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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Recipe {Pistachio Pomegranate Chicken Salad}

I am a believer in "everything in moderation."  Sure I think you should eat healthy, but I also think burger with friends and milkshakes is good sometimes, too!  And, I almost always have to have dessert.  Almost always. Okay, so maybe I'm not so much of a health nut, but I do {I do! I do! I do!} try to get healthy foods into me!!  So when I came across this next recipe, it sounded right up my alley, and I knew I'd be making it soon!
{photo from Clean Eating Jan/Feb 2012 issue}

I recently ordered a subscription to the magazine, "Clean Eating."  As I'm sure you can guess, it's all about eating healthy, or "clean," as they refer to it.  I love that it's chock-full of recipes {and many are "reader recipe tested"}, and I really love that the foods are not bland, as you might presume "healthy meals" would be.

So I am glad to say I "recipe tested" this one, and it was dee-LISH-ious! And even better yet?  Not much time to prep {just shell the nuts & get the pomegranate arils out earlier in the day, and it will come together in a breeze, come dinner time!}.

Hearty Chicken Salad {or as I like to call it, "Pistachio Pomegranate Chicken Salad"}
{serves 4, 20 minutes hands-on time}
4 5 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts {I used chicken tenders instead, which cook faster}
3 tbsp plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
evoo {olive oil - enough to cook chicken in ~ couple tablespoons}
8 oz fresh baby spinach
1/2 red onion, cut indo paper-thin wedges {I left these out}
1/2 cup pomegranate arils {I bought a whole pomegranate and removed arils from it; be sure to remove yellow/white pith from them, as the pith is bitter; your store may also sell these already removed from the fruit itself.  Oh, and p.s., my kids LOVED to snack on these alone - and they're so, SO good for you!!}.
1 oz shelled raw unsalted pistachios {again, your store may sell already shelled for you}
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced

Dressing {NOTE: I did NOT make the dressing here ~ instead I used pre-purchased Caesar dressing - sorry, couldn't be that healthy this first time around! One step at a time! Ha!}
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp evoo

In a large, shallow bowl, add chicken and 3 tbsp lemon juice. Turn to coat. Sprinkle salt, pepper and cayenne on all sides of chicken.  Set aside.

Put a skillet over medium heat and drizzle with a couple tbsp of EVOO.  Add chicken and cook, about 5 minutes per side.  Transfer to cutting board to let cool. {If you cooked breasts {versus tenders}, you'll need to slice these at an angle, once they're cool enough to handle}.

Meanwhile, prepare dressing {or use store-bought Caesar, like me! So good!!}:  In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice, yogurt, oil and salt & pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss spinach, onion, pomegranate and pistachios and divide among serving bowls/plates.  Top with chicken and avocado and drizzle with your dressing.

Enjoy a heart-healthy recipe {that actually tastes amazing!!}!

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Friday, December 16, 2011

DIY Tutorial: Upcycled Headband Holder Board {ART}

Being a creator of headbands, you can just about imagine how many headbands I have for my own baby girl!  I'm not gonna lie, it's a little ridiculous!  And up until now, they'd been piled up in a little wicker basket in her room for no one to see....oh, the horror!!!!  Sooo....I wanted to come up with something ultra chic on which to display them in her room!

While you could always just hang hooks directly to the wall, I wanted something a bit more artsy and part of the room decor.  So I decided to turn some ultra ugly old cupboard doors (yes, a plural here - we need TWO boards to hold all hers! Ha!) into awesome displays/pieces of art for her walls {yes! upcycling at its finest!}.  My first step was heading to a salvage warehouse here in Phoenix.  And much to my liking, I snatched up two super ugly cupboard doors for like 5 bucks each! SCORE!  And while they were obviously from the same kitchen cupboards, they are NOT an exact match - one is from a horizontal opening door, and the other, a vertical.  I actually love this aspect - matching but not too "matchy-matchy"!!

So here's what you need to
{create your own headband board holder}:
*old cupboard door (or maybe get a few to make at the same time - these would not only make for fantastic gifts, but also be great for your own room - I'm wishing now I would have gotten more to hold my necklaces!)
*spray paint in color/s of choice
*hot glue gun
*hammer & nails
*decorative hooks
*cloth (to wipe clean)
*newspaper/kraft paper (large) for overspray of spray paint
*mounting hook/s
*spackle (optional)

1. Once you have your {cupboard} doors, you'll need to sand them down a little.  Not to completely remove the paint -- just to rough them up a little so that they can hold new paint on top.  So give them a good sanding (you might want to wear gloves and a mask for this - especially if working with old doors, as it may have lead paint on it!), then wipe clean. 

2.I also had to fill in a couple holes in my cupboard with some nail hole filler (a.k.a. spackle) at this point.  If you found old cupboard doors, you may have to do the same, if they happened to have handles on them before.  So if you do, do that now, and let dry (about 10 minutes).

3. Okay, now we're ready to {spray} paint!  So I wanted to make the inset part of my boards a different color than the border {This is one reason in particular why I LOVE using cupboard doors for this project - because it already has a nice "frame" for your creation, right from the get-go!}.  So since I knew I'd be painting the rest of the board after I had the inset color chosen, I didn't worry about covering the border portion of the board.  I just went to town, spraying about 3 coats of a light pink spray paint on the inset portion of the board {you'll probably need to wait about 30 minutes in between coats). 

4. Now you may want to add a stencil background to your inset.  I thought about sponging on some damask print or using doilies as stencils {which I know would be super cute!}, but ultimately decided on doing a subtle lace backdrop.  So I just cut some lace to fit the board, and then started spraying the entire board a creamy, vintage ivory color {right on over the lace}.  Again, about 3 coats for full coverage, with drying time in between coats.

5. Once dry, you can remove the lace.  Now it's time to distress and age our piece by sanding it down again!  But this time, we're going to focus on sanding edges and parts of it that you think might naturally wear off over time if left up to nature.  This is another HUGE REASON why you want to look for cupboard doors, as they have that border around the edge with grooves that make for interesting distressing points for your art!!  (NOTE: You can skip this part if you do NOT want a shabby chic, distressed finish!)  This will give a nice worn, vintage feel to your piece (which I just love myself!).

6. Now it's time for the most fun part: embellishing!  I had just purchased some amazing fabric and KNEW it would be perfect for these boards!  So I cut the fabric into a rectangle (but feel free to choose whatever shape {or non-shape}you want!), and then added some decorative stitched borders with my sewing machine to them.  {NOTE: The sewing part is totally UNnecessary, but I do have the machine with the capacity to do so, so I figured, "Why not?!"  Especially since I used some lace-looking borders to go with my vintage, old-fashioned feel to these lovelies!}.  Then I cut some hearts from totally different fabrics and stitched around their edges, too.  I love the eclectic look, so I went for the opposite of my rectangle fabric pieces here - I went bold and more geometric (versus the paler, non-patterened rectangle pieces).  I also decided to use some of the lace for a part of one of the boards, too.  I cut a strip from the lace as well as a heart to add some depth and texture.  I also added some lace trim to the board's backdrop, as well.  Feel free to GO WILD here!  Add doilies, buttons, stamps, jewels ~ whatever your little heart desires, just go for it!

7. So here's my BIG TIP for the backdrop part: Layer and layer and layer and layer!!  In other words, do NOT just spread it all out, without some overlapping of your elements!!  It adds depth and character and really makes the piece!   Also, try some ANGLES - don't just square everything up!  Keep trying different layouts, and once you are satisfied with the positioning of all your embellishments, it's time to start hot-gluing them down, one by one!

8.  Then you just nail in your hooks and/or knobs (I found mine at Pier I Imports, by the way, but they also have some truly amazing knobs at both Hobby Lobby and Anthropologie!).

9.  And the final step (which I actually have yet to do) is to add some mounting hooks to the back of your boards, and then hang them up obviously.  I love that they are pieces of art in and of themselves, too!  And now her headbands just SCREAM to be worn!  Love, love, love!! {and hope you do, too!} :)

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Couture Kids Clothing {Girls}

I just love fashion.  But particularly on the tiny pints since everything looks just ridiculously scrumptious on them!!  So I set out to find some of the most off-the-hook girls' items out on the market, and wanted to share them with you!  They are loaded with detail & femininity and just scream "Wear Me NOW!!!"  So I hope ya'll enjoy these finds as much as I do!  Treat your girly to one...I promise you'll be so glad you did when you get milestone photos back of your little dollies in these! :)
toddler fox dress from wild thing dresses

Giggle Moon "lily" dropwaist dress and leggings from pinkyscout.com
liliputians kimono cupcake dress from pinkyscout.com - can you just imagine this on the birthday girl??
luna luna copenhagen juliette dress from littlefashionsboutique.com - love its whimsy!
"florette" jacquard tights from littlefashionsboutique.com...love these!

floatimi aqua and red petal swimsuit from littlefashionsboutique.com - seriously want to buy this for my punkin!!
lemon loves lime holiday rose skirt from littlelunablue.com
have you ever seen a more adorable outfit? didn't think so. from littlelunablue.com
persnickety gray ruffled leg warmers - i must have these!!!
rosette belts for toddlers - i'm in love! from littlelunablue.com
cranberry stella jacket by persnickety.  okay. i want the entire persnickety line!!!
all by persnickety...of course. ;)
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Art Turned Softies

If you were like me, you made some absolutely outrageous pieces of art as a kid, did you not?!  Drawings that only you and your completely creative, totally unbound mind could come up with, right??!  Would it not have been the best EVER to have your drawing (creation) come to fruition in "real life"?? Well, that's exactly what Wendy Tsao at Child's Own Studio is all about: taking their drawings and turning them into tangible "softies" {sooooo clever & fabulous, I just LOVE it!!!}!!

Just take a peek at a couple of her creations {but be sure to check her site for more ~ they're quite unbelievable!}

And here is what appears to perhaps be a unicorn seal spider? Whatever it be, I love it!

The details that a child's mind can conjure up are brilliant, truly.  Their ideas are completely untamed, untainted and widespread with magic!  And I just LOVE that about children {Ahhh, if only we, as adults, could keep that same spirit!!}!   So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered "Child's Own Studio!"  I can hardly wait to send in one of my kid's drawings to be turned into something they created!  Talk about a childhood keepsake!! Now just to wait for my little guy {my little girl is too little just yet!}to draw something he totally loves & identifies with ~ then I'll know it's the one to become a "real childhood playmate" for him to chat & dream away with in his room of sky-is-the-limit wonder!!

Just a tip, Wendy is no longer taking orders for Christmas, but she advises to please stop by her shop in January when things have tamed down a bit.  Her creations run anywhere from $60-130 CAD....I think they'd be a super fabulous investment, myself!

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Vintage Jar Makeover

I love little pretties.  And I especially love when I can store my little pretties in more little pretties!  And I am particularly fond of {labeling} my pretties holding little pretties....which brings me to:

Vintage Jar Makeover

I am a crafter.  I am just one of a long string of women crafters in my family.  My mom sews {and she is fan.TAS.tic! I learned everything I  know from her, and I only can hope to some day be as good as she!}, my grandmother and aunts crocheted and knit, and who knows what my ancestors before them did {I seriously need to find out!!}!   And with crafting comes supplies.  You know what I'm talking about: thread, needles, buttons, beads, pearls, glue, spray paints, punches, crystals, twine, rules, cutting mats, rotaries, scissors, thimbles {wait. does anyone actually still use those?!?}, ribbon and lace, oh my!  Except, actually the list goes on even more.  But you get my drift, at any rate.

So the question becomes, just what do we do with all this stuff??!  Now, I am not claiming I know the answer to everything to this question {if anyone wants to come help me organize the entire craft room, please be my very special guest, and I'll cook and bake for you while you do it!!}, but I do have one small solution for some items...and that is transforming every day glass jars into ever-cute storage containers. The beauty is, you're not only recycling something you might have otherwise thrown away, but these are actually pretty.  So you won't mind them sitting out...in fact, I think you'll very much enjoy them sitting out ~ BONUS!!

What You Need:
*old {or new} jar {with a two piece lid}
*chalk board paint
*spray paint {in color of choice; here I used ivory for its versatility}
*trim of choice {ribbon, twine, jute, lace, etcetera}

Okay, so this is so, SO simple!  Just spray paint the flat portion of your lid with the chalkboard paint, paint the outer ring of the lid with the spray paint in your choice of color.  Once dry, put it all together and label the top of your jar with your chalk, fill the jar with your goodies and embellish with trim of choice! Voila!  Like I said, so ridiculously simple, but the results are impeccable! These make for such fun containers for gift-giving, too, but I utterly adore them sitting around my house myself! {Gotta find me some more cute jars!}

Not a crafter?  No problem!  You can use these little gems for oodles of things!  Here are just a few ideas, but the sky is the limit! Get creative, and don't be afraid!! {Top left, working clockwise: pearls, beads or other pretties you just like looking at; candy or snack mix storage - perfect tokens of love to use as party favors!; herb storage - cluster herbal jars together in your kitchen - so pretty! OR give as "thank you" gifts; bracelet and/or necklace charm storage - now the container's almost as pretty as the charm itself!}


Need more ideas?
*place setting markers ~ write each guest's name on the chalkboard lid, and fill with a special goody!
*luminaries - just fill with your tealights....a bunch scattered on the table would look amazing {no lids, though!}
*note keeper - fill up with cutesy rolled up notes - these could be special sayings, special memories, or even more of an "advent calendar," where you choose one note a day, and then go out and DO it!

Have fun with these!  Hope you love 'em as much as me! :)

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shabby Vintage Christmas {Paper Doilies: Part II}

Alright, we're continuing ideas for having your own
"Shabby Vintage Christmas" 
using paper doilies as our decorative agent.  {If you missed the first post, click here to see it}.

So this time I wanted to use our paper doily snowflakes as more of a template.  I knew their adorable holes & cutouts would look fabulous as a stencil, so I decided to use them as a snow-inspired backdrop for a large "NOEL" canvas art piece.  Modern, yet vintage-feeling, and completely unique..."these are a few of my favorite things!"

What You Need:
*paper doily snowflakes {the best place to get paper doilies is at a craft store (JoAnn's, Michael's, Hobby Lobby) or WalMart; you can find them in the cake decorating aisle, of all places! Then, if you missed it, please see this post for how to make them into snowflakes}.
*spray adhesive
*spray paint in color of choice
*"Glitter Blast" spray paint in color of choice
*blank canvas in size of choice
*chipboard letters {I found mine for $2 each at Hobby Lobby}
* hot glue gun

Take your blank canvas and go outside so that you can do some painting.  What you want to do first is position your doily snowflakes on the canvas in the pattern you want.  Hang some over the edges and overlap a few to give more realistic depth.  Once they're where you want them to be, you're going to take them, one at a time, and spray the backs with the spray adhesive {do this by placing the snowflake down on some newspapers or other material you don't mind getting spray paint all over!}.  As each is sprayed, put back in place on the canvas and hold down a few seconds to adhere {be sure to press the edges down well!}.

Once all your snowflakes are in place, you're going to take your "Glitter Blast" spray paint and spray over the entire canvas - snowflakes, edges and all!  Let it dry for about 20 minutes, and then carefully remove your doily snowflakes {p.s. do NOT throw these beauties away! they're now bee-YOO-tiful all full of glitter! Sew them together to make a garland, hang from the tree or mantle, or attach to packages!}.
{this photo does NOT do the actual item justice! the glitter spray is GORGEOUS!}

Now it's time to spray paint your chipboard letters.  Do in a well ventilated area outside, and let dry about 20 minutes. 

Then position them onto your canvas where you want them {you can break out the yardstick/ruler for this if you want, but I just eyeballed it}.  Once they're where you want them, you're going to carefully take up the edge of one side and put hot glue (glue gun time!) all over the back of the letter, and then carefully lay the letter back down into position.  You must work quickly with hot glue, as it dries fast.  Be sure to *NOT* take the letter all the way up, or you'll lose the exact position you want!  Just left one edge of the letter, being sure the other edge of the letter does *NOT* leave its position on the canvas!  Once you've hot glued them all in place, you're ready to hang your beautiful canvas up for all to see!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Who doesn't love chocolate & cherries?  This cookie has a sweet, moist texture and complements the chewy goodness of the cherries perfectly!  Use either sour cherries for a zing, or regular dried ones for that super sweet tooth!
{photo courtesy of Martha Stewart's COOKIES book}.

This recipe hails from the "Cookies" book by Martha Stewart...and one thing I've noticed about pretty much all her recipes, is that she uses parchment paper on her cookie sheets.  LOVE this! Makes for easy cleanup and not sure how, but somehow the cookies seem to turn out better...softer and chewier....  This woman really knows her stuff!!


Dark Chocolate Cookies with Sour Cherries
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 1/3 C unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 C (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 C granulated sugar
3/4 C firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped {or just use chocolate chips}
1 1/2 firmly packed cups dried sour (or not!) cherries (9 oz)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda & salt.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter & sugars until fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add the flour mixture, and beat on low speed until just combined.  Do not overbeat. With a wooden spoon, fold in chocolate and cherries.  (Dough can be frozen at this point, wrapped well in plastic, up to 1 month; thaw completely before baking).

4. Form balls into dough, each about 1/4 cup; place balls on prepared baking sheets about 3 inches apart.  Bake until puffed and cracked, 9-11 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Shabby Vintage Christmas {Paper Doilies: Part I}

I love doilies.  I do, I do!  It might stem somewhere from me seeing them everywhere around the house when I was little, as my Grandma crocheted them nonstop.  Mix that in with the vintage style that's so incredibly "in" right now, along with the incredible femininity and intricacy of these little lovelies, and there ya go ~ we have ourselves a winner!
{paper snowflake doilies as part of Christmas package wrap}

So, I have just been totally inspired by these little lovelies, as of late.  I am currently working them into the adam's blankie hair accessory line {although, they're also currently available on our highly fashionable baby bibs now, if you just can't resist the doily, like myself!}, as well as all parts of our house.  Seemingly.  And much to my husband's dismay. Ha!
{paper doily snowflake in our diy shabby garland...tutorial to come later on the blog!}
Naturally, I wanted to implement them into my Christmas, too, of course!  So the first thought I had was making them into snowflakes.  Afterall, doilies inherently already have small cuts & eyelets that resemble snowflakes themselves.  So I figured I could just add my own distinct eyelets to them, and I'd end up with some "truer" looking snowflakes that are each unique to themselves...just like real snowflakes, of course.
{paper snowflake doily implemented into pre-made store garland}
 To achieve this look, you gotta go back to your grade school art class.  Not literally, of course.  But just think back to some of your earliest crafting as a child. Remember making paper snowflakes?  Yup.  I thought you would.  This is the same thing!  You're going to take your paper doily {available for purchase in any craft store {Michael's, JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby, WalMart} in their cake decorating aisle} and fold it into half 4 times, until you end up with a thin wedge, like so:

Now comes the fun part: snipping!  Just take a small pair of scissors and begin cutting tiny shapes along the folded edges of your wedge.  You can snip off the tip, or choose to leave it there.  Remember, every "snowflake" is unique, so make them all a bit different from each other!
{after all the cuts are in.  you can vary them up, tho!  rounded, heart half shape, etc.}

Once all cuts are done, open it up, and you'll end up with something like this!

So now we just need to flatten it.  To do so, you'll need to get some cotton fabric {if you don't have raw fabric yardage laying around like me {what's that you say? you don't? whaaaaat???  kidding!}, you can just grab a plain cotton tshirt instead} and put it over your snowflake.  Iron on top of the fabric for a few seconds.  Then flip over your snowflake, lay the fabric back on top and iron again.

 Now you should have a flat snowflake.

Now comes the real creativity!  You need to decide what you want to do with this little piece of fabulousness!  I had a hard time deciding...so of course I made tons so I could use them many ways!  Here are just a few ideas of what you can do with your doily snowflakes:

*Hang from the ceiling in clusters, creating your own snowy dream! {Would look fabulous over a front entryway buffet table/lowboy}
*Hang onto garlands {see images at top; tutorial for the diy shabby garland to come in next "shabby vintage christmas" installment!}
*Hang from your mantle
*Attach to your stockings
*Hang on the tree
*Sew together to form its own snowflake garland
*Use as tags for Christmas packages {see image above {NOTE: One was spray painted with the ahhh-mazing "Glitter Blast" spray paint from Krylon! You GOTTA get some of that stuff!  It's fabulous!!}
*Use as stencils {idea for this & tutorial coming soon!}

Enjoy!  And be creative!  Let me know how YOU decide to use your snowflake doilies!

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