Monday, October 24, 2011

Rosemary Feta Baked Potatoes

Just another side dish potatoe recipe!

This one just seemed interesting, and really easy (affordable *coughcough*) lol, so I tried it, and it was great!

Potatoes without butter at first totally threw me, but the whole package did taste pretty good. These cheese is the key! Since feta is pretty bitter I usually stay away from it, but this time the bitterness really works in favor.

Definitely a great little potatoe surprise!

Chicken Marsala

This was... AMAZING!

I have never cooked with wine before, but that is so becoming a weekly event lol.

The cooking process itself was a unique experience. I had never tenderized chicken with a meat mallot (shocker, I know) or even fried anything before! I was hesitant at first about the frying, because obviously I do not want to start cooking tons of unhealthy recipes and such, but this specific process wasn't too bad as far as that goes thank goodness. It really just created a very light breaded crust to the chicken.

Instead of button mushrooms, I used cremini mushrooms which were awesome, but I'm pretty sure this would taste great with any mushroom.

I was also really happy with the texture of the chicken! Every time I cook chicken, it always tastes sort of tough. About a year ago though, my mom and I went to this great little restaurant in Fredericksburg, and I had the BEST chicken ever there! It was as tender as tilapia! Crazy! So ever since then, I have been adamant I will be able to cook chicken that tender lol. While this was obviously not exactly perfect, it was definitely much improved from the norm. I will be malloting my meat forever more hehehe.

The whole marsala wine, white wine, cream combo, is freakin fabulous. I think this might be my favorite recipe so far! Very exciting!

This fall I am determined to get at least a few staple recipes down, so this was number one. Let's hope the next is just as yummy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Practical Magic Blog Party 2011

"There's a Little Witch in Every Woman"

This film has been an annual tradition in my household since discovering the magic for myself several years ago. Wether while enjoying a pot of coffee and snuggling up with my cat and submitting to the subsequent tide of romance and dreams, or sharing the magic with other heart sisters, each successive movie-watching episode never fails to transport me to another, somehow simpler and warmer, world. One day I hope to even share this with two "little witches" of my own, and teach them the importance of rosemary, the other use of salt, and of lavender's good luck.

One of the most important lessons I cherish in this film is when one of the Aunts professes:

"My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage!"

What an essential and yet wise belief to instill in our children as well as eachother!

 Tonight, since the invitation sent by our lovely host, Frosted Petunias, specifically suggested a night of Midnight Margaritas inspired by the two Owens sisters' tradition, I have concocted by own Magnificent Margarita recipe!


"Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Barbados lime is just the thing.
Cragged salt like a sailor's stubble!
Flip the switch and let the cauldron bubble!"

Ok, not really... but I promise it is just as fun!  

1 lime, juiced, plus 2 lime slices, for garnish
2 scoops lemon sorbet
4 scoops lime sherbet
4 shots tequila
1/2 shot Triple Sec

Place all ingredients in blender and process on high. Pour glasses and garnish with round slice of lime. AND DRINK!

And what possible Midnight Snakc could possibly be perfect for this summery drink, you ask?

Midnight Margarita Pizza of course!

Mmmmmm. My own personal concoction inspired by this very film:

1. I love Freschetta pizza crust, but you can of course make your own a purchase your favorite.
2. Garden vegetables: sun dried tomatoes, spinach leaves, and mushrooms
3. Splash of garlic and a tablespoon of butter to saute for the sauce
4. The best cheese ever! I heart simple mozzarella and pepperjack, but any combination will do of course!
5. Layer the pizza dough with the sauce, then half the cheese (4-8 oz), followed by the vegetables, and finally the rest of the cheeeesy goodness.
6. Cook in the oven at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
7. Party it up with the other witches!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Etsy Shop: Fall Themed Sets

I started out just with the maple leaf idea, but then that evolved into trying out a whole "fall" themed set with a pumpkin and acorns!

I then thought I might as well come up with a whole fall leaf set! Im also going to paint a set green as well for the spring and summer weather.

 I took these photos with my homemade photobox, built out of a large cardboard box, tape, and white tissue paper lol! It totally works great though! Initially I was worried there was not enough light, but my new camera not only picks up light much better than my cameraphone, but also allows me to adjust the exposure manually!. How great is that! It definitialy came in handy when trying to photograph the black halloween napkin rings lol.

This maple leaf was my first design! I ended up using metallic paints for all of these designs, but am still tweaking with the color blending a LOT lol. Getting the exact right tint is harder than you would think...

Etsy Shop: Halloween Set!!!

Although I had actually completed these about three weeks ago lol, I finally have a camera to capture the ultimate awesomeness of this set hehehe.

I made both sparkly glitter sets (mainly to satisfy my crazy obsession with glitter!) as well as solid glossy black.

Somehow, even though these designs are all meant in a light humerous way, the glossy version seems to be approaching sophistication somewhat more than the glitter ones lol.

I was thinking of doing a spider... but the web won out in the end.

 The progression of each of the designs was actually pretty fun! I think I ended up always liking my third sketch lol.

I like the crooked witches hat! I didn't realize is reminds me of the sorting hat in Harry Potter until later hehehe.

No, my own Sasha familiar was NOT the inspiration for this lol. Although she was an avid admirder hehehe!

Friday, September 9, 2011

New Sketching Project Plan

Ok, so NEW art project idea/concept/plan lol.

This whole- needing to spend all that time and energy drawing actual art pieces- is just too much for my time as well as my current level of skill lol. Therefore, I have decided to instead every week choose one theme for drawing multiple sketches, specifically for the purposes of learning perspective, and devloping better technique.

For example, this coming week will be Leaves. And it can be anything: leaves from different types of trees, leaves in varying light, leaves of different seasons, in different settings, anything!

Not only will this allow me to develop my skill, but the semi freedom in subject interpretation I suspect will allow me the perfect degree of inspiration to develop my own artistic taste as well!

So this is the plan, and we will see how it unfolds hehehe.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Austin Trip

This past Labor day I ended up taking a bus down to Austin, and for the first time in 4 months the weather was actually enjoyable!

 Quelle surprise!

It was simply so lovely, Monday morning I ended up waking up early early to wander outside and take some fun snap shots. Viola! The sunrise was fun to shoot over the hill near my parents house.

The craggly dried up landscape of the Hill Country lol.

The house across the street has goats and a donkey hahaha; they must have thought me so silly...

Deer feeding time! This little area of Austin has its own little herd of deer that everyone feels responsible for, and many neighbors leave out water and/or feed for them.

We also actually had several fires this past weekend, the worst being in Bastrop southeast of Austin. There were 14,000 acres burned, and 300 homes destroyed as of yesterday... The smoke could be seen and the smell of burning was impossible to ignore.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review: Nothing Bundt Cakes!

OMG! Ok, so I don't even like cake, but a patient brought in some mini bundt cakes from this shop recently, and they are AmAzInG!

They have franchises in several locations including Austin, Dallas, and Houston. If for any reason you desire a special cake or treat, this spot is soooooo worth it! Mmmmmm.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"The Devil in the While City" by Erik Larson

I recently finished one of the few nonfiction books I have ever read lol. This book was written about the architectural construction of The World's Fair in Chicago in the 1800s in parallel with the story of the serial murderer who used the fair to facilitate his murders.

Dun dun dun!

Favorite Quotes:

"Only Poe could have dreamed the rest" - Introduction

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood."--Burnham (one of the main architects)

"'I was born with the devil in me,'" he wrote. "I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing."

"The White City had drawn men and protected them; the Black City now welcomed them back, on the eve of winter, with filth, starvation, and violence." - The white city referencing the fair (all the buildings were painted white) and the black city representing the industrialized and crime riddled Chicago.

This was a very interesting piece of history and Im glad I picked it up, although I was surprised at the dryness of the chapters detailing the murderer... Still interesting! These events occured just a fwe years after London was shocked with Jack the Ripper.

Knitting: Red Riding Hood

I purchased this pattern on Etsy from While They Play a few months ago. Unfortunately, after I had completed the actual hood, front hood border, and the collar, I realized that I had not picked up enough stitches for the collar... When faced with the necessary task of reknitting in rib the collar, I put my work aside for quite a few weeks with anticipatory dread...

A few nights ago, I decided to attempt the task again and proceeded to cut away the useless knitted collar: until I realized I was snipping away at the hood bordering the face and NOT the collar at all!

Ack! No! C'est Horrible!

So, now I must not only reknit in rib the 12 rows for the collar, but also the 24 rows for the hood border!


It will be worth it in the end though! I chose a grey yarn to use, and found these simply fabulous black buttons from Joannes.

Honestly, the inspiration for knitting this piece was a trip I took with my mom a few years ago during christmas. We were spending the day shopping at the outlet mall in San Marcos, south of Austin, and I swear it was the windiest coldest day outside EvEr! We survived though and still had great fun (possible with cold weather, not possible with heat).

Never again will the North Wind catch me off guard on a shopping day!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Coffee cup cozies!

I was so excited when I found this pattern while browsing Etsy and finding this shop!

Little did I suspect the frustration that was yet to come...

The knitting pattern itself I am happy I purchased because I not only learned this really cool new cable, but also how to make a button toggle! Unfortunately, the heat from the coffee ends up stretching the yarn within 5 minutes of use, and the cozy subsequently slips down off the mug. Stupid product! And yet there are so many people out there selling this product! Arg!

I am now planning on converting this to a button free design like this one to use for Starbucks coffee. Of course, I will have to purchase a mug in that shape as well, but eh. At least I will not have wasted all the time knitting lol!

I am so going to make a scarf using this cable stitch in the center, bordered by stripes about 5 stitches outward from the cable! Hopefully that will look just as good... 

This was one I knit in one evening for a friend before I realized the problem with the design... I don't think I will reuse this, since I would like a couple more stiches between the cable and stripes, and I would like the stripes to be about half as thick.

Sneak Peak: Bedroom Design

I FINALLY chose a bedroom paint color and got busy! Yay! It's a really light sort of periwinkle color, that I am completely in love with lol. I painted the same border design as in my dining room, and am very happy with the results; Its so me hehe!

The art pieces I hung are sketches I purchases at Ren Fest last year for $15.00, and then framed with Target frames.

The side tables are actually old sewing tables lol that I picked up at a thrift store for a total of $25.00, and then painted and sealed :D

The bed set I purchased at Target for $70.00 on sale (yay!), and the headboard I refabriced from my old bedroom design.

I am still working on the room, and plan on finding some dark deep purple velvet curtains to frame my white sheer curtain panels on the large window, hopefully some accent pillows for the bed, and I might end up swapping the bedroom lamp shades for something a bit more fun...

Etsy Shop Project: Woodland Musings

My New Hobby: Creating an Etsy Shop! At first I wanted to list art prints, but as I am most certainly not skilled enough yet for than endeavor yet still had the Etsy Itch... I decided to make napkin rings from clay! This grew from my own desire to make owl rings to match my dining room, and then developed into an entire design plan lol.

Fall Themed Napkin Rings:
- Autumn leaves: maple, oak, aspen,
- Fall: acorns, pumpkins, maple leaf, aspen leaf
- Pumpkins
- Maple leaves
- Halloween: witches hat, black cat, spider web, bat (painted glossy black with fine black glitter)

Winter/Christmas Napkin Rings:
- Snowflakes: white snow glitter! :P
- Christmas presents: red/gold, green/gold, white/gold color set options
- Holly
- Wisemen star

- Birthday presents: pink glitter, blue glitter
- Antique keys
- Ribbon bows: multiple color options

These are just a few of the immediate ideas and plans I have set up, since there are too many in my book to actually write out lol.

I WILL be doing christmas ornaments as well, although that will be more on a whim.

These are the holly napkin rings I am in the process of working on. I am trying to mold and fire 3 sets all at once (12 rings), that way I have enough to validate using spray paint for the base coats lol. It saves a lot of money if I have a large set to paint all at once, as I am learning. After the base coat is applied, the next step is painting the faces (applying glitter hehe) and sealing the rings with a paint sealer.

These are the first protoptypes lol, the left is right before firing and of course the others are one set after applying the base coat, and painting just the leaves. I didn't have a primary red though to create the right berry color! Can you believe it? Crazy me, didn't get primary colors!

This is the face of the maple leaves I started on. I first mold the face I want, fire this, and then use that image to create a stamp of the negative. That way I have a stamp of the original face to try to keep the proportion of the napkin rings relatively the same.

 Spray painting on my patio hehe! I think my neighbors think Im odd... I tried using this type of drop cloth (cheap) but the plastic is just horrible. My solution ended up being to cut out the front face and half of the top of a wide cardboard box, and use this as a stage for spray painting. I tried that this weekend with my Halloween set, and it worked wonderfully!!!

The maple leaf napkin rings! I only painted these a simple brown, but I am going to try painting an autumn leaf set with fall colors (a bit more ambitious lol).

Current Inventory Stock:

- Halloween: 3 sets
- Fall- 3 sets
- Maple leaves- 3 sets
- Pumpkins- 3 sets
- Autumn leaves- 3 sets
- Holly- 3 sets

Its been a really fun project to work on at home! I have watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy with commentary hahaha.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wedding Dress Fever #2

 ... I heart lace. Not gonna lie. I really like the neck line on this dress specifically. I think the back would look much better if she actually had a good backside lol.

 Love the back!!! And the lace is really unique which is hard to find...

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

If you haven't figured out my perfectionist tendencies, well today is your lucky day. I don't usually enjoy baking as a rule and tend to stick to cooking, but I have always wanted to find the perfect recipe for a great chocolate chip cookie! And I finally found the right combination! 

Its really a blend of two recipes. One is the NY Times recipe, which used bread flour and cake flour, as well as sprinkled sea salt before baking. The texture of this cookie is sort of crunchy chewy so if that is your style, hit this! 

I prefer less crunch and have found a love for using Butter Flavored Crisco to get the exact texture I heart. You definitely have to have the butter flavor there though, very important. I also love the addition of the sea salt though, and this amalgamation is the ultimate! 

Mmmmmm yum. Milk please!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Owl Napkin Rings

 So along the same vein as the piece I painted on my dining room wall, I was inspired to follow through with napkin rings! I don't know why, but I have all sorts of crazy ideas for this functional/decorative dining room feature... I know most people don't use them, but alas, I cannot dictate my crazy obsessions lol.

I made a little boy owl and a little girl owl perfect for a fun evening meal!

Including the clay used as well as the paint, I was able to approximate the cost of supplies for the pair to be about $2.50. Obviously the molding and painting took a bit of time lol, but nothing I couldn't do while enjoying one of my favorite films :D

Next up, holiday napkin rings! Hehehe.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fall Weddings

This might have more to do with the fact that its horribly hot and ugly outside currently, and I am missing the cool breezes of autumn, but these are just some fun wedding reception ideas!

I really like the color scheme of the green and brown, although I still think I prefer the dark red, cream, espresso brown combo...

I really like the overall feel here, although I wouldn't want to be dancing on hay all night, and I think I would like more open sky than a barn allows.

Cute! I still like the feast table idea, although I would probably have smaller tables with like 8-10 peeps. Round tables make sense.. but don't look as good hahaha.

Garden setting! There are hedges! Stupid Texas.

Hanging mason jar lights! That might be fun to do just over the bridal party tables... Hmmmmm. I actually think the garland in the front is really cute too.