Contrary to how it may appear that I have never worn a swim suit since my skin is roughly the color of a crisp white bed sheet, I have! Gotta pile on that SPF, but it happens. And with the weather finally warming up, I’m just itching to soak up a little sun (and this year I’ll have a yard in which to soak it up!). So, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite looks this year.
I may not have jumped on the adorable high-waisted bandwagon last year—I admit I’m still a little wary of what these tan lines may look like—but I ordered the bottom half of Look Three to pair with a navy and white polka-dot bandeau I picked up at the GAP. I just received them this week and so far my husband’s review is that he doesn’t understand them. He made a point to say that it’s not like he doesn’t like them, he just doesn’t get it. He followed this with saying that I look like I’m from Mad Men. How that would not be a compliment is beyond me. So, I suppose only summer will tell. Any thoughts on high waisted bikini bottoms?
I have a little announcement to make. Drumroll, please…
We bought a house! It’s a real fixer-upper and we could not be more excited to make it our own! We’ll be all moved in by the end of the month. This means two things for anyone who reads along: 1. Anyone and everyone who is interested can chart our progress of making this ugly duckling into a beautiful swan and 2. We have to say goodbye to our adorable little apartment, so I’ve decided to share photos here for those who’ve haven’t yet been able to visit.
Step right up for the guided tour. First: our main entrance (yeah, we don’t have a key to the front): the kitchen. This is a room that is bursting at the seams since we have so many cool gadgets and serve ware pieces and so little cabinet and counter space. Yes, (of course!) I made the clock.
Then, we’ll step into the breakfast nook. Little, little nook. We pass by Andy’s office area that is packed with various stringed instruments, but since we never quite got around to doing any decorating there, I think we’ll move on. Bathroom ahead!
Is it terrible that I’m trying to think of an owl-related pun and I can’t? So, insert your own owl pun here.
Oh, and check out the link to my post on the owl button art I made here.
I still can’t get over world’s cutest toothbrush holder.
Down the hallway we go!
We’ll pop into the bedroom.
And, then next door to the guest bedroom.
OK, swinging back out to the living room, the place where we spend 90% of our time.
I’m kind of embarrassed about the current state of the mantle. We recently rearranged and the TV used to be up there. Just when I got all excited about decorating it, we started house-hunting, so I decided I would save my creative mantle-energy for the new place. I promise it will be super cool.
Oh, wait, is that a sunroom over there? Why, yes. Yes, it is.
With table for sewing in addition to a desk, of course. And all my crazy artwork and fabric poking out.
As a side note, I made each and every curtain in this place. Crossing my fingers that some of them will work in the new house.
This concludes the tour. Thanks for stopping by! I cannot, cannot wait to share the new place soon… though I’d really prefer not to show the before pictures just yet, or you might think we’re a little crazy. We probably are.
Here in the Midwest, we’re in this weird weather state. Kind of an un-season. My spring allergies are in full force, but I’m wearing sweaters. The next day is sundress weather, which turns to rain, which freezes and turns to snow. You can’t put away your winter clothes or get out your summer clothes.
What to wear from one hour to the next isn’t the only issue. We’re stuck between hearty, winter-y meals and light, fresh spring and summer foods. So, in all this chaos and confusion that is my state of being, I’ve got one thing that really works for this un-season. I give you these pork chops. The best of a hearty, warm, winter meal in pork chops jazzed up with sweet, tangy fruit and a kick of spice. Finally, a reason to like the un-season.
This meal is so easy and hits all sorts of notes. The pomegranate juice is both tart and sweet and is bold enough to counter the heavy nature of a pork chop. The red pepper flakes add heat and green onions balance it out with earthy freshness. I served this over an almond rice pilaf, to soak up all those extra juices. Yum. You better get this cooking before the un-season is over! It will really be a bright spot, I swear.
For the pork chops, you’ll need:
3 medium to large or 4 small pork chops
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup pomegranate juice
4 tsp. sugar
8 sliced green onions
1/4 c. pomegranate juice
2 tsp. sugar
Coat pork chops with about. 1 T olive oil. in In small bowl combine salt, pepper, cinnamon and red pepper flakes. Rub on both sides of pork chops.
Add remaining olive oil to a medium-sized skillet on medium heat. Once skillet is hot, add pork chops and sear until browned (but not cooked through) on both sides— about 6 minutes total. Once seared, remove from skillet and set aside under foil, to keep warm. While searing pork chops, chop green onions.
Using the same skillet, combine pomegranate juice and sugar. Bring to boil. Boil, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture is reduced to about half. Return pork chops to skillet. Cook, uncovered, 5-10 more minutes until the pork chops are cooked through. Meanwhile, add pomegranate juice and sugar for the reduction to a small skillet and boil for about 5 minutes, until the consistency is thick and syrupy. Once pork chops are done, serve over rice or another starch, sprinkle with onions and drizzle with reduction.
This is only only one quick remedy. But, if you’re in the same boat, best of luck with the rest of your (hopefully short) un-season!
I honestly have no idea if other people are as into making serious breakfasts on the weekends like I am. If it’s a Saturday or Sunday in our home you can bet eggs, bacon, and any combination of onions, peppers, pancakes, potatoes, potato pancakes or waffles will be flying around. With as often as we make breakfast feasts, I’m always looking for fun ways to break out of our usual patterns. I ran across this recipe and decided to try my own variation.
Holy breakfast! This is crispy, crunchy, gooey, flavor-packed and just downright fun. It’s all of the delicious parts of breakfast foods rolled… (or boated?) into one.
I would be lying if I said that this experiment went totally according to plan. I had trouble finding a crusty loaf of bread that would work for this, and the second I poured the egg mixture into the bread, the egg immediately started leaking through the bread in a few different spots. So, bonus! In addition to the recipe you will get a troubleshoot of what happens if this fails for you too! All will not be lost.
1 baguette-style loaf of bread, 10-12 inches long
5 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
4 oz. medium cheddar cheese grated (I used marbled)
1/3 cup milk
2 green onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Hollow out loaf of bread using a bread knife and set on a baking tray. It’s best to cut a V shape first then go from there. Try to leave 3/4 in of bread at the bottom and on the sides. Whisk milk and eggs together and stir in remaining ingredients, reserving a bit of cheese for the top. Add desired amount of salt and pepper.
Pour mixture into bread boat,* top with remaining cheese and bake for 30-35 minutes until egg mixture is fully cooked.
*If the bread starts leaking, it’s ok!! Unless you have a gaping hole, the eggs will create a sort of suction between the bread and the pan and won’t all leak out. Once the egg in the bottom has started to set in the oven, about 10 minutes, whip up a few more eggs (2-3 depending on how much leaked out and will need to be replaced) with salt and pepper and quickly scramble them in a pan until 3/4 of the way cooked. Remove sheet pan with loaf, scrape off the egg that leaked (or it will burn) and add scrambled eggs into boat and mix with existing fillings.
Once it’s out of the oven, let rest for five minutes and cut into slices. All you need is a slice or two to get a full, hearty breakfast that’s something fun and out of the ordinary. Yum! Bonus: this reheats very well in a toaster oven.
Every time I visit my parents, I seem to come home with edible goodies of all sorts. Be it freshly laid chicken eggs, cookies, interesting cheeses or any assortment of jerky. I have a feeling this may continue to happen no matter how old and self-sustaining I become. And, I must admit, I don’t mind it one little bit. A couple of weeks ago, I surprised my dad and went to stay with my family for the week. The prize I came home with this time? A ham. A really, really large ham.
My husband has mentioned before that the only time he’s had ham and beans was when he was young at a Veteran’s Hall, and they were white, tasteless and made “ham and beans” not sound like an appetizing dish for the rest of his life. I was determined to change his view. Not that he even had to like them, just not continue to have that stigma. So, we set to work, using a little basic ham and beans recipe, a little Food Network’s recipe and a little our own twist. He had a second full bowl, so I’m considering it a success.
These beans are a little spicy, a little soupy and a top-notch choice if you’re looking for comfort food. The carrots and caramelized onions give it a rich sweet hint, which balances perfectly with the heat. And it’s ideal weather for this dish since it’s so hearty and filling, without being too heavy.
1 lb dried Great Northern beans
3 cups of cubed ham (1/4- 1/2 inch cubes)
1 Onion, diced
3/4 c. Sliced carrots
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 T. Butter
1 T. Extra virgin olive oil
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. Thyme
1/2 tsp. Red pepper flakes
1 tsp. Paprika
1 can San Marzano tomatoes
Salt and pepper
First things first: soaking the beans. Give the beans a good rinse. Then, sort them and place them in a pot. You can either choose to soak them in the pot overnight and then rinse and drain or do a “quick soak.” To quick soak the beans, add 6 cups of hot water to the pot with the beans and bring to a rolling boil. Let boil for two minutes, cover, remove from heat and let sit for one hour. Then rinse and drain again. While beans are soaking, heat butter and olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the onions and carrots and salt and pepper them. Once the onions begin to become translucent (10 minutes or so), add the cubed ham and garlic.
Cook for another 15-20 minutes until the onions and carrots are very tender and nearly caramelized. Once the beans are ready, add 5 cups of water to the beans and stir in onion and ham mixture. Add all remaining ingredients except tomatoes. Simmer on low partially covered for 1 hour 45 mins- 2 hours, stirring about every half hour. In a bowl, crush tomatoes by hand. Add the tomatoes and juice to the beans after an hour of cooking. At this point, you can also add more water if you would like it to be soup-ier.
Serve hot with bread. I couldn’t resist making cornbread muffins to accompany it. Mmmm. Oh, and the flavor is even more developed after it’s refrigerated overnight, which works well since this makes a good-sized batch.
I think even your grandma would approve!
Recently, we rearranged our living room. We’ve been in our current place for about two years now, and I guess that’s how long it takes before we start itching to rearrange and add new decor. Our TV used to be on the mantle (I know, terrible, but we don’t have a whole lot of options). It’s now in front of a window, which I’m not sure is much better, but we no longer have to strain our necks way up to watch movies and, the best part is that it opens up a huge new project space: a mantle to decorate! And, I am not taking this responsibility lightly.
I found some old framed needlepoint woodland creatures that I’ve deemed mantle-worthy, but that still left about 3/4 of the space left to be filled. Thinking about keeping with the woodland theme, I rummaged through all the old frames, canvases, etc. I have lying around. I came across this wooden plaque (which are super cheap to pick up at Hobby Lobby) and a few frames. The plaque actually fit perfectly in one of the frames and I got the idea to make a faux deer head “mounted” on the plaque.
This is a seriously easy project that’s fun and whimsical but visually bold. You could really use any image or colors, but I wanted to play off of the idea of (the animal-friendly version of) a mounted deer head, and I mounted the plaque to the outside of the frame, instead of to the back, to enhance this feeling.
Silhouette of a deer ( I just googled it and printed out my favorite, found here)
Self-healing cutting mat ( I love this one for small projects)
Acrylic Paint (background color of choice, I went with black)
Silver or Gold Sharpie or paint
9001 or other high-strength adhesive
Paint wooden plaque desired color and let thoroughly dry. Make sure silhouette is properly sized for the plaque. Once you have the right size, cut on the image outline with an X-acto knife on a self-healing mat. Once your image is cut out, secure it with a few small pieces of tape to the plaque, so it doesn’t move around and trace with a pencil.
Remove image and make any adjustments or artistic changes to the outline. Then, trace the pencil line with a silver or gold Sharpie. The silver and gold Sharpies have more of a paint-like quality to them, so I don’t recommend trying black or other colors. Fill in the outline once and let dry for a few minutes.
Going the other direction, add a second layer of Sharpie, using the side of the tip to sort of paint it on. Last, retrace the image to make sure the edges are clean. You can do any small damage repair with a black Sharpie. Once the plaque is dry, apply adhesive to frame where the plaque will be. Let the adhesive become tacky for a few minutes before pressing the plaque into place. Once in place, set a heavy stack of books or other objects on top of the plaque to bond. Let sit for a few hours. There you have it!
I know this will be a lovely addition to the the rest of the little creatures I’ve already got pegged for the wall. Stay tuned to get a view of the full mantle once it’s finished!
A wild thing has happened over the past week. The Cheesy Mexican Pull-apart Bread I posted a few months ago has apparently gone viral on Pinterest and the traffic on little blog has blown up exponentially in the last few days. So, if people are excited about savory monkey bread, I’ll keep pushing the limits! And now I give to you: pizza monkey bread. (Important side note: If this photo below does not make you want to drool, you are probably in the wrong place.)
Andy and I planned to make this then sit down and attack it during the Grammys this past weekend. The attacking-it part we accomplished. The Grammys part we did not. We recently canceled our cable, and who knew you could only stream backstage interviews and ridiculous commentary, but not the actual thing? Do some people have two TVs going simultaneously to catch the hot backstage action, or does anyone actually watch just the backstage part (besides other sad cable-cancelers, of course)? The mysteries of life. We’re only glad we didn’t invite people over to watch them as we’d originally thought about. So,
unfortunately, we were left with the entire loaf of this bread to ourselves. Which was dangerous. And insanely delicious.
Each little piece of this bread is perfectly crusty with crispy Parmesan on the outside and gooey and soft on the inside. It’s part stuffed crust pizza, part actual pizza and part something-more-delicious-than-pizza, even. More delicious than pizza? I know, I know, but that statement was not uttered lightly and I stand by it. You really have to try it for yourself. Mere words will not be able to describe the cheesy, gooey magnificence properly. This would make a perfect party appetizer… or dinner for 2 (before you call a doctor, no, we did not even come close to eating the whole loaf in one sitting, don’t worry). Now, let’s stop drooling and get to it!
For the dough*:
3 7/8 cups white bread flour
2 T course semolina flour
1 package Fleischmann’s active dry yeast
2 heaping tsp. fine grain salt
5 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups water
For the rest:
12 oz. Mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 T Italian seasoning (add dashes of red pepper flakes if they are not included in the seasoning)
1/2 stick butter melted
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Marinara sauce, for dipping
You can really use whatever pizza fillings you like, but we used the following. Just be sure to completely drain and pat dry whatever ingredients you use.
*If you are in a real time crunch or if making homemade dough scares the living bejeezus out of you, you can use biscuit dough or something similar that’s pre-made.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Dough likes warm kitchens. Combine dry ingredients (flour, yeast, semolina, salt) in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a bread hook, turn stand mixer onto its lowest setting. Slowly add oil and water. After liquid has been added, continue to mix at lowest speed for two minutes. Turn mixer to next highest speed and continue mixing for six minutes or until dough becomes firm and barely sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead for two minutes. Form dough into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a towel and let rest for one hour. While dough is rising, whisk together butter, oil and Italian spices.
Once dough has nearly doubled in size, lightly punch it down in the bowl. Pull off small pieces of dough from dough ball (slightly less than a tablespoon if you were to measure it), flatten the piece out into a circle and place toppings with mozzarella cube in the center. Pull edges of the dough around the toppings like a package and pinch together. Lightly roll with palm, so a more uniform sphere is created. Dip each piece in butter and spice mixture and drop into a bundt pan. (Sprinkle a little Parmesan into the bundt pan before you begin.) Once the bottom of the pan is covered with a layer of dough, sprinkle with 1/3 of the remaining cheese. Continue this process two more times (you will end with 1/3 of the cheese for the top once baked).
Cover pan with a towel and let rise for another 45 minutes to an hour, once the dough nearly reaches the top of the pan. Place into the oven and reduce heat to 425. Bake for 20-30 minutes until top is dark golden brown and crispy. Let cool for 15 minutes and turn out bread onto serving platter. Top with remaining cheese and serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
Eat this and you won’t even be slightly bummed that you canceled cable and missed the Grammys.