards; 4) design, print, and cut out seating cards; 5) make banner; 6) craft table numbers...those are just a few of them!) And I'll make sure to take pictures as I crack away so that I can share the projects with you on the blog!

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