Category Archives: Uncategorized

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!

Caramel Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Can you think of a more delicious-sounding cookie?? Perfect for fall. I found this recipe and it called for Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses. I know, I think they sound awesome too. Problem is, my Meijer doesn’t carry them. So I improvised, with caramel. They turned out fabulous. These are by far the best thing I’ve baked in a long time. So easy, and sooooo good. I made them for my coworkers as a little treat for completing the first quarter of school, and I’m pretty positive they’ll enjoy. You will too if you make these!! Happy eating. 🙂

Also I’m still playing around with my new fancy camera, so lots of photos in this post. Scroll down to the bottom for the recipe in its entirety.

Ingredients

  • 2 Sticks Softened butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 12 oz bag chocolate chunk pieces
  • 12 oz bag caramel bits

Photo Instructions!!

Preheat oven to 350° F. (No photo for this). 😀

In stand mixer (or in a medium sized bowl if you’re poor like me and don’t own a fancy stand mixer), cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.

Side note about me: I’m obsessed with brown sugar. Seriously. I eat it by the spoonful. Sick I know. But to me there is no happier sight in baking then that big lump of packed brown sugar. Mmmmmm. You know a recipe’s gonna be good!

Beat in eggs and vanilla

Add pumpkin and mix to combine. {Unpaid advertisement: The Pampered Chef measuring cup shown here is awesome. If you know someone that sells pampered chef you need to get one of these. You know how annoying it is to spoon something into a measuring cup and then spoon it out? Well this eliminates that! And it’s super easy to clean. The suction pushes all the pumpkin (or peanut butter, or whatever) out so you just wash off the top. And it measures liquids too! Seriously, go get one}

Place flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl, mix to combine then add slowly to wet ingredients.

Add chocolate chunks and caramel bits. Stir to combine.

Scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Space about an inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until brown around the edges.

Let cool on baking sheet for five minutes before moving to cooling rack.

Enjoy the awesome deliciousness that is packed inside each cookie.

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. In stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined, then add pumpkin.

2. Place flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into large bowl. Mix to combine then slowly add wet ingredients, then chocolate and caramel. Mix only until just combined.

3. Scoop medium cookie scoop of dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Space about an inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges just begin to brown. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day…

Adventures in Domesticity

So for those of you that aren’t familiar with an irish car-bomb: It’s a drink with half a glass of Guinness and a shot of half Bailey’s half whiskey dropped into it. If you don’t drink it fast enough it will curdle. These cupcakes definitely do not curdle, and they are probably one of my favorite recipes I’ve baked to date. They were so moist and delicious. I’m normally not a cupcake fan, but these made me rethink cupcakes. They do not have large amounts of alcohol in them, and you can taste it, but not to a point where it’s too much. My mother, who despises alcohol, actually loved these cupcakes. I highly recommend them.

Stout Cupcakes

Ingredients 

  • 4 Large Eggs at Room Temperature
  • 1 Cup 0% Greek Yogurt
  • 12 ounces of Guinness Room Temperature (1 Bottle)
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar

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Coffee Cheesecake Brownies

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So lately I’ve been craving chocolate, and cheesecake, and not coffee, but oh well. Being on the super diet means I don’t get to have a lot of chocolate or cheesecake. These delicious little brownies only have 100 calories a piece. This recipe was really easy to make, and they turned out great. I liked the look of them as well. They were great for my super bowl party, and also were a hit at my lunch the next day. I really, really like the coffee flavor in the brownies. I don’t drink coffee, but I don’t mind the flavor of it if it’s not too strong. It’s perfect in these. If you like any kind of coffee drink: lattes, cappuccinos, or others, you’ll like these. They’re not overly sweet either which is great. Also they’re fairly rich, so you can stop after one (if you have a strong will-power).  I promise if you make these, you’ll enjoy them. Makes 24 small brownie squares.

 

Ingredients

Brownie Layer

  • 2/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup strong (or prepared instant) coffee, or black tea
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cheesecake topping

  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (or whole-wheat)
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 7-by-11-inch brownie pan with cooking spray.
  2. To prepare topping: Place cream cheese in a small mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Add egg, flour, yogurt, and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Set aside.

    Cheesecake Topping

  3. To prepare brownie layer: Whisk flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl. Place egg, egg whites, and brown sugar in a large bowl and beat with the electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add oil coffee (or tea) and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until well blended, stopping once to scrape down the sides.

    Dark, beautiful looking batter

  4. Scrape about half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Slowly pour the topping evenly on top.
  6. Drop the remaining brownie batter in large dollops over the topping.
  7. Draw the tip of a sharp knife or skewer through the two batters to create a swirl effect.
  8. Bake the brownies until the top is just firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Coat a knife with cooking spray and cut into 24 bars.

My Notes…

So as I was typing this, I realized I was probably supposed to make the coffee and then put it in. But I didn’t. I just poured in a fourth of a cup of instant coffee. Hence the strong coffee flavor. So if you want less coffee, brew it first. But they turned out great texturally anyways. I would even go as far as to say you should just pour in the grounds. Otherwise I can see the batter being quite soupy.  I know this isn’t as easy as making a boxed brownie mix, but it’s so much more impressive and really easy. DO IT! Make these brownies!