August 28, 2012

The Recipe Club

I am back in the reading groove people and it feels so good!! I wrapped another book this past week and it felt awesome! I hate when I hit a reading lull so when I find myself getting totally engrossed in a new book I am one happy lady!

The book I just finished is called The Recipe Club by  Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel.

The book centers around the friendship of two girls/grown ladies Val and Lilly. The whole book is written in letters and in each letter they write each other (well 90% of them) they include a recipe with of course clever and appropriate recipe names to go with their situation. Cheesy? Yes, but oh so entertaining for a reader.

The book starts out with the women reaching out after many many years have passed since this "thing" that happened and made them not want to talk to each other. Yeah way to start the book out with you wanting to know exactly what do find out, but not until the last quarter of the book.

This book was pretty good. I enjoyed it and it was a very easy read. There is nothing HUGE that made my jaw drop while reading it and I can't honestly say that I would really recommend the book to anyone particular. As much as I did enjoy it I'm not sure that I'd recommend it period. 

The book is just a book. Not a memorable one that I would rush to my friends and say you MUST read this. But if you find yourself interested based off the description then go for it. I'd say if you can get it at your local library and save yourself some money.

Overall grade - C. Like I said nothing spectacular but I did enjoy it and I found myself staying up late to find out what the big "thing" was that caused the rift.

August 26, 2012

Wench: A Novel

This month my book club chose to read Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez!

The book is something that is completely different from anything we've read and I had heard good reviews from a coworker of mine! It took me about 50 pages before I really got into it!

 The book revolves around a slave named Lizzie that "belongs" to Drayle (his last name). In case you were unaware (like I was) back in the day slave owners would sometimes develop more "personal" relations with their woman slaves. Yes, we've all heard about the slave owners raping their slaves but I was never aware that some would develop relationships with one slave, to the point of moving that slave into their home! I was extremely shocked by this and it took a lot for me to wrap my head around it.

The woman are still treated poorly, don't think that this is a real relationship, but they are treated better than the other slaves. In Lizzie's story she truly believes she loves Drayle, the man who owns her and also has 2 children with her. But it focuses a lot on the summers where her and Drayle would vacation up North (Where slaves were free) and stay at a resort. It was a resort where quite a few white man brought their "special" woman slave and where they stayed in the same cabin together.

Throughout the book you meet 3 other woman and 1 man (all slaves) that Lizzie spends her summers with while at the resort and they all have sad stories to tell! 

The book is pretty gut wrenching and hard to believe, but I assure you it's true. In fact the resort they stayed at during those summers was turned into a school for African Americans and it's been said that those children of the men and their slave woman who stayed there were some of the first to attend the school. 

Overall the book was just plain sad. A book about slavery is already sad enough but then to toss in this very odd arrangement and it's heart breaking. Even though it was sad I still enjoyed it while I read it. I got thoroughly sucked in and finished it in 2 days so it's an easy read as well!!

My grade for this novel - B. It's worth a read if you are at all into the history from that time period!

August 24, 2012

New Couch?!?!

After our wedding Chuckles and I decided we wanted to buy some new living room furniture. Our dogs had basically trashed our couches from laying on them all day while we are at work. We've been sort of actively searching but hadn't found anything that was exactly what I wanted so we were in limbo. 

Then I discovered this Pin on Pinterest and it changed our entire view on purchasing new furniture.

According to the above pin we could easily clean out those nasty stains in our microfiber furniture and have it back to looking fabulous! I want to make sure to make it clear, this trick has only been tried on Microfiber, not any other material so I'd highly recommend doing research before trying this on anything that is not microfiber.

If you do have microfiber furniture and it needs some cleaning like ours desperately needed then get ready for this! All you need is some white (or off white, stay away from colors) sponges, rubbing alcohol, spray bottle, and a bristle brush.

Pour your rubbing alcohol in your spray bottle, do not put anything else in there.

Now don't judge us but here are the before pictures of our loveseat, we've had these for over 4 years now and our dogs have always been allowed to lay on them, plus not crating them means that while we are off at work they are cozied up on this loveseat every day!!

Disgusting, I know!!

Then you saturate the couch with your rubbing alcohol and get to scrubbing with your sponges. I ended up doing this process twice because I didn't scrub hard enough to get out all the nasty marks.

Then you let that couch dry! It will dry fairly quickly but do let it dry all the way.

Once it's dry take your bristle brush and use it on the couch. This will remove the marks from your sponge and make the fabric look like it should.

Doesn't it look so much better already!! Here's a close up of the left couch cushion.

And the right.

I mean seriously how awesome is this trick?!?!? They still need a little bit of work but I ran out of sponges. Yes you heard me right I ran out of white sponges while working on this!! And they are disgusting....wanna see???

Disgusting right??!?!?!?!?!

But remember here is the before:

And after:

One more shot cause I am so impressed by this, this is a close up of the above couch cushion!! 

Consider my mind blown over this one!! We are so excited that we don't have to buy new furniture yet! I'd love to get my big ol' reading chair with ottoman but these couches being only a little over 4 years old are definitely not in need of replacement now!! I just need to get a bunch more white sponges and I'll be working this magic on our couch and then doing another round on our love seat!!

I am so excited!! Thank you so much to 551 East for this awesome trick to saving our furniture!!

August 22, 2012

New Belt - Zero Dollars Spent!

I am learning a lot of new sewing projects from Pinterest and I couldn't be happier about it!

Awhile back I purchased a super cute black dress for work but it desperately needed a belt to go with it to add a little something! I was just going to purchase a bright colored belt but have not been able to find any. While "surfin" Pinterest one day I saw an adorable bow belt and it looked easy enough.

I had some cute polka dot fabric that I used to make a valence for my scrapbook room (oldie but goodie - Valence) and figured what's cuter than a polka dot bow belt?? Plus I used velcro (instead of a button snap) since I already had that, thus not having to spend any money and no need to go shopping. That may sound weird but I am so sick of shopping and spending money. I usually get this feeling at the end of summer cause we tend to always be out and about but add in two weddings and I am spent when it comes to shopping and money spending....over it!!

Since this project cost me zero dollars out of pocket it was perfect!! Unfortunately I didn't take my normal set of pictures, just felt like working through the project and of course regretting it as soon as I finished it!

Even without a how to guide on my blog (you can get instructions for this here.) I wanted to share the cuteness of the belt so that any sewers out there could make one too!!

Here is an up close cute right?!?!?!?

And excuse my hot mess look, on Sundays I barely make it into the shower let alone do my hair and make up!! 

I love this bow belt and it was sooooo easy!! It was a cute project that took me about an hour and half to complete and is totally worth it! I am definitely going to make some more of these in different fabrics once I feel like shopping again!!

Seriously though....this project is so easy and so cute, definitely give it a shot if you like sewing!!

Thanks Momtastic for a fun Sunday Project!!

August 20, 2012

Banana Saver

Remember my love for bananas?? Well if you also love bananas or if you purchase them for other members of your household then you are fully aware that bananas can turn "bad" real quick. They tend to turn too soft and bruised for my taste after a couple days so I tend to buy smaller bunches of them, but that results in me going to the grocery store multiple times a week. I would much prefer not going to the store for bananas so when I saw this brilliant idea on Pinterest I had to try it!!

The original idea has you wrapping plastic wrap around the tops of the bananas but we had aluminum foil so I used that instead. I figured it's probably just that the tops need to be covered and not so much about it being plastic wrap or foil.

Day 1 - Notice how pretty they are :)

Day 3 

Day 5

And Day 6 - Holy WOW!!

As you can see I took advantage of the fact that they weren't going bad and saved them! I love having bananas on hand to snack on and now that this little trick works I can have them last a whole week and not have to worry about going to the grocery store!

This trick definitely blew my mind and had it not been for Pinterest who knows if I ever would've discovered it! I've learned that Pinterest is my new best friend!! I was very hesitant about joining Pinterest knowing it would be just another internet time suck for me but so far I couldn't be happier with it. I've completed cute projects, made new delicious recipes, and now of course picked up a few tips and tricks here and there that are STELLAR!!

If you haven't joined Pinterest yet you MUST! Even if it's just for the helpful house tips, it will be worth joining!!

August 18, 2012

Cookies From Miranda Lambert's Kitchen!

Recently I was catching up on my magazine addiction and came across a section from Taste of Home that was all about Miranda Lambert!! I grew up listening to country music and still listen to it and Miranda Lambert happens to be a female country singer I can stand behind! I love her "don't take shit" attitude and her happy love story with husband Blake Shelton (for those who don't know he's also a country singer).

But in this article was broken into 10 Random "Things" About Miranda Lambert and number 6 was a recipe for cookies called "Magic". Of course I wanted to try them, just look at the ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • 1 Cup White Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract.

Look at that peanut butter!!!!!!!!!! YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Combine all your ingredients in one bowl.

Mix well.

Roll the dough into golf ball sized balls, or a little smaller. I did them just a bit smaller. Then using a fork create criss-cross marks. Yup, just like peanut butter cookies...coincidence perhaps?

Throw those babies into the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. And then head to the kitchen to wash up all those dishes you used! At this point this was by far the best part of these cookies. Seriously only used a handful of dishes and only one bowl - that's a keeper of a recipe!

And voila after 10 minutes not only will all your dishes be clean but you will have these amazing cookies ready to be consumed. No I do not wait for cookies to cool completely before I taste could you?

One of the biggest plus' to this recipe is that it doesn't make a huge batch, just enough to satsify the sweet tooth and if you have guests over you probably won't have any leftover!! YAY!!

These cookies are super delish, but they taste exactly like regular Peanut Butter Cookies. I get why Miranda Lambert and family call them Magic! With less ingredients to mix and dishes to do it is magical that these turn out so well and are soooo easy!!

I highly recommend (obviously who wouldn't want to eat a yummy peanut butter cookie) and I definitely hope that if I'm ever invited as a guest to Miranda Lambert's home (yes I have high hopes) I will get to enjoy these delish little cookies!!

August 16, 2012

Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies

A couple weekends ago I was in some major need of some easy living!! I turned my cell phone off, stayed off the computer and got back to doing things I love doing. Of course one of those things was baking!! :)

I had been wanting to try a recipe I had found back in January for Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies! The recipe looked super easy and after making Caramel Cake I am convinced that brown sugar is AMAZING!

Again, we had everything on hand so this recipe was already a winner.
  • 1 Cup Butter, softened
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 1/4 Cups Flour
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray
  • Sugar

First up beat your butter using an electric mixer, then add in your brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Beat until fully combined.

Next it's time to start adding in your flour. The original recipe says to blend in as much flour as you can using your mixer, I was able to get it all in there no problem.

Your dough should look similar to this, if not exactly like this :)

Then get your prep station ready!! Grab your cookie sheet, spray with cooking spray (I always put aluminum foil down to keep the washing dishes to a minimum), a cookie stamp (if you don't have one don't worry neither do I so I just used a fork), and sugar.

Roll your dough into 1 inch balls and place on your cookie sheet. Then dip your cookie stamp in sugar and stamp onto your dough. Since I couldn't dip my fork into the sugar and get the sugar to stay I just made the criss cross marks and sprinkled a small amount of sugar all over the cookies!

Pop those babies in your oven at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack and let cool!!

These cookie were "okay", "so-so", "meh"!! They are shortbread cookies which I had to keep reminding myself since I was hoping for some more flavor and was not getting it. They are your typical shortbread cookies but without that melt in your mouth sensation. I don't know about the rest of you but I much prefer shortbread cookies that just melt in your the ones we gave out at our wedding as favors. Now those were AMAZING!!

The recipe for these got trashed. I just know I'll never make them again. Even Chuckles said they were pretty bland and just not our "flavor" of cookies :) 

If you love shortbread then definitely give these a go, they are good just not what we prefer!!

August 14, 2012

Time to Get My Holiday Planning On

The Holidays have arrived...well they have in my house. Actually to be perfectly honest with all of you the Holidays never really leave our house! I just keep them locked up in my scrapbook room where no one is allowed to make fun of me! You all know by now that I'm a holiday nut so I'm sure none of you are surprised with my newest Pinterest Project!

2012 Holiday Planner

And I'm not the only one! Check out my super cool friend Alycia's Holiday Planner!!

The original blogger actually provides you with printable templates but because we are total slackers and we don't have a printer I got to use all my creative juices and make it uniquely mine!

First things first, get out any and all Christmas embellishments you might want to use! I'm not ashamed to admit I spent 20 minutes going through all my Christmas supplies looking for just the right paper, ribbon and stickers!

Then get out all the supplies you will need to complete this project:
  • Composition Notebook
  • 2 - 6" x 9" Envelopes with Clasps
  • 36" Piece of Ribbon
  • Labels (or the printouts)
  • Scissors
  • Adhesive
  • Adhesive Pen Holder (I added this bit cause every planner needs it's own pen)

The first step - glue your ribbon to your composition notebook. Yes this is the very first step! The ribbon is "technically" for prying eyes but since Chuckles and I don't have kids yet I decided it was just a pretty embellishment to have! I used hot glue to get my ribbon on the notebook, and you will want to glue it on both sides, make sure when gluing you have even lengths of ribbon left to tie.

Then take your patterned or colored paper (12 x 12) and cut in half. Then take each half and trace the front and back covers. Your piece of paper will not fit your entire cover, do not worry it's supposed to work like that, but you will want to make sure you trace the length and the corners on the covers.

Then cut 2" strips off your other 12 x 12 paper.

And then line these up close to the black binding on the notebook and cut to the appropriate length. You want it to match the length of the notebook.

And for all of you not behind the times go ahead and ink the edges of your paper. I am still "new" to the inking game but can I say how addicted I am already! Just for the rest of this post assume I inked the edges on every single piece of paper possible!!

The next step requires you to have a 5 1/2 inch circle punch with I did not and probably will not ever own! But I do own my lovely Cricut so I went in search of a circle. Instead I found an ornament, super cute right? LOVE IT!

Now we get down to the nitty gritty. With all your paper cut it is now time to glue everything down! YAY!!

You will first glue down the bigger piece of paper, lining it up with the edge of the notebook, then glue your circle (or whatever shape you'd like) on top of that. You will want to line the edge of that against the black binding, not the edge of the notebook.

Then glue down your 2" strip of paper.

Next up she calls for your attach your cut out tag but I chose to do a different embellishment. Again the whole no printer and I did notice that her most current version has 2011 date and not 2012.

I ended up having a thicker card stock circle and that cute Holiday Cheer embellishment. It needed a little break in color so I cut out (using the Cricut) a circle in green! However you chose to do it, at this point go ahead and finish up your front cover by attaching that. Then of course glue down your papers for the back cover.

After your front and back covers are decorated it's time to create your envelope holders and tabs. I grabbed a package of Martha Stewart tabs in red to use and they worked out fabulously!!

One of the first things you will notice is that ugly black writing all over the front and back covers. Easy solution to cover those up....

Cut out a piece of plain white card stock and glue down! (Quick little side note cause I screwed this up, if you are planning on attaching a pen holder to it you will want to do this now. I was able to peel back the white card stock and slide it at the very end but if you can avoid doing that then you must)

Next you create your two envelopes for receipts and coupons. I just cut out two strips of each patterned paper, glued to the bottom, added a strip of green so that I could write on there and have it be visible.

Then attach those envelopes to your covers. I chose to use hot glue to attach mine.

Creating the tabs is really easy! Lucky for me the Martha Stewart ones worked out well. First I wrote on them then I spaced them out throughout the notebook. Make sure to work your way down and leaven enough pages in between each section!

Ta Da!! Sections are attached, book is looking almost complete!!

Once I had the tabs added it was just a matter of adding little things here and there. First I needed to write coupons (or receipts) onto my envelopes, then I decided a little color on the opening page would be super nice! Also any excuse to use my new last name I'll take!

Awww look at how cute it is!

Not quite complete though. Like I mentioned I completely forgot to add my pen holder until the end, but I was able to peel back the white card stock and attach it. This seriously was a HUGE addition for me!!

Now it is complete!!

There are a few other steps, such as printing out and adding calendar pages for you "Events" section, which I will get printed out and added. We have actually decided we need a printer and am now doing research.

This project was sooooo much fun!! I had an absolute blast working on it!! It was such a great afternoon project! Huge thanks to the eighteen25 blog for sharing such an adorable and helpful project!!

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