Monday, December 8, 2014

25 Days of Craft Beer

My husband is always a hard person to buy Christmas gifts for.  He is pretty picky about clothes, if he sees something he wants he usually just buys it or the item he wants is out of the price range I want to spend.  Over the past year or so, my husband has become a sort of beer snob.  He has started brewing his own beer and he loves trying new craft brews.  

I had the idea to get him 25 different craft beers so he could have a sort of craft beer advent calendar.  Luckily a new beer store opened near us in time for me to pull this off.  Since I know nothing about beer I went into the store and asked for help.  They were amazing and picked out all 25 bottles for me.  I had an idea of what he liked just from what I had seen him drink.  I knew I had a good idea when the guy helping me at the store told me what a great idea it was and said he wasn't sure how I could top it next year.

I did not have much time to make any kind of elaborate holder for the 25 bottles since I literally put this all together the morning of December 1st.  I wrapped each bottle with Christmas tissue paper and put a label on each one with "Days til Christmas" and the number of days left.  

My husband loved the surprise and anyone that has heard about it thinks its super fun.  I guess I will be making this a new tradition but next year I will pick up my game with the presentation!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cloth Covered Bulletin Board

I have been in the process of redoing my craft/work area. Its a very long process because I want it to be just right.  I am trying to reuse a lot of the things I already have.  While looking through everything I decided to update my boring old cork board.

I found a really cute print at JoAnn Fabrics in the clearance section and purchased 3 yards (even though I knew it was too much but wanted extra in case.)  Once I got it home, I ironed the fabric and laid the fabric on the board.  I went around the perimeter with a butter knife tucking the fabric in between the frame and board.

After the fabric was all tucked in I started going around inside the frame placing push pins all the way around.  This took a lot longer than I could have imagined and my fingers were pretty sore!!

I left enough excess fabric to pull down tight in back.

I was going to use a staple gun to keep the back fabric down but it would not go into the frame and the actual cork board was too thin.  Instead I used hot glue to keep the fabric down.

I love the way it came out.  I like it so much I almost don't want to use it as bulletin board.  As soon as my work area is complete I will post a photo of it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Wine Bottle Decor

Some projects come out much better than expected while other projects are nothing like you the picture in your head.  The other day I had a great idea (or so I thought.)  I wanted to make Halloween wine bottles for decoration.  It seemed so promising….did not turn out the way I had hoped.

I first cut the bottoms off the wine glass by scoring the bottom and going back and forth pouring boiling water and ice water on the bottom of the bottle.  This took a little time and I will have to practice this a little more in order to make the cut even at the bottom.  After the cut was complete I sanded down the bottom to get rid of any jagged edges.

I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut a few Halloween shapes out on contact paper.

Next, I set up a spray paint station in the garage and got to work. I did at least 7 coats on each bottle.  I wanted to make sure there there wouldn't be any light peaking through in any other place than where I wanted.

After giving the bottles ample time to dry I peeled the contact paper off the bottles.  I was really excited to see how it came out but I was so disappointed when I put the candles inside and realized the light was not bright enough to show the design.  I tried every combination I could think of but unfortunately nothing worked.  There was also a problem with the candle not staying light in one of the bottles.

I picked up mini halloween lights at the dollar store and they work better than the candles but it is still not the look I was hoping for. It is a cute decoration and the boys seem to think its neat and they are really the only critics I care about.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weekend Baking Round up

Every year around this time I feel the overwhelming need to bake.  I think its not only ingredients that are in season (apples, pumpkins) but also the cool air.  I can't stand turning on the oven in the summer but when the temps start dropping it feels so homey to have something baking in the oven.  As I have said before, I am addicted to Pinterest and discovering new recipes.  Over the weekend I decided to give a few a try.  

-Mrs. Fields Oatmeal cookies mix (Found it Christmas Tree Shop) but I added white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.

I love these Pumpkin cookies.  They are on the healthy side, very little sugar, whole wheat flour and no butter.  There are some chocolate chips so this really satisfies the sweet tooth but I do not have to feel guilty eating it or packing it as a snack for my little guy.

I was really excited to try out this spider chocolate chip cookies idea.  I decided to stay with the recipe provided because I wanted to make sure it was a flatter cookie that would be easy to put the spider on.  My husband LOVED these cookies and I think they are a really cute festive idea for this time of year.  I am going to make them for a fall festival bake sale at my sons school.

I also made these Healthy Carrot muffins from Martha Stewart.  This is actually the second time I have made them.  They satisfied everyone in my house which is amazing.  My kids loved them for breakfast, I love them and my husband (who is not always the easiest to please especially when something is healthy) enjoys them.  I found a Jack-O-Lantern cupcake mold I forgot I had and made half the muffins using it.  The boys loved it and probably half the reason they eat them!

All in all the weekends baking was a success.  I would 100% recommend trying out any of these recipes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Initial Artwork

Recently my husband painted our basement and we have been trying to be creative and repurpose stuff we already have for wall decor.  We came across a few canvases that were a DIY project gone wrong from a few years back.   We spray painted them white and I decided it would be the perfect project for my little guys.  

I first used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out their initials with contact paper.  I put their initials in the middle of the canvas and set them up to start painting.

I decided to have them use finger paint instead of regular acrylic.  They loved it.  They used their hands, toes and about 10 paintbrushes.  

Painting complete!

Once the paint was dry, I peeled up the letters and we had our masterpieces.  The boys were so proud of their work!

I think it looks really cute on the wall in our basement!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

The past month has been crazy.  Between vacations, the start of school and my little guy's second birthday I have been very busy with little projects and trying out new recipes but I have been awful at sharing everything.  Now that life has finally calmed down (a bit) I am going to try my hardest to post at least once a week. 

Dan, my 3 year old, has been asking for cookies a lot lately.  For me, cookies are my diet downfall.  I can not walk past a batch of chocolate chip cookies without grabbing 1…or 5.  When I came across this recipe for Oatmeal Coconut Flour Cookies  on Pinterest I decided to give them a try.  I had just bought some coconut flour (without knowing what I was going to use it for) and this seemed like the perfect recipe to try out.  

They came out delicious.  They do have a mild coconut flavor from the coconut flour and oil.  For not having any of your "typical" cookie ingredients like butter, white flour or sugar, these cookies were amazing and I can not wait to make them again.  I feel a little less guilty eating 1 or 2...

Friday, September 5, 2014

Pretty, Pink, Paisley Painted Table

I can't believe another season has come and gone. Even though my posts have been seriously lacking, it does not mean I have not been busy with various projects around the house. At the beginning of spring my mom picked up a great wood table and chair set for my little niece at a second time around sale but the table was painted blue and yellow.

I volunteered to repaint the table to match my niece's room better.  It came out adorable if I do say so myself! My sister loves all Lily Pulitzer so I decided I was going to paint the table in that theme.  My husband spray painted the table and chairs a light pink color. I found a paisley pattern Martha Stewart silk screen and used that to paint the table. I chose to do it in a more random design instead of a thought out pattern. I think it came out pretty nice. 


My little niece loves the new addition to her room and I could not be happier!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pear Martini

Every summer I find myself gravitating towards a particular cocktail.  A few weeks ago, while at a restaurant in Asbury Park, NJ I ordered a Pear martini and loved it so much I had to recreate it at home.  Last week while on vacation I indulged and allowed myself to drink one every night.  It doesn't taste too strong but can pack a punch so 1 is enough!

To make this delicious drink simply mix together the below ingredients in a shaker over ice and pour into your favorite martini glass.

3 ounces pear vodka

3 ounces St-Germain

1 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Perfect Summer Dish

Who doesn't love the summer time and all the delicious food that goes along with it.  One of my favorite summer foods is seafood.  I love almost all seafood but clams are a particular favorite of mine.  I think the most delicious thing to eat on a warm summer day near the pool is a grilled clam and sausage dish I first had at my friends house.  It is really easy to make and adapt to your taste and can be an appetizer or an entree.  

First take about 3 or 4 hot sausage links and cut them out of their casing.  I usually break them up and sautĂ© them in a minimal amount of olive oil and wait for them to get all brown and delicious.  When done I throw them into a foil pan.  Then I zest 2 lemons and use the juice from both.  Clean, add the bag of 50 clams to the foil pan and drizzle about a quarter cup of olive oil on top.  Lastly, pour about three quarters of a bottle of white wine into the pan. The liquid should come up halfway in the pan.  The clams should not be submerged in the liquid.  Cover with aluminum foil and set on the grill on high until all the clams open.  About 10 minutes.  Serve with your favorite bread (Rosemary Sea Salt from Wegmans if it is up to me) and dig in.

We have made this recipe with mussels as well as clams and we have also tweaked the recipe with a few different additions like garlic, fresh herbs and chili flakes.  This is also great over pasta.  The "juice" this meal makes is delicious!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rent the Runway

A little while ago I wrote a post about a few of my favorite websites for the upcoming wedding season. I had a black tie wedding at the end of June and instead of spending hundreds on a dress I will never wear again, I decided to rent a dress from Rent the Runway.  

I looked at RTR over and over again for days but kept coming back to the same dress.  This pink ML by Monique Lhuiller dress.  While placing my order I decided to pay for their "Pro" option.  For $30 you get free shipping/insurance for a year plus you get a free dress for your birthday.  If you were to just order without Pro, shipping and insurance cost $15 per transaction so I figured I was halfway there anyway.  

A day after I placed the order I received another email from RTR promoting their "mystery stylist" option.  For $15 you are sent an accessory their stylist believes goes with the dress.  I ended up taking the leap and trying this out as well.  Didn't seem like much of a gamble and since I knew I was not going to have a chance to get to shop for any accessories it seemed like a smart decision.  I was sent a beautiful Kate Spade bracelet that is usually rented for $40!  I was so happy with their selection and my sister had the perfect coordinating earrings I was able to borrow. 

When I received it I was not confident in my decision but once my hair and make up were done I felt like a princess.  I have received countless compliments on my dress!

I would strongly recommend using RTR for any events.  The process is so easy and returning the dress is a piece of cake.  I can not wait until I have my next reason to rent. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Birthday Popcorn!

In an effort to continue my healthy and clean eating, I have starting exploring new snack ideas.  Around the holidays I became addicted to popcorn but knew I could not continue to share my husbands popcorn which was made on the stove with oil.  I was given an air popped popcorn maker for Christmas which I was really excited about and now air popped popcorn has become a staple in my diet.  

I will get to a healthy alternative in a minute, but a few weeks ago I was making chocolate treats for my MIL's birthday party.  I had some leftover chocolate and popcorn laying around so I decided to combine the two.  This was also a great activity for my little guy to get involved in.  I just spread the popcorn out on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and drizzled the chocolate on top.  Before the chocolate had a chance to harden, I threw some sprinkles on.  Such a delicious treat and so addictive!!!

While this is amazing and a great treat alternative it is not an everyday item.  There are so many delicious ways to make popcorn a little more exciting that just plain air popped!  My latest obsession is having the popcorn with a little spray of coconut oil, a sprinkle of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt and a dash of cayenne.  Might sound weird but it has everything, crunch, sweet, salty and spicy.  Its a great snack and you can eat 3 cups for only 100 calories!  Try might get hooked!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wedding Season

I love to get dressed up and this wedding season I will be doing it a lot!  I have put together some sites that I have been turning to to help me create the perfect look.  

I just assumed everyone knew about RTR, but the more I talk to people the more I realize people have yet to discover this treasure.  RTR is a site that allows you to rent designer dresses for a fraction of the cost of retail.  At RTR you can find something in any price range because dresses rent from $30 - $400.  You are able to rent the dresses for a  4 day stretch or 8 days for an additional cost.  I will warn you, you can lose a good chunk of time browsing all the dresses.  Pay attention to the user reviews and pictures.  I have discovered a lot of the dresses I was thinking about renting look much different on real women and photograph differently.  Another plus, RTR will send you the same dress in 2 sizes in case you are on the fence.  Here are just a few of my favorites....

Nanette Lepore/ Wild One Dress/ Rental $85
ML Monique Lhuillier/ Give Me a Smooch Gown/ Rental $125
Reem Acra/ Sapphire Serenity Gown/ Rental $70
Zac Zac Posen/ Celedon Silk Gown/ Rental $298

This is another great site for accessories.  Everything is super cute and lately they have been running 24 hour deals.  During the 24 hour deal, I get an email letting me know one item has been marked down.  Last night I finally gave in and bought a necklace that was marked down to $20.  To my surprise, there were no extra fees!!! No tax and no shipping charges!!!! How amazing is that?!?!?  I was waiting to get hit with another $10 in fees but there was nothing.  Of course, if you wanted the item faster than ground shipping you would have to pay but I have no rush.  This is a great way to build an amazing accessories collection.  Plus Baublebar gives credits with every purchase and when enough are accrued you can use these credits for future purchases.

I know I have talked about Birchbox multiple times but I love this subscription based site.  It feels like Christmas every month when my box arrives.  Even if you do not want to have a subscription to the site you can purchase all different kinds of makeup and hair care products.  They have some great eye shadow palettes available right now.  

Jamberry Nail Shields are another one of my favorite things (yes I know I am a consultant so I am a little biased).   Jamberry's are so fun and a great way to change up or accessorize your look.  There are endless styles so you can be as bold or subtle as you would like.  I encourage you to give them a try.  They are addictive!!!  Here are a few cute ones to wear to a wedding.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bachelorette Party Wine Glasses

Over the weekend I had a great time at one of my best and oldest friend's bachelorette party.  The bachelorette party was an all day wine tour out on the east end of Long Island.  I was so excited to go because it had been a long time since I had been able to go to a winery carefree (not pregnant or nursing!)  There were about 20 ladies that were a part of the festivities and we had a party bus for our transportation.  The mother of the bride had the cute idea to have mini champagne bottles and individual orange juice bottles for the girls so we could enjoy  mimosas on the drive out to the wineries.  I volunteered to make the glasses that everyone could use for their beverages of choice.  

After going over a few options, I decided to etch "MB's Bachelorette Wine Tour" on each glass.  After playing around with my Silhouette I was able to get the sizing just right to fit on the wine glasses.  I used contact paper from the dollar store and cut 20 of the stencils out.  

Once all the stencils were cut I started the assembly line.  I applied all the stencils to the glasses and starting etching.  (I apologize I was so wrapped up in making the glasses I forgot to take pics along the way.)  In batches of 3 or 4 I painted on the etching paint and left it on about 1 or 2 min a piece and washed all the etching paint off.   After all the glasses were complete I applied some self adhesive rhinestones just to bling them out.  Here was the brides finished product.

I did not go as rhinestone crazy with the rest of the girls.  I just applied a few rhinestones to the glass not the stem.  One thing I did not think of was condensation from the glass.  The rhinestones slid around and some came off completely.  Oh well.....They were a cute idea!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jamberry Revisited!

A few months ago I wrote a post about my experience with Jamberry Nails.  At the time I was intrigued with the product and eager to try it out.  Painting my nails is not something I have the luxury of doing on a regular basis and finding the time to actually get a manicure is out of the question. 

I did not have a great experience when I first tried the Jamberry Nail Wraps but as I said in my original post I felt like it was my fault.  Even the consultant that gave the party admitted she did not do a good job demonstrating how to apply.  I decided to try it out again because I really did love the idea of them and the designs are amazing.  Lets be honest, how many people actually have the time to do any of the crazy nail art we see in the magazines or on Pinterest.  

After trying again I had success!  I was so excited!  Now I am a little addicted.  If applied correctly, they last a week on me. Other people say you can get 2 weeks out of them but to be honest, after a week I am ready to switch them out anyway!

The picture on the left is right after I applied the Jamberry and the picture on the right is 7 days later.  It is amazing to see the difference between the Jamberry and the nail polish.  It lasts so much longer!

Below I did an pinkie accent with a Jamberry sample I had been given and painted the rest of my nails with a cute nail polish I received in my latest Birchbox (review to come.)  It was perfect for a neighborhood brunch and Eater egg hunt!

This is the current design I have on my nails.  Pointer and pinkie were Jamberry accents and the pink is regular nail polish.  Pastel and Springy...perfect for Easter!

I love these nail wraps so much I have decided to make the leap and become a Jamberry consultant.  If you have any interest in learning more about them please reach out and let me know.  I would be happy to answer any questions!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kitchen Canisters

For Christmas, my husband bought me the Silhouette Cameo.  I was really excited to get it but felt a little overwhelmed by all the projects I could do.  Sometimes when my wheels start spinning like that I get paralyzed instead of getting to work.  Eventually I bought the Silhouette Vinyl starter kit just so I had a place to start. 

I received this set of white canisters from my wedding shower years ago.  I like the idea of them but never really put them to good use.   

The starter kit came with a green color that would look perfect with the other colors in our kitchen.  I played around with the fonts and sizes a bit until I found what I liked.  It was so easy and I loved the results.  

Now we are actually using the canisters everyday.  It really helps when you don't have to guess what is in each container!  Now I am walking around my house taking notes on what should be labeled next.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pancakes for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Meals are a special time of day at my house.  With a 3 year old and an 18 month old I never know what they will eat.  It changes from day to day.  The one thing I can almost guarantee the two of them will sit and eat is a pancake.

A few months ago I realized we were out of Bisquick but I really wanted a stress free meal.  I figured it could not be that hard for me to just make it from scratch.  After some trial and error I have come up with  a recipe that gets equal praise from my husband and kids!

1 Cup Flour
1.5 TBSP Sugar
1 TSP Baking Power
1/2 TSP Baking Soda
1/2 TSP Salt
1/2 TBSP Cinnamon (I probably add a little more because I love cinnamon)

3/4 Cup Milk
2 TBSP Vinegar or Lemon Juice
1 Egg
2 TBSP Melted Butter
1 TSP Vanilla Extract

Mix together the milk and vinegar/lemon juice and set aside while you combine all the dry ingredients.  I usually add the vanilla extract directly to the milk and beat the egg with it all. (Saves time and dishes!)  Melt the butter and combine all wet ingrediants to the dry.  Mix together and start cooking up some pancakes!  Sometimes I will add diced apples or even mashed sweet potato to get some extra nutrients into the boys. 

My 3 year old will only eat Mickey Mouse pancakes! 

Who doesn't love breakfast for dinner!!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Butternut Squash Lasagna

About a year ago my brother-in-law turned to the Paleo diet.  At his son's 1'st birthday party he made the traditional Italian food but also made a delicious Butternut Squash Lasagna.  After trying it I fell in love and it quickly became a go to meal when butternut squash is in season.  You can make it in many different varieties and I would encourage taking my recipe below and making it your own.  

1 Butternut Squash (Peeled and sliced)
Tomato Sauce (This one would be delicious with it but any jar you like would do)
2 handfuls Baby Spinach 
 6-8 Button mushrooms
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese 
Salt & Pepper

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Slice the butternut squash (sprinkle the slices with a little salt) and mushrooms
3. Spread a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan
4. Evenly spread the butternut squash, followed by a layer of spinach and mushrooms
5. Next I dropped some spoonfuls of ricotta cheese
6. Repeat steps 3, 4 & 5 until you reach the top of the dish.  (Usually 2 or 3 layers)
7. Finally, spread a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese

Tent the lasagna with aluminum foil and put it in the oven for 45 - 55 min.  I would recommend sticking a fork in through the center.  If it slides through easily it is ready.  Remove the foil and put back in the oven for another 5 - 10 min to make sure all the mozzarella is melted.

It may not be a pretty dish but it is delicious. 

Depending on the amount of veggies you use there can be a lot of excess liquid at the bottom of the pan.  I usually remove a portion of the liquid.

Experiment with different veggies - eggplant or zucchini could be yummy with this or slices of tomato. I am a total cheese person but trying to limit my intake while eating better.  That said,  this is so good with mozzarella cheese covering each layer!