Friday, December 25, 2009

DIY MATTERS OF STYLE

I've found myself in a lot of trouble at home for sharing all manner of delicious recipes with you. Seems people at my house want to eat those things I told you about and they're harassing me - so no food for you this time as I need the peace. I will share a FEMME passion of mine: I am a closet freak |^_~| . Of course I'm speaking of my love for clothes and jewels like those at J.Crew. I pretty much give them most of my money except that sometimes I give some $$ to the nice folks over at Juicy Couture for fragrance and the occasional track suit and blingy baubles like this ostentatious key fob which I just had to have.

PHOTO: MICHELLE OBAMA IN J. CREW RUFFLEd blouse AND matching CARDIGAN

J. Crew, though, they reel me in but man are they crazy expensive! I hardly ever fall in love for much under $100 an item over there and when I do, that's 1 item like a blouse or a sweater and $40 and up for a tee shirt. I tell you, it stops my breath for a moment - long enough to come up with SEW DIY things based on: imitation -noun 1. copy 2. sincere form of flattery.

”Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.” Jamie Paolinetti


See this fantastic and alluring casual top which will
cost you about $88- it can be recreated for much less if you are willing to wield a pair of scissors and sew a little. I was totally going to show you how to recreate this gem and then I thought, reinventing the wheel is not necessary so instead I will share with you how the Divas at Enchantresses 3 whipped up such delight right here with a bunch of hearts.






I like winter well enough but I'm not crazy about actually being cold so I like to wrap on a scarf to control my temperature. Here's the downside: necklaces are hidden under the scarf that I may remove. J. and the Crew bust that myth with this look with a ribbon necklace and I lurved it so I bought this exact one.
Did I mention that I live near a J. Crew outlet and paid only 40% of the online price for this lovely? I was almost happy but I wanted more, so I thought SEW DIY because, well, I'm creative like that. After some research I came across these set of directions from lovely Mrs. Erica and made my own ribbon necklace
from some grosgrain ribbon and some existing bling in my jewelry collection. I followed the directions (scroll down) beginning where she added the ribbon and wow, I love it. You can feel free to make an entire necklace from scratch but really... really? Why... you and I both know that you have a bunch of tired things which you could just redo with a little ribbon you find at your fabric store. Grosgrain ribbon by the way comes in hundreds of styles, is sturdy and did I mention rather inexpensive at about $2 for a roll of 18 feet like here at JoAnnes fabric and crafts. Yep.

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Since you're in the mood for a little creative purposing, how about giving a go at this embellished Cardigan al a J. and the Crew - directions found here at MISMATCHERIE

See full size image
or recreate the J. inspired no-sew ruffle like Bromeliad shares here made from a recycled tee shirt and harmonizing colored blouse.


Ruffles of all kinds abound on garments today which is the perfect opportunity to do a little something about "peek control". Say yes to Hoboken shows how here on this V Neck tee (scroll down half way) which she embellishes with pinch pleats. Make it your own by doing the same thing with purchased ribbon or lace. You're a more ambitious seamstress? Try a ruffle detail on a classic Trench as shown here at INTO-THE-FRAY.

There was also this sort of ribbon neckline added to shirts and cardigans which has unfinished hems and is gathered into a ruffle and attached as MY MAMMA MADE IT does here.

We can do the entire ruffles and petals thing according to other designers. ... love Maegan.com shows how to add petals and ruffles to shoes: heels flats pumps, stilettos..you name it. Her site has lots of DIY for your creative diva side. We needn't limit our creativity to the kitchen, I certainly bring creativity to every aspect of my life. I hope you give one of these projects a try. If you see any fabulous J. makeables I hope you share with me...

Leave me a comment!!





Sunday, December 6, 2009

SMART COOKIE


I want to send Happy Hanukkah wishes to some of you, you know who you are.

So my little guy pointed out to me that each holiday has it's candy...Easter has the chocolate bunny, Valentine's day has candy hearts, etc... you get the idea and Christmas has the candy cane. However, I needed to point out to him that the Christmas sweet he likes may be the candy cane but to me - it's all about the Christmas cookies! This is prime cookie season and we need to embrace it!!

The primitive snow man is from Johanna Parker Design .com I like to intermingle snowmen with holiday decor because it's always so naked when I take down the religious what nots. With the snow men, things are not so stark until Valentines day rolls around, know what I mean?

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I say I like cookies but the truth is I like only peanut butter cookies, all variations of them and any other cookie I am willing to sample but most likely think "Meh, I wish there were peanut butter ones". However, cookies as gift giving or holiday items get a different approach: adorable cookies for the children, chocolate something for most adults and schmancy for the exchange. I have sworn off of cookie exchanges because of all the rules my group began imposing, that and the temptation of having 900 cookies whispering my name was too much. If you are not a cookie exchange wimp like myself I noticed these tasty morsels. If you are a cookie Scrooge, no matter, I wanted to show you something completely unrelated to cookies.

Ok, here's the non-cookie thing I wanted to tell you about. See, Santa dropped off iPods last holiday and I absolutely marvel at all that is available with them and for them. They are that great. Well, in the morning commute, I seem to leave the house just in time for traffic and weather and never get to do any duets with my favorite artists who live inside my iPod. No more!! Check out this thingamajigger: it's an iPod dock for your car... I know, right!! Let the concert begin!!! This little beauty will allow you to listen to your tunes or you can purchase the subscription of Sirius XM radio enhancements. I do not know if Santa provides that but you could always ask =) Enjoy the coming week, my friend and thanks for stopping by. Don't go telling Santa that you want a thingamajigger, see this is actually called a XM Sky dock.


Adorable cookie, hmmm, these are cute Simple Holiday Sugar Cookies dressed for the fun of children but now I have a male teenager in the house and only something morbid, offbeat or insane will count as a pre-adult cookie ... so I have to show you these excellent Christmas mice cookies by Rhonda with their disturbing eyes and that tail which my kids will try to tie into knots inside their mouths... yeah, this cookie does double duty |^_~|

My Own Grand Idea: Peanut Butter Chocolate Checkerboard cookies


Using your favorite Chocolate cookie recipe and Peanut butter cookie recipe or use these wonderful ones found here, create cookie doughs.

Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies


Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe


(Both of these recipes call for 3 to 3 1/2 dozen cookies, unless you actually want to make a ton of these cookies, I recommend cutting both

of the recipes in half.) After creating your two cookie doughs, follow the Checkerboard cookie diagram shared from the wonderful cut out and keep website then bake your new creation in 350F oven for about 12 minutes. Keep eye on them and remember to tell your little cookie eaters that these contain peanut butter because surely they will think these are the tired sugar cookie checkerboards that we always see annualy. Perhaps they may have forgotten how unique and amazing you are because “We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are.” Anais Nin =)


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Saturday, November 28, 2009

BEARING GIFTS


I think I can explain...

One Christmas, when I was an impressionable young girl, a cousin and I gathered around the Christmas tree at my grandparents home to wrap our presents. The magic of the season was in the air or so it seemed with the carols playing, hot cocoa in festive mugs and a virtual ring of glitterati wrapping accessories encircled our smallish bodies. Our grandmother's tree was ornately decorated in a colored theme with lavishly wrapped presents adorned with carefully chosen patterned papers and ribbons underneath. Being the romantic waif that I was, I imagined there were the loveliest of gifts waiting to be handed out to us grandchildren. My brazen older cousin, who liked to ruin legends for me, did her best to break the enchanting spell by telling me that the gifts were only for decoration. It didn't work... I thought wow! I can't wait to grow up and wrap presents all fancily (I know that's not a real word) and arrange them nicely under the tree to stand in until Santa arrived. She thought I was stupid and I called her a mean jerk but my point is that my earliest memories are filled with ostentatious aspirations which I come by honestly, after all, my grandmother was every bit as silly as I am and so it's hereditary.

I know you're keen enough to follow this blog (^_~) or subscribe to the RSS for fascinating tips, recipes, and cleverness. Comments are always welcome.

With that said, I should mention that I have changed some, I buy sensible and you can believe sometimes extravagant gifts but whenever I can, I recycle pretty of flashy department store bags as gift wrap. Fold over the top, punch two holes near the center with a hole puncher and attach ribbon. Instructions to make your own puffy ribbon are here in the chance that you'll want to recycle something from paper. I still appreciate elements of the glorious wrapped presents, too, so I add tassels, origami cranes or wind mills made from scraps of wrapping pager or magazine pages or maps or stocks page of newspaper, or flowers or raffia. Or utilize beautiful pillow cases, one inside the other wrapped in a bow, sometimes filling them with the other pillow case fluffs them out and helps disguise the gift within.



I also thing that new and colorful dishtowels and oven mitts make for fun gift wrap stand-ins. As do knit hats wrapped with a lovely scrunchy or barrette. Luggage tags as ribbons, tool boxes as gift boxes...I hope I have got you thinking now.

Know what I think is fun? To have a re-gift Christmas party among friends. You must serve spirits at this event on the chance that you re-gift something someone in attendance gave you. I have just the thing, a signature drink saves you from having to stock your bar if you don't really want to and this Pomegranate martini recipe is just the thing. It's pleasing to the eyes and hopefully softens the blow of seeing your own thoughtful gift re-gifted.

Crate and Barrel will save your holiday gathering with their chalk glassware. I know that by the time I get near the bottom of a glass of spirits that wear a charm of remembrance, I will have set it down a couple of times and have completely forgotten whether I had the grape or the dolphin. Pick up some of these and wet your little chalk board and write names with chalk, the moisture will ensure names having some staying power or at the very least identifiable residue of the lush which held it. Use colored chalk, it may encourage your party goers to pay attention to their hand placement for the rest of the evening. If Jim has blue chalk and Mary had a blue hand print somewhere on her holiday dress this entire concept could prove revealing entertainment. Just saying.


Whilst searching for book gifts, because of course I think everyone should receive a good book for Christmas, I came
acrossthis Bookmark EyeGlass Case found atEyeglassHolders.com (be sure to scroll to the right) . Currently, I'm an onlooker at "mature" people with reading glasses and though my eyes are still "immature", I know my days are numbered and for that reason I'm fascinated with make and model numbers of products to counter this particular manifestation of God's sense of humor which we know as Bi-focal-itis. Omgosh, are you saying that you could make this? It's only $12 but, hehe, the thought crossed my creative mind for about 2 seconds and for that reason I found and posted these directions to a similar thing.

this thingy - it's a Cable Roller. I have no doubt that you have been inundated with technology and along with it the need to manage the tangle of it's tentacles. So too are your loved ones in a knot over this invasion. Make yourself a hero of what everyone needs, give these little stocking stuffers and take a bow. Gift challenged? There a many places on the internet that are just a search away for gift ideas, saving coupon codes, too. One place I'm fond of is Red Envelope where they have all sorts of gifts which are just a click away - great place
for personalized presents for families like engraved candles or the little personalized puppy finger blanket for children shown here.

More gift ideas later. I'm glad you stopped by. Leave a comment if you see something useful.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

LEFTOVERS


GET STUFFED!! With a turkey sandwich I mean; an international friend of mine from Italy or England, can't recall which, once told me that in her country that phrase had an entirely different meaning.

I love the feast of Thanksgiving but a while ago I came to realize that it tastes different from home to home. Having prepared a number of feasts myself, I have developed a list of favorites, however, I am going to talk about those leftovers. I don't know about you but I just really want a Turkey sandwich so that's where we're going with those leftovers. Soup? just an excuse for a Turkey sandwich. Schmancy? Ok, we'll do a fancy leftover thing but really - just a turkey sandwich. Here we go:


What?!! You don't follow this blog?? Really...really? I think you need to click on that RSS button or the Follower post haste!!


We need to think ahead, here, people. If you're going to make a sandwich you are going to need great bread, and most of you already have everything else you're going to need for that sandwich if you're a basic and easily amused person. The rest of us will need a little more.

About that bread, you can of course hope there are leftover rolls for this annual sandwich or you can make sure you h
ave exactly what you need by getting that special rye, 12 grain, french baguette or whatever your preference. I just needed an excuse to tell you about this bread machine crescent roll recipe I found. If you're going to go through the trouble of making this, be sure to brush with egg whites and sprinkle on something special like poppy seeds before baking so they're special.

Shopping: I think you're going to want avocado slices if you're a vegetable lover or just love the feel of something fattening in your mouth, avocados will take you there. Cheese beckons for some and with turkey, I say try Gouda or a thin baby Swiss, or light Jarlsburg or even Brie (softened at room temperature for easy slicing) if you are wanting something flavorful to meld your sandwich together. I like to have a jar of roasted peppers on hand because they add a little bit of a salty pop and a great deal of personality to any sandwich. You'll need a spread I like a poupon for many things but let's face it, turkey sandwiches call for a mayonnaise or a creamy salad dressing spread. You may want lettuce and if you're a pseudo sissy girl like me,
fold your lettuce neatly into a square so you're not trying to wrap your face around this sandwich to fit it into your mouth. If however you're a rouge, enjoy yourself and remember to use your napkin when you're done so the rest of us don't think you're saving some of that which is on your face for later. Get tomatoes if you must, and red onion if you dare play with breathy things but let's put it together, shall we?(Turkey Panini image and recipe courtesy of Foodnetwork.)

A Panini is really nothing more than a compressed, grilled sandwich. You could buy a fancy Panini press or dig out that George Foreman grill like the rest of us.

You have guests for the holiday? They may feel a little shy about ripping apart the bird for sandwiches at your house so why not take a large round of bread, slice it in half and pull out much of the inside. Then fill it with leftover turkey and stuffing and cranberries and put the lid on. Slice it, or bake it, or panini it. Should look something like this:

Wraps, focaccia bread (recipe), and my favorite artsy fartsy pansy thing to do to turkey leftovers is to wrap it in puff pastry and make a Wellington for lunch...what the? Like this Beef Wellington recipe here:
By the way, this isn't difficult just roll together and bake: purchase Puff Pastry dough (refrigerator section), wrap up your ingredients, add thin strips of pastry or omit and bake the roll in 180 degree oven for an hour covered in foil and then remove foil and cook for 35 minutes more.
If you're watching your calories, to save room for dessert and all, try turkey lettuce wraps like these 5 spice turkey lettuce wraps at Teamsugar

Be sure to recycle the food
containers your meal ingredients came in. Thanks for stopping by - leave a comment, I'd love it =)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

SOMETIMES YOU FEEL LIKE A NUT


A favorite tv commercial popped into my head today and I must say that it's true - sometimes you feel like a nut ... mind wanders... Nuts are meaty jewels loaded with protein.. hmmm, let me try again since I'm laughing so much as I write this because, well, my mind is wandering.

Ahem, seriously, I think we all enjoy nuts in various fashion from time to time, such as cooked in main dishes, salads and deserts, during the winter holidays in a ready bowl, and even in our little pranks.

If you have a nut allergy, you take some Benedryl before reading this =) and I'm sure you know how to adapt a recipe to avoid allergens so no need to leave just yet.

I'd love it if you followed this blog and consider you pretty nice if you left a comment.

I try not to share the mundane with you because I am sure you get enough of that so here are some nutty
things just east of the beaten path...

Something fun to do is to open a walnut and remove the nut meat, replace it with a dollar bill and seal shut. Some lucky nutcracker will find the surprise hidden inside.
First, you'll need to get those nuts naked (giggle! ... sorry...clears throat) and when you don't want to do it by hand these toys should prove useful: On the left we have the Jack Forte nut cracker in satin, champagne colored metal is a wonderful nutcracker with a strategically located bite ensuring you get that nut (oh, laughing, I'm not sure I can finish this). This walnut key from Cox and Cox really their name, just slip it in and viola.
Almonds, slivered are a nice replacement for walnuts in banana bread. They have a nice crunch and I only request that you do not put chocolate in your banana bread, that's just blasphemy to fill something moderately healthy with fat. If you substitute the fat ie. butter/oil in your banana bread recipe with plain low fat yogurt, you have a moist, rich bread that's relatively fat free. You can also try light sour cream as fat substitute and the taste goes from the usual to the remarkable.

Do something really incredible, almost sensual and definitely aromatic with almonds: prepare this Almond tea with puff pastry lid. Recipe calls for almond powder and ginkgo nuts which can be found at Whole Foods and Asian markets. Aw, come on, have the uh, courage to visit the Asian market - you won't regret it. You may however need to ask questions of the English speaking shoppers. Make this in a cup with a chai tea latte and add the puff pastry lid for something more familiar! I think you'll love it. Place cups inside pyrex dish for easy baking (^_~).

Since you're in the mood for something Asian, I just know you are, I recommend you try this recipe for Chicken with Chili and nuts. It's rather spicy and if you haven't the ... uh, if you're a wimp, just cut down on the chili's. This dish is made with peanuts but you can substitute almonds if you have a peanut allergy and you'll have the same crunch.

This recipe Almond Flower Cake made by LHJ is a visual treat
of a light milk-chocolate icing made light with confectioners sugar, lightly toasted slivered almonds and mini candy coated chocolates as daisy center, is made with low-fat buttermilk, giving it that taste sensation which spews forth the coveted question revealing delight "Mmmmm, what's in here"? How you answer that question is entirely up to you but I think they'll know it has nuts. Sometimes I use a box cake mix as a short cut, why not decorate it this way and also, try this with a store bought cake which is already iced (^_~) still thoughtful even though you're cheating.

Joke ...
Really bad joke:
Q. What do you see when the Pillsbury Dough Boy bends over?
A. Doughnuts.


Thanks for stopping by =)




Sunday, October 25, 2009

AUTUMN JOY


I know this is TMI (too much information) but I must complain so cover your eyes...wait, skip to next paragraph if you are delicate.  In fact, get over yourself if you are delicate because you miss out on the finer things of life like that.  So anyway, autumn, with its brilliant colors and beckoning metamorphosis, still leaves me mourning the loss of the warm temperatures because I like nothing more than to write while wearing only The Emperor's New Clothes - pants actually.  I was born naked - what can I tell you?  During the sweltering days of summer, I've grown accustomed to writing while wearing only glasses, a wife beater t-shirt, pantalones, and my Emperor's new pants  and Why am I telling you this? Because I always complain when the season changes and you'll be happy to know that I'm finished now. 

Aren't those pumpkins fantabulous?  In a few days you are going to miss that punctured, withering gourd you called a  jack-o-lantern so here ya go > Plan B: paint something pretty on your pumpkin and keep your grubby knife out of it.  These are from CountryLiving.com And while you're 
at it, I hope you did something awesome with that scare crow because he's going to hang around 'till Thanks giving.  I like this MJ one... I miss you, Mikey.

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This time of year there is an abundance of Pomegranates in the market.  As a child growing up in NJ, I was sure these were called Indian Apples and I looooved them.  As an adult I think they are beautiful little stain makers, more trouble than they're worth unless they come in a bottle labeled Pom.  If I were feeling adventurous and wanting to get at 
those little seeds efficiently I would do it this way  and then I would certainly reward myself with a Pomegranate martini like this one Oprah shared.  I am certainly no lush but I do enjoy a pretty drink when the moon is full and I don't want some dressed up sugary thing.  The tart pomegranate will do nicely, it's got that Boom-boom-Pow that I like.

Almost everywhere I look, people are having babies. Old people, too!   I will not drink from their well (in case there's something in their water) for all the yarn in the knit store but I will knit their little sunshine's something fun because it drives me a lil crazy to see babies without hats on when the weather is cold.  I found wonderful things like the flower hat from the Spring 2007 Knit It magazine , hair from Knitty and mohawks.  See for yourself. 


Once upon a time, in NJ, I used to enjoy the fall farmers market for the variety of foods, crafts and the hot, cooked foods.  A particular staple was the Sausage, green pepper and onion hero's.  There was nothing very special about them but do your own on a George Foreman grill and add Grey Poupon country style Dijon mustard and I will be on my way!  Quick, easy and kinda unhealthy.  Make a friend - burn some calories (^_~).  




Before you go, you gotta see this gadget: it's a Walnut Cable Wrap.  It's a handsome way to wrap your headphone cables when you're at the gym ... you do go to the gym, right?  If you're eating you really should go to the gym.  I discovered this blog while on Twitter, it's the Gadget Lab at Wired.com and it's fantastic.

Thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

ALL HALLOWS EVE


Vintage posters are so fantastic, don't you think?  And isn't there something so enjoyable about traditions and holidays, even the controversial ones.  Where I live, Halloween is a controversial one and is slowly being migrated to simply Harvest time by the old folks (anyone too old to enjoy a good Halloween party).  When I lived in a big city (Washington, DC) there were fantastic parades of people in the most creative costumes and it was truly fun.  A friend of mine who lives in NY shared a video last year of a group of people who got together and dressed as Michael Jackson's Thriller dancers and did the dance from the video.  It was great!  I'm naive enough to think that Halloween is just a time for fun anymore and  I want to share some fun that I've enjoyed participating in during this time of year.  
Follow this blog - we'll make beautiful, delicious fun together. Comments are always welcome,  just leave one where this article ends. Thanks so much =)
In our neighborhood, we played a little game that can easily be translated to the work place if you like and adjust the goodies to suit adults.  My little guy calls it "Ding-dong Ditching with candy" but if it has an official name it would be "Boo". Boo is a ghost you deliver
 to your friends along with seasonal goodies without revealing yourself and the recipient does the same to 2-3 others.  In a neighborhood, we get it started with 5 bags of goodies like popcorn, Sweet tart Bones and Skulls, Halloween colors M&M's, a plastic spider ring, you get the idea and this is a nifty poem to add to bag.  The official rules are here.  I got caught once by a neighborhood brat, er, child who insisted I admit it was me who rang her door bell while her mother stood there smirking and saying nothing.  I skipped them the following year.  Sorry, I'm not smarter than a 5th grader.  

Can cookies and candies be sexy?  I say they can be.  Check these out... sexy, right?  What?  C'mon, they're gorgeous!  I made these by adding orange food coloring to a sugar cookie recipe but this time I'll try it with a decadent orange butter cookie recipe.  Be sure to add orange food coloring and if you eat more than one of these, that will
make two of us.  You know that you dip these in melted white and dark chocolate which you melt in double boiler, right? And just look at these caramel apples!  The stems are small candied pretzel sticks tied with ribbon and the butts, uh, dippers are a variety with pumpkin seeds, Halloween nonpareils  which you may call sprinkles and dripping chocolate wound around the caramel apple.  Sssssexy!  Try this with a variety of apples, why should that Granny Smith have all the fun?






Pumpkin Soup sounds wonderful to me and I wouldn't even alter it in general like I do everything else for flavor impact.  Then I saw this Thai Curried Pumpkin Soup recipe which made me change my mind.  It has 5 ingredients, recipe is right under picture but does not look like a recipe so look closely.  You're going to love that - it uses Thai curry and you can choose which variety, all is good here.

Pumpkin Ravioli is a fun dish to prepare with children, hint: keeps them busy for a long
 time.  Have you ever used the round wonton wrappers?  They are much thinner than a traditional ravioli dough and for that reason alone seem like a delicacy.  I first discovered them in a Bon Apetite magazine recipe for Goat Cheese Ravioli with Tomato Pancetta butter and they curled my toes back then even though my original purpose was to try a Pancetta dish for a party thinking every one loves bacon so this would be a winner.  I did not even want to share this dish!  This recipe though is for Pumpkin Ravioli and it is simple and fun and tasty and fun for your Bambinos to "help" you with. 


Just to be different one year, I searched for a different thing to do with the vast amounts of pumpkin seeds we always have left over from carving more than out share of  jack-o-lanterns.  I found this what we've called Roasted Pumpkin Pie Seeds recipe and they were a hit with my little sugar junkies.  This time I'm going to mix the traditional ones with the sweet ones to see if they go well together.   I'll let them try it first cause I'm like that, hehehe.

You need something beautiful and festive for your table, don't you?  I know, that's why I'm showing you this little joy. After removing the stem and tracing the bottom of a cancle, hollow out the stem area of a mini pumpkin and pop in your candle.  Wrap with a little bitter sweet garland and lovely, to behold and to be smell.  Wait...  If you burn that candle unattended and your little garland catches fire - just remove the garland, pumpkin head!
Remember that your comments are always welcome.  Do you have a Seasonal tradition to share?