Friday, September 28, 2012

Tutorial: How To Make Your Own Elastic Hair Bands




These cute hair ties seem to be all the rage these days.  They claim to not leave a crimp in your hair- and I do see a big difference from regular hair bands (or wimpies as I grew up calling them).  They are so simple and inexpensive to make, too. 




For a few bucks and a few minutes, you can make a drawer full of cute hair bands.




Materials:
* Fold-over elastic.  Can be purchased from any fabric or craft store.  I've found it in a variety of sections so take a minute to look around.  It's there in lots of colors...I promise!
* Sharp scissors.

Directions:
* Measure your elastic to desired length.  I measured loosely around my wrist, because let's face it, we all wear them there.  For me, it was about 11", depending on width of elastic.  You want it to fit around your wrist with about a 1" tail. So I bent a piece over my wrist and added two inches.  Test it out before you cut 25 though.
* Fold in half.
* Tie a knot about 1" from the end.
* Cut the ends on a sharp angle.
* You can use fray check or burn the end with a candle flame if desired.  I prefer to burn the ends.
* To burn ends, light a candle in the kitchen (proximity to the sink...just in case...though I've never had an issue).  Carefully hold end- one at a time, close to but not in the flame.  You will immediately know if you are close enough as the end will melt and become shiny.  Just slowly move the end past (but NOT IN the flame).  It takes maybe two seconds per end.  Then it takes another two seconds for that end to dry and harden.  If you get it too close/in the flame, it will burn.  Not close enough and nothing will happen.  I promise you will know right away if you are the correct distance though.  If you're nervous, take a scrap piece and test it out.










**Note.  I used 1" wide elastic so I cut my length a little longer to make it easier to tie a knot and then trimmed a little more off the ends.  I just ordered some 5/8" and I think it will be a bit easier to knot.

***Update: I now only use the 5/8" width.  I think it works much better.  My best source is ebay.  So many colors and prints available at the best prices. 


These are made with 5/8" wide elastic- my preference.  They are identical to what you find in high end boutiques.






Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pinterest To Do List


I love these burlap gift bags.  Must.  Make.  Some.  Soon!


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Make your own ready mixes.  Duh...why did I never think of it before.  So simple.  Yet brilliant.


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I have a few light sweaters that will be getting elbow patches similar to this.  I can't do real felting as I can't wear wool.  But I can certainly swing something just as cute for a little added umph this season.


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Baked oatmeal.  I've pinned at least four of these recipes.  They just look so easy and yummy.


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Make fancy pants drinks now and then.  Just because.  Like a pedicure, I think one of these after a long week might be pretty delightful.


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Still Available...





I am up to my eyeballs in business but noticed that this offer for $10 off a $10 or more purchase (so...that's free if you only buy $10 worth) from Vitacost is still available.  I finally ordered coconut oil for cooking after reading blog after blog raving about the stuff. 

Happy shopping!



Friday, September 21, 2012

Sometimes You Feel Like A Post, And Sometimes You Don't


You know how sometimes you have 400 posts brewing in your noggin and then other times, even the next day, your mind goes blank?

I'm in a mind going blank situation.

Just too many big things happening in my very little world this week.  Not enough elbow space to deal with my own thoughts right now.

But I am TRYING hard....like sincerely trying...and often failing...but the fact that I am really trying should count for something right...to remind myself of positives in my life. 

So this is perhaps a boring post to most.  And that's fine.  But I need to see this written down that my salty season is also filled with a lot of sweetness.

Today I am grateful for...

1. Sunshine.  I always say that I can ultimately deal with any frigid temperature (read: I can deal, not relish) as long as there is some sunshine.  It completely changes my mood for the better.

2. Pumpkins.  It's funny to me that I never liked anything pumpkin growing up.  And now I want everything to be pumpkin-ized.  I love decorating with pumpkins, baking with them, drinking them in a cup-o-spicy-crack from Starbucks, and cooking with pumpkin in savory dishes.  It's just such a happy squash!  Someday I will have a yard big enough to grow them too.

3. New Undies.  Every girl knows that a day can be made or broken by a single undergarment decision in the morning.  I recently made some new and necessary purchases and let me tell you, that can often prove to be a life changing decision.  I sometimes wonder of politicians would be less ridiculous if they just bought a new pair of under-roos.

4. Madras Pants.  OK so I wear them all summer too but I really think dark madras can carry you (or just me?) into fall on warmer days with cute loafers and a sweater.

5. The Comment Of A Stranger.  Last weekend, in a meeting, a girl I don't know told me that she saw me at another meeting earlier that year.  And didn't really know who I was but recognized my dress was Lilly and I was also rocking pearls.  And she immediately decided who I was based on that description.  My reputation, for better or worse or overly pink, precedes me.  And I sort I like that!



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Little Gratitude


Today I am grateful for... 

1. My Puppy.  Be still my heart, I swear she is cuter and gives me more love every single day.  The 22 hours a day she spends napping must really help her to grow cuter. 

2. Advil.  I seriously do not know what I would do on damp, sinus pressure days like this without it.  Long live the 'vil!

3. Best girlfriends.  Who send texts and emails and cards just because they love me.  Do you still send just because cards?  We do!  And I just have THE BEST girlfriends in the world.  Yours might be great but mine are the very best.

4. Wellies.  Who says you can't be cute walking around in the rain?  OK, so maybe head to toe I am not particularly cute today.  But my tootsies...ah-dor-able!  And pink.

5. Eggs.  Even though I had a meal plan, sometimes you just crave an incredible, edible egg.  With feta and spinach.  And maybe a slice or two of brown sugar bacon.  This is what yours truly shall be chomping down on for dinner today.  Comfort food at its finest.

Hide And Seek Tomatoes


Last night I was looking at my tomato plants, trying to figure out how many more tomatoes I might get before the first frost rolls through town.  And I decided to prune those plants like never before.  I want all possible energy to go into the fruit and not the greens at this point.  It's crunch time!




Well in getting my Edward Scissor Hands on, I found all of this!  Several pounds of tomatoes that I didn't even realize were hiding in the very back of the plant jungle, against the brick wall.  I had not even seen these when examining the plants over the weekend.  They were buried so deep in the back behind all the green branches.

Guess who is canning another batch of salsa tonight?!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins


I spied this recipe on Sibi's blog the other day and knew it was just what the doctor ordered for my Sunday morning.  I was not having the greatest of weekends.  But Saturday night I feel asleep ridiculously early and slept in nice and late on Sunday morning.  Topping off my much needed rest fest with these muffins really did the trick for my soul.  Sometimes making muffins in silence on a crisp morning, sorting out the thoughts in your head and taking deep cleansing breaths can be incredibly healing.

I am re-posting the recipe here as I made it.  I did make a few changes to suit my tastes.  But it's pretty much the same as her and I must say she is totally right...these are sooo delicious!




Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients:
* 1 2/3 cup flour (I used Better Batter)
* 1 tbls pumpkin pie spice
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1 cup sugar
* 2 large eggs, separated
* 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie mix)
* 1/4 cup melted butter
* 1/4 cup low fat or no fat sour cream
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used giant dark chocolate chips)

Directions:
* In medium bowl, mix first four ingredients (flour, spice, soda and powder).
* In small bowl, separate eggs whites from yolks.  Keep the whites separated in small bowl.  Whisk whites until frothy- soft peaks.
* In large bowl, add egg yolks and remaining wet ingredients (sugar, pumpkin, butter, sour cream, extract).  Whisk together. 
* Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Mix together well with spatula. 
* Fold in egg whites.  This is to add volume as I used gluten free flour and it doesn't rise like regular AP flour (because hello...no gluten).  If you are not GF, you can feel free to just omit this whole step and add your eggs like normal all at the same time.
* Add chocolate chips.  Mix just enough to incorporate.
* Scoop into muffin tins.  Makes 12-16 muffins.
* Bake at 350 for 24-30 mins.



What To Do With Leftovers

 So I made pumpkin muffins the other day (recipe coming shortly) and was left with a whole heck of a lot of pumpkin puree. 

Don't throw it out! 

Just portion it into zip top baggies to freeze!




I labeled the baggies BEFORE I put anything in them.  Because you will forget what is inside in a month.  I promise- this is important.  Then I measure out exactly one cup. Squeezed the air out and pressed flat.  They take up almost no freezer space like this.  And to use later, simply defrost over night in the fridge.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Waste not, want not, right?!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

End Of Season Sales


I was cruising the internet the other night, looking for a few fall staples, and instead found some really great end of summer season sales.  Of course I have to share.  That's what friends do, right?




Cute white cropped pants from Talbots.  Ready for the price?  Just $7.79!




I love this little stripy dress from Lands End Canvas!  You could totally get away with wearing a cardigan and tights to make it a fall staple too.  $24.99!


Sparkly glitter flats.  From JC Penny.  $10.




I love these polka dots.  Also from JC Penny.  $20.




This comes in both pink and navy.  JC Penny.  And would be perfect for a holiday party.  Just $42.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Freezer Meals


I am in love with making freezer meals.  It takes a mountain of motivation and organization but it is so totally worth it in the end.  To have the peace of mind that a home cooked meal is sitting in my freezer on nights when I want my cooking but don't want to cook...priceless!

Earlier in the week, I tossed five giant chicken breasts in the crockpot with some soy sauce, onion powder and brown sugar.  Then I shredded them up and popped it all in the fridge.  I also caramelized up a bunch of onions and sauteed a few green peppers.  Again, to use later.  I did this on a day when I had a little time.  I used some of that for a dinner but most of it was to be used today in making freezer meals.

So this escapade is two-fold.  Most is selfish and for my own freezer.  But I also have a relative who is dealing with a tough illness and in need of a home cooked meal.  So a few of these are for that purpose too.




In total, I made...

(2) Cheesy Chicken Pasta Bake
(2) Single Portion Baked Potato Soup (not pictured)
(2) Sweet and Sour Chicken Rice Casserole
(4) Chicken Enchiladas
(1) Par-baked Gluten Free Pizza Crust (not pictured)

Pizza crust story.  So I made a dough recipe but only needed half.  I went ahead and got the second ready and baked it for only about five minutes.  Then let cool and froze and wrapped up.  Now it's all ready to go, just like the ones in the grocery store, when I want to make a quick pizza.  Just add toppings and bake!




Enchiladas.  I make these a lot and the filling changes every single time based on what I have in the house at any given moment.  This time I added organic vegetarian fat free refried beans (I am not an organic snob- these just happened to be on sale), frozen spinach (still frozen because I was just going to pop this all back in the freezer anyway), homemade salsa, chicken, caramelized onions, sauteed green peppers and about one teaspoon of cheese. 

Let me talk about cheese for a moment.  First, I don't usually add it as it's not really needed in this type of recipe.  I mean, there's already a lot of great flavor happening there.  But my best advice when it comes to cheese is to use a bold or sharp variety.  If you use a mild flavor, you tend to need more.  If you use a cheese that's sharp and bold, you can totally get away with adding a much smaller amount.  More bang for your buck in the calorie department.




My second piece of advice when making enchiladas or burritos is to spritz non stick spray between each one.  It makes it a million times easier to serve without them all sticking together.




The pasta bake is what I am giving away.  But it's basically cooked pasta, frozen veggies, chicken, sauted onions and a sauce made from a some cheese, milk, onion powder and seasoning.  I hope it's good- I've never actually tasted it. 

My freezer is FULL!  And my tooties were tired at the end of the evening.  But I have to say that the hands on time it took to make all of these meals, including the chicken, onions, etc, was about two-ish hours.  Give or take 30 mins.  But seriously, that's not a ton of time to fill a freezer.

This One's For The Boys


While I'm sitting around waiting for the cable guy to come, I'm not cleaning.  Or doing paperwork.  Or brushing the dog.  Or working.  Pish posh...those things are far too practical.  Instead, I'm cruising the interwebbers for stuff I don't need and have no reason to buy.

Don't pretend you don't do it too.

Anyhoo...I'm sort of new to Zulily.  But I noticed they have some super adorable clothes for little boys on sale right now.  And having so many girlfriends who are new mommas to little boys, I thought it might be nice to post a few cute clothing pieces for those cute fellas.  It's so much harder to find cute boy clothes than girl clothes.  And I swoon for smocking and Jon Jons.  I think they are all under $30, which seems good to me.  But I don't actually have a baby so maybe that's not a good price?  Someone else will need to chime in on that debate.










OK, twist my arm.  A little something pretty for the girls too because I just think this is the sweetest.  I need a child something fierce, y'all!


All found here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Are You In The Junior League?


I knew as a little girl that when I grew up I would join the Junior League.  All of my favorite women were Leaguers and I just knew I too would one day be part of the club.

But you certainly don't need to be in my shoes to love your League experience.

The Junior League is a service and social organization.  I know many folks think it is something to do with women and voting (it's not) or Junior Achievement (again...not us) or exactly like The Help (great book/movie but so not what the League is in any city today).

The League is comprised of a myriad of women- professional, stay at home moms, young 20's, mature 50's, every race, creed, and economic background.  We come together to work in our community in a variety of ways- Leagues offer a little something for everyone.  And the League is a phenomenal way to learn new skills.  To get training in areas perhaps not available to you otherwise.

More than that, the League is where I have met some of my dearest local friends.  Honestly, without the League, I don't know how I would meet new friends.  I have such a great list of amazing girlfriends from very diverse backgrounds because of the Junior League.

My personal story is that I joined in Washington DC 10 years ago and transferred up here to Albany.  And I love my little League (though admittedly, it took me a while to warm up to the differences).  Our members are from all over the Capital Region- Albany, Troy, Delmar, Schenectady, Clifton Park, Saratoga, and more. 

I don't normally do posts about such personal, local specifics.  But I have noticed that I seem to have a lot more local readers lately.  And I'd love to encourage y'all to join our awesomesauce Junior League.  Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.  And if you're not local, please check here to find a league local to your area. 

I just can't say enough about the beauty you will find in a Junior League experience!

How To Unsubscribe From Blogs


OK so do you remember when I asked for advice on how to unfollow blogs?  MCW was the first to clue me in on how to do it but I never got around to writing it down.  And last night, another blog that I used to read (Short Southern Momma) was taken over by some strange website.  Gah!  I knew it was time that I write down the specifics so that I am able to unfollow whenever necessary.  And of course in case y'all are in the same shoes.

How to Unfollow or Unsubscribe From Blogs:

From your blog's main page...

* Design.
* Blogger "B" button to take you to Dashboard.
* View in Google Reader.
* Click wheel/gear thingy and then Reader Settings.
* Subscriptions.
* Check the box of the blogs you no longer wish to read.
* Unsubscribe.
* Click yes to unsubscribe.
** And live happily ever after!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Free Organic Food


OK I had a real post scheduled for today but will push back until tomorrow so that I don't bog down your inboxes.  Because I want to share with you this great deal.

I'm not sure if any of y'all use Vitacost.  It's like Ruelala and the like but for health products, such as organic or gluten free food products.  I've shopped there a few times and have really liked it so far.




Right now they have a great deal running that's worth me sharing.  If you sign up using this link, you automatically get a $10 credit.  It only takes a few minutes for it to show up too.  Then you can purchase a few items that are currently part of the special deal shipping for free right now.  If your items total around $10, you will get all of those items shipped to you for free or nearly free, depending on the price of items you choose.

Oh and with every order, you are able to add two free samples to your cart.  Just scroll to the very bottom of the page and click on "free samples" and add two to your cart.  Yay for more freebies!

In all fairness, I also get a $10 credit if you sign up and make a purchase.  But you can then post it on your blog to get a credit or two, too.  Honestly though, I've been shopping on this site for about a year now and just wanted to share the $10 instant credit with you.  It's a great way to stop up on a few staples for next to nothing, without leaving your living room.




I'm using this sale to stock up on a few favorites like Gluten Free crackers, coconut oil, and organic pumpkin.  I love having these on hand this time of year!



OK tomorrow I promise I will be back with a normal post.  But free food and vitamins just seemed worth sharing. 




Lilly For Sale


I just noticed that there are a bunch of cute Lilly Pulitzer items for sale on Ruelala right now under the Final Act 2, in case anyone wants to take a peek.  I don't always catch them when hidden in these funny categories but was glad I popped on at the right time today.





Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Baked Potato Soup


So it turns out that not matter how many days you spend pretending that summer will last forever...it um...doesn't.  And um...fall arrives.  Invited or not.

So that stinks.

However, it means that I can start cooking soups again.

Did I ever tell you that I didn't start to like soup until I went to college?  In Indiana.  Where it snows.

Growing up in South Florida, where it's always hot and sometimes super hot and even super duper hot with a side of OMG muggy too, I never ate soup.  Just never appealed to me.  Also, as amazing as my mother was in the kitchen, she never made a pot of homemade soup.  Probably because it was hot outside.  But my point is that I thought all soup came in cans.

But as I got older and lived in colder climates, I started to play around in the kitchen.  And now I am a big fan of soups.  Under two conditions: 1. it must be cool outside and 2. they must be homemade (or from Panera because Panera is seriously one of my favorite restaurants and I make no apologies about that low brow statement).

You can totally make this soup fat free if you use fat free sour cream and skim milk.  I make it gluten free with cornstarch but you can use regular ole white flour if you prefer.  And you can make it dairy free by using dairy free milk and adding something such as mayo instead of sour cream.  This makes a GIANT pot of soup because I like to eat it for two days and then freeze it to eat as lunches later.  Cut in half if you don't subscribe to the same cook once, eat a bunch of times philosophy.

Food is meant to be played with.  Use what you have on hand to make this your own.




Baked Potato Soup

Ingredients:
* 5 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
* enough water to just cover potatoes
* 5 cups milk
* 5 scallions, chopped both white and green parts
* 3-6 tbls cornstarch
* 1 tsp minced garlic
* 1 cup sour cream, plus extra for topping
* pinch of nutmeg
* generous salt and pepper to taste
* shredded cheddar cheese for topping
* chopped bacon for topping

Directions:
* Cover peeled and cubed potatoes with just enough water to keep them all wet.  Bring to a boil until tender.
* Drain off about half the water. 
* I use a hand held potato masher to mash them because I like it on the chunky side.  But you can also {carefully...it's HOT} use a food processor or blender to make your soup silky smooth.  So pick your poison- I use a potato masher.  Mash mash. 
* Add sour cream, garlic, salt and pepper.  Just like you are making mashed potatoes.  And it will be about that consistency at this point.
* Add in scallions, milk and nutmeg. 
* Mix cornstarch in water or milk until smooth.  Add to pot.  Stir.
* Once a thickness that makes you happy, taste for seasoning.  Add more if needed.  Also feel free to add more water or milk if needed.
* Top with anything from bacon to a sharp cheddar cheese to more sour cream and scallions or even hot sauce.  Serve with a big green salad.







Walk Away Or Try Harder...My Daily Battle

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Washed By The Water


I've been in love with this song for many months now.  I pretty much think I sound amazing while singing it in the car.  Or while cooking.  And seeing as how the only soul to dispute my amazingness is the dog...my story is solid.



Saturday, September 8, 2012

Double Gross





I saw this on Facebook so I am not sure if it's real or not.  But my two least favorite sweets have joined forces to make one mega gross cookie product.  Ew.  Makes me nauseous just looking at it.  Bleh!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Embracing Fall Fashions


While I am mourning the loss of summer, I am starting to accept the change in season.  And slowly I am embracing fall.

I'm loving a few pretty pieces over at Lands End right now.  I have to tell you that Land End has really solidified my loyalty over the last year or two.  They have really re-vamped their designs and I think their quality can't be beat. 

Topping my must have list is this knit blazer.  It's 100% cotton- a rare treat for a girl with a wool allergy.  Seriously...look at what's available for fall that's non-wool.  Right.  Not a lot.  I love that this is lightweight and can be dressed up or down.




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Love this knit button down.  Looks cute and comfy.


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Cute cropped pants.  These are good until it gets really wet and really cold.


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Cords look like perfection with little loafers and driving mocs.


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And while it does nothing for your figure, this coat is ah-maz-ing.  I have it from a few seasons ago and it saves me three times a day while walking the dog.  It's like wearing a puffy blanket.  Keeps me sooo much warmer than a pea coat on a cold, cold day.



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Free Subscription to Martha Stewart Living, US Weekly and Whole Living.



OK I don't know why the photo is cut off but Martha is available again on Rewards Gold.  I also signed up again for US Weekly (guilty pleasure) and Whole Living (less guilty pleasure).

As always, it's free.  They won't ask you for any credit card info.  I've been using this site for years with great success. 

You will need to take a short survey.  About soap or exercise or something silly like that.

But tip to tail it takes about five minutes.

Happy reading!

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