Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Mom is the Best

So. . I had a surprise waiting for me on my doorstep when I got home yesterday. These boots:

Remember the ones I posted a little while back this month?  These are pretty darn close!  My mom is awesome and it was such a nice surprise.  She knew I would never spend the money myself.  Thanks, momma! For anyone that's interested, these are the Steve Madden Olster boots in Cognac.  I'm breaking them in today at work and have already gotten a few compliments.  I'm fairly certain these will be my new fall staple.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Doily Canvas Monogrammed Bags

So, this bag project has been making the internet rounds for a while now.  Since I'm making many of my Christmas gifts this year, I thought this would be a perfect project to do for the women-folk =).  You can find the original project courtesy of Ashley Ann Photography HERE.

What I used:
Blank white canvas bags from Hobby Lobby
10" package of Doilies
Black Fabric Paint (I also did a couple in Gold Metallic)
Sponge Brushes

Tacky glue and rhinestones

1. You can use a removeable spray adhesive to keep your doily in place on the canvas bag.  BUT I like to live dangerously and therefore used double sided tape.  Also, because I am cheap and didn't want to buy spray adhesive.

2. Paint the inside of the doily with the sponge brush and fabric paint.  Be sure not to use too much paint or it will seep under the pattern.

3. Remove doily carefully once you are finished painting.  Do this as soon as possible so that the doily doesn't stick permanently to the bag.

4. Use a stencil or freehand your letter in the middle of the circle.

5. I used crystals in sporadic places on the black bags for a little extra fun.  I left the gold ones as-is since the paint was already metallic. 

I'm excited for Christmas already!  Can't you tell?  I can't wait to do all my handmade goodies and share them with you!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Music Mixes

I grew up in a very musical family and music is one of my great loves.  I love to make theme cd mixes - for cooking, for driving, seasonal, etc. So as I was dancing around singing and cooking last night (I'm bored easily and need the music as a distratction), I realized I need some new artists to listen to.  I don't listen to the radio much and count on iTunes to keep me informed of new things.  Feel free to throw suggestions my way.  Who do you love right now?  I'm the most eclectic person on the planet, so I'm open to anything! Here are some of my favorites (new and old!):

To Rock Out:
1. Coheed and Cambria.  They are my favorite band.  I am a closet rocker chick - you wouldn't know by looking at me.  Coheed's music is dark and epic.  Full of a ton of instrumentals and the most amazing lyrics you will ever hear.  If you want to download a few of their songs, I recommend (to name a small few):
• Welcome Home
• In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth
• No World for Tomorrow
• Here We Are Juggernaut
• A Favor House Atlantic

2. Jimmy Eat World.  Not really as epic as Coheed, but still one of my all-time favorites. I think Jimmy is a little more accessible to a wider audience.  This is my one of my favorite band to sing along with.  Some of my favs are:
• Futures
• Night Drive
• Dizzy
• Chase This Light
• The Sweetness
• 23

Folksy Music
1. Is it weird my two favorite categories of music are hard rock and folk?  No?  Ok then.  Joni Mitchell. You can't go wrong with her. Download:
• Both Sides Now (the acoustic version)
• A Case of You - One of my favorite songs. Ever.

2. Jewel - She's gone country, but her Pieces of You album is how I'll always think of her.  Her best ones:
• Painters
• Angel Standing By
• Please Don't Say I Love You
• Foolish Games

2. Joshua Radin - For obvious reasons when you hear him sing. Plus I love that his harmony is a female singer.  To get a taste download:
• Sundrenched World
• What if You
• Star Mile

Current Favs By Song and Artist 
1. The Black Keys: Sinister Kid.  This blues song would be perfect for the ending credits to True Blood.
2. Jay-Z and Alicia Keys: Empire State of Mind. It's been playing on repeat in my head since Glee.
2. Band of Horses: Is There a Ghost?  This band is a good band to drive to.
4. NeedtoBreathe: More Time
5. Flogging Molly: If I Ever Leave This World Alive

Enjoy the weekend.  Hopefully you discover some great new music out there.  I plan on it!

On The Menu: Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is another one of our favorites.  We had a chilly, rainy night last night so this one was perfect. The problem I have is making it for two people is almost impossible, so we always have leftovers.  But at least soup is good to freeze.  I once made this for 9 people and it was actually the perfect amount.


1 Can Crushed Tomatoes
2 C Chicken Broth or Stock
1 package generic taco seasoning
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces
Juice of 1 lime
1 can golden corn kernels, drained
1 can white hominy, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ C chopped fresh cilantro
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Tortilla chips

• In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and garlic and sauté for about 2-3 min.

• Add in the crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, and taco seasoning.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer 5-10 min.

• Add in canned corn, hominy, black beans, and chicken. Cook 3-5 min.

• Add chopped fresh cilantro and lime juice.

• If mixture is too thick, add in more broth.  We like it to be kind of a hearty stew-like consistency.

• Ladel into bowls and garnish with sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On The Menu: Crab Bisque

Forgive my picture - it was taken with my phone.  I've been wanting a good crab bisque recipe ever since visiting South Carolina this summer.  I had the most amazing crab bisque there.  Of course, it's such a rich dish, it's not something I can have every day.  Plus, I'm trying new soups to get my husband to be a regular soup-eater like me!  I'll make him a convert yet. . .

This recipe is one I tweaked from Williams-Sonoma.
This makes just enough for two people.

2 Shallots, Minced
1 T butter and 1 T extra virgin olive oil
3 C chicken stock (I used Rachel Ray brand)
1 C heavy cream
6 - 8 oz lump crabmeat
1/4 C Sherry
Flat leaf parsley for garnish
Old bay seasoning to taste - about 2 tsp (a traditional seafood seasoning blend).

1. In a large stock pot, melt the butter with the oil.
2. Saute the shallots for 2 - 3 minutes on medium heat.
3. Stir in chicken stock, heavy cream, and old bay seasoning. Bring to a simmer.
4. Reduce heat to low and stir in crabmeat. Heat through about 5 minutes.
5. Stir in Sherry and heat 2 - 3 minutes or until heated through.
6. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.
7. Serve Immediately and garnish with flat leafed parsley.

It's better to use fresh lump crabmeat, but being in landlocked Kansas, I went to three grocery stores to find something even in the freezer isle. It still turned out pretty good and was actually pretty close to what I had in SC.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Mast!

You'll have to forgive me while I mess around with the design of this site.  I'm trying to find a look I really like.  My husband says I'm pretty indecisive, so don't be surprised if the design is different again tomorrow.  What do you think of the new mast and title? 

Monday, September 20, 2010

On The Menu: Shrimp Tacos

So, this is one of our favorite recipes, and I thought I'd try and make it at least one more time while it's still hot outside, since it's definitely a summertime dish. I remember when I first heard of fish tacos and thinking that it sounded disgusting. Now I prefer these shrimp tacos over chicken and beef tacos! This is one of my own recipes, and it's pretty easy and quick.

12 Hard Shell Tacos (trust me, you don't want soft tacos for this one)
1 lb Raw Shrimp, Peeled, Deveined, Tail-Off
1 Package Generic Taco Seasoning
Juice of 1/2 Lime
1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A good handful of Chopped Fresh Cilantro

1 Advacado - cubed
Sour Cream
1 Tomato - chopped
Shredded Mozzarella

1. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lime juice, 1/2 the package of taco seasoning, and cilantro.
2. Stir in the raw shrimp and let marinade for 15-30 min.
3. While the shrimp is marinading, cube your advacado and chop your tomato - both of these are toppings for the tacos. Put in the fridge so your advacado doesn't turn brown.
4. Add in the rest of the pacakage of taco seasoning to the shrimp mixture.
5. Pour entire mixture into a skillet over medium heat. The shrimp will cook up in about 4-5 minutes. Don't overcook them - just until they're pink and opaque. You don't want chewy shrimp.
6. Load up hard taco shells with cooked shrimp, mozzarella, fresh chopped advacado and tomato and sour cream.
7. Serve with margaritas!

I'll try and get some pictures tonight of our shrimp taco dish. The combination of the soft shrimp with the crunchy shells is amazing and the warm shrimp with the cold toppings is great, too!


Fall Is Almost Here!

Is it any wonder Halloween is Martha Stewart's favorite holiday?  I LOVE the fall.  The Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks is back, the leaves start to fall, and I can finally break out the boots! Our fall and spring seasons don't last long here, so we try to cherish them while we can.  Usually, the seasons in Kansas read: Summer, Summer, Road Construction, Winter. 

So! In light of the fact that fall is officially two days away I've rounded up some fun links for you to get into the Autumn spirit!  Until it actually starts to cool off, I'm going to try and force fall by wearing my boots and cardigans. . although I'll probably just end up sweaty. . .

• I am loving this Autumnal Wreath from Martha Stewart that will last you all the way through Thanksgiving.
• I'm not usually into the "spooky" crafts, but these Spun Cobwebs are too creative to pass up.
• These jack-o-lanterns are a fun alternative to real pumpkins.

• These riding boots from Steve Madden are a little out of my price range, but on the wishlist anyways! Love the Cognac color.
• Love the rich red of these felt handbands from Anthropologie.
• I just bought this affordable blazer from Charlotte Russe.  It has T-Shirt material on the inside and is super soft.
• Okay, this necklace is over the top, but I love that fall means you can start wearing these heavier pieces.

• A yummy-looking NO BAKE cheesecake.  That's right, I said No Bake.
Pumpkin Soup to kick off the season
Slow Cooker Chicken Chili.  It's football season and this is an easy one to let cook all day!

I'm excited to show you a fun pumpkin painting idea soon!  I just need to wait until the pumpkin patches are in full swing! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

End Table Re-do

Since my husband and I married almost four years ago, we've steadily been changing out mismatched bachelor furniture for nice, married couple furniture. It's not like we didn't WANT every single kind of wood to be represented in our living room. Ok, that was sarcasm. I don't like "matchy matchy" in home decor, but I do like cohesion. I'd been wanting to buy some new end tables forever, but couldn't find the color I wanted. We have very dark floors and very dark furniture, so I wanted something much lighter. Also, I have a hard time letting furniture go, because I feel like it's wasting something.

We'd had this mission style end table in our living room since we got married. It was something my husband inherited from his parents and it had been abused by our dogs feet. She likes to climb on furniture like she's a cat you see. . . Anyways, I figured I could do something with this little end table to work it into our new grown up decor, and here's what I came up with:

What I used to makeover this table:

• 1 quart of leftover paint from our living room walls
• 1 sanding block & 1 angled paintbrush
• 1 new drawer pull from Home Depot
• Black acrylic artist's gesso (I'm sure you could also use black craft paint - just use something that's durable).

Total spent: $2.99 on the drawer pull, everything else we had laying around the house.

The pattern I printed off from my computer and traced it onto the table in pencil.  I freehanded painting inside the lines.

Things I learned while doing this:

1. There's no need to paint the inside of the drawers. It's a waste of time and can be frustrating.
2. Go with a flat paint - it's less sticky and dries quicker.
3. Wait for the first coat to dry completely before applying the next.  This is hard if you are impatient like me.

Where I succeeded:

1. I think this table is much more elegant and our style.
2. Spent very little for something that now looks brand new.
3. The color matches the stripe in our living room walls since I used the leftover paint.

Where I failed:

1. I didn't polyurethane the whole piece when I was done with it.  The gesso is not as durable as I hoped and polyurethane would help seal the entire piece.
2. I used a high gloss paint for the base color.  It took forever to dry.
3. I probably could have spent more time sanding.

Overall I'd say I did pretty well.  I'm definitely looking forward to more furniture painting project in the future. Here it is in the living room:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Post Ever - Raspberry Souffles!

Raspberry Souffles from Eating Out Loud
Okay, so I started this blog as a way of cataloging my ever-growing list of projects.  With the economy the way it's been for the past couple of years, there's been a huge resurgence in everything "homemade" from food to furniture.  My general thought is why buy something when you can make it?  Each week I will try and post something new I've attempted to create (hopefully successfully), be it a new recipe or craft!  I'm looking forward to sharing my homemade adventures with you!

My First "New" thing I decided to try were these Raspberry Souffles courtesy of Eating Out Loud. I've never made a souffle before - the word sounds very intimidating and scary, but it was actually super easy. Here's the recipe:

Raspberry Souffle
inspired by The Art and Soul of Baking

1 teaspoon butter (for greasing ramekins)
6 oz fresh raspberries
1/4 cup, plus 2 teaspoons sugar
4 egg whites

1.Preheat oven to 400F (200C)
2.Butter the insides of six 1/2 cup ramekins
3.Puree raspberries in a blender or food processor, then strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. I considered leaving the seeds in until I realized just how prolific they are — you really need to strain the puree. You should yield about 1/2 cup after straining.
4.Add 2 teaspoons sugar to the strained puree and set aside
5.In a mixer, beat four egg whites until they begin to thicken. Continue to beat the whites while you slowly add 1/4 cup sugar. Mix until egg whites form stiff peaks and are glossy.
6.Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the puree and slowly fold in. Continue by adding the remaining egg whites, folding in until no white streaks remain.
7.Spoon the souffle batter into the ramekins, filling to the top and leveling off with the back of a spatula.
8.Place filled ramekins on a baking sheet and bake on a rack positioned in the bottom 1/3 of the oven.
9.Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the souffle rises 1/2″ above the rim.
10.Serve immediately with a sprinkle of powdered sugar!

I used frozen raspberries for this and cut the recipe in half since there are only two of us. Which means I ended up eating two. . .The taste was good, but one was definitely enough!  I also used glass pyrex custard cups instead of ceramic ramekins. The color was gorgeous and the taste was pretty raspberry-ish! Straining all of the seeds out of the raspberry puree was probably the hardest part. I couldn't get a pretty picture of mine, but check out the image from Eating Out Loud. They really do look that pretty and pink when done! The good thing I learned was that you can pretty much make this souffle recipe with any fruit you want - just substitute out the raspberries and you have a pretty fancy, restaurant-quality dish!