Friday, December 27, 2013

Pinterest Finds (but be careful…)

Confession: I spend too much time on Pinterest. I think it's because it's an easy way to satisfy the creative side of my brain. I don't spend a lot of time on Facebook, or any other site for that matter, but if  I am on the internet, it's probably going to be on Pinterest.

Now, Pinterest can be dangerous. It can make you want things that you don't need. It can make you feel inadequate. It can make you discontent with real life because it isn't Pinteresty enough. That's dangerous. Go on Pinterest with caution. I'm being serious. You are great - whether you planned the perfect first birthday for your daughter or not, whether you tied your scarf the fancy new way or not, whether you decorated your mantle for the holiday or not, whether you bought the new, trendy vest or not,  whether you travel to a place that looks like Narnia or not, whether you bake the Paleo diet cookies or not… You are great. Don't let Pinterest put unnecessary pressure on yourself or take you to a place you don't need to be. It's dangerous. Be careful.

(Stepping off soapbox… now.) With that said, I still really like it. So I decided to look through some of the things that I have pinned this year and give you my top 10 favorites - in no particular order. (View them with caution… I'm serious.)

Oxford inspiration.  I have two pairs of shoes like these, but sometimes get scared to wear them. Pictures like these give me inspiration.

Pom poms. This pom pom tutorial changed my crafting life. It's easy and cheap and cute.

One Pot Wonder - Thai Style Peanut Pasta. I blogged about this a while ago but I loved it. I need to make it again soon.

Kite Cake Toppers. I haven't decorated a cake like this yet, but I'm really looking forward to the day that I have a reason to.

Garlands. This year was a year of garlands for me. I made one like this for the mantle at my old place and I kind of loved it.

This quilt. I still need to finish this… but I love the design and just need to make it happen.

Almond Poppyseed Bread. Some of the best stuff ever.

Outfit inspiration. Sometimes I don't know what to wear… so I look to Pinterest to give me new ideas.

Porch Rules. This is on my list of things to do. I really want to make these… it was perfect for my old screened in porch.

Spicy Hawaii Chicken Burgers. One of my favorite recipes of the year.

Ugly Sweater - for real.

I was talking with some of my family last night about how I really like to blog but I don't have a lot to blog about. Life is kind of standard lately - which is ok, but nothing exciting and interesting going on for me to tell you about.

So I decided to tell you about a little story that happened at work the other. It was last Friday, and the following Monday we were going to have an ugly sweater contest at work. I wore this new cardigan I got from Forever 21 that has a more graphic design. (I've come a long way from the girl who used to only wear solid colored t-shirts, I must say.) So I was rocking this cardigan when this guy on my team at work comes up to me and says, "Hey, I like your ugly sweater. You getting ready for Monday?" Uh… "Well, no, this is like my for real sweater." "Right! Like a for real ugly sweater." "No… Like I'm wearing this because I like the way it - whatever. What do you want?"

I thought it was funny so I told a few people - one of them being a manager who is two levels above me. She ran in to the guy later and told him that she saw me crying in the bathroom because he said my sweater was ugly (this was false - but she wanted to make him feel guilty.) He came up to me later and said, "Hey Abby… you know I was joking about your sweater. I know it's for real. You know I think you're a hipster and like your style…" "Mmmhmm, thanks." "Really… you're like a trendsetter. Like Madonna. Or Prince." "They have horrible style!" "You know what I mean! Like Lady Gaga!" "Just stop."

Oh well… I like the cardigan. :) And it made for a good story with lots of laughs...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Loving Lately.

(Part of the Affordable Christmas set up…)

Well, Affordable Christmas was a success yesterday. What this means…? Today I officially got a big chunk of my time back. What that means? I can blog again!

Things That I've Been Loving Over The Last Few Weeks That I Have Been Wanting To Tell You About But Just Now I Am Having The Time:

Divergent. Another trilogy book series about a young girl who has to overcome drama and fight people? Don't mind if I do! This series is the next Hunger Games… And thanks to my brother Cory, I'm a little earlier on the bandwagon than with previous trendy books. Gotta admit, I love me some fiction.

(My pine cone garland with cheap lights and ornaments. Cost: $6.)
DIY Christmas Decorations. Few things give me as much satisfaction as crafting beautiful things on a dime. I got to do it for Affordable Christmas and have done a little for my house.

My family. They never get old. It's amazing how much I can love and enjoy the company of one group of people.

This apple crisp recipe. I've blogged about it before - but I've made it a few times since then, and so have my roommates, and we're still loving it. (We even made a gluten free batch and it was STILL good.)

(I bought this dress… I kind of love it.)
Mod Cloth. I saw adds for this silly website on Facebook all the time until one day I decided to click on it. Turns out I love their clothes… It's a bit pricey for normal, every day clothes… but you can get a cute dress for a reasonable price. And they have plus sizes which is great for those of you who are working with a little bit more… like me. :)

Wrapping gifts. I like the shopping and giving, too. I just really love the creative side of wrapping gifts.

Diet Coke. Still love that stuff. This was my celebratory Route 44 from Sonic yesterday on my way home from Affordable Christmas.

That's all for now… Hopefully I'll be more present in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

DIY Christmas Decorations

My church is doing this really cool event next weekend called Affordable Christmas. We have invited about 35 families to come and have breakfast with us and shop at our Christmas store where we sell gifts at a reduced price that our church members purchased and donated. Some people aren’t comfortable with accepting “hand outs” from organizations that give gifts away, so this is a way for them to provide Christmas gifts for their families with “dignity” and a way for us to love on them while doing it.

I was given the job of decorating the space for the event. The space? A big dining hall, and 4 or 5 other smaller rooms… My budget? $100. What that means? We had to get crafty! We are doing a lot of do it yourself decorations to keep the cost low and I thought I’d share them with you… Just in case you are trying to decorate for Christmas on a dime as well.

We are doing a garland theme – because it’s impactful and you can hang them from the ceiling or on trees.

Snowflake Garland (we are doing ours as a garland and not as a mobile, but I like this better)

We are also using recycled jars all around.

Mason Jar Christmas Trees (there's no link for this one, but you get the idea)

Jars Filled with Pine Cones, Ornaments, and Candles

A few other projects...

Cone Mobile (in Christmas colors, as a backdrop for our pictures with Santa)

Pallet Signs

A few runner up projects that we had talked about doing but just didn’t have the time…

 Branch Star

I hope you have a wonderfully crafty Christmas season!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Make Believe Thanksgiving Meal.

Thanksgiving is KIND of a big deal in my family. It's always at my parent's house and we celebrate with my mom's side of the family. This year we are having 33 people for Thanksgiving meal. We are a family of traditions. We do the same thing every year and it never gets old. (Seriously though… it doesn't.) It seems like the same people sign up for the same food every year and that's fine by me because the food is delicious every year. It seems like my Momma and aunt Kay take care of the turkey. Cindy (and Momma) work on the mashed potatoes. My cousin Sara is the herb bread queen… Everyone plays their part.

I don't really have a part in the Thanksgiving meal yet. I have signed up to bring food (cinnamon rolls and Chex Mix), but nothing for the most crucial meal of the weekend. And that's ok by me. I have been seeing lots of delicious looking recipes all over the place though… So what I decided to do was make a make believe Thanksgiving meal for you. If I had all the time, money, and energy in the world… I would make you this Thanksgiving meal. I hope you enjoy...

Iowa Girl Eats' Bake Brie Bites. Not that you need an appetizer on Thanksgiving, but if I were to serve one… this would be it.

Pioneer Woman's Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey. Confession… I don't like turkey like this. I have a tiny bit every year just to say I ate some. But this recipe looks pretty good… apple juice, brown sugar, garlic, butter… how could you go wrong?

Brown Eyed Baker's Sausage Cornbread Stuffing. Stuffing might be my favorite part of the meal. This is a different take on it but it sounds pretty good…

Skinnytaste's Slow Cooker Garlic Sweet Potato Mash. I'm not typically a big fan of Thanksgiving-style sweet potatoes but these look pretty ok. (And they're pretty healthy!)

Pioneer Woman's Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes. I've made these before and they're amazing… as long as you don't count the sticks of butter and cups of over unhealthy stuff you add to it.

Annie's Eats Multigrain Rolls. These looks interesting to me… and I've made other rolls of hers so I'm guessing these would be tasty.

Joy the Baker's (Dad's) Sweet Potato Pie. Confession: I'm not much of a pie person. So I would make this strange pie just because I want to try something new. And she raves about it so it's gotta be decent.

That's it for now… Just looking at these recipes and thinking about making all of them in one day makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry. I am so thankful to be a part of a big family full of such wonderful cooks.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cinnamon Rolls.

There have been so many things I've wanted to blog about lately, but I have been busy… I know, I hate it when people talk about how busy they are. I hate it when I talk about how busy I am. But it's true… You might not be hearing much from me until like December 15. And then Christmas stuff will start. So I guess I'll just talk to you after the New Year. … Kidding, I'll do my best to post. Because I miss it. I truly do like to write. Who would have ever thought that? It's music to my college comp teacher's ears… Anyway…

I made some cinnamon rolls last night that were a hit with my small group. They are easy and delicious so I thought I'd give them their time to shine. (Shout out to my Momma who gave me the recipe. That lady knows what she's doing.) The secret ingredient? Bisquick. You use it as your base to make the cinnamon roll dough. Bisquick! Why complicate things if you don't have to?

Bisquick Cinnamon Rolls

4 1/2 cups Bisquick
1 1/2 cups milk
1 stick of butter, melted
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 heaping tablespoons of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Follow the directions for biscuits on the Bisquick box. (For a 9x13 pan, you double the recipe on the box which I have already done for you in the ingredients listed here.) Roll out the biscuit dough. Brush melted butter all over the surface. Mix together sugar and cinnamon then sprinkle over buttery surface. Roll up dough then slice in to individual rolls (this can make about 16). Space rolls out in 9x13 pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

After they come out of the oven, let them sit for a bit before icing them. Any icing recipe will do, but I doctored up Paula Deen's and it worked just fine.


4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons water

Whisk together butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and almond. Gradually add water until icing reaches desired consistency. Drizzle over cinnamon rolls

And that's that!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Try-It Tuesday: Easy Pad Thai with Chicken.

Today's post is brought to you by...

Our brand new dishwasher!

I haven't had a functioning dishwasher since I moved in to this new place two months ago. Hand washing dishes isn't difficult, but oh my gosh, I missed a dishwasher. I even found myself not wanting to cook because I didn't want to clean up the mess. But today, my friends, today we got a dishwasher! So I decided to break it in with a new meal...

Easy Pad Thai with Chicken. This recipe was indeed easy but it does have a few ingredients that are strange. Fish oil (I almost gave up on the recipe when I smelled this stuff.) And tamarind paste (which I attempted to find a substitute because I couldn't find it in the store.) Despite those though... the recipe was a winner. I was actually shocked at how good it was.

*A few changes
-In place of tamarind paste I actually used peach preserves (call me crazy) - but a lot of sites will tell you equal parts brown sugar and lemon juice to get the correct amount
-The recipe tells you to add carrots as a garnish after the fact, but the idea of cold hard carrots in the middle of my pad thai wasn't appetizing, so I added them when I added the noodles.
-I didn't use any cornstarch - for some reason it didn't make the move with me and I didn't realize I didn't have any. My sauce was still plenty thick so I don't think it's necessary.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Meet Dietrich.

My roommate got a dog! What this means... I get all the perks of living with a dog with little to no responsibility! His name is Dietrich. (Yeah... I know. I didn't name him.) He came from the pound and is one of the sweetest dogs I've ever met - especially from coming from the pound.

Last night I made some pumpkin bars. I left to go to Target really quickly and had asked me roommate (not the owner of the dog, the other one) if I should put him up or if she would keep an eye on him. She said she would keep an eye on him... When I came back I walked in the kitchen and he had gotten up on the counter and eaten half of the pumpkin bars. I can't really blame him... I love cream cheese frosting, too.

Anyway, he's a great dog and a fun addition to my new situation here in good ol' Independence, Missouri. After almost 20 years of wanting a dog, I finally have one (or live with one, he's not technically mine) and I couldn't be more thrilled about it.

(He's pretty cuddly. I like him.)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Try-It Tuesday: Puppy Chow Cookies.

"Actually, these might be the best cookies I've ever had." That's what my mom said after trying the cookies that my friend Jessie and I made the other night.

Puppy Chow Cookies. A peanut butter cookie. Dipped in a chocolate peanut butter mixture. Rolled in powdered sugar. That's right. The cookies were a bit high maintenance, I must admit. I was glad I had a partner is crime to make them with. But they were worth the work... I agree with my mom. Possibly the best cookies I've ever had.

Puppy Chow Cookies. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trees on a rainy day.

I really don't like rainy days. Like really don't like them. If I can stay in bed, I can handle about 2 hours of raininess, then I'm over it. Rainy days make me grumpy. I know... I should be able to overcome a little overcast sky, but I can't. Today my boss asked me, "Are you doing ok?" "Yeah, I am just a little overwhelmed." "What are you overwhelmed with?" I give him a list of a few things that I have to do and respond, "Ok, I guess I don't have that much on my plate. I just can't handle it like I normally would because I haven't seen the sun in two days." He laughed... but I was being serious.

The one good thing about rain (ok, other than the fact that it waters the ground and makes things grow...) is that the gray sky is the perfect backdrop for fall trees. I was walking on campus at work the other day to get coffee (hot drinks - one of the ways I try to redeem rainy days... still didn't work) and the trees looked amazing! They didn't look nearly as vibrant under the blue sky a few days ago. But my goodness... they were beautiful.

So there you have it, rainy days showcase fall trees. So I guess an occasional one isn't so bad... though I'm still praying for sun tomorrow.

P.S. One other thing I like and rain in the fall... and I don't really know why, is walking through wet leaves on the ground.. It's like a perfectly fall version of a red carpet (I know, what a diva thing for me to say) and it makes me smile. I tried to take a picture while walking this morning but didn't want to stop because my co-workers would think I'm crazy. It's blurry but we'll call it artsy. Ok? Ok!