Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas...

Merry Christmas everyone!

Love seeing all the pretty lights all around town.

And my little festive light I hung in my apartment.

I am loving my winter "tablescape" (In the words of Sandra Lee! Oh my god, you guys, have you caught her new show on the Cooking Channel?? She's so epic. My mom and I are obsessed. She's a riot).

Anyway, I started by mixing some green, silver and gold glitter ornaments with some cinnamon scented pine cones in a couple different large hurricane vases. Then, I have my yarn wrapped beer bottle and sweater wrapped vase that I made from Pinterest tutorials.
Finally, the pièce de résistance: my friend and I spend a recent morning, over scones and mimosas, making the festive, wrapped cone Trees! I wrapped one with a faux fur skinny boa, one with burlap and a vintage-looking gold beaded garland, both from Michael's, then, made the third one out of strips of wax paper. How cute are they?! I love them. I mean, who doesn't want a fur tree!

We used this tutorial here:  Handmade Christmas Trees from the lovely Shauna Mailloux.
She has so many great ideas, plus Pinterest has so many others, as well. These are so fun to make!

While I was at Target the other day, I saw this bin of the cutest ornaments...then realized these all would be SO easy to DIY! Take that, Target!!

Those little reindeer on the right are just yarn wrapped plastic animal toys, same as how I wrapped the beer bottle above.  The big sweater ornament balls on the left would be easy to craft, same as my sweater vase above.  And the little silver glitter reindeer guy behind those is just like This Tutorial I was going to use to make some decorative bookshelf trinkets (also can be ornaments or book ends).
Sorry retail shops, you've been found out thanks to Pinterest!! Ha!

And, check out my little twine clothesline card 'tree' I hung on my wall to display all my holiday cards!

Happy Holidays, everyone!
Thanks so much for supporting my little blog. It means so much!
So there.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Season's Greetings

You guys, I decided to MAKE my holiday cards this year. Like, start with blank cardstock and a pile of crafting materials, make them.
It was quite a bit of work, but they turned out so cute!

I used buttons, rhinestones, metallic paint, burlap, twine, ribbon, scrapbook paper, pieces of old holiday cards, and Chevron print glitter tape adhesive ribbon. Plus Elmer's Glue and hot glue. And went to town creating my own layouts and design ideas.
I used the end of a pencil, and a wine cork to do the painted dots.

What do you think?
Hope you are having a wonderful holiday season!
So there.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Espresso Truffles

It's that time of year again...I'm making Peppermint Bark!!  It seems to get a bit easier every year I make it.  Still a bit imperfect...we'll call it rustic-looking; but hey, I guess that is what makes it different from, say, This Peppermint Bark

But I also have something special to share...

My first Guest Post!

I have so many crafty, foodie friends, I'm always asking them to do a guest post with their great creations!
Today my friend Molly is awesome enough to share her amazing truffles she makes every year! 
Don't these look amazing!? Also, her food photography puts mine to shame!  I need to hire her just to come over and be my photographer while I'm cooking and crafting!! Enjoy :)

Espresso Truffles

Truffles are an elegant candy that are perfect as a special holiday party treat. They might appear intimidating, but are easier to make than you think! You can have fun with the coating too, whether it's nuts, crushed Oreo cookies, coconut, cocoa or drizzled chocolate of a different variety. Package them up in gold truffle wrappers and your friends will think you picked them up at the local candy shop! 

Although there are a couple steps involved, as long as you have some room in your freezer and plan ahead, the actual result is beautiful and well worth it. 

See the full recipe here:

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Things I Love Thursdays

Time for another Things I Love Thursdays!

1. First of all, my bestest friend since 6th grade has been living in London for the past 2 years, and is home for the Holidays! Hooray!!
We obviously had to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Avila's El Ranchito in Costa Mesa. Yum!

Check out her amazing website dedicated to Vivien Leigh & Laurence Olivier and her great photography blog, Days in Mayfair.

2. This Jar Opener from The Container Store is the best $9 I ever spent. It works on any size jar, from the tiny hotel size jam I stole was given, to a big jar of sauce. It is so easy to use!

3. These frozen pasta meals and soups from Bertolli are actually really good! Thanks to my Momma for telling me to try them, and to Vons for finally having them on sale for $5! This one is a creamy, cheesy tomato soup with spinach, basil, chicken, and tortellini. YUM! Just add a cup of water, and heat on the stove like canned soup, until it thaws and is warmed through. Tasty!! And so perfect for this "I guess it is FINALLY winter in Southern California" weather we're having lately. Brrr!


4.  You know you are finally in a nice apartment complex when the leasing office and mailboxes both have Holiday craft and recipe tutorials posted! How adorable is that?! I'm going to like it here...

5.  And finally, thank you to the always witty Urban Outfitters for the To-Do list that we all REALLY need, especially around the holidays.
 You're welcome!


So there.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Leftovers Grilled Cheese

I may have made the greatest Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich ever.
If I do say so myself.

I was inspired by this fantastic, amazing blog:  Grilled Cheese Social.
A whole blog dedicated to nothing but grilled cheese recipes? Um, she's a genius.

While staying at my parents' house this past weekend, I rummaged through the fridge for everything Thanksgiving, plus everything grilled cheese. Plus avocado. Because it's awesome.
They didn't have any stuffing or mashed potatoes left, but there was turkey and cranberry sauce galore.
Let the sandwich making begin!

I took 2 slices of white bread, spread mayonnaise on both sides, then layered turkey and some Muenster cheese. (I actually made this twice...I know, I know...it was that good, and once used shredded Jack cheese instead. I recommend either. or both!) Then, added a layer of sliced avocado, and topped with spoonfuls of chunky cranberry sauce.
Then, carefully closed the sandwich, and buttered both outsides of the bread. Listen, mayo...butter...I didn't say healthy, low-fat Thanksgiving leftovers grilled cheese. I said AMAZING. So, just do it. The butter makes the outside so much toastier. Yes, that's a word. So there.
Grill in a pan over medium heat, until bread is toasted, and cheese is melted.
Slice diagonally like us fancy people do, and enjoy the amazingness.


Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family and lots of food!
I sure did. Isn't my hometown, where my parents still live, just so pretty? I was loving all the fall leaves!
Lovely Auburn, CA.

ALSO, In other news, Trader Joe's said they should be re-stocking the long sold out Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli and Pumpkin cereal bars after Thanksgiving, and low and behold, they weren't lyin'!!

And now my kitchen is restocked with all this pumpkin goodness!
So there.

I have linked up over at Inspiration for Moms' Throwback Thursday Linky Party!

and over at Crafty Allie's Friday Follow Along Linky Party TGiF!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Liebster Blog Award!

I've been nominated for The Liebster Blog Award by Mariely Velez from Sensational Creations!  Thank you so much Mariely, you are so thoughtful!

The Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers. “Liebster” is German for “favorite”. So this is the “favorite blog award”.
[I am not certain that these blogs don't have way more than 200 followers, but they just are some of my favorites!]
So, you need to start with 11 facts about you, answer the 11 questions asked of you by the blogger who gave you this award, nominate 11 bloggers (let them know you have nominated them), and then come up with 11 new questions for the bloggers you nominated.

11 Facts About Me

1. I grew up in the forest of Northern CA.
2. I don't like most dogs.
3. My sister is my best friend.
4. As much as I obsess over pumpkin everything in the fall, I am allergic to pumpkin seeds (pepitas).
5. I love making up new dinner recipe creations.
6. I am still terrible at remembering to take photos as a complete a recipe.
7. I wish I had an outdoor patio or garage so I could refinish some of my furniture with all my Pinterest ideas.
8. I don't like soda, and have never drank a can of soda.
9. I am terrible at walking in high heels.
10. I love wine.
11. The best cookie I ever had was called a 'ranger cookie' with coconut, oatmeal, chocolate chips, and more!
Questions from Sensational Creations:

1. How long have you been blogging?
Two years, but only recently have I taken it more seriously.

2. Why you decided to join the blogging world?
Because my mom says I am a funny writer, and I was posting WAY too much on Facebook, haha.
3. Movies or TV series?
TV series.

4. What's your favorite food?
Shoot. Always hard to pick just one!

5. Name some of your hobbies.
Used to dance. Wish I still did it more. Now I like to cook, craft, and I make hair clips that I sell on Etsy.

6. Favorite actor or actress and favorite singer.
Julia Roberts.  Steven Tyler.
7. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I think here, in OC. :)

8. Do you have any pets?
1 crazy black cat, Fiona.
9. What's your favorite color?
10. What are you afraid of?
Not heights, but falling.

11. What's the best thing that's ever happened to you?
My sister and family :)

My Nominees are:

1.   Kendra with Days in Mayfair
2.   Jacquelyn with The Howard Bunch
3.   Lindsay with Every Single Day
4.   Megan with Nutrition Transitions
5.   Adrienne with The Hicks Family
6.   Megan with The Pink Flour
7.   Meg with Big Red Clifford
8.   Barbara with Chase the Star
9.   Raquel with Organized Island
10. Mary with Let's Play OC
11. Emilia with Confessions of a Tanorexic

And my questions to you:

1.  How long have you been blogging?
2.  Why did you decide to start blogging?
3.  What are you thankful for this year?
4.  What is your favorite thing about the holiday season?
5.  What is your favorite restaurant?
6.  Do you love Pinterest as much as I do?!
7.  What is the best thing you bought lately?
8.   If you could only eat 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
9.  What is your favorite tv show and all time favorite movie?
10. What is your favorite color nail polish to wear?
11. How do you spend your free time? Hobbies?

Go check out all my favorite (Liebster) blogs! Congrats to all the nominees! Don't forget to save a Liebster Blog Award image for your blog!
Thanks again for nominating me Mariely!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Caramel Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Blondie Squares

Pumpkin Dessert...for the win!
I brought this to my office Thanksgiving Potluck, and it was a big hit.
If you aren't familiar with blondies, they are a brownie's non-chocolate counterpart. Everything you love about the texture of brownies, but made with more of a yellow cake mix idea.
These are made with pumpkin and lots of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, and are so delicious!

 The caramel filling proved to be amazingly tasty, but so messy. Even though I let them cool in the refrigerator overnight, before I attempted to cut them into squares, the caramel never hardened up much, and created a nice lava flow effect upon slicing.
I would perhaps try leaving out the heavy cream that is mixed in with the caramels, so that it might harden up more, when cooled.
OR, just embrace it, and serve warm, scooped into bowls with ice cream. Now that's a good plan B!
I think this seems more like a cobbler of caramely goodness, than neatly cut blondie squares.
No matter how you serve these up, they are festive and delicious!!

See this recipe found at Tasty Kitchen for the full recipe.
These are really easy to make.  The hardest part was unwrapping all the caramels! Sit yourself in front of the tv with a trash bowl and a caramel bowl....and a glass of wine helps, too ;)

You layer 2/3 of the batter into a 9x13 greased pan, then spread the caramel layer over, and top with dollops of the remaining 1/3 of the batter, spreading to mostly cover the caramel layer.
Bake, let cool, and enjoy!!

So there.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Things I Love Thursdays

I thought I'd start a new weekly blog entry with all my favorite things I've found this week - Mostly from Pinterest!

1.  I am a huge fan of dry shampoo. I used to use a drugstore brand, but seriously, this Biosilk one my friend got me hooked on is worth the $13 price tag.
No white powder residue, great smell, I am loving it. Though, I'm going through this $13 bottle much too quickly!
What's your favorite hair product?

2.  Pinterest always has new easy up-do hairstyles to try, but most look like hell on my fine hair. Aka bald spot below. BUT! There actually is hope with this one, if I tried a bit harder. The photo was of my "under one minute" attempt, as the style is titled, haha.

Try the Under-One-Minute-UpDo for yourself. My friend had great luck with it! All you need is an elastic headband. ...Give yourself about two minutes, just to be safe ;)

3.  One Pinterest hair do I actually can use is the...drum roll...Sock Bun!
Rolling your hair up into a high bun, using a piece of a thin dress sock. Works miracles, I tell ya. You've got to try this one.
I mean...if it's good enough for Olympic competitors, it's good enough for you.
Note, for my hair, the sock bun CURLS are bullsh*t. Don't work at ALL. But, I don't care. I like wearing the sock bun just for the purpose of an easy, neat up-do!

4.  Number four....Wine (have a peaked your interest?)...by the Glass (what?!). I know. Crazy!. But, it's true. And I saw it first on Shark Tank.
These plastic, resealable, single serving wine glasses are perfect for a picnic! And they taste pretty good, too!
They are available at grocery stores; I found mine at Ralph's.

5. And lastly, to stay with the topic of wine, are my adorable, funky, unique wine glasses I bought off Ebay.  I was tired of my boring Ikea wine glasses, and decided my stemware needed some color and excitement. I LOVE the retro goblets and colored stemless glasses. They make a glass of wine that much more fun to drink! (As if you needed a reason ;)  )  They make any evening feel like a special occasion. 
So, go ahead, add a little interest to your glass ware!

5 Things I Love Thursday.
So There.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dinner Afterthought: Sweet Potato Beer Biscuits

What does any normal person do, when she gets home and is starving, so she quickly makes an open face grilled cheese (with mozzarella, Parmesan, and goat cheese. yum.), then realizes she's still hungry?
Stares at one lone sweet potato.  And makes sweet potato pumpkin beer biscuits with a honey sage butter.
See? normal.

Afterthought biscuits!
I found this recipe on Pinterest, and ever since my friend started her awesome blog Bake it With Booze!, I've been wanting to make a beer bread.
I juuuust happened to have 1 seasonal pumpkin beer left in my fridge, along with that lone sweet potato, so I whipped up these biscuits thanks to this recipe over at The Beeroness. Thanks girl for the recipe!!

There is something kind of fun and satisfying about mixing and kneading a dough with your hands.  Anything like this, where you crumble the cold butter into a flour mix, is best done with your hands.

After the dough came together, I passed on rolling it out and cutting out squares, in favor of just making drop biscuits. Laziness.

These baked up great, and were amazing topped with a honey sage butter (didn't have the suggested maple syrup; honey substituted fine).

The perfect fall biscuit.
So There!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Cinnamon Stick Candle

When I saw this festive cinnamon stick candle DIY on Pinterest, I knew I had to make one. This beautiful display is by Beth at Home Stories A to Z

There are a few different tutorials out there in the world of Pinterest. Some have you hot glue the sticks to the candle, but this one uses a rubber band to secure them all, and then covers it with twine.

I thought this was easier, and plus, then you could always re-use the candle AND the cinnamon sticks.

I asked the world of Facebook where I could get a bunch of cheap cinnamon sticks, because the little bottle in the spice section of the grocery store is anywhere from $4 to $8! No thank you.

Dollar Store, people. Dollar Store!! I should have known.  I also live near a Mexican supermarket that has them pretty cheap, but the 99 Cent Store ones seemed to be more uniform in size.
So I bought up a bunch of those, found a short stubby candle to use, 'borrowed' a rubber band from my desk at work, and got crafting!

Oh, and after refusing to spend like over $10 at several stores I checked, even Walmart, for a candle like this, I found a huge supply of all sizes at Ross and TJ Maxx for around $3.99 each. Love that.

See Beth's Full Tutorial here, for all the details, but basically, you place the rubber band halfway up the candle, and begin tucking each cinnamon stick into it.  
The other problem I ran into, was if you have an especially fat stick next to a thinner stick, the thinner stick falls right out of the rubber band! I had to play with it a bit to get them all to stay in place.
I suppose the hot glue method was on to something in this sense.

Anyway, this really took no time at all to get all the cinnamon sticks into place, and then I cut a piece of burlap, and a piece of burgundy ribbon, to wrap around the candle, covering up the rubber band.
(I added the ribbon because the burlap is translucent, and you could see the rubber band through it.)
The twine pictured above and in the full tutorial would also look great.
I am just am on an extreme burlap kick right now.

Check out my adorable finished candle below!
So festive!

The question most asked on Pinterest, was if it had a wonderful cinnamon-y smell as the sticks warmed up from the burning candle.
Don't go into it expecting a strong cinnamon-apple-cider-boiling-away-in-your-kitchen scent right away, but yes, it does definitely smell of cinnamon!

I love this DIY!
So there.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Holiday Cheer! Holiday Cheer!

You guys! The red cups are back for the Holidays at Starbucks! I LOVE THE RED CUPS! They symbolize the beginning of the holiday season, which is such a (and I quote...) wonderful time of the year!

Now before you start throwing a tantrum up on your soapbox, let me say that this does not mean I will stop putting pumpkin in every dish I make, take down my Fall Decor, or start playing Christmas music. That last one is a lie...I started months ago. Judge if you must.

But, it does mean double the holiday fun, so bring it on!
I love the seasonal drinks that come along with the Starbucks red cups. Gingerbread and eggnog lattes fight a good fight to rival my adored PSL (pumpkin spice lattes) this time of year.

My friend also told me making an eggnog chai is pretty amazeballs, so I'm stoked to try that next!

Check out this site for the details on all the seasonal drinks.

So go out there and embrace the holiday cheer!
So there.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Chai Spiced Mashed Sweet Potato!

I pinned these chai spiced sweet potatoes awhile ago, and my friend luckily reminded me about them this week, right when I had just bought some sweet potatoes!
OMG, you guys, they are SO good!!

[ By the way, this said friend has an amazingly pretty line of invitations at her site One Handspun Day. They are handpainted and sold as printables for customized use. Check them out over at her site! ]

The link above to the actual recipe from Oh My Veggies uses vanilla coconut milk, brown sugar, and chai spices, which sounds divine; and also recommends you bake the raw potatoes in the oven.  Buuuuuut, I didn't have any milk (at all) on hand, and was starvin' marvin, wanting to eat soon, so I totally cheated in every aspect.

(pictured: brown sugar, I didn't even end up needing to add.)

I poked a few holes with a fork in 1 medium sweet potato, and microwaved for 4-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, I boiled a bit of water (1/2 cup?) in a pan, and made a concentrated chai tea, with a powdered vanilla honey chai mix that has powdered milk in it.
I also threw in a bit of my pumpkin spice chai mix from Trader Joe's, because, seriously, why not!

Boil the tea mix for a few minutes so it cooks down a bit, I added a bit more ginger, too, then pour into a mug and set aside.

Then, scoop out the potato flesh, and add into the, now empty, hot pan that the chai was in.
Now, while whisking, add a bit of the chai mix a little at a time, incorporating as you go, until the consistency is right. 
I topped with a bit of ricotta cheese, to tell myself this was dinner, and not dessert!!

These were so, so good.
Taste just like a warm, spiced chai latte, but, you know, with the awesomeness of sweet potato!

I realize this photo doesn't do them justice, but you've got to just trust me on this one.

Everyone who loves chai tea, should really make these immediately!
So there.

Give Thanks. So There.

Well, on to the next Holiday!

But, if you have leftover candy from Halloween (or leftover Butterfinger from the recipe I made here!) make sure to try one of these yummy desserts!!

Source: http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2011/08/butterfinger-blondies.html

Source: http://www.couponingncooking.com/2012/10/butterfinger-fudge.html

On to Thanksgiving! I am loving the fall decor using indian corn that I have seen on Pinterest lately.
I heard they have some at Sprouts...I may just buy up their whole supply and try making one of these wreaths or centerpieces!

Source: http://yourcozyhome.blogspot.com/2011_10_01_archive.html

Source: http://authentica-itsaboutbeingreal.blogspot.com/2011/09/time-to-get-corny.html

Happy Fall!
So there.