Author Archives: Erin

About Erin

Middle school math teacher trying to make it work!

DIY Chevron Skirt

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ImageSo chevrons have to be the most popular pattern going right now. Poor polka dots have taken a back seat. So when I saw this beautiful chevron skirt at Anthropologie I thought I must have it! And then I remembered that I can’t afford anything from Anthropologie, so I decided to sew myself one! Also I’m an amateur seamstress at best, so I had to come up with an easy way to make a stylish skirt. I think it turned out well, but I do have to pull it over my head (since I have a big butt, I cannot lie) , because I didn’t put in a zipper. That’s just a small price I’m willing to pay for looking good in my skirt! Maybe I’ll wear it on my first day of school. 🙂

First you need to get your materials. I used a yard and a half of the chevron fabric and a yard of lining fabric (no one should wear a see-through skirt). Also I got a yard of thick elastic and two yards of black hem lining. And of course some black thread for my Singer.

ImageThen lay out the chevron fabric face down and place the lining in the middle of it.

ImageFold the fabric in half horizontally (hamburger for those of you that aren’t sure what I mean).

ImageThen fold one more time in half, this time vertically. So basically you have a giant fabric greeting card.

ImageHere comes the tricky part. Measuring. My method is purely my own, and you might have a much better method. Mine’s a little bit of guess and check, but I’ll tell you whaat I did. You need to know the smallest part of you, and the widest part. I like to wear skirts high at my natural waist, so I measured that. 32 inches. Then I divided that by 4 (remember that our fabric is in fourths) and then added one (for hem) so I measured 9 inches at the very top of the fabric starting at the fold. Then for my widest part I got 44 (told you big butt), and divided by 4 and added 1, so I got 12. I measured that from the fold and then continued along the same angle, using pins to mark my measurements.

ImageHopefully this picture will give you a better idea of what I’m saying. I cut along the line I made with the pins so it looked something like this.

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Then I opened up the fabric, cut the fold at the top and turned the whole thing inside out.

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Then I pinned the skirt along the sides on both sides. Then I started sewing!!

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And then I flipped the skirt right side out and checked out my seams. Obviously not perfect, but totally works on a homemade skirt like this…

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Then I measured the elastic by putting it around my waist and then cutting it where I wanted it. Then I pinned it to the top of the skirt and then got to sewing.

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Lastly (and most time-consumingly) I ironed the trim and pinned it on. Then I got to sewing. This step is optional. You could just hem the bottom of the skirt. But I feel like the trim gives it a more polished and not so homemade look.

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Then I tried on some outfits with my new skirt! Best thing about a black and white pattern is that it’s almost like a neutral (at least I wear it that way). Here’s my three favorite new outfits with my Chevron skirt. The first one with polka dots and the red cardi is my fav. Next up, a math skirt!!!

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Vanity Vanity

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When I was little I traveled from Indiana to Pennsylvania to visit my grandparents. Since they lived in a different state I didn’t get to see them very often so this was an exciting trip. I was so young that I don’t remember much about the visit, but I do remember sitting at my Grandmother’s vanity. I would watch her get ready, and then I would sit on the stool and get ready myself, brushing my hair and putting on fake makeup. When she passed away my family got the vanity. Since then it’s been through a basement flood, and moved with me to Connecticut.  I loved the vanity for sentimental reasons, but it’s also a really practical piece of furniture. It holds a lot of my makeup/hair accessories and jewelry. It also holds some of my clothes. I still sit in the stool to get ready. Even though I used it daily and loved it, the vanity was in need of a serious upgrade.

I decided to repaint the vanity and recover the stool. After reading some blog posts about how to repaint furniture and a trip to Home Depot I got to work. I wanted to share my steps and results with you. I was really pleased with how the vanity turned out. It doesn’t look perfect, but it looks soooo much better. It was fairly easy to repaint and if you’ve got a piece of furniture you want to redo, or you find one at a used furniture store, I say go for it!

Before pic:

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The vanity was also very cluttered and in need of some organizational upgrades also.

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Notice all the stains and scrapes.

 

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The stool was in the worst shape of the whole piece. It even had mold/mildew growing on the bottom! (Also note the super sweet puzzle piece fabric I picked out in 6th grade!)

I started by sanding all the vanity and all the drawers. After many years of use there were a lot of scrapes and stains. Sanding didn’t eliminate all of the wear and tear, but it definitely smoothed the surface for painting. I used a large sandpaper block for this.

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Then I started painting. I bought a paint and primer in one. A little more expensive, but it saves the step of priming (especially when you’re painting something that’s been previously painted). I did a really thin first coat. I think this is really important. A few years ago I tried to repaint some furniture and I tried to paint it on really thick first in one coat. It ran a lot and is still sticky several years later. If you want the furniture to look good you have to be patient. Thin first coat, then go for a second and third if needed. The second coat goes much faster.

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This is a picture of the first coat. You can still see the white paint streaking through. Also the scrapes are still visible, but the stains and minor scrapes are covered.

 

Then I let it dry in our garage for several days, and then I covered the stool. I’m not in love with the new fabric. I wanted something with a print, but I couldn’t find anything I liked, so I’m still on the lookout. Most stools or chairs have screws on the bottom that you can remove to take off the seat. I just used a regular stapler and stapled the fabric on the pad after removing it from the stool. I think the end result is a big improvement.

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After!

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Before…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also got several things to help organize the vanity. I first got a tray to put my makeup on, and also a cup to hold my brushes and other makeup. I actually used a votive candle holder. I also got a soap dispenser that I really liked and put my lotion in it. Also I got a birdcage of sorts for my nailpolishes. I liked the look of this, and it cleared up some room in the drawers for other items, so the top of the vanity is less cluttered.

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Chilaquiles

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ImageWell (to my 2 readers) it’s been a while, and a lot has happened. I got married, moved from Indiana to Connecticut, quit my job, found a new one, and went to Alaska! I’m hoping to blog a lot more of recipes and projects as now I’m fixing meals for two, and also fixing up our apartment. This recipe is a family favorite and is a great way to use up leftover chicken. Let me start by plugging rotisserie chicken. Several Sundays I’ve gone and purchased a rotisserie chicken for around 5 bucks. Then my husband and I will eat off the chicken the first night. Then I’ll use the leftovers to make chicken salad, fajitas, soup, or this recipe: Chilaquiles. Essentially these are baked chicken nachos. You might have had them at your local Mexican restaurant. They’re super easy to make, and I think they’re que delicioso! Simple picture instructions first, followed by full recipe.

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First you flash-fry some corn tortillas.

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After the tortillas have cooled, tear them into pieces and line the bottom of a greased baking dish (I used a 9×9 glass dish).

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Cover the tortillas with about 2 cups of shredded chicken.

 

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Cover the chicken with a jar of your favorite salsa.

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Cover the salsa with 2 cups of shredded cheese and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until cheese is nice and bubbly. Remove and enjoy!!

 

Ingredients

  • 8 Corn Tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 16 oz (or similar size) jar of your favorite salsa
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I like to use Chihuahua cheese or the Mexican mix from the store)
  • Oil for flash-frying the tortillas

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large skillet or frying pan heat cooking oil to 350°F. Set out a plate with several paper towels. Spray a 9 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Carefully slide one corn tortillas into the oil, and fry for about 10-15 seconds. Use tongs to place fried tortilla on the paper-toweled plate. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  3. After the tortillas have cooled, tear into pieces and  place in a layer on the bottom of the baking dish.
  4. Cover the torn tortillas with the chicken. Then pour the salsa over the chicken, and lastly sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of the salsa.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cheese is nice and bubbly.

My Notes…

I used canola oil, and it takes about 10 minutes for the oil to get hot enough for frying. Just be patient, and be careful! The flash-frying is totally not necessary, but it prevents the tortillas from getting too soggy while baking. Also you can use more or less of any of the ingredients to your liking. Maybe you could also add some beans, or serve with quac or sour cream. It’s also great leftover! Enjoy!

The Best Way to Eat Fruit

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IMG_7029I love Superbowl Sunday. I could literally write a novel here professing my love to the NFL and football in general, but I will spare you. This post is just to provide my lovely readers with a cute Superbowl treat idea. Forget that Valentine’s Day is around the corner. And why are chocolate covered strawberries considered so romantic anyways? Feeding them to someone else? Why would you want to do that? You should eat them yourself. No sharing. So here’s my photo tribute to my favorite way to eat fruit: covered in chocolate.

To make these I used two bars of Ghirardelli semi-sweet baking chocolate and about a pound of washed strawberries. I also used a tube of cream cheese icing from Kroger.

First you’ll want to wash the strawberries and pat them dry with a paper towel. They need to be completely dry to dip in the chocolate.

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Next melt the chocolate in a small bowl using your preferred  method. I like microwave. I’ve found it works best if you use the microwave at 50% power or medium power to heat the chocolate. There’s less chance of scorching if you do this. When the chocolate is melted dip/roll the strawberries in the chocolate and then place on a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper.

My note on dipping. It’s difficult to melt the chocolate in a bowl deep enough to dip the strawberries. I found that rolling the strawberries in the chocolate is the best way to cover the strawberries. You’ll want to let the excess drip off before setting the strawberry on the wax paper.

The dipped strawberries.

The dipped strawberries.

After the chocolate has set (you can put the tray in the fridge to speed up this process), you can start turning them into footballs. I used the icing and this was definitely not easy. If you’re a pro I’m sure you’ll be better than I was at piping. But I thought they looked pretty good overall.

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Laces out Dan!

Laces out Dan!

 

Hope everyone enjoys the Superbowl. This year I’m cheering for the 49’ers, but I won’t be upset if the Ravens win. More Superbowl recipes to come!

Mini Lasagnas

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I am a Phatty. That’s right P-H-A-T. It stands for pretty hot and temptin’ (for those of you not with-it in the late 90’s/early 2000’s). Me and four of my girlfriends from high school called ourselves the Fab Phat Five. Really we were the fab FAT five, but we didn’t think it was nice to call each other fat, so we went for Phat. We even had shirts made that said “Fab Phat Five” on the front. Even though it’s been ten years since we were all in school together we’ve still remained close. We’ve been through a lot together, and recently we got together to have a baby shower for one of the phatties. She’s not the only pregnant Phatty, but this was the first shower, so it was kind of a big deal. Not all the Phatties were there, but 4 out of 5 ain’t too bad. (and I got to see the 5th a few days later so it was all good)! There were also some honorary Phatties there that made the night pretty special overall. I made these gems for the shower, and I was really pleased with how they turned out. I was able to assemble them the night before the shower and then heat them up before. I also am looking forward to making them again and freezing the individual lasagnas for lunch for myself. I highly recommend these!

Picture instructions first then regular instructions…

Saute some S and P, a cup of chopped onion and 12 ounces of ground turkey in a skillet on medium-high for about 10 minutes.

Add a 14.5 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, 2 teaspoons dried oregano and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile in a large bowl, mix 1 and a half cups ricotta cheese, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray and press a small wonton wrapper into each cup.

Divide the ricotta mixture in half and then divide that among the 12 cups. Gently press down the cheese with a spoon.

Spoon in some of the turkey tomato sauce mixture into each cup.

 

Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top of the turkey mixture. Then gently press another wonton wrapper on top and repeat by layering the ricotta, turkey and mozzarella.

 

Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven, let cool, remove from tin and enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces raw ground turkey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (optional: I opted out!)
  • 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes, or tomato sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
  • 24 small square wonton wrappers
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Note on ingredients: In case you don’t know this (I did not), the ricotta cheese can be found in the refrigerated section near the sour cream. Also the wonton wrappers: make sure you get small. They are in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Near the tofu and other organic refrigerated items. You’ll have to look hard, but they’re there.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the turkey, onions, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Crumble the meat and saute the mixture about 10 minutes or until the turkey is cooked through. Add the garlic and stir constantly for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the crushed tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of oregano. Bring the pan to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. While turkey/sauce is simmering combine the ricotta, pinch of salt and pepper, the remaining teaspoon of oregano and basil in a large bowl. Stir to mix well.
  4. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1 wonton wrapper into each of the 12 cups, pressing firmly in the bottom of the cup and up the sides.
  5. Using half of the ricotta mixture, divide it among the 12 muffin cups. Next, using half of the turkey tomato sauce, spoon it evenly over each of the ricotta filled cups. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of mozzarella.
  6. Gently press another wonton wrapper on top of the mozzarella layer, and repeat step 5.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
  8. Let cool and remove from cups.

My Notes…

I’ve never cooked with ground turkey before, but I really liked it. I feel like you could easily use ground beef or whatever meat you’d like. I could only find 19 ounces of the turkey. So I just browned all of it with the other ingredients. This did cause some leftovers, and the turkey to tomato sauce ratio was not great, but I didn’t mind it. Also the instructions do not say to drain before adding the other ingredients. I would. This would prevent the sauce from becoming a bit diluted. Also I didn’t have any dried basil so I just used Italian seasoning. It was just fine.

Also the leftovers heat up great. I also made a nice mostacholi with the leftover turkey sauce. Really liked the flavor of these. They were fun to assemble and I think everyone (especially me) enjoyed them. Also with the wonton wrappers and turkey these little guys come in under 200 calories a piece!! Eat up my friends.

Reese’s Knockoffs

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Last week I was on a crafting binge at Jo-Ann’s (see previous post). Saturdays at my Jo-Ann’s are out of control. It’s hard to find parking and the line to check-out is always ridiculous. I blame Pinterest. I hate having to wait in line to check-out. Not because I’m impatient, but because I’m the worst impulse buyer ever. The faster I get out of a store, the less likely I am to buy things I don’t need right at the check-out. This trip was no different. First I saw the 20-ounce Diet Cokes glistening in all their chilled glory in the fridge case. Well, my mouth was feeling a little dry after walking around, so I had to grab one of those. Then as I move up a few paces in line I see them. The Reese’s Holiday Trees. Here was my thought process when I saw these beauts: It’s barely November! Trees already. Reese’s should make a PB Turkey. I’d buy it. I shouldn’t buy that tree. I definitely don’t need it. I’m sure it’s a ridiculously high amount of calories.  This Diet Coke will be treat enough… (more waiting in line. Not moving further away from the Reese’s). Well it will be a while until I eat dinner, I guess 1 tree will not hurt. Okay. Doing it. So the tree got in my basket. I finally get up to the register and even the cashier was feeling it! He scans the tree, looks longingly at it and goes “Holidays are the best times to buy Reese’s because they’re fresh. I think I’m going to have to get one of these for lunch.” Oh kindred spirit! I hope he didn’t see my eyes light up too much. It was practically validation that yes, I should be eating that tree. He’s now officially my go-to checkout guy at Jo-Ann’s. I loaded up my car, unwrapped my tree and savored every bite. I was still reeling in the delight of the tree at Kroger when I remembered that we had a staff pitch-in this week and I signed up to bring a dessert. So a quick Pinterest search on my Blackberry revealed a recipe that the author swore tasted like store-bought peanut-butter cups. Could it be? So I had to try myself. I got the few ingredients and triumphantly headed home.

I made these PB bars last night, and let me just say that they are the easiest things I’ve made lately and the tastiest. They do taste just like store-bought, and better because they are fresh. I’m so thankful that I had to make them for a staff gathering so other people will eat them and I will not be eating the entire plate myself. Sooooo good. Highly recommend making these. You will not be disappointed.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of butter, melted
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Mix melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, peanut butter and sugar together in medium bowl. You can use a mixer on low speed or a wooden spoon.
  2. Spread mixture evenly into a small square or rectangular pan. (I used an 8.5 x 6.5 pan)
  3. Melt the chocolate chips using your method of choice. (Mine is the microwave).
  4. Spread evenly over the PB mixture.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting and serving.

My Notes

The recipe above is modified a bit from the recipe I found on the internet. Mainly because I didn’t have a cup of PB, so I halved the recipe. So you could easily double this recipe and use a 9×13 pan. (Which is what the original recommended). I would definitely do this if you’re feeding a crowd. Also they can be a bit tricky to cut at first. And you end up with little chocolate shavings everywhere, so just be prepared for that mess when you start to cut up the bars. Also I used store-bought graham cracker crumbs, which are ah-mazing. I highly recommend these for any recipe that calls for them. Sooo much easier than crushing your own (or dirtying a food processor/blender). You could also chill the PB for a bit before pouring on the melted chocolate. I think this would make a nicer separation if you’re going for a pretty-looking bar. If you like PB and Chocolate, these are a must make!!

Back home again in Indiana

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And now for something completely different…

I’ve not blogged in a while, but I’ve been pretty busy. Between grading papers and wedding planning, it’s been a little hectic. Also my maid of honor introduced me to Pinterest. I’d heard of it, and had seen it before, but I was reluctant to get on because I knew I’d get sucked in and it would take over. As expected it did. I found so many things I want to make. So I might start putting more artsy-fartsy things on here as well. Starting today. My goal was to make some string art. The website I found suggested using wood and nails. That sounded a little too intense so I tried with canvas and pins. This did not work at all. So I decided to just do some painting instead. It was a pretty simple easy craft, and totally could be replicated with any state. I used some paint that I had left over, but if you want it to be more professional you could use a better paint for canvas.

 

The idea here is that my heart’s in Indianapolis. I love this idea especially because I’ll be moving away from Indy soon and I like the thought of hanging this in my new place. I also made one as a gift for my friend who’s also moving away, but put the heart over Bloomington because she went to school there and she loves IU. I also think painting it black and white would look good. I might even make a black and yellow Pennsylvania one for my brother who’s a huge Steelers fan. Black outline, yellow heart over Pittsburgh. So many possibilities. And so easy you should do it too!!

 

 

 

Supplies

Supplies

 

  • Canvas
  • Sharpie Paint Pen
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Cut out of your favorite state
  • Pin

 

 

 

Trace the state on the canvas using the paint pen.

 

Ta-Da!

Put a pushpin through the city where you’re going to paint your heart. That way you will have a small pin prick that will also be geographically correct for you paint your heart. I chose Indianapolis.

 

Start painting around your state outline

Finished project!!