Category: DIY & Projects

Weekly Photo Challenge

I think there is something seriously wrong with me.

I get stressed out every summer because it seems like we have things to do every weekend (4 weddings this year!) and I don’t have much time to myself. They’re all fun things – birthday parties, vacations, baseball games, weddings, concerts, etc. – so I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but for someone who really values that time at home just spent being lazy and curled up with a cat and a book, it sometimes puts me in panic mode. Who is going to do all the cleaning?? All the relaxing?? All the nothing??

So what do I do? I make more plans! Commit to more things!! Me. I make them. Myself. This girl.

I will never learn.

Having a Spring Bucket List and a 30 Day Workout Challenge going on right now wasn’t enough, so now I’m part of a Weekly Photo Challenge! A friend and I decided that we need a little kick in the butt to make us get out there and take some photos. I am all for a little bit of accountability and, frankly, if I didn’t have this blog, I don’t think I would bother with those bucket lists and challenges. It’s having to commit to something publicly that keeps me motivated because I don’t want to come back to you guys and say “hey, guess what? I suck. I quit.”

So. Weekly Photo Challenge. We’re going to pick a new theme every Friday and give ourselves 1 week to take a few pictures related to that theme. Then on the following Friday, we will share our best work and pick a new theme. This first week’s theme is Spring!

Here are a few of my favorite Spring photos that I took last year. I’m hoping to be able to step up my game a little bit this year and end up with some that I like even better than these.

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Stay tuned. July’s theme might be “my couch” just to make sure that I actually get to see it for a bit…

Easter “Cotton”tails – Jelly Beantini | Peeptini

According to my Spring Bucket List, I should be coloring Easter Eggs right now.

Those of you that have been here a while may know that it kills me to put something on a list and then not do it. Seriously, I’m two days behind already on my 30-Day Fitness Challenge and I feel like such a loser that I’m forcing myself to make them all up at once tonight. You may also know that the way to make myself feel better about this laziness almost always involves sugary, sweet things. It’s a problem. Add alcohol to the mix and suddenly I feel like we’re getting close to Intervention status. But! Will you forgive me if it’s cute and it tastes good?

Easter Cottontails

Of course these were inspired by many Pinterest pins. Would you expect any less from me?

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For the Jelly Bean-tini, I combined 1 nip of Kinky blue (I didn’t name it…) with 1 nip of flavored vodka (I used Raspberry). I added a splash of grenadine and threw in a few jelly beans for good measure.

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If you’re feeling fancy, you can rim the glass with some colored sugar.

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The Peep-tini was a bit of a spontaneous creation. I grabbed a bottle of caramel-flavored coffee creamer and added 1 nip of chocolate vodka (think Cadbury Egg).

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I added 1 drop of red food coloring to make it festive. Garnish with your favorite Peep, if you have one. I personally love all my Peeps.

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So. Have one of these, then go complete two days of missed workouts on a sugar high? Or work out first and reward myself with one of these work-out-cancelling-drinks? Which is less likely to make you shake your head at me? FINE. I’ll go color eggs.

It’s That Time Again….

…time for (cue the horror music) BATHING SUIT SEASON!!

As much as I love summer, I despise this one little part of it. Shopping for them, wearing them, washing them – it’s all a pain. But it’s necessary, and in order to make it a little more bearable this year, I’m thinking of doing something crazy.

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Pinterest keeps assaulting me with these 30-day challenges and ab workouts and why-don’t-you-look-like-this?! pins, and I don’t know if I’m just weak or easily influenced, but it’s working. I haven’t really worked out since those few weeks during my year of resolutions in 2013, and I recently cancelled my gym membership, so it’s time to get creative and try something new.

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In a way, I’m a little more motivated this year to see if I can lose 5 pounds and tone up by summer because I’ve lost between 15-17 pounds since last summer. It was almost cheating because it certainly wasn’t through any grueling workouts or health food obsession, but (in the name of full disclosure over TMI) merely because I stopped taking some medication that apparently had been packing on the pounds behind the scene. Recently, I’ve tried to be a little better about portion control and sugar intake also, so that certainly helps.

Speaking of full disclosure, here’s my starting point:

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I’m not going to set some huge goal for myself because…well, because I know myself. I will get completely overwhelmed, bored, and end up quitting halfway through. I also know that 133 is right smack dab (?) in the middle of normal for my age and height and I’m not really trying to lose much, mainly to tone up what’s sticking around. So I’ve created my own 30-day challenge drawing inspiration from those on Pinterest. If after those 30 days I’ve dropped somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 pounds, great! If I’ve toned up a little bit, greater! If not, I will be that girl on the beach rocking the one-piece bathing suit with the skirt (yeah…I own one). And that’s totally fine, because BEACH. Summer! Outside! 80 degrees!!!

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I’m planning to start my first workout on Sunday. I’ll keep you updated along the way because I find I’m much more likely to accomplish something like this if I feel like I’m being held accountable for it. Anyone with me?!

Easter S’mores

I know s’mores are normally a summer thing, but do you think I’m going to argue adding a second season of marshmallow and chocolate?

As soon as I saw this idea, I knew I had to try it. I added it to my Spring Bucket List to make sure it would actually happen because if it’s on a list, it has to be done. I even tried waiting to post this until closer to Easter, but since the grocery stores have been bombarding me with Peeps, Cadbury Mini Eggs, and jelly beans since the day after Valentine’s Day, I’m actually considering this an act of restraint rather than an early holiday post.

The ingredients are simple. You will need some graham crackers,

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some Peeps of your choice (the bunnies work best because they’re flatter),

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and a chocolate bar.

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I might be cheap with my graham crackers, but I don’t mess around when it comes to chocolate.

Place one Peep and a square of chocolate on top of half a cracker.

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Put them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, but make sure to keep a close eye on it. The Peep will start to expand and you want to stop it before it explodes. Think swollen bunny that ate too many hard-boiled eggs; that’s where you want to hit “stop”. Press the other half of the graham cracker on top while the Peep and chocolate are still warm. The result = ooey gooey deliciousness with a little bit of festive, pastel sparkle!

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You could also try this with a peanut butter cup instead of chocolate. And then we would be best friends.

DIY Lip Scrub

DIY lip scrub

I’ve been wanting to do a homemade beauty treatment for some time now, but I was a little weirded out by putting food on my face or in my hair. This lip scrub is perfect because what better place is there to put food if it’s not going in your mouth? Lips are the next best thing!

I am a chapstick FAH-reak and I have a tube in every pocket, purse, or drawer, but this winter has still taken a toll on my lips. I’ve been craving a good scrub, but couldn’t handle spending the money on something I knew I could make at home for pennies.

All you need are three simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry:

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1/4 tsp olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar (you can also use white)
1/2 tsp honey

I only made a small amount for myself (the above will last me 4-5 scrubs), but you can adjust the recipe accordingly if you need to.

Put all the ingredients together and stir with a toothpick until blended.

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Rub a pea-sized amount onto lips and scrub lightly. Wipe off with a wet cloth or, since it’s totally edible and delicious, lick your lips! Guess which one I chose?

I couldn’t believe how soft my lips felt after using this! It was hours before I felt like I needed to pull out my trusty lip balm, and even then my lips still felt so smooth. I’m definitely a believer and can’t wait to eat…I mean try…more make-at-home beauty treatments!

Making Monday Mornings Better, One Muffin at a Time

Sundays are the shortest days of the week, right? I’m pretty sure this has been proven somewhere. Monday through Friday are never short at all, and Saturday always feels like there is so much weekend left. Then Sunday rolls around and everything you procrastinated doing is all up in your face, but all your face wants to do is stay in bed and binge-watch House of Cards.

I did manage to get a few things done today, one of which was baking these muffins so that we have something to grab and go during the week.

I didn’t follow her recipe exactly, which can sometimes be a disaster for me, but it worked out well this time. I was out of brown sugar, so I had to use “regular” white sugar, but I lessened the amount a bit. Instead of flaxseed, I used chia seeds (cut the amount in half if you do this).

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I added some raspberries, which made them all cute and colorful.

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And instead of adding the crumb topping, I sprinkled a little bit of cinnamon sugar on the top of each muffin. Because I’m lazy. Basically, I made an almost entirely different muffin than the one in the recipe, but I’m pretty pleased with the result.

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Eating one gave me just enough fuel to finish cleaning out my closet and putting together a bag of clothes to take to the consignment store. I’m pretty psyched because while “shopping” in my closet today, I found a dress that, with just a few minor alterations, can be worn to at least one of the four weddings we have this year. A second dress still had the tags on it and, miraculously, I had saved the receipt back in November when I bought it, so I will be returning that this week to get a little extra cash for some new spring things!

And just like that, Sunday was over. But at least I get to look forward to this little guy tomorrow morning.

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Feed Me, I’m Irish

Are you wearing your green today?

We’re heading out to dinner tonight so that Dan can have a traditional Irish corned beef and cabbage meal for St. Paddy’s Day. While Dan does have red hair, he’s not Irish at all, and neither one of us is Catholic, but we will take any excuse to celebrate when it comes to food. We’re heading to one of our favorite places for dinner – Supino’s – and I will most definitely be getting their baked macaroni and cheese. I’m saving my green for dessert.

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I somewhat loosely based my dessert off of this recipe that I found through…where else? Pinterest, of course. I wanted something quick, green, and minty, and this sounded like just the thing.

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Somewhere along the line, my green food coloring went missing, so I had to improvise with blue and yellow.

First, I crushed the Oreos in my food processor and ended up with a crumbly cookie mess that looked like this:

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Then I spooned a little into the bottom of each dish.

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Next, I made the chocolate pudding and added mint extract and food coloring to the vanilla.

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Then I layered the pudding on top of the cookie crumbles. The only thing left was to add a (what’s another word for “dollop” because I don’t want to use that one?) of whipped cream and sprinkled a few mini chocolate chips on top.

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Looks good enough to eat, right? Good, I’m glad you agree. Because I’ve already had a few.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day! How did you celebrate?

Kitchen Adventures | Part II

I’ve been at it again.

I feel like I only ever cook in binges. I’ll get really tired of going out to eat or having frozen meals, so I’ll put together this huuuuge list of foods I want to make at home, and then I will spend days preparing all of them and refusing to eat out. Then I get sick of being in the kitchen, washing dishes, and throwing away ingredients that go bad before I can use them all, and then the cycle starts all over again.

This weekend’s menu included a blueberry breakfast cake, another recipe that was given to me by Dan’s sister. You can see from the list of ingredients there that it calls for 2 scoops of a cake batter flavored protein powder. I could only find this in huge canisters, and since I knew I wouldn’t really be using much of it after making this, I decided not to spend a small fortune on one. I was hoping to find it in a single-serve packet, but that didn’t happen, so I ended up with a Muscle Milk shake.

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To make up for it, I decided I would just eliminate the water from the recipe, decrease the amount of egg whites, and add a bit of flour. You know, because I’m an expert and can just change recipes like that. (SPOILER ALERT: I am NOT an expert.)

I still had high-ish hopes when putting it into the oven.

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This is what Dan’s sister’s cake looked like:

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And this is mine:

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Fail. I ate a little bit of it, and while it doesn’t taste bad at all, it has the consistency of a mushy baked oatmeal rather than a cake. I feel too badly about the starving kids in Africa to tell you what I did with the finished product.

I redeemed myself a little on the next attempt, however.

This one comes from one of my absolute favorite bloggers and was mainly an attempt to put our brand new food processor to the test. Falafel is something I’ve been wanting to make for a long time, but I don’t think I realized just how many spices were involved. It makes me feel like 5% more of an adult now that I have cumin in my pantry.

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I’m a little bit giddy over our food processor now that I’ve used it. Although it’s a bit loud, it whips things up in a matter of seconds.

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Again, I had more of a liquidy consistency than I wanted, so I had trouble rolling the falafel into balls to be baked. I ended up with more of a patty shape, especially after they flattened out a little while baking.

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I couldn’t possibly have made these without the feta dip that goes along with it, because cheese.

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I left out the cayenne pepper and the garnish because I’m not really into spicy things. I’m mostly into cheese. Ok, fine, I’m only into cheese. I could put this little cloud of whipped deliciousness on everything.

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These were great for a little afternoon snack, but I also plan to throw them into a wrap with some lettuce, the feta dip, and diced tomatoes.

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What do you think? Would you try any of these recipes? Are there others that you’ve been wanting to make? I suspect my next food-related post will have more to do with restaurants than home-cooked meals, but leave me some ideas for my next binge!

Kitchen Adventures | Part I

I really feel the need to preface this post by letting you know that I am not a food blogger and have no idea how to take photos of things and make them look appetizing. That will become obvious in a matter of sentences.

This past week an amazing thing occurred: I reached my threshold for the number of meals eaten at a restaurant or take-out place, no matter how delicious. There was the macaroni and cheese that should be winning awards, a celebration at TGIFriday’s that involved multiple appetizers and desserts, and last night there was the visit to a new burger place nearby. While all were delicious, my stomach is wondering if I even remember how to cook at home anymore.

So I had to show it what’s up.

Last night I made a batch of chia seed pudding. I am late to the game with these chia seeds. It’s all everyone has been talking about lately, adding them to oatmeal, smoothies, even sprinkled over pasta. It’s shocking to no one that I jumped on board once the word “pudding” got involved.

With only four ingredients to mix, this is probably the easiest thing I’ve ever made.

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I followed this recipe and mixed everything together in a medium sized bowl.

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Then I stuck it in the fridge overnight and taste-tested it before breakfast. The consistency was not quite as thick as a pudding, but not completely liquidy either. I think I used the wrong coconut milk and was meant to use the one in a can, but it did thicken up a little more during the day.

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It certainly doesn’t photograph well, and it does look a bit like a bowl of sesame seeds in milk, but I promise you it tastes amazing. If you have a sweet tooth (and if you don’t, I’m highly suspicious of you), you won’t be disappointed. You can taste the coconut and the cinnamon, but the texture of it is more like a tapioca pudding.

Definitely very pleased with that one.

The next recipe came from Dan’s sister, who works in nutrition and personal training, and has been sending me some awesome new foods to try.

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These were also super easy. I’m not that into meat and although I will eat ground beef, I prefer not to, so instead I used this beefless ground beef from Trader Joe’s.

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It’s already cooked, so all I had to do was mix it with taco seasoning and stick it in the microwave for a minute. I’m not lying when I say it tastes JUST like taco meat.

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After that, we mixed in some spaghetti squash and tomatoes, and scooped it into our taco shells.

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Then we added our toppings.

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And then we enjoyed eight of these little guys.

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Perhaps we still need to work on the portion control (DAN.) but it was hard to stop when they tasted so good!

What new recipes have you tried lately? I have a couple of others to try this weekend, so stay tuned for part II!

Pinterest Nailed It & Failed It

Today was perhaps the nicest day outside so far this year. So I spent it inside doing Pinterest projects.

Before you sign me up for Pinners Anonymous, I have to say that it’s not really due to my Pinterest addiction (which I’m not denying exists), but more because I can’t get out of my own way today.

Went to the library to get new books – came home and haven’t picked them up.
Wanted to get outside to take some photographs of the sunshine – have only left the apartment once and I didn’t bring my camera.
Planned to make a list of meal ideas for the week and then shop for ingredients – just had apples and caramel for dinner.

That’s pretty much how my day has gone. I have this whole list of things that sounded fun at the time, along with another list of chores and errands to get done, but I just don’t have the energy to do either. I don’t know if it’s winter that has me down, or the fact that we just found out our cat has a urinary disease that calls for a very expensive and likely permanent new diet, or maybe I’m just getting old and lazy. Whatever it is, thank goodness for Pinterest because it’s all I have accomplished today.

I found a pin a few days ago that suggested an interesting way to remove scratches from leather and thought I would try it out on our bar stools. The stools are probably close to 10 years old now, and the cats have destroyed them by jumping on and off them, or hanging off the sides of them.

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These stools have more punctures and holes than scratches, so I didn’t have high hopes.

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According to this pin, the trick is to add a little bit of…

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I’ve actually read that this can harm leather and cause stains over time, so definitely do your research before you try it, but because these stools are old and one step away from the dumpster (am I 7? because saying stools and dumpster in the same sentence makes me giggle), I figured anything was worth a shot.

And I was not impressed at all.

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They’re a bit shinier, but still look almost the same as the before shots above.

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Like I said, I didn’t expect much to begin with, especially since these go way beyond minor scratches, but aside from the fact that I can now fry vegetables on the back of my jeans when I stand up from these chairs, we’re calling this a FAIL.

But thanks for pretending that I would choose vegetables if given the option to fry anything.

Next up was this cute dry erase frame. These are all over Pinterest if you search for them, but I used these two as my inspiration.

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I wasn’t really feeling the bow, but I liked the idea of lined paper for a to-do list. I pulled out some of my craft supplies and found that I already had a black frame, the perfect piece of lined paper, and some cute stickers to match.

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I’m pretty pleased with how this came out. The letters are a little crooked, but I’m going to go ahead and say NAILED IT!

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take care of something on this list…

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