February 27, 2010

70% Off Sale Basket: Michael's

Michael's gets way too much of my $$$. But, at least I can always check the sale bins. There is one on the out...which is convenient...but check out the discounted frames next time you are there.

This one was $4 and you could totally paint it or distress it. Buy different shapes and finishes and paint them all the same to coordinate.

Check out this fabulous idea from Pottery Barn... Jewelry display as art!

This is easily re-creatable and at a fraction of the price. Just find 3 different shapes and sizes of frames, make a trip to your local hardware store for hooks, paint, wire and assemble. I especially like the detail of the wire for earrings. Put this in a little girl's room with a hot pink frame and it can hold her play jewelry and accessories.

February 26, 2010

Tardy Valentine's: Table Decor

Things have gotten so busy, that I forgot to post the Valentine's table decor from this year. Oh the sham! I guess getting it posted before the end of February will have to do. This table was decorated for Valentine's with things that I already had at home, with the exception of the flowers. I also used a lot of the theme from my silver (white) Christmas table. Here's the table before (at Christmas):

And here is the after:

As you can see, they are very similar. My Christmas table was able to take us through the holiday, into the New Year and to Valentine's.

The table is without the silver trees, silver ornaments and Christmas china, but gained the red napkins, flowers and a touch of red stain ribbon around the vases to add even more color.

Plus, the flowers are carnations = inexpensive. All I did was bundle them up, put a clear (shot) glass inside the big vase for water and there you have it.

Old Time Pottery:
Vase, Silver Branches & Spray, Mirrors, Candle Sticks and Candles, Silver mosaic candle holders, red napkins, Silver beaded napkin rings
Michael's: Silver pillar candles
Wal-Mart: White Vase Filler (a bargain!)
Target: Silver Christmas Trees,
Square and Cylinder Vases
Hobby Lobby: Silver chargers

February 25, 2010

Q & A: Invitation and RSVP Etiquette.

I've had a few questions lately regarding invitation etiquette. It seems that everyone is confused or has a different idea of what is appropriate. Nothing is right or wrong, but there are some definite no-no's...for the sender and the receiver. So, I'm starting a series of Q&A's for this very topic. Over the next week or so, I will address the following:

  • Invitation Addressing
  • By Hand or By Printer or By Label (gasp!)
  • Invitation Timing
  • The Demise of the RSVP
  • Email Invitations
  • Registry Information
  • All Adult Wedding
  • Wedding Gifts
  • Thank You Notes
  • Pre-Wedding Festivities

February 24, 2010

Color Career Counselor

Can your favorite color help choose your career? CareerPath.com has a tool that may help you choose a path. From their site: The Dewey Color System® is now the world's most accurate career testing instrument. This report based on your personality traits indicates your two most enjoyable day-day-day occupation skills.

My results were pretty spot on:
I am definitely impulsive with my words...something I try to work on everyday. Sensitive to others and pretty intuitive. What was most was "constantly learning something new". That is very true. My boredom gets the best of me most of the time, and I am always looking to learn or do something different or new.

My career suggestions are close as well. I currently work in marketing and graphic design + I love decorating and anything that is crafty or creative.

What is cool about this test is that it gives you a second category. Again, my results:
This, I guess, is where the entrepreneurial part of me comes in - which I am glad that they are secondary traits. I've been told I'm a pretty good negotiator. (It's gotten me a few raises in the past!)

Take the test here...what are your results???

February 23, 2010

Bridal Couture...Famous Designer...Fun Evening

Photo courtesy The Thirty-Something Bride

This past weekend, I got to spend some QT with the girls at The Bride Room - ♥ them! If you are planning a wedding, engaged, or a singleton...you MUST see Charlotte, Stephanie and Amy. I don't claim to be a model, but who is going to turn down getting to meet Kenneth Pool and wear his beautiful designs? SWOON! I am sure there is more to come from TBR girls, but here is the first person experience from a fellow party-goer: The Thirty-Something Bride.

***Updated Posts: The Bride Room ... Life* a la mode ... and more pictures here.

February 22, 2010

Cute & Custom Gift.

This was a wonderful idea that a friend (Emily) created for the baby shower I attended last week. Custom to the theme and colors of our friend's new little girl's room. She grabbed a photo frame from Hobby Lobby, painted the front green - leaving the sides the original color, pink. She attached the ribbon and princess pin to the top with hot glue. She even customized the gift bag, by removing the twine handles and replacing with the same ribbon used on the frame. Just had to pass this along - very cute idea!

February 18, 2010

Recipe of the Week. Crockpot Pulled Pork.

Southern girls love BBQ. And this has to be the easiest and tastiest recipe for a busy gal. We've been eating on this for a week now and have even shared with friends!

Pulled Pork - from The Way The Cookie Crumbles - originally from Cooks Illustrated - serves 6

Spice Rub:
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons table salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1 (6-8 pound) bone-in pork shoulder
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce
Mix all spice rub ingredients in small bowl or plate. (the good thing is, all you need is a TBS and a TSP)

Massage spice rub into meat. Wrap tightly in double layer of plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 3 hours. For stronger flavor, the roast can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. I refrigerated for 1 1/2 days.

Unwrap roast and place it in slow cooker liner. Add liquid smoke, if using, and 1/4 cup water. Turn slow cooker to low and cook for 8-10 hours, until meat is fork-tender.

Transfer roast to cutting board or jelly roll pan; discard liquid in liner. Pull by tearing meat into thin shreds with two forks or your fingers. Discard fat.

Place shredded meat back in slow cooker liner; toss with 1 cup barbecue sauce, and heat on low for 30-60 minutes, until hot. Serve with additional barbecue sauce. We used Sticky Fingers Tennessee Whiskey.

February 16, 2010

Gift Wrapping: Baby Shower

Baby showers are always fun - a great way to bond with with friends as they make a new journey into parenthood. It is also a great way to learn all kinds of stuff that you didn't ever want to know about your friends - and for me (someone without little ones) - scare the crap out of me every wanting to have kids. Eke. Presentation is always fun with gifts, so below is a great idea for how to put together a baby shower gift with little effort.

After gathering all the registry list, I started hunting for things big and small, bulky and filler gifts to make my basket. Target has everything Valentine's Day on sale, so finding a great, and inexpensive basket was easy. I came home and layed everything out on the floor.

First, I stuffed the bottom of my basket with tissue paper in order to have the gifts sit up a little higher and not get lost.

Start with the largest piece and set it right in the middle.
Then start filling in with the smaller items.

Add a bow and card, and you have an easy and fun way to present your gift to the mom-to-be.

February 15, 2010

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez.

Let the Good Times Roll! Fat Tuesday is tomorrow - make a king cake for your friends and family!

As a Mobile native, the birth place of Mardi Gras (for those of you who have been told otherwise by New Orleans folk...) I love to celebrate Fat Tuesday with a home made king cake. It's easier than you think! I like this recipe because you can use your mixer and don't have to have a bread maker or food processor.

The king cake has a long tradition associated with the Carnival season. It was originally served with a bean pressed into the dough prior to cooking and whoever got the slice containing the bean had to host a party for all guests in attendance. Today, the bean has been replaced with a plastic baby signifying the New Year.

John Folse's Mardi Gras King Cake

Prep Time: 2½ Hours
Yields: 10 Servings

Ingredients for cake:
  • ½ ounce instant yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup powdered milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup warm water
In a measuring cup, combine yeast and ½ cup of water. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Using a dough hook on an electric mixer, blend ingredients on low speed for 2-3 minutes.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine eggs, butter and remaining warm water. Slowly pour liquids and blossomed yeast into the mixing bowl, gradually increasing the mixing speed. Mix until dough separates from the bowl, approximately 8-10 minutes. An additional ½ cup of flour may be sprinkled into the bowl if dough is too wet.

Brush a large stainless bowl with melted butter then place dough inside. Brush dough with remaining butter and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow dough to proof in a warm place approximately 1 hour until double in size.

Ingredients for glaze: (note: I personally do not like the glaze called for here, so an alternative glaze is below!)
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp almond extract
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 tbsps cinnamon
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and salt. Place in an electric mixer. Slowly pour in almond extract and water while mixing on low speed. Add cinnamon and continue to blend until glaze is smooth. Set aside.

Ingredients for assembly:
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • eggwash (½ cup milk, 2 eggs, beaten)
  • Purple, green, and gold sugars

Preheat oven to 350ºF. After dough has proofed, roll out on a well-floured surface into an 18" x 12" rectangle. Brush top of dough with melted butter then sprinkle with mixture of sugar and cinnamon.

Cut dough vertically into three even strips that will measure approximately 4" x 18". Fold each strip in half to make it 2" wide. Form into a basic three-strand braid then shape into a circle and pinch ends. Brush the entire cake with eggwash and proof in a warm place until the cake doubles in size.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle glaze over the entire cake and sprinkle with purple, green, and gold sugars. These sugars are available at pastry and cake decorating outlets.

Optional Glaze:

Mix 3 tablespoons water with the confectioners' sugar; brush 3 tablespoons glaze over the cake. Sprinkle with bands of colored sugar; drizzle with more glaze.

February 12, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Valentine's Day Desserts.

I saw this on Mint this week and just had to repost. Chocolate Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches. Such a cute and fun way to celebrate this Sunday with a casual dessert. Plus, you can make a few days ahead so you can spend quality time with your family, instead of in the kitchen.

Chocolate Strawberry Heart-Shaped Ice Cream Sandwiches, makes 24

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pints strawberry ice cream, slightly softened
  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, vanilla, and sugar. Add eggs and milk, and mix until combined. Add reserved flour mixture, and mix on low speed until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula at least once. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface; use an offset spatula to unstick the dough every few turns of the rolling pin. Roll dough to an 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough using a variety of heart-shaped cookie cutters from 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter, making sure there is a top and bottom cookie for each sandwich. Place hearts on a parchment-lined baking sheet; chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator; use a fork to prick holes all over the surface of the cookies. Bake until firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. Using half the cookies, spoon softened strawberry ice cream about 1/2 inch thick on each underside. Place matching cookie on top of ice cream, top-side facing out. Transfer immediately to freezer to harden; repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve directly from the freezer. Sandwiches can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for 3 to 4 days.

February 6, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

We just joined a CSA for 2010 and are SUPER excited about it. Being passionate about supporting local businesses, especially restaurants, we are excited that we can also support local business while eating at home too. Check out what Local Harvest has to say about it below, and check out their site to learn more about CSA's in your area. Sign up now to get in before May!

From LocalHarvest.org...

Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. In brief...

Advantages for farmers:

  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for consumers:

  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
  • Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never been known to eat
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

It's a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it. The government does not track CSAs, so there is no official count of how many CSAs there are in the U.S.. LocalHarvest has the most comprehensive directory of CSA farms, with over 2,500 listed in our grassroots database. In 2008, 557 CSAs signed up with LocalHarvest, and in the first two months of 2009, an additional 300 CSAs joined the site.

February 4, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark

Starting a new weekly post today. I love to cook, bake, etc. Basically anything that allows me to put on my cute little apron.

So, a super favorite of mine is Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark. Plus, the hubs loves anything with PB. This recipe is SUPER easy, but you do need time for the chocolate to harden again, so prepare in advance. It also looks like you took a LOT of time to prepare - so gourmet.

1 lb. almond chocolate
1 lb. jar peanut butter

Line a jelly roll pan with wax or parchment paper. Melt white chocolate and peanut butter together. Spread in jelly roll pan. Let stand until set and then break into pieces.

Some notes on melting your chocolate... You can temper chocolate in the microwave, but make sure you do it correctly, or your chocolate won't firm up again. So, cut your baking chocolate up into smaller pieces. Using a glass bowl, heat the chocolate for 1 1/2 minutes. Take out and stir. Then, continue to heat in 30 second intervals, making sure to stir in between each one, until the chocolate is melted. Once melted, poor into your jelly roll pan.

  • Melt an extra 1 lb. chocolate and spread on top of peanut butter mixture. With knife, cut through in swirls.
  • Sprinkle toffee or chocolate chips on top.
  • Use chunky peanut butter.