Friday, March 30, 2012

Favorite Pinterest Recipes

Pinterest has, without a doubt, become my go-to source for new recipes.  I love that I can search "chicken" and find 300 different ways to cook chicken.  But you may have also noticed that like 275 of those chicken recipes claim to be "the best chicken you'll ever eat"  or "tastes just like (insert restaurant here)."  So, since I've now tried several of my pinned recipes, I thought I'd give you a run down of a few of our all time favorites that really are "the best ever," or at least really, really, good!  And for the record, I never think anything tastes just like a restaurant, so while it may be good, I won't tell you it tastes like the restaurant.  Just a little FYI (and none of these make that claim anyway).

{Please Pin from Original Sources}

Chicken & Broccoli Noodle Casserole from SkinnyTaste

I just made this one this week and I've had the leftovers for lunch twice.  It's an amazing & easy dinner.  And I'm not saying it's amazing for a low fat dinner, it's amazing, period.  The Mr. & I LOVED it and so did my 2 year old, which is always a bonus.  And if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you know I went on a Pinning frenzy a couple of nights ago thanks to  So I'm sure more of her recipes will be making my list soon. (Did you know she also gives you the Weight Watchers points for her recipes?!)

Asian Beef Tacos from Jessie Heaviland

This beef is AMAZING (especially with a little Sriracha)!  But the sauce is great on chicken too.  I throw some chicken, with this sauce, in the crock pot and then save it in the fridge for lunches during the week with rice and vegetables.  Quick, easy, and pretty healthy.

Corn & Chicken Chowder from Buns in My Oven

Perfect for a chilly night when you need that comfort food.  The key to this one is Old Bay Seasoning, which I'd never used before this soup, and green chilies.  I use turkey bacon, skim milk with a little flour for thickening, and low fat cheese to cut the fat a little and it's still great!

And our all-time FAVORITE Pinterest recipe to date:

Chicken Coconut Kurma from Favorite Family Recipes

If you like Indian food, and you like coconutty, spicy, tomatoey, DELICIOUS curry, you will LOVE this.  We literally make this probably once a week and I will say, it truly rivals our favorite Indian restaurant.  There are no words for how good this is.  I add some roasted cashews (just sautee cashews in a pan until they start to brown just a bit).

And when combined with this easy naan recipe from  Indian Simmer
(her pictures are AMAZING btw):

FIREWORKS in your mouth!!!  We add a little garlic powder to the Naan dough.  A-mazing.  In a pinch, we use tortillas instead of Naan, but the time spent on the Naan REALLY is worth it!

There you have five of my favorite Pinned recipes.  I have lots more, so another installment will follow soon.  In the meantime, if you'd like to see what else I'm eating/planning to try, you can find my pin board here Happy eating!

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Quick, Oh So Tasty Appetizer

This "relish" we'll call it, looks really basic and simple and it is, but it is hands-down one of my favorite things.  I threw it together a couple of years ago with some couscous for a cold salad and it's become a staple at our house for everything from topping off tacos and enchiladas, to an addition to a green salad, or just a simple dip with tortilla chips.  And now it's become "bruschetta."  And there's a simple, special little ingredient on the bread you don't see here that puts this totally over the top.  

We do a lot of date-nights in, which means a really late dinner (like 9:00), so this has become our favorite go to for a date-night "cocktail hour" to tide us over while dinner is cooking.  By the way, I'm by no means a connoisseur--ok, well I'm a connoisseur of cheap wine, but if you've never tried Cupcake wines, I think they are DIVINE--all of them!  (About $12/bottle here in Utah--but our liquor tends to be expensive, so probably a little cheaper elsewhere).

2 avocados, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed (we didn't do corn this time)
Zest & juice of 1 lime
Handful of cilantro finely chopped
Pinch of salt & pepper
1 baguette
olive oil for drizzling
1 clove garlic, peeled

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices (or you can just buy the pre-sliced ones like I do).  Lay bread out on a cookie sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil.  Place in oven and toast until golden.

While the bread is toasting, mix all of the other ingredients except for the garlic, in a large bowl.

When bread is toasted and while it is still hot, rub the garlic on all of the slices.  (That's the secret ingredient and it makes the whole dish).

Spoon the "relish" onto the bread and ENJOY!  (You could prep these with the "relish" on top and set them all out ahead of time, but we go simple around here).

Friday, March 23, 2012

Huge DIY Bulletin Board

Let me start by saying that I didn't get a lot of pictures of the process of this project.  When my husband is on board with something, he gets in there and gets down to business--which is awesome because things actually get done--another reason husbands are awesome.  But, when things get done quickly, there's not much opportunity to take pictures because it's over before you know it.

That said, it can be expensive to redo three rooms at once, and my husband isn't into lots of stuff on the walls (I'm actually going to have to sneak some things in there so the room looks finished).  He is however a very proud dad and wanted a place to proudly display lots of pictures of his girl, so I came up with this simple and inexpensive alternative to having to buy lots of frames for a gallery wall.  It also covers a good portion of one of the biggest walls in the room, so we got away with decorating an entire wall for about $20.

The opening of this is 4ft x 2 ft, so for that size, 
you'll need:
(2) 1x2 boards 8 ft in length (about $4.00/ea)
Gorilla Glue
Stain (this is Dark Walnut by Minwax)
Roll of Cork ($9.99 @ Home Depot)
L-brackets (optional)
Repositionable Spray Adhesive (optional)

A few little pointers on the roll of cork:
1. We had to ask three different people at Home Depot before someone knew where it was.  Save yourself the trouble--it's on the laundry organization aisle (you know with all of the shelving, wire baskets, etc).  
2. Don't unroll this stuff very many times before you hang it, it cracks easily (we found this out when my daughter was using it as "binoculars").  
3. And finally, this is very thin, so if you're sticking normal pushpins into it, you will have holes in the wall if you ever remove it.  You could mount it on a piece of foam core and frame around the foam core if you'd rather avoid the holes.

Oh, and just FYI, this is what you're looking for :  
(and it's sitting on the new desk, so you get a little sneak peek at that too)

Start by cutting all of your wood to the appropriate lengths--your opening in the frame needs to be slightly smaller than the cork so it overlaps it just a bit when you hang it on the wall (if you don't have a saw you could have them do this for you at the store).  And we cut ours with 45 degree angles on the corners, but you could do your ends straight if you prefer.
Glue all of the pieces together with wood glue (or super glue if you're my husband and you're impatient). If you're using wood glue, you'll want to make sure you have something to clamp it together while it dries.

Then come the L brackets.  If you remember in my Pinspiration post, I said we were going dark wood and industrial.  The husband found these L-brackets we'd had lying around forever and thought they would work well for some extra support to hold the wood together, which they did, but I love the look they added.  So on they went.  However--if you use these, watch where you're putting them.  We screwed into a knot in the corner of one of the pieces and it broke the corner off.  We had to put it back together with wood glue.

If you noticed in the picture above the L-bracket pic, because this was just the cheap wood, as I've said before, it tends to not be very straight, so we had an issue with the final corner matching up. 

 My solution: I put some Gorilla glue at the very back edge of each side of the corner--and putting it at the back edge is important because Gorilla glue expands, so if you get too much or put it too far towards the front of the frame, you'll have brown foamy looking stuff showing after it dries.  But because it expands though, it will also fill in that gap and hold it together.  Then, because I needed to clamp it somehow and give it extra support, I just stapled the s**t out of it--clamp & reinforcement all in one.  It's on the back--it doesn't have to look pretty.

To hang: position your cork on the wall and make sure it's level.  We taped one side, pulled it back, and then sprayed REPOSITIONABLE spray adhesive on the back and stuck it to the wall--press it down at one end and work your way to the other so it's smooth.  Repositionable adhesive should wash off fairly easily, should you ever decide to take this down.

Position the frame over the cork and screw it into the wall.  Since we have a rustic feel going on here, we were fine with leaving the screws exposed (if you're doing it that way, just make sure they all line up so it looks intentional).  If you want to cover the screws, you can drill them further into the frame and then either cover them with stain-able wood filler or those little wood plugs they have at the hardware store--stained to match your frame.
And that's it, easy peasy wall art.  

Just so you can see the L brackets and screws in the finished product (please ignore the gross dust on the ledge, apparently I need to dust).  This picture makes me smile, there's something about stained wood and metal that just makes my heart sing--seriously.

Linking At: 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Play Dough - Simple Fun

I try really hard to limit the TV watching at our house, and I'll be honest, some days I'm much better than others.  In fact, sometimes I seriously contemplate not owning a TV so I don't have the temptation to stick my daughter in front of it during her sweetest moments when I just. Need. Sanity.  And when the weather is warm, it's much easier because we can just go outside. But during those cold days, homemade play dough and cookie cutters is a big go to around here. We use this recipe (which I originally found on How Does She?):  

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 Tbls. vegetable oil
food coloring (I use about 4-6 drops--I like it bright!)
Stir all of the ingredients into a large sauce pan and place on medium high heat.  Stir constantly & you'll see the dough start to form.  Once it's in dough form, place it on the counter to cool and then knead it and squish it around a little before you     

As each holiday comes around, we pick up a bag of plastic holiday-themed cookie cutters at Walmart or the $1 store, make a few new batches of dough in holiday-appropriate colors, and we have hours minutes of fun (she's 2, the attention span is short). 

And apparently, if you like salt, it's fun to lick too.  I constantly have to get after her about licking and eating it--at least I know what's in it and it's all edible, huh?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Some Room Pinspiration

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have noticed that a room change-up has been going on at my house.  It's turning out to be quite the undertaking and involves a new bedroom for my two-year old, and a new office for my husband (they're trading rooms), which has also necessitated some reorg of my office.  I think it goes without saying that getting to redo three rooms, with the husband 100% on board, makes me so excited that my heart almost stops.  But, it also stresses me out because I just want it done and pretty (remember how I don't have that thing called patience?).  That being said, we've made some progress this weekend.  So I just thought I'd share some of my inspiration.  Remind me again what we did before Pinterest?

The Little One is currently ballet OBSESSED, so I told her she could have a ballet room and the original plan was very soft pink and white.  And we're still going that direction, but when I stumbled upon this, it stopped me in my tracks.

I die over these colors.  So, I think some aqua will now be worked into the palette.

And a few other little bits. (Who needs mood boards when you have Pinterest?)

Lighting (this may change).

I love that this tulle valance also has lace worked in.

One of the fun parts of this is that I get to do two rooms that are COMPLETELY opposite.  For The Husband, it will be masculine & sort of industrial.

The desk has already been purchased and painted in this color.

Dark woods, metals, a little industrial shelving, and maps, he LOVES maps.  But all of that stuff is in my head--oh that's how we did this before Pinterest!  I'll be back next week to show progress.

Oh, and if anyone is getting the impression that I'm avoiding The Couch--I am.  I need a break.  There's been progress, but the covering it part makes my brain hurt.  I did promise The Husband that I'll get back on it soon though so we can have a functional basement family room again (baseball season is fast-approaching so a basement is a must).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Color Me Completely Embarrassed...

...and bummed out.  If you've been following the Creative Bloggers Got Talent contest over at Every Creative Endeavor, you may have noticed that the #15 project "dropped out."  Well, that would be me.  Apparently my submission, which I actually thought I had sent with hours to spare (so uncharacteristic of the procrastinator in me), has been sitting in my "Drafts" box all weekend and I failed to notice.  Amanda over at ECE even tried to notify me and I missed her e-mail by a day.  Huge bummer.  So since I'm no longer in the running, you get my project early.  And there are some awesome projects over there, so please go vote!

My daughter calls this her "big pink."  I needed a solution for keeping books in her room, but out of her reach because I was getting really tired of picking up the books she had pulled off of her open shelves.  I found this at the thrift store for $40.00ish (can't remember for sure) and it was the perfect solution--especially since the pulls are still out of her reach.  

This is where we started...

...and I have to admit, I painted this during my spray painting "phase"--meaning, I tried the spray painting thing for a while and just never liked the outcome as much as actually painting--is that like a sacrilege in the blog world?  Don't get me wrong, I still love spray paint for small things like frames and hardware (which I sprayed white on this piece),  just not furniture  And I do love the way this turned out. The color is Watermelon from Krylon.  

I can't go without pointing out one of my other favorite things in her room: The Eloise Print.  When I found out I was having a girl, I had to have Eloise in her room.  And after searching high and low for Elosie prints to no avail, my talented step-mom offered to paint one for me.  It's from the "afterword" of The 50th Anniversary The Absolutely Essential Eloise.  I chose this particular picture because she's in a dress designed for her by Christian Dior--it doesn't get more fabulous than that!  And my step-mom did an AMAZING job on it (my daughter may not be taking out of my house).

So that's Big Pink.  And again, please remember to go vote for the talented ladies still in the contest at Every Creative Endeavor and let me express again my sincere apologies and embarrassment.


Linking Up:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Children's Book Love Thursday

I'm sure plenty of you have heard of this book, but I can't talk about my favorite books and not mention this book.  

This week's pick:

A friend of mine who has twins who are nothing short of a miracle and a HUGE labor of love, introduced me to this book.  She told me one day, "You have to get On The Night You Were Born, I read it to the girls on their birthday and bawled all the way through."  Well sure enough, I think I had to read it at least 10 times before I could get through it without crying.  The illustrations in this book are amazing, and the message is even more beautiful.  Nancy Tillman's books are all about telling children how special and loved they are.  This one starts out, "On the night you were born, the world smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered life will never be the same..." I don't want to violate any copyright here (and I don't exactly know if typing out the words does that, but I assume it might) so I'll just tell you that it goes on to say that "On the night you were born" the moon stayed up until morning, polar bears danced until dawn, and none of the ladybugs flew away.  So whenever you see the moon stay up, or ladybugs land and decide to's because they're all hoping to see YOU smile.  And it ends saying that there never has, and never will be anyone else like you.  All of her books end with the three words "You Are Loved."  I love how beautifully they illustrate just what a special gift each child is to their parents and that everyone is special in their own way.  This is one of my favorite things to give as birthday or shower gift.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Taste Of Spring

We had a taste of spring yesterday and it was glorious.  65 degrees just two days after 6 inches of snow.  Such is life here in Utah.  And we watched baseball!  I'm so excited about spring almost being here that I might just burst!

Sunday, March 4, 2012


As my daughter gets older, she's getting more into things that require desk space. You know, art, play dough, and eventually homework, so I wanted to create somewhere that she could still be in my sight, but also have a little space of her own. The problem: space is limited in our house, so I had to get creative. Today I'm going to show you how I squeezed a workspace into this tiny, unused corner of my dining area.

My daughter got this awesome water table/picnic table for her birthday in the summer, and it was such a hit that when the cold weather arrived, we just moved it right inside the back door into our bay window.  And this is what I've been looking at for the past few months.    

I couldn't handle it anymore!  I wanted something a little less intrusive.  So for about $10.00, I ended up with this:

My original inspiration came from Pinterest, where else? 

I started with a 1x12, and because I planned on distressing and giving it that rustic look anyway, I just went with the cheapest wood (pine I believe)--this one cost me $8.00 and I only used about 1/3 of it.  However, if you're going with the cheap wood, compare them side by side at the store and find the straightest one possible--the cheap wood tends to bow, which is not ideal for a desk. You could also easily just use one of the little wall ledges from IKEA--or pretty much anywhere.

Cut it down to the size you want, or you can have the store do it for you, but I love using this, so I cut my own.  Power tools just make me feel awesome.

Next I stained the wood so I got that nice, dark wood coming through when I distressed.  There's something about seeing stained wood and all that beautiful grain that just makes me happy.  Seriously, looking at this picture makes me just want to go stain some wood.

Next comes one of my other favorite things in the world: homemade chalk paint.  It's the Martha recipe for chalkboard paint, and I fell in love, love, love, when I painted this desk and I don't think I'll use anything else EVER AGAIN!  It's super thick, the coverage is awesome, you don't have to prime, it's durable, and it distresses amazingly.  

But I'll quit gushing and just tell you how to make it: 1 cup FLAT paint + 2 Tbsp. unsanded grout (you can see the grout in the picture above).  The grout is about $5 and will last FOREVER (get it at the hardware store in the tile section)!  When you mix them, just make sure you stir really well and try to dissolve the grout as much as possible.  Any small lumps you have left will give you that chippy look when you distress later. (The BEST part about using the flat paint is that the samples come in flat, so you can get it CHEAP!)

I brushed on a thin coat of  white "chalk" paint and let it dry.  What you see here is without any distressing.

This is the point where I have to admit that I'm pretty much over chevron.  I love it, but it's everywhere (including the background on my blog--I said pretty much).  But...I thought this would be the perfect small amount to get my fix and a fitting pattern for a child's desk.  So now I have to admit that I know why it's everywhere, because after I did this, I wanted to do more somewhere, or maybe everywhere.  There's something seriously addictive about it.

To get my pattern I just took wide masking tape and sort of freestyled the pattern.  I did lay a piece straight down the middle though so I knew where to place the points and didn't end up with a sloping chevron.

After this was laid down, I lightly traced it with a pencil (just the chevron, not the straight line).

Then, mostly because I was being lazy and didn't want to try to line up a second tape line exactly, I just carefully pulled up the tape, moved it right below the first one, and traced it again.

And here's my pattern.

Now just paint your pattern and try to color inside the lines.  I used the "chalk paint" for this part as well (Martha Stewart Sea Glass mixed with some of the white I had left over).  As a side-note, my 2 year old took this picture so although I'm the epitome of hotness here, I had to include it because I'm just SO proud.

Let it dry and then distress--120 grit sandpaper on the edges, corners, and just all over until you get the look you want.  I did a lot of sanding on the chevron to blend it in.
(This is pre-distressing)

After the distressing was finished, I sprayed a quick coat of Rustoleum clear gloss on so I could wipe off the play dough and crayon that will eventually make it's way on here.

After the clear coat is dry, attach your brackets to the wood and then to the wall.  I got mine at IKEA for around $2.00 each .  

And that's it.  Attractive creative space accomplished.

And in case you were wondering, it was a hit.  She dragged her "wimpooter" in and set up shop.  She "blogs" now--no joke--she tells me all the time that she's writing on her blog :D

And I assure you the copper stool wasn't just a prop--I hear it scraping across the floor All. Day. Long.  It was black and I decided to spray paint it copper (another recent obsession) last minute and it wasn't dry in time for her "photo shoot".  Oh, and just one more thing: please ignore my disgusting back yard--the insane winds we get here blow things around and since it's winter, I basically avoid going outside like the plague.

You can see updated pictures here. Two years later, this project is still a hit!

Linked Up At:
Tatertots & Jello / Whipperberry /  I Heart Naptime / Too Much Time on My Hands / The 36th Ave / My Repurposed Life / The Grant Life / Joy in the Jumble / Polka Dot Pretties / Skip to My Lou / The Girl Creative / C.R.A.F.T / The Southern Institute / The CSI Project

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