Saturday, January 28, 2012

lip exfoliator - WOW!

Holy moly. My lips have been driving me INSANE for far too long thanks to nasty winter weather. Peeling, chapped lips that I was constantly picking at...but not anymore!!! Once again, Pinterest has come through and provided the perfect solution to my problem. Enter the lip exfoliator located HERE.

It took me 30 seconds to mix it up (in a shot glass, ha) and another 30 seconds to scrub it all over my lips. After a quick rinse at the sink I feel like a new person! I plan on doing this once a week from now on so that my lips never get to the cracked, desert sands state that they were a minute ago!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Loaded Potato Nachos

We don't cook potatoes very often at our house, but as I scanned my Pinterest recipe boards THIS jumped out at me and then nothing else sounded as good so I gave it a try.

First of all, I am a purely visual person, and it drives me nuts when a recipe calls for something that is "medium sized" and I don't have any clue what medium really means. So, for those of you who are also visual learners, here's what I started with. 3 "medium" potatoes:
And here's another visual for how thin/thick I cut the slices, because telling me to cut something into 1/16 inch pieces does NOT help me out at all.
After slicing all 3 potatoes into relatively uniform rounds I laid them all out in a single layer on a baking sheet. I melted some butter in the microwave and then brushed the rounds with it, adding salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I was afraid I would over season so I ended up under seasoning it, and I really wish I had the sea salt grinder I used to have before I broke it because that flavor would have been amazing. I'll have to buy a new one soon. I flipped them all and brushed and seasoned the other side as well. Here's a picture of them right after they went in the oven because I forgot to take one before and didn't want to take them out once they were in.
Meanwhile, I also used another Pinterest idea from HERE where I learned that baking bacon is the only way to go. I lined another baking sheet with heavy duty foil (foil is the best kitchen clean-up helper ever), laid out the bacon, and baked it for 10 minutes (while the potatoes were already in there). In the future I would definitely add a wire rack to raise the bacon up and keep it from festering in it's own grease. yuck.
While the potatoes baked for a while I chopped up all the toppings. Regular onions, green onions, and the bacon after it came out of the oven. I also chopped up a fresh tomato and had some shredded cheddar ready to go.
After the potatoes were starting to get crispy I covered them with all of the toppings except the tomatoes and let them bake until the cheese was melted.
Look how amazingly delicious it looks!!! You can't even imagine how great it smelled. Not to mention how fabulous it tasted. Wow. I'm loving these potatoes!
Next time I would probably cut the slices a bit thicker so that it was more potato-y and less crunchy by the end, but these were definitely a hit! I added the fresh tomato and then dipped them in ranch dressing (because I can dip pretty much everything in ranch dressing) but you could also top your serving with sour cream or anything else you usually put on a baked potato. YUM

Starbucks copy-cat

I am NOT a big coffee drinker, yet I can't help but succumb to the call of Starbucks every once in a while. When Starbucks is calling it's not usually for a crazy coffee's for iced tea! But not just ANY kind of tea - Tazo Passion shaken iced tea lemonade. (Isn't it annoying that names are so darn loooong at coffee shops?!)
I absolutely love the Passion tea concoction but I try not to buy it too often because, let's face it, my life is lived on a budget. I gave into the call of Starbucks this week because I have a gift-card so it's like getting it for free, right? When I got home and my drink was all gone I was sad, so I decided to do a search online and see if someone else had come up with a cheap-o imitation of my delicious indulgence.
Honestly, I think it's possible to find ANYTHING you want on the internet!!! My mom makes fun of me because I reference Pinterest or Google in so many ordinary conversations, but it's TRUE! (and at least I cite my sources! I could pretend that I'm a know-it-all genius instead...)

THIS is what my search came up with. Seemed easy enough and we had all the ingredients at home already, so why not give it a try? (CONFESSION: I didn't find this link through Pinterest, but I did pin it to share with the rest of the pinning world, so it counts for the sake of the blog, right?!)

My grandmother swears by Aldi grocery stores,
and she swears by the electric tea kettle she bought there.
I now boil water for my tea in this instead of on the stove
and I guess I swear by it too!
I bought this tea from Starbucks a while ago
hoping I would be able to make it at home
but didn't find a good recipe until now.
I think you can find it at Target and grocery stores as well.
The directions on the website made a 3 quart batch of this tea and I only wanted to make one glass-worth in case it was terrible...I didn't want to waste the precious tea bags! I boiled water in my electric tea kettle and then poured it into my cup. I used only one tea bag and that was plenty. I let it steep for 10-15 minutes.

Country Time Lemonade is always present in our house!

After letting the tea steep I removed the tea bag and added 1 scoop of lemonade powder. (I have a very big cup! I would definitely adjust the lemonade to the size of your cup.) Also, I forgot to leave room for ice so I had to transfer some of the tea to another cup for the cooling process. oops.

Here's my cup of Tazo tea lemonade, the homemade way!
SIDENOTE: I LOVE TERVIS TUMBLERS! I was introduced to them when I lived in South Carolina and I brought them back north with me. I lovelovelove my "big cup" (as my preschoolers call it) and carry it with me pretty much everywhere. I bought mine at Bed Bath & Beyond but you can also find them HERE.

Final verdict on the tea: I think I definitely made my life more difficult by trying to make this in a cup instead of a pitcher, and next time I will remember to leave room for ice. The first sip was encouraging but not exact. Not to be discouraged - the longer I let this sit the more it tasted like the original! After it was thoroughly chilled and the flavors meshed a bit it was absolutely delicious and I wished I had made the big batch!

Earring Display

Being a jewelry lady is one of my four jobs these days and I wanted to find a way to display earrings in a simple but elegant way. After searching for ideas on Pinterest I found THIS. The pin didn't have a link to a website outside of Pinterest but I took the idea from the picture and figured out my own version.
I started with a $3 picture frame from Walmart. I took out the glass and cut a sheet of black scrapbook paper to fit the opening. Then I hot glued a strip of black rick-rack ribbon to the paper. I put a dot of glue in the middle to give it some strength - I didn't want it to sag if there were heavy earrings on it. Then I glued on the second strip, popped it into the frame, and I was good to go!
Here's a close up of the rick-rack strip with earrings on it.

Side view:
Finished product!
BTW these are not earrings that I sell, they're random ones from my jewelry box :o)

Make-Up Brush Storage Solution

I absolutely love using Bare Minerals make-up! It drove me crazy, though, that my brushes were always smooshed because I kept them in a travel bag with the rest of my five minute make-up routine supplies. I saw THIS on Pinterest and it completely solved my problem! (not to mention that it's a much more attractive solution than some of the other options out there)
On one of my MANY visits to Pat Catan's craft stores I picked up a $1 glass votive holder and a $1 bag of floral marbles. voila! Make-up brush holder.
So simple yet effective!

Now My brushes are perfectly fluffy and ready for me whenever I need them!

Ruffled T-shirt Pillow

My sister's birthday was in October, and I made a pillow for her newly re-decorated bedroom. This was actually my first Pinterest craft attempt but for some reason I didn't start posting about things in order so it's only coming up now. Oh well.

There are TONS of projects on Pinterest that use old T-shirts. I don't think many people realize that you don't HAVE to use an actual T-shirt to make these projects. It is perfectly possible and acceptable to go to the fabric store and buy jersey knit material off the bolt to do any project that calls for T-shirt material. Some things (like infinity scarves) need the round, continuous shape of a T-shirt but if you don't mind a seam then off the bolt works for that too.
Anyway. HERE is where you can find the tutorial for the ruffle pillow I made. (and I'm proud to say that I finally figured out how to imbed hyperlinks into text. No more messy, mile-long urls. YAY! It was embarrassingly easy to do. oops.)

To make this pillow, I started with a cheeeeeeep-o white T-Shirt that I found on clearance at Wal-Mart. (I mean cheap in price, not quality. It's actually a very nice shirt!)
I followed all the directions exactly as they gave them in the tutorial except that I don't have a rotary cutter so I just did it with some plain-old scissors. I have to admit that I am very much an eyeball-er instead of a precise measure-er so my cuts don't turn out PERFECTLY, but I don't mind!
Here are some pictures of my finished product:

My sister really liked it and it sits in one of her fancy new chairs :o)

I would definitely make one of these again and I might vary it by making the ruffles wider, or maybe using pinking shears to cut the strips so that there is an extra detail added to the aesthetic of this pillow. I love ruffles and when I finally have a house of my own to decorate my way there will definitely be a few of these lying around!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dip Party!

The theme for this year's NYE celebration was dips!
Dips are delicious, simple to prepare, not too filling, and easily eaten over a long period of time. I was in charge of the dessert dips portion of the menu, so I chose to prepare the following:

Peanut Butter Fruit Dip
Smore's Dip
Strawberry Fruit Dip
I got this "recipe" from a friend of mine who hosted a party recently and I raved over her fruit dip...turned out all she did was whisk together equal parts strawberry yogurt and cool whip! SO GOOD.

I served the fruit dips with grapes, strawberries, and sliced apples. (Make sure you swish apple slices through a quick bath of lemon juice to keep them from getting brown and yucky looking!)

The smore's dip was paired with graham crackers. I was actually pretty grossed out by this dip...which could be because I don't like marshmallows. The consistency was much more solid than I expected, especially as it cooled down. I wasn't impressed but other people were, so I would say my verdict is that it's very easy to make and tastes good if you like marshmallows.

The strawberry dip disappeared and the PB dip was equally favored but I made more of that one so there were leftovers. yay!

The PB dip was just as good today as it was last night. I foresee keeping a tub of this in the fridge and snacking from it daily...

There were lots of grapes left over so this was my snack today:
I hate it when my fingers become collateral damage when dipping yummy things into other yummy things. More yum to eat I guess, but messy. I could solve that problem by using a toothpick:
Buuuuut that's still too much work while trying to multitask and browse on Pinterest, so I mixed the grapes and the dip together and ate it with a spoon. Might look gross but it tastes the same and gives me the freedom to browse new pins :o)
The NYE dip party was a great success, and so was my snack of leftovers this afternoon :o)

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I LOVE SOUP. I inherited the "love of soup" gene from my maternal grandfather who eats soup with almost every meal. seriously. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to soups, and there's also lots of soup cross over with my board for crock-pot recipes.
Soup is an easy lunch to pack for work and I like to make a big pot on the weekend so I have something to last the week.
This weekend's recipe winner was:
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup from "mmmcafe's" blog:

A new year always brings thoughts of healthier eating, but this soup does not follow that train of thought! To start with, I was skeptical about using an entire stick of butter...not to mention the cream. But, I love chicken and rice soups so I gave it a whirl anyway.

The recipe calls for chicken stock but we didn't have any so I just made my own. I threw in some extra seasonings which probably made this taste different than "mmmcafe's" version, but I like all the seasonings I threw in so I wasn't complaining ;o)

I followed the recipe well until I got distracted in conversation and put the chicken in too early. I think this mis-step is to blame for the lack of thickening that the recipe claimed would happen. Otherwise, everything worked out well and was finished rather quickly. I would estimate the entire process was less than an hour of work, which is very impressive for soup prep!
And, my foodie sister gave rave reviews, so that has to count for something, right?!

Here's an overview of the pot:
And here's a close up of a delicious spoonful!
I like my soups chunky instead of runny, but I still had to almost double the liquid that the recipe called for. yikes! Also, when I make this again I will definitely cut out at least half (if not more!) of the butter. The sautéing veggies were swimming in butter which didn't seem at all necessary. I think I will also try using skim milk instead of heavy cream to make this a creamy soup, or else I'll just leave the dairy out all together and have a clear broth. I don't think it added enough to the flavor to warrant the extra calories.

Overall the verdict is definitely positive from everyone who ate this soup but there is room for improvement!