Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DIY: Glass "Etched" Salt & Pepper Shakers.


I have seen a lot of lovely projects recently involving etched glass. I found several DIYs online that used an etching cream, and thought that seemed simple enough and was a good place to start. So, off to the craft store I went. FYI: when I go to the craft store I get completely lost in craft-land. I spent a combined 3 1/2 hrs at our local Hobby Lobby and Michael's yesterday, and left without half of what was on my list but a few extra things I hadn't intended to buy. I couldn't find the etching cream at my first stop, but I did pick up some Krylon Frosted Glass Finish. At the second stop, I found the etching cream but when I saw the price I decided to stick with the frosty spray finish instead.

Like I said, there are a ton of awesomely great ideas for glass projects, but I figured for my first time ever I should start small. I decided to decorate some salt and pepper shakers that I purchased at the dollar store a while back for... a dollar. Making this total project cost about $8, with plenty of frosted finish to spare.
 

Materials:
  • Painters tape
  • Krylon Frosted Glass Finish
  • Glass salt & pepper shakers
  • Stencil or stickers



Tape off all the areas of the project that you do not want to be frosted. I wanted just a tiny bit of it frosted, so I basically covered the entire shaker with tape, leaving a small square on the front.

Place your stencil, or in my case a sticker, on the surface where you would like it to go as well. Remember, anything covered will not be frosted.

Following the directions on the back of the bottle, in a well-ventilated area, spray the exposed surfaces with several thin coats of the finish. Allow to dry approximately 20-30 minutes before removing the sticker/stencil.

If there is any sticky residue left from your stickers (this happened to me), grab a q-tip and some nail polish remover to clean it off. The nail polish remover WILL remove the frosty finish as well, so be careful. But don't worry, if this happens (it happened to me), just replace your sticker/stencil and spray it again. I used a combination of q-tips and a toothpick to clean up my lines and remove all the sticky residue.

Remove the painters tape last. I suggest waiting about an hour before doing this just to be sure everything is dried up. If any of the spray seeped under the tape (this happened to me), just clean it up with your trusty q-tips, toothpicks and nail polish remover.

For my first project I think the results aren't bad at all. It wasn't as difficult as it sounds, just be patient and allow the finish to dry before you go peeling off your stickers!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Recipe: Balsamic & Garlic Pork Tenderloin

I have challenged myself with the task of trying one new recipe a week for every week of the new year, and so far it is moving along nicely. I have to admit that coming up with the time to choose a worthy new recipe, purchase the ingredients that I don't already have, prepare it and cook it, is harder than I thought it would be. But I am determined to keep this going! Not only because I don't want to fail at the one and only "resolution" I made this year, but because I LOVE food and I really enjoy cooking. I think it's important not to fall into the rut of eating the same old, same old all the time. When able, I will credit whatever blog, site, or cookbook that I adapted the recipe from. This one originally came from Kitchen Confidante. That blog is chock full of wonderful recipes and other food-related posts so I suggest you check it out! I followed the recipe pretty closely with just a few minor modifications.


Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, or two 3/4 lb loins
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed & roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons oil for cooking 
Mix together the garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl. The original recipe describes the result as a paste, but mine was much runnier than that. More like a marinade.

Place your tenderloins in a dish and brush on the marinade generously. I cut a few slits in my tenderloin and made sure to get plenty of marinade inside there too. Then, I ended up pouring the entire mixture over the tenderloins and massaged it in using my fingers for a minute or so.

 

I recently read an article that described common cooking mistakes. One of them was not allowing your meat to reach room temperature before cooking. So, remembering that, I left my covered tenderloins to marinate on the counter for about 2 hours before cooking. This will also allow it to really soak up the flavors of the marinade and makes for an incredibly moist tenderloin. 

Preheat your oven to 400°. Heat the cooking oil in a saute pan over med-high heat. Move the tenderloins to the skillet and cook in the oil until browned on all sides, about 4-5min. total.

 

Place tenderloins in a baking dish and pour any leftover marinade on top. Bake in the preheated oven until cooked through, about 30-35min. Let rest several minutes before slicing.

Serve and enjoy! This is easy and DELICIOUS.

 
**October 17, 2013 EDIT: The photo above is the original photo taken for this recipe. I made this again tonight for dinner and it was even better than last time! I made a few very slight tweaks the recipe which are reflected above, as well as a couple of new photos.

 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Shopping frenzy.

Although yesterday I claimed to be verrry busy lately, I have still of course found the time to do a little shopping. I think I'm forming a real problem, here. But doesn't it just feel so good to get up and put on a new outfit?

I snagged a couple of great things this week. Well, if I'm being honest, I purchased way more than a couple things... But here are some of my favorites: a nifty plaid flannel shirt, this awesome weaved brown cross-body purse, a pair of gray skinnies, a fresh pair of loafers, and a silver sparrow necklace.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Recipe: Chicken with Ham Gravy

My second new recipe of the new year was a total flop. I won't even waste the time posting about it! Instead I'm just going to skip right on to recipe number three :P I've fallen behind in my recipes and posts because I began my NEW JOB last week and it's taking up a ton of my time! I had to change my shift due to the training schedule and have been finding very little free time for web-fun. But I'll be back in the game soon enough! For my first post in almost two weeks, I am posting the recipe for my third new recipe of the new year.

This recipe is super easy and requires little more than some stirring and sticking in the oven. But, it bakes for approx. 50-60min so plan ahead if you don't want to be eating a late dinner. I have to admit to you that the photo is not my own. My photo looked significantly less appetizing, so I swiped this one from the recipe card. This is a Campbell's Soup recipe which means it uses (you guessed it!) a can of Campbell's soup. Some might feel this is cheating, I feel that this makes a busy wife's job much easier at dinnertime!


Chicken with Ham Sauce & Mashed Potatoes



Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts (the recipe calls for bone-in, but I used boneless)
4 ounces sliced cooked ham (I used deli ham, shredded)
1 can Campbell's Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 (8oz) container of sour cream
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 servings mashed potatoes (I made homemade, but Bob Evans has killer microwaveable mashed potatoes!)

Preheat your oven to 375°. Put the chicken in a 13x9 inch baking dish and bake for 30min.

In a bowl, combine the soup, sour cream, all of the seasonings, and the ham. Spoon over the chicken and replace in the oven to bake an additional 20min more or until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken to a serving platter. Stir the sauce and serve over the chicken and mashed potatoes.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cavalcade of Customs.

Today was a nice cold day to spend inside the Duke Energy Convention Center browsing the huge array of cars, trucks, bikes and anything else you can stick a motor on. Hubby and I first thought a good, filling lunch at Dewey's Pizza was in order, but arrived to find it dark and empty with all the chairs turned upside down on the tables. Apparently they aren't open for lunch on Sundays. We then headed over to McAllister's soup and sandwich shop where we found a line so long out the door that you couldn't enter the restaurant. What in the world? Alas, we ended up in McDonald's drive-thru ordering chicken sandwiches and fries to eat on the way.

Despite the cost of parking and admission fees, as well as a decent walk in the cold to get from the garage to the convention center, we really enjoyed ourselves today! There were some really incredible rides and did I mention Deana from Jersey Shore was there?? Here are a few of my favorites from the show...


This car was painted all the way around with a beautiful tribute to our armed forces.

HULK car. Don't make it angry :P


A tractor with wheels so big I could sit inside them.

Every girl's dream car... A pink Corvette! Called "Pink Ice".

Deena signing autographs.

This is what I call a "Scooby-doo Van". A little kid walking by called it a hippie car. Either way, I want one!

I'm not sure what this was but it was one of the prettiest cars there.

Ghost Busters! This car was so long I couldn't fit it all in the picture.

If Cavalcade of Customs comes to a convention center near you, I suggest you go. There is hours worth of stuff to see as well as merchandise vendors, food & drinks and even a live band. And for anyone actually caring to learn a thing or two, there was plenty of other vendors and booths with folks eager to answer your questions. Happy Sunday!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Clothes revolution! I mean resolution.

I've been a shopping fiend lately. I blame this on Chictopia, Pinterest, Polyvore, and the many many fashion blogs I follow, as well as my recent return to work which provides new funds for doing so. I still have to shop on a budget because, let's face it, even being back to work doesn't mean I've stopped living paycheck to paycheck. I've learned to improvise and I find myself "thirfting" a lot and raiding the clearance racks at my favorite stores. And in doing so I've found a lot of little gems! I've also realized that the thought of paying full price for anything anymore makes me shudder and OMG I've become my mother!!

I decided to make a style resolution for the new year, an idea which I got from Elsie at A Beautiful Mess. My style resolution is to be more bold with my wardrobe. The truth is that I LOVE colors and patterns and mixing of the two, but I'm just not brave enough to try it. I always find myself saying, "That is cute but I can't pull it off." Well, this year I'm going to try!

I'm starting out slow. My first step was buying a bright red sweater at Old Navy ($6). I decided to pair it with an ON mustard yellow and cream striped tank top ($3), and a pair of fold-over combat boots that I got from Kohl's ($7). The scarf, believe it or not, was purchased at my local grocery store for $3.50! So besides the jeans, this entire outfit was found on clearance and cost right about $20. Not bad, huh?!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First new recipe of the new year: Pad Thai with Chicken.

I have been craving Pad Thai for weeks and weeks, but my super picky husband isn't a big fan of Asian cuisine. I finally decided to make my own version from home using bits and pieces of several recipes (depending on what I had available, and what we like) to create this one that my husband and I could both enjoy.

Pad Thai with Chicken


Ingredients:

1/2 pkg (16oz) of rice noodles
2 T butter
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 eggs
1/3 c cooking oil
1 t minced garlic
1 t ginger
1 T white wine vinegar
3 T fish sauce
3 T white sugar
2 T lime juice
1/4 t red pepper (cayenne)
3 T peanut butter
1/4 c crushed peanuts, for garnish
2 T chopped cilantro, for garnish

Place rice noodles in a pot of hot (not boiling) water and let soak for about 25-30min.

In the meantime, heat the butter in your wok or large saucepan. I don't have a wok and my saucepan worked just fine! Saute the chicken until lightly browned on both sides and cooked through. Remove from heat and shred (or chop into bite sized pieces if you'd prefer), and set aside. Add the cooking oil to the pan and heat over med-high heat. Crack both eggs into hot oil and cook until firm. Mix in chicken, garlic, and ginger and cook for another few minutes. Turn heat down to low.

In a separate bowl, prepare the sauce by mixing the vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, red pepper, and peanut butter. You can adjust any of these to your tastes. Don't be alarmed by the pungent smell!

Add sauce mix and noodles to the saucepan with chicken and eggs. Mix well until noodles are soft and ready to serve. Top individual servings with crushed peanuts and chopped fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Recipe: Tom Collins (my way)

For my New Year's drink of choice, I wanted so badly to enjoy a dirty martini. I bought the gin, the vermouth, the olives... But sadly no matter how I mixed them, the result was repulsive. I guess I'm just too sissy to enjoy that strong taste of alcohol. I need something tasty that masks the alcohol flavor. I didn't want to waste that giant bottle of gin so I searched until I found a drink recipe I thought I could handle. The Tom Collins. It seemed simple enough, and tasty enough, so I sent my husband to the store to pick up the two things I was missing: Lemon juice and club soda. He mistakenly purchased lime juice, but I decided to go with it. Also, I needed a simple syrup but was pretty sure he'd have too hard a time finding that and decided to make my own. To make your own simple syrup you need a sugar to water ratio of 2:1. In a pot on the stove I boiled one cup of water, then I gradually added 2 cups of sugar, stirring constantly until it was completely dissolved. Allow it to cool and pour into a bottle and store in the fridge.

It's pretty difficult to mess this drink up. I did not use a Collins glass, oh well. I used a jigger for my measurements but if you don't have one, just know that a normal sized shot glass is 1 1/2 oz, and I poured in the club soda last until the glass was nearly full.

Tom Collins

1 1/2 oz gin
1 oz lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
5 oz club soda
cherries for garnish, and a splash of cherry juice

Add the gin, lime juice, syrup and club soda to a glass with ice. Splash in a bit of cherry juice and drop a couple cherries in. Stir well with a spoon. Enjoy!



Cheers to the new year and another chance for us to get it right.

Oprah Winfrey said that, and I think it fits well.

Twenty-eleven was a very good year for us, despite the long months I was without work. We got by OK and still managed to make the most of the year. I'd like to reflect a little bit, so bear with me. There were many great memories and experiences this past year, but here are a handful of the ones that really stick out to me.

--> FACED A FEAR: At the very start of 2011 I began pushing myself at work to step outside of my comfort zone. I faced my incredible fear of public speaking and spent three weeks standing in front of a classroom full of newbies teaching them all they would need to know to begin their new job. Typed out, it doesn't sound so scary. But I assure you that this was my biggest accomplishment of the year. I conquered my fear only fractionally, but I faced it head on and did a pretty decent job. I even earned a nice little bonus and an award for doing so :)

--> ROTR: The early part of the year was spent just focusing on work mostly, but was peppered with a few good concerts, good time spent with friends, date nights with the hubs, and a pretty average amount of excitement. But the summer brought new things that I can't forget to mention. I attended Rock on the Range in Columbus, OH for the first time. It is an annual summer rock festival with three stages and full of amazing music, and this year was the 5th anniversary. It was expensive and crazy and such a blast. This year, I'd like to go again but I'd also like to check out the line-up for Bonnaroo. Music is amazing and I love all sorts, and watching live music is one of my all-time favorite things to do.

--> VACATION #1: In June my husband and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary, and I celebrated growing another year older. We took a mini-vacation to Cedar Point that month and had a blast. We rode the second fastest and tallest roller coaster in the world. We ate our hearts out, laid on the beach, spent tons of money, and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

--> PROMOTION: I was laid off from work at the end of June, so I spent all of July basking in the sun and enjoying my summer days to myself. I returned to work in August on a temporary promotion, which was a big step for me as well. This entire year I spent pushing myself and going "above and beyond" at work, and I'm proud to say that it has paid off. I was offered a new position, a pay raise, and a longer working schedule (no more getting furloughed for months at a time). I begin my new position on January 17th, what a great way to begin another great year!

--> VACATION #2: In September we took yet another vacation. I guess having not taken one for several years made us itchy for lots of beach time this year. We went to Ft Myers Beach, FL and did a lot of really wonderful things. I believe I have mentioned in a past post, but I'll say it again because I am reflecting and because these were the highlights of my year! We rented a wave runner and went on a dolphin tour. We saw lots of dolphins, manatees, and gorgeous birds-- including a Bald Eagle! We also went on a sunset dinner cruise and ate one of the most delicious meals of my life, while watching an incredible sunset on the ocean. We tanned on the beach and by the pool where a musician played great music, ate a fancy dinner at the hotel restaurant, considered buying a timeshare, watched a group of seniors sing some beautiful karaoke, had drinks at a piano bar, and had an overall wonderful time.

--> SKYDIVING: Shortly after our vacation, we did the MOST exciting thing of the entire year. We went skydiving!!! I can't put into words how incredible this experience was. If you'd like, you can watch the video and try to get an idea for yourself. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. Just do it once!

The last few months of this year have been pretty uneventful, but still worth mentioning. I delved into a new hobby (sewing), read several good books, and sparked up a new love for cooking. One thing I'd like to try in this coming year, though it may be asking a lot, is to try one new recipe a week. That would be 52 new recipes by the end of the year. I am NOT making this a resolution, just a goal. We will see how it goes.

I'm not making any resolutions at all this year. Actually, I haven't made a resolution for the past several years. I will inevitably break it, which is part of the vicious cycle of New Year's Resolutions, that I no longer wish to be a part of. But, resolution or not, I am still going to try to better myself this coming year, and every other year for that matter, by trying new things, reading new books, exploring new hobbies, making new friends, tasting new foods, discovering new music, and taking my husband along for the ride.

Happy New Year!
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