Friday, March 28, 2014

Tulle Skirt 3 Ways

 


 Black Tee: Target | Denim Shirt: Target(Old) Similar here | Sweater: DIY Custom | Floral Heels: Forever21(sold out) | Gold Oxfords: Amazon | Necklace:Sosie | Tulle Skirt: DIY Custom


Apologies for my absence this week! I popped in with a photo Monday promising DIYs for a little fun and then life happened. I was sick for a few days and trying to get caught up on a quilt I’m making. But I did accomplish my DIYs, I just haven’t had time to share them because one isn’t testing out as well as I hoped and the other is a ton of explaining.
Starting with “the other one”, I have been admiring tulle skirts for a few months now, I just didn’t have the guts to buy one. Most I saw were super fluffy too, much more than I was willing to commit to. I already have wonderful, shapely hips, I don’t need to add to them! So I decided to go the “make it myself” route and use a circle skirt pattern. The skirt was super easy to make, in my opinion, but I forgot how much time and explaining would need to go into that zipper. So I’ll get up my how to next week, for now, here it is!
I immediately love how versatile it feels, it’s light and pink, easy to pair. I originally wanted to pick up a gray tee to put over it, but upon finding the tee I wanted, the gray was sold out in my size. Ah life. But pink and black always pair up well, I slipped on my floral heels and this new little necklace that arrived from Sosie just today. I wanted it to go with all my pastel florals but it was a near match for my skirt today.
My denim shirt is getting paired with everything this spring, I feel like it’s probably on it’s way out and I need to get all the wear I can out of it for the year. And I actually get to pull off that cute cropped look without being super revealing or “sexy” because I’m just not a “sexy” clothing kind of girl. I’m fairly modest and like things that have a more vintage or indie vibe. So I’m treading carefully around the cropped fad.
And lastly my sweater! The actual sweater is from Target, it’s much more snug than I anticipated when I picked it up for my project, but that works well with my skirt. I added the sequin myself, that’s the first project I spoke of. I’m not done with it though, I have another line to add and I have to break down and glue it. I though I could get away with just stitching it in place but the sequins are twisting and a few have fallen off. I’m getting there.
Lastly, I must point out the gold oxfords! An instagrammer I follow was showing off her (much more expensive) pair, adorable with her shirts and sweaters. I was having a “I must have some!” moment and after searching around I landed on amazon. I mean why not? This pair was a whopping $16.00and they’re on prime! Mine landed on my porch on Tuesday and I’ve worn them a couple of times already. They’re surprisingly soft and comfortable for such a cheap shoe, I don’t know if they rub the heel because I always wear an invisible sock with any shoe I can (To prevent stinky shoes). For the price, I have zero complaints. And they come in silver too.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Being Crafty



Being crafty for myself today! This includes twelve feet of sequins and four yards of tulle. I solemnly swear that I am up to no good!
Stay tuned for a few DIYs.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Polka Dot Gift Box with Twine. (I Put a Bird On It!)


Apparently I am a firm believer in “put a bird on it.” Look how cute it instantly makes everything! I’m mocking myself and that is okay.
The truth is, I didn’t have a special post for today, so I thought I would share this cute little box waiting for my Mother’s birthday. All this cute little stuff came from Target and they’re just a $1 each. The box came in a pack of three, the twine had four colors with it and the bird was paired with a flower (that went on another gift). It’s a cute and inexpensive way to jazz up a small gift like this one instead of just handing over the tiny box inside.
What’s inside? Well, with chance that my Mother may read this between now and her birthday, I can’t tell you. But I’ll show you next week!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Trending: Denim Dresses

 Dress: Modcloth [old] | Cardigan: Target | Shoes: Ruche (Almost Sold Out) and Vans (Similar) | Sweater Shirt: Forever21 (sold out) | Watch: New York and Company

Ah, time to welcome in the wonderful spring weather here in Oklahoma, it’s been sunny and warm a couple of days on and off. The weather hasn’t made up it’s mind yet, eventually it will get tired of being confused and start spewing tornadoes at us. Of course, after last year I would be completely happy to skip all the destruction for awhile! I live right on the city line for Moore, last years big tornado nearly came through my neighborhood. That’s Oklahoma living for you.
But the beautiful weather prompted me the pull down my warm weather box and start unpacking my summer dresses, shorts and sandals. I really wanted to get in there because I knew that I had a denim dress in there and it’s a big trend this year. Well, mine is chambray, but close enough, right?
I have had this dress for years! I hear people sighing already, I do this to my friends. I won’t wear a really nice piece for years and then I finally break it out and everyone wants one. Great news though, I went through my favorite online boutiques and found many, MANY similar ones. I mean, if I needed another one, I could spy a few right now I’d snatch up. But one is enough for me, it is. I just unpacked around 20ish summer dresses because I’m a clothes hoarder! So I’m probably on a dress buying ban for now… with the exception of that shift dress on it’s way in from Ruche. And the one from Oasap, ahem.
I love the shape of this dress because it’s flattering! I’m a bit self-conscious about my hips but I try to accept them for the curvy beauties they are. This dress just hides them and takes all my worries away. Today I was thinking about comfort and how I might wear it to feel stylish but comfortable. The first look would probably be along the lines of lunch or grocery shopping, because you always run into someone you know at those times right? I hate leaving the house unkempt, occasionally it happens but I just like to feel somewhat put together. The second look is because I’m a mom! I can extend the life of my dress by tossing on a sweatshirt and some comfy vans to go out with the kiddo. I love the “stylish” comeback sweatshirts are making, hello 80s.
I window shopped at a few of my favorite boutiques to give you a few leads for your own denim dress if you don’t have one/need another. I love these styles:

Chambray Dreams Dress from Sosie
New Direction Dress from Sosie
Country in the City Dress from Modcloth
The Stuff of Dreams Dress from ModCloth
Rio Rancho Printed Denim Dress from Ruche
Call Waiting Chambray Dress from Ruche

Or check out my pin board exclusively for denim dresses HERE. I even snuck a few rompers in there.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Greek Yogurt Ranch



In place of these not so healthy recipes I shared first, I have something healthy! I don’t normally share my healthy foods because then every post would be about boneless skinless chicken breast with roasted vegetables. While I enjoy my healthy food, I would be running short of the creative side. But today I’m sharing my favorite salad topper, because I’m a ranchaholic and can’t deal without ranch.
First off, do you know what ranch dressing is made from? Mayonnaise. Think about putting a big, fat dollop of mayo on your salad. I suppose if you’re a mayoaholic that may actually sound good, but when I’m trying to keep fats low in my food the combination of mayo and sour cream on top of my fresh vegetables isn’t helping. If you have ranch in your fridge, check the calories for just a tablespoon or two, it’s heart breaking.
I think I just heard a few hearts shatter around the globe
Thanks to the internets and more so, pinterest, I came across a wonderful alternative. Homemade ranch made with milk and greek yogurt, 200 calories in the whole jar! Or something around that. The first recipe I tried used a packet of hidden valley dry ranch mix, which tasted great. It tasted like RANCH dressing. But sadly I couldn’t overlook the fact that the dry mix still had monosodium-glutamate in it, it’s a preservative and one I try to avoid.
So last summer I went on a quest to make my own from scratch using dry spices and it never came out right, never. I mentioned it to my cousin one day and she asked me the most “DUH” question that hadn’t even occurred to me: “Have you tried making it with fresh ingredients?”
Of course I…. No, no I hadn’t. I kept trying again and again to make it with dry ingredients that I hadn’t even thought about using fresh ingredients because that was way too obvious. Hi, I’m Amanda and I like to do things the long, hard way.
Using the fresh herbs made it taste perfect! It was ranch! Creamy and I could use near as much as I wanted on my salad. I went through a few times of trial and error where I added too much of something like garlic. It’s important to realize that the herbs, garlic and chives will taste stronger after it sits for a few hours. Ideally I make it the night before I plan to have a salad or use ranch, so I can adjust the flavor. But sometimes I make it shortly before I want a salad and it works out just fine. Also, take it easy with your milk, too much and it gets super runny, add a little at a time and keep checking to see if it’s as thick/thin as you like.
Now here is my healthy disclaimer: This is super healthy and yes, it is slightly different than normal ranch. The greek yogurt has a different texture than mayonnaise, probably because it doesn’t have all the extra fat in it. But husbands will notice, so don’t try to fool your lover. Mine was skeptical at first but he really likes it, especially how it doesn’t make his workout a waste for the day. I like that too! I save so many calories on my ranch dressing, I can even have a little splurge after dinner [Three cheers for chocolate!].
I’m going to give you two recipes! One version with the Hidden Valley packet and one completely from scratch. On the first one, I do actually suggest sticking with the Hidden Valley packet, when I used other brands they didn’t mix as well or taste right. I won’t stop you from trying but you’ve been warned. And on the scratch, be careful with the garlic, it gets super strong overnight.
Version 1: Greek Yogurt Ranch
  • 1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 Cup Milk, More or Less as Desired
  • 1 Package of Hidden Valley Dry Ranch Dressing Mix
In a large bowl combined ranch mix and greek yogurt, stir until combined. Slowly add milk, a tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired thickness for your ranch. You can make it as thick or thin as you desire. Chill for two hours before serving.

Version 2: Greek Yogurt Ranch
  • 1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 Cup Milk, More or Less as Desired
  • 2 Tablespoons Chives
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon Dill
In a food processor [or blender] combine greek yogurt and all ingredients, except for milk and pulse until combined. Add milk slowly, pulsing and checking until it reaches desired thickness. Chill for at least two hours or overnight before serving. [Though I am guilty of using it immediately]

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies


These are probably one the UNHEALTHIEST gluten free things I could come up with, no kidding. I had been looking around for ways to make cookies because my mom is mostly gluten free. I say mostly because while she has an allergy, occasionally she bites the bullet to have a cookie or cake once in awhile. It’s a bit difficult because most recipes sub rice flour for your average flour but alas, mom has a rice allergy as well! Her allergy isn’t severe but if she indulges too much it makes her sick, lips swell, no bueno.
I send her recipes on pinterest all the time but I thought I would actually try one out and see if I, a gluten consumer, would enjoy it.
And the verdict is…..
They’re quite yummy! But not so brownie like as they were described, they actually remain quite sticky and give you that dog eating peanut butter effect. You know, sticks to the roof of your mouth kind of magic. You just want to have a drink handy, like cold milk or fresh coffee or fresh coffee. I am aware that I wrote coffee twice.
It’s not a difficult recipe and the ingredients are pretty simple, but I suggest at least using a hand mixer if you, like I, don’t have a fancy stand mixer. I tried to be a purist and whisk it but man, my arms got tired trying to beat that brown sugar down. I suppose if you wanted to use this as a means to tone up your arms, you could, but I would rather use weights, they may actually be easier.
These are just a smidge off from being vegan, you just need a substitute, flax seed? Something to help hold it all together. But I’m going to tell you, I ran the ingredients through my calorie counter, broke it down to what I felt would be in each cookie and DANG. Between the peanut butter and brown sugar these suckers are loaded with calories. LOADED. I would just treat them as you should treat all sweets, take it in portion and don’t overindulge. Freeze them and save them for later or bag them up and take them to work/send them to work with your spouse.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies
  • 1 Cup Peanut Butter, More If Needed
  • 1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar, Light or Dark
  • 1 Large Egg
  • Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • Bonus Ingredient: Chocolate Chips? Cranberries? Walnuts?
In a large bowl, combine Peanut Butter, Sugar, Egg, Vanilla and Baking soda. Beat until well combined and you can no longer feel the grit of the brown sugar [this will take several minutes]. Stir in cocoa powder and any additional fillings you desire.
Spray a baking sheet or cover with parchment paper. Roll cookies into 1 inch balls and gently press down with a fork. Pop the pan(s) into the freezer for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 and bake chilled cookies for 8 minutes, they’ll still feel under cooked but will set as they cool. Let cool for 10 minutes on the pan and then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve with coffee or milk!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Goulash


I think most of us have had some form of goulash before, at least if you grew up in a household without a creative cook or that was just making ends meet, you had goulash. I remember my Grandma’s goulash being a form of Macaroni and cheese with vegetables mixed in; Mom’s was just macaroni and cheese with ground beef in it; Dad’s was elbow noodles with meat and veggies mixed in, no cheese; And now I have a recipe from my husband’s Grandma that I think has gravy, I’d have to look to confirm, but that’s what he tells me.
Goulash is kind of one of those meals we had near the end of a pay period while Mom or Dad was trying to make a meal out of what remained in the pantry. My families centers around pasta in some form, but you could make this with rice or just meat and vegetables, it’s a throw together meal.
Mine began yesterday when I put a pound of doe meat into the sink with no real plan on what I wanted to do for dinner. Granted, I’m not at the end of a pay period and I thank God for the fact that I have plenty in my pantry and fridge regardless of what point of the week it is. My little family is surely blessed. I don’t have a ton because I hate to waste but still have plenty for us and most of it is pretty healthy. Except for the top shelf where the cheeze-its, nilla wafers and cheerios are hiding. I’m thankful for the small things, like food.
By time I was ready to make dinner I had my plan, I knew I had canned corn and diced tomatoes in the pantry plus plenty of butter and cheese in the fridge. Butter and cheese, sounds like we are getting somewhere yummy, right? Unless you’re vegan, then I suppose that sounds disgusting.
I began by getting everything started: Water put on to boil in one pan, meat browning in another and butter melting in the third. I so desperately want a six burner stove, four is clearly not enough for me. Dear Santa… make it gas as well.
I don’t think I need to tell you how to boil pasta or brown meat, do I? I’m assuming not, just don’t over cook the meat or it dries out. And only boil the pasta as long as it says on the package, over boil and you’ve made glue for your intestines. Sounds awesome, huh? So to that cheese sauce!
For the cheese sauce, start with a roux. I’ve talked about a roux previously in a post about gravy, I realize I should probably make a special post just for that so I don’t have to go over it every time. This time, we’re making a roux for cheese sauce. I melted two tablespoons in a hot pan and slowly added flour in until it combined with the butter. You don’t want it runny, I let mine form into a paste but I could still see the moisture in it. Then I slowly added the milk, stirring like a mad man to avoid clumps.
A little tip: When I add milk to my roux, I pull the pan off the heat, add a little milk, stir until it combines and then put it back on the heat. It helps keep the roux from getting cold shock and frying itself into little clumps. You could also avoid this by preheating your milk, but I’m clearly getting short on burners at this point!
I gestimate that I used a cup to a cup and a half of milk, if you’ve been reading long you know I’m not always precise on my measurements. I let the milk simmer until it thickened slightly, then added a little more just to make sure I’d have enough sauce. Once the milk is thickened and has a smooth, creamy feel to it, it is time to add the cheese. I did measure this one! Two cups of fresh shredded mild cheddar cheese, a little at a time, stirring until combined. You can use pre-shredded cheese but fresh is best! The pre-shredded can be a little dry and so it doesn’t always melt properly, you may get something clumpy looking instead of smooth cheese sauce.
With my two cups of cheese, my sauce is light and not super cheesy, you could add more if you so desire. I wanted it fairly light, so while this is far from a healthy or low fat meal, I kept it from being overwhelmingly heavy.
While I was working on my roux, I managed to boil and strain my pasta and get my meat browned. I guess I’m better at multitasking than I thought because I managed not to burn anything! Taking my strained pasta [I used shells], I first add my cheese sauce and meat, gently stirring it until the pasta is coated and the meat is distributed. I don’t drain doe meat, deer is super lean so there isn’t much grease but if you’re using beef, I’d suggest draining it first. Next I drain my canned vegetables and add them into the pot, mix and you’re done! You can use frozen vegetables, just warm them in a pan prior to adding.
It’s really a simple meal, I think it took me 20 minutes to make and I baked cookies at the same time. I mentioned on twitter than I put on shorts and was super proud of my legs, so I made cookies as a reward. I’ll show you those next time… the cookies, not my legs. This goulash may not look too special but it’s delicious and comforting plus warms up well the next day.

Goulash with Cheddar Sauce
  • 1 Bag of Pasta, Any Shape [I used shells]
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Teaspoons of Flour, More as Needed
  • 1-2 Cups of Milk
  • 2 Cups of Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Pound of Ground Beef or Meat of Choice or No Meat!
  • 1 Can Sweet Corn, Drained
  • 1 Can Petite Diced Tomatoes, Drained

Following directions on pasta bag, boil water and cook pasta until tender, drain and set aside.
While waiting for water to boil, brown meat in a separate pan, drain and set aside
This recipe allows you to multitask, so while the water is boiling, the pasta is cooking and the meat is browning, start on your cheese sauce. Place butter in a warmed sauce pan and allow to melt. Once butter is melted add in flour, whisking it together, adding extra as needed to create your roux. Next add 1 cup of milk, slowly, whisking like mad to avoid clumps. Let milk simmer until thickened, add more milk if desired, letting simmer again. The roux should have a smooth, creamy feel to it, this means you’re ready to add the cheese.
Add the cheese slowly, stirring constantly until well combined. Taste to see if it has the desired “cheesiness”, this recipe is designed to be light so you may add more cheese. Once the cheese is thoroughly combined, the sauce should still be smooth and creamy, remove it from heat.
In a large pot, I usually just reused the pot I boiled my pasta in, combine pasta, cheese and meat. Gently stir until pasta is coated and meat is well distributed. Add in canned vegetables and once again stir until combined. Salt and pepper to taste and serve it while it’s hot!