Saturday, March 24, 2012

Currently

Loving: I know this is all I've talked about for two weeks but, I am so in love with the weather the last two weeks. This doesn't really count for today because its supposed to be cold and rainy all day. The last to weeks it has been in the 70s and gorgeous. I walked outside and saw every grassy area covered in girls laying out in bikinis or guys doing some sort of sport. I actually said "this looks like a college campus or something!" Of course it does. It IS a college campus. Brockport was really playing its part this past week though. I wore cute summer dresses whenever I could and there is nothing in the world like laying out in the sun for a few hours. It is so relaxing. Now I'm just living in the past, though, because the weather all this week is going back to being cold again. At least we had a little sneak peak of summer!

Thinking About: All of the homework I do not want to do. I've been putting off writing this lab report the entire week. It is now Saturday, and I wanted to have it finished last Saturday. I managed to get the awesome job where I sit at a desk all day just to open the door for tours of the campus that come through. Alec does it, too. So now I'm forced to sit here all day staring at my lab notebook, praying that the information will go into my brain via osmosis. Ugh. Its a sign that I should be doing my report when I write about doing it in my blog...which I'm writing in to avoid doing my lab report.

Anticipating: I am anticipating a few things minimally. One is Alec's Birthday! I have no idea what to get him or what I am doing for him for it, yet. I'm still excited though because it is his Birthday and I want to make it a good one for him. I still have zero idea what to get for him though. Another thing is finals and finishing classes. I have a lot (A LOT) of work to do before classes end and that is not going to be fun. On the other side of all this treacherous homework is summer break! I really cannot wait to be free from school, on the lake, tanning and eating off of a veggie tray.

Listening To: Country Music. All things country I'm lovin' right now. All of the songs that characterized our summer last year and starting to get played again on the radio and it makes me so happy. That is what I have been listening to in the car and in my room. Another favorite is "Such Great Heights" by Postal Service. I love the lyrics to that song. While I've been at the gym I've been listening to 3OH!3 and A Rocket To The Moon. I clearly have a wide range of music interests.

Eating: Nothing! I'm so hungry. I really wanted to get a coffee this morning and nowhere on campus is open this early to get coffee. Lately I've been eating a lot of minestrone soup, though. Or just soup in general. I can't get enough. Another must-try simple snack: PB&J Ritz. This is so easy but, I had never really thought much about it until lately. We always eat it in our dorm because its filling, delicious and easy. We actually tried it with Stoned Wheat Crackers yesterday and I liked it even better than with Ritz.

Wishing: A full recovery for my Grandpa. He has been in the hospital the last few days and not feeling well the past few weeks. I wish I could be there to visit him but I can't really go see him until the transfer him to the hospital closer to me. Please keep him in your prayers for me. 


What about you? If you liked this post idea go ahead and post your own version! Link back to your post in the comments of mine. I borrowed this idea from Danielle. Hope everyone is having a wonderful day!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bloglovin' and Tattoo Art

Hello Lovelies,
This picture is the only recent photo I have to share as of now. I thought it would be fun to draw on my tattoo with pen to personalize it. It was pretty entertaining for today, anyway. 
Speaking of today, I am absolutely exhausted. I worked all day today while everyone else sat outside and tanned in the sunshine! When Lizzy and Lindsay texted me a picture of them tanning, Alec decided to go out and join them. I waddled over to them in the grass in my huge work shirt and jeans, and stared at awe in them in their bikinis. Hopefully, that can be me tomorrow. 
I have been procrastinating so bad.

What do you do to stay focused on work?

I simply cannot accomplish anything. I'm so groggy and tired I even ordered an "espresso" at the cafe' on campus. I expected to get a big hot drink with a shot of espresso in it but really just got a little cup holding only one shot of espresso. Clearly, this was not what I meant to order. So, I got a cappuccino instead.
On a more depressing note, four of my family members are in the hospital right now. Please keep them in your prayers for me. 
Today I signed up with bloglovin'! Now there is a little link to the right of this post (and every post) on the sidebar for my bloglovin'.  
I think I am going to start my Happiness Project again next month. I might switch it up some from last time, though. I am awful at starting things like that and sticking with it. Hopefully I stick to this, though. More on that later. 

How did everyone else enjoy this gorgeous weather today?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hints of Spring and a DIY



I have not been doing too much crafting the past few days since I've been back at school. So, here are a few pictures of things that make me feel so excited for Spring. This is a birdhouse that my Mother picked up at the hospital gift shop. Not only is this the most adorable bird house-cottage I've ever seen, but it lights up! It is solar powered and a little light turns on inside it when it gets dark out. I'm obsessed with it and hope a few birds love it as much as I do. Alec even thinks its "really cool" so, it is definitely extraordinary. 


These little flowers popped up at home and are at school. I think I even posted a picture of these last Spring on here. Either way, they are a sure sign that Spring is on its way. 

Now here is a quick little DIY:


Alec found me this rusty, dirty little shell basket on the side of the road this Summer. It was left over from a yard sale and the owner just put a box of stuff on the side of the road for free. Alec found it for me one night and brought it home for me with a few other odds and ends. He figured it would be an easy DIY project for us and could turn out great. I was so happy that he thought of that for me and haven't had time to fix it up until this week.
He did most of the Do It Yourself-ing, though. I stood by and watched excitedly. He spray painted it with some white anti-rust spray after I washed it. Then, I added a little fabric bow. Simple as that! A brand new, white, Spring-y basket. I still can't figure out what to put in it, though. I figure it will come to me and I'll find the perfect little combination of things to set in it.

Today Lizzy and I were going to bake with my new baking tote that my parents got me. I now have a huge plastic bin under my bed filled with everything from aprons to vanilla extract. We didn't have eggs so, we decided to make egg-less cookies. Then, we realized that we had no butter, either. We walked the entire way to the store on campus only to find that they were sold out of practically everything. Needless to say, no baking occurred this evening. 
What has everyone else been up to? Have you ever picked something up for free and turned it into something beautiful?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Paddy's Day


Yesterday we ate Breakfast and Dinner on the porch. The weather was so wonderful! I drank coffee and read Woman's Day while Alec washed my car, too. My mom made strawberry pecan salad and it was so delicious. I've never had fruit in a salad before, I don't think, but I definitely love it.


I also got to work on my little garden patch! I wore my bikini top so I could get some sun, and pulled all the grass out of my gardening plot. I turned all the soil over and got it ready so that It will be ready to go when I get home from school. I can't wait! 
Alec and I had a mini fire last night, too. Although it didn't last very long, it was a great way to end our Spring Break in the country.
How was everybody else's St. Paddy's Day?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

D.I.Y. Matches Display


Here is a quick and easy project that anyone can do. I made this and set it next to my candles in my room. It looks a whole lot better than a jumbo match box and is fun to use, too. 

You'll Need:
Mason Jar
Tape
Matches
Label
Sandpaper

How To:
1. First, trace the top of the mason jar on sandpaper and cut out the circle.
2. Tape the sandpaper circle onto the thin metal circle on the top of the mason jar. This way, when the sandpaper is worn out you can easily pull it off and add a new piece.
3. Fill the bottom of the jar with matches and put the top back on.
4. Write up a cute label and stick that on, too.
5. Light a candle and then relax!

Enjoy!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fabulous Thrift Finds


I went thrift shopping this week which is one of my all time favorite things to do.  Here are some of my incredible finds. This dress I got at Plato's Closet this past weekend. I love love summer dresses and am so happy that the weather was nice enough to wear them this week. This dress was only $10 I think, too.


This is my favorite thrifted item! It is a hand-embroidered, Portuguese apron! This is so (sew) me. I love sewing and embroidery, my family is Portuguese, and it is an apron and I love to bake. I saw it yesterday while I was thrifting and couldn't stop thinking about it. So, I went back today and bought it. It is now hanging in my room. I don't think i'll wear it very often if at all because i'd rather keep it nice and display it. I love the bright colors, the chicken and everything about it.



These are my second favorite finds. I always wear my "forever" ring from Alec but, I've wanted more rings for a while now. My "forever" ring is our "engaged to be engaged" ring that signifies that Alec is my "pre-ance". I still have to get it re-sized for my ring finger. Anyway, I got this bow ring at Plato's closet and the floral ring at a vintage store. They were each $3! I knew that if I waited I'd find the right rings at a better quality than the more expensive ones at the mall.



I also got to stick my little toes in the lake today! Needless to say, it was cold. We still got to watch the sun set together, though. Hope all is well.

D.I.Y. Coffee Filter Garland


This week I made this wonderful and simple coffee filter garland for our dorm room. I saw the idea of a coffee filter garland here but, took mine one step further by coloring the filters. I wanted to create something with a Spring flare to add a homemade feel. The best part about this project is it is so inexpensive! Here is how I did it:

You'll Need:
Coffee Filters
Food Coloring
Cups
White (or colored) String
Scissors

Here's How: 


1. Fold a filter in half three times until it looks like this.


2. Fill cups with water, one for each color you want to use. Add a few cups of the food coloring that you wish to use to each cup. I used yellow, green and blue. I wanted to use pink but, was out of red food dye. Then, dip just the tip in the yellow. You can pick any color but I chose yellow as an inside because I wanted mine to look like flowers. Dip it in and quickly pull it back out of the water. If you hold it in for too long the water will wick up the entire filter and cover it all the first color.


3. Dip the bottom half in another color. Here, I used blue. The colors do not have to meet each other in the middle after you are done dipping the second color. Once you set down the filter it will run and fill up the white space in between. 


4. Repeat as many times as you want. I made one plate with 10 green and yellow filters, one plate with 10 blue and yellow filters, and one plate with 20 blue tipped, yellow bottomed filters. You don't have to use a plate but, I used mine to set the filters on while they dried.

5. Let dry. I let mine sit over night.


6. Open the filter you wish to use and pinch the center of it until it makes a flower shape. I used my finger to shape the filter and pinch the center. Then, take the string and tie a knot around the center/pinched tip. Repeat this with a new color about 3 inches away from the first. I made my pattern yellow, blue, yellow, green, yellow. 


7. Hang and enjoy!

I can't wait to take ours back to our dorm and hang it. Let me know how this works for you or if you try it!

Beautiful Day, Beautiful Life




These past few days have really made me aware of how lucky I am. I don't know if it is the gorgeous weather we have been having or the fact that I'm off of school for a week, but its working.

 Today I had such a wonderful day. I woke up and packed Alec's lunch for him and made him breakfast before he went to work. Then, slept a few more hours and woke up to all the pets on my bed cuddling me. I then rode around in my car with the sunroof down and went antique store shopping. This is one of my favorite things to do. I came home with a few great finds but will post more on that tomorrow. After that, I visited my mom at work and stopped at my Grandma's house. Then, went out to dinner with Alec before finishing off the day with crafting and baking homemade cookies. 

I saw on Kara's blog that she decided she wanted to live a beautiful life, not a happy one. This really resonated with me. Of course everybody wants to live a happy life but, I feel like I live a beautiful one, as well. I hope all of you are living beautiful lives and if not, make a change and work towards it. I was thinking about what makes my day feel particularly special or great. I realized that its not the big day-trip plans or the expected events, it is the unexpected or seemingly simple moments that make my day (or life) beautiful. I compiled some photos that attempt to capture some of these moments:





 I hope everyone had a beautiful day, too. God Bless! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Revisited and Revived


I have recently been spending most of my free time baking. Unfortunately, my other hobbies have been forgotten in the process. So, I decided to start painting again while I'm home on spring break. I started working on this painting that was hanging above my sewing machine. My best friend, Kacie, painted the top version and never finished it. I fell in love with it the second I saw it and it has been hanging above my sewing station for a few years now.


Here is my final product! This is especially important to me because it is a piece of work that Kacie and I collaborated on. I had so much fun painting it and really had a chance to remember why I love painting again. Being able to rediscover my passions always makes me feel like I'm falling in love with a hobby all over again. I had such a relaxing day and finishing this painting really completed it. Hopefully I get some sewing or crocheting in tomorrow. I hope everyone is enjoying the gorgeous weather and exploring all of their passions, as well. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Bars


Last night around 10 or 10:30 my mother asked me to make anything for her to take to work today. I was painted but, decided to help her out and start baking at 10:30 at night instead. I browsed Pinterest for a bit and found these delicious little treats. I ended up using this recipe from Recipe Girl. The only thing I really changed were the brownies. I used a box mix instead of the homemade batch the recipe calls for. 


This morning Alec and I took the bars out of the fridge, cut them up, placed them on this Easter platter and I decorated them a little bit. I changed the recipe and used a brownie and cookie dough recipe that I liked better. You have to try these! Here is my recipe:

Ingredients:

Brownie Layer:
10 tbsp butter
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2tsp vanilla extract
2 farm fresh eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour


Egg Free Cookie Dough-
3/4 cup butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4cup white sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Drizzle-
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 Teaspoon shortening


Preparation:

Brownie Batch-
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1. Melt the butter over medium high heat in a saucepan.
2. Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder once the butter is completely melted. Remove from heat and whisk the salt, vanilla and eggs together.
3. Stir in the flour. Then, pour into a greased 9x13" pan and bake until toothpick comes out clean from center of brownies.
4. Let cool completely.

Cookie Dough-
1. With a mixer, combine butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Then, add milk and vanilla. Lastly, add in the flour and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
2.Spread over the cooled brownies.
3. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Presentation-

1. Cut the bars into 1" squares with a sharp knife.
2. place the squares into cupcake liners.
3. Combine the drizzle ingredients in a bowl and microwave until melted. Place chocolate in a zip bag and cut the corner of it. Drizzle over each bar.
4. Photograph and enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring is Coming


It finally feels like Spring is here! We are on "spring break" except at school it is still grey and snowy.    My spring break is a vacation at my home in the valley. So far this morning, I've had hot coffee, enjoyed the outdoors with the chickens and the pets, and noticed the flowers blooming. I cannot wait for Spring to stay.  Here is a picture of me getting to wear my TOMS for a walk. This means a lot when my feet have been stuck in boots for what seems like forever.


Alec and I went on a walk with my mom a few days ago and took our dog. Its great to get to spend time together outdoors and enjoy the scenery that we miss out on at school. We are still stuck in our black winter coats but, soon I will replace mine with cardigans and summer dresses!


Last night I tried making chocolate cupcakes with my chocolate cake recipe. This is my before picture. I felt like every single thing went wrong and I kept having to adjust and pray that they would turn out. 


I improvised and made peanut butter frosting with chunky peanut butter. Unfortunately, this meant I couldn't pipe it and had to spread it on with a knife. I have not even tried one yet so I couldn't tell you how they taste. At least I'm baking. 
All I have been doing lately is cooking or baking. Usually, I just do what I feel inspired to do. I've realized that I'm not giving my other hobbies the chance that they deserve. I miss painting and sewing and what not so, today I'm off to paint. I have not even picked up a paint brush since this summer. I feel like now that it is Spring, It is a perfect chance for me to make some changes and work hard to do things that make me happy. 

This month I want to:
-finally get to wear my dresses
-paint 
-blog more often
-spend more time reading other blogs
-spend more time outside

On a random note, I made a delicious panini for lunch. I sauteed some onions and yellow bell pepper, then added deli turkey slices. I put this in between two slices of multi-grain bread with hummus and swiss cheese. Then, I popped it into the George Foreman for a few minutes and it tasted so wonderful. Well, I'm off to go paint. I'd love to hear other people's ideas for March. Either way, enjoy it!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Recipe Book Reunion


My mom showed me this cookbook she saved from when I was about 10. Apparently, I was quite the little chef back then.


This was my recipe: "Yummy Spinach Dip". I am in love with the fact that I wanted my entire 4th grade class to know that spinach dip was my favorite recipe. I still love spinach dip and am going to have to try this recipe of mine! The actual recipe here is filled with typos which, I think, makes it all the better.


On a more recent note, while I was home I managed to get some of my recipe book filled in! I have a huge bag of recipe cut outs and food inspiration. I've been pulling out a random one, and adding it into the book. This recipe was so great when we made it. We didn't have any orange juice to use as the glaze for the pork chops so we used apple cider. I'm tempted to only use apple cider now.


This spread is in my appetizer section. Each one is a variation of a basic tart shell but, filled with different ingredients. For example, Zesty Guac, Mediterranean, Pear Cup, and Holiday Ham are all fillings. These would be great for a party or any gathering, really. I can't wait to make them. I love this idea because they are so versatile. You can pick up any ingredients that you have in your fridge and use them to create a wonderful little appetizer. Enjoy!

Rainbow Cookies and Cupcakes


I went home this weekend for the first time since the beginning of the semester. Alec says that "She walked in the front door, turned around and turned on the oven". This statement practically sums up my entire weekend. As soon as I got home, I made two batches of walnut chocolate chip cookies. Then, that night my mother and I made these rainbow M&M cookies, and rainbow cupcakes. I missed being able to bake at my will so badly.


The rainbow cupcakes were not my idea. I found the concept on Pinterest and was dying to recreate it. Ours turned out way sloppier but, that is the fun of baking sometimes. I don't care what the beautiful baking pictures show. Not all baking occurs on silvery pans that are brand new and are displayed on delicate white platters. This picture shows the truth behind the cupcake. No, it didn't look so pretty during the process. They did turn out delicious and colorful, though! Layering the colors was difficult to do because it required precise rationing of cake batter.


This was our final product! They tops turned out more like volcanoes than hills because we filled them too high trying to include all the layers.. This was easily concealed with frosting. Our rainbow cupcakes were inspired by St. Paddy's day and topped with a white "cloud" frosting top. 


Here is the side view so you can see the layers through the cupcake paper.


When it is unwrapped the colors show even more vibrantly. 


Finally, the first bite! The second bite revealed more because you could see the entire blue inside. I think they turned out really fun and would love to try them again. I'll include the recipe so that others get the chance to try this creative cupcake. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Favorite Homemade or Boxed White Cake Recipe
Food Coloring
Vanilla or Buttercream Frosting
Cupcake Papers
Sprinkles

Instructions:
1. Follow the preheating instructions for the cake mix. Then, fill your cupcake pans with your cupcake liners. Use transparent papers to reveal the colorful layers or thicker liners to hide the surprise. 
2. Combine the ingredients to create the cake mix. Separate the batter into 5 equal portions and place in 5 different bowls.
3. Add a different color food dye to each bowl. I made red, yellow, green, blue and purple. Follow the chart on the food coloring box to achieve desired shades.
4. With a teaspoon, spoon one scoop of the first color into each cupcake paper. The batter should cover the entire bottom of the cupcake. Try to avoid getting it on the sides of the paper. 
5. Take the next color, and spoon a teaspoon on top of the first color in each paper. Make sure the next color covers the previous color completely. Repeat with remaining colors.
6. Follow the baking instructions indicated for the cake recipe used. Then allow the cupcakes to cool on a cooling rack.
7. Frost with white "cloud" of frosting, and cover with sprinkles.
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