Sunday, March 23, 2014

Smiling in San Francisco!


We're taking a long weekend in San Francisco!  Gorgeous weather so far - such a nice change from the rainy Seattle weather we've had this March.  ( Look!  The sky can be blue...!) ;)

More later - bye for now, and happy Sunday!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Perfect Treat for Any Holiday: Sparkling Chocolate Dipped Pretzels


My favorite thing about these is how festive they are.  It's such an easy way to turn a generic snack into something exciting.  (Note how I found a way to add "sparkling" into the title!  Isn't anything that sparkles 10 times more exciting than something that doesn't?)  :)  

I feel like I am always in need of something quick to bring whenever we are invited to someone's house.  Jon and I usually bring a bottle of wine, but there is something so personable about actually making something for your host - whether it is an edible treat, or even something else they can enjoy.  (Side note - a friend of mine recently brought me homemade lipgloss - how nice is that!)  I also have a tutorial for some easy DIY Wine Charms which would be another great host gift!  



This quick treat is simple enough to whip up on a whim, and is unique enough to set you apart from anyone else bringing the usual bottle of wine.  I made these for a St. Patricks Day get together at my cousins house - hence the green - but you can make them festive for any occasion by changing the color of the sprinkles.


Ingredients:
Meltable white chocolate 
Pretzels 
Colored sprinkles
Parchment paper 
THAT'S ALL!

Instructions:
Melt the white chocolate - you can use a double boiler or the microwave.  I used the double boiler method the first time I did these, and a bit of the steam got into the chocolate and it seized up on me... TWICE.  I didn't even know chocolate could do that!  I used the microwave after that and it was much easier…even though I had to go out buy more chocolate unexpectedly…  it happens, right?



Dip half of the pretzel into the melted chocolate, and gently shake the excess away.  Scrape one side of the pretzel against the side of the bowl so you will be able to lay the clean side down on the parchment paper.  Holding the chocolate dipped pretzel over a bowl, sprinkle a generous amount of sprinkles over the melted chocolate until well coated.  Lay on the parchment paper to harden, clean side down.



You can also try using different kinds of sprinkles to liven these up even more - multicolor, perhaps?  Different shapes?  The sky is the limit!


Inspiration:  Love From the Oven

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What I've Been Listening to Lately… March 2014


Now that I have compiled all of my songs together for this month, I'm realizing that they are mostly very acoustic-y and slow… I'm not sure what the says about me this month!  At least there is still The Script in there to liven things up, not to mention Phoenix.  Anywho, enjoy!  


This March, 2014, I have been listening to:

1.  1901 by Phoenix - This is such a fun song.  It's a really good one to drive to on a sunny day - put your sunglasses on, roll down the windows (if it's not too cold…) and feel GOOD!  Love it!

2.  1901 by Birdy - As I've mentioned before, I love covers.  I came across this cover of the previous 1901 by Phoenix, and it's a perfect example of how a well done cover can completely change a song. Whereas Phoenix's version is fun and upbeat, Birdy's is thoughtful and almost melancholy.  Fascinating - I can't get enough.

3.  Ho Hey by The Cast of Nashville - Yes, I watch Nashville.  If you like music (especially if you like country music), or even just some old fashioned dramatic television with some music thrown in, you might want to check it out.  This song was featured in one of the first episodes, and so far I think it's one of the best songs of the show.  Have I mentioned that I love a well-done cover version of any song?

4.  Big in Japan by Ane Brun - Every once in awhile, Spotify randomly plays a song for me that knocks my socks off.  This was a song like that.  I was immediately drawn in by how she sings this - rhythmically and with an undercurrent of emotion.  It's subtly powerful.

5.  Hall of Fame by The Script and will.i.am - I've started playing this song when I get off the bus, and am walking through the streets of downtown Seattle on my way to the office in the morning.  It's inspiring and motivating - nothing better to start off your day than something upbeat!

6.  Clown by Emili Sande - I LOVE her voice in this song!  It's like you can't help but listen to the story she's telling.  Apparently she wrote this song about her experience with the music industry, and losing control of her art.  It's a poignant story, and I've enjoyed listening.

7.  Dirty Rain by Ryan Adams - I have a soft spot for Ryan Adams.  The emotion and lyrics in his songs kill me.  This one is no exception.  The images his lyrics build along with the slightly jazzy melody is simply dazzling.  His music (a song like this), a craft project and a good cup of tea is my idea of a perfect Saturday afternoon.

8.  California by Joni Mitchell - Yes, I may be on a Joni Mitchell kick at the moment.  More specifically, a Joni Mitchell "Blue" kick.  Well, I am now of the opinion that there is a reason this album is said to be "one of the single greatest album's of all time."  This is my favorite line, in reference to the state of California:  "Will you take me as I am, strung out on another man…"  Good songwriting!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Gold at the End of Your Rainbow - Easy DIY St. Patrick's Day Postcards


I tell you what - there are times when I look at the things I make and wonder why I am a childless 28 year old coming up with crafts that would obviously be better suited for children.  (For the record, I am not planning on or hoping to have children anytime soon!)  I suppose one could make the subconscious biological clock argument, but in any case, I spent an afternoon this weekend making these watercolor St. Patrick's Day postcards - complete with a chocolate coin favor.  :)  (I very much enjoy including a small favor along with a simple card sentiment!)

I thought they were fun, and yes, if you have kids this would be something easy for them to make.  I think the picture is pretty self explanatory, but in the vein of all DIY blog posts, my instructions are below!  



Materials:
  • I used the Avery 4-per-sheet textured postcards that I have blogged about before - you can get them on Amazon.  They make your life so much easier, and are great with watercolor paints!  
  • Watercolor paints
  • Chocolate Coins (I got mine at our local Cost Plus World Market.)
Instructions:
Take your postcards (or regular paper), and paint a rainbow on each.  I put one of the coins in the bottom corner when I was doing this so I could see how the rainbow would turn out.  You can probably paint your rainbow any way you like!



I waited until AFTER I had painted the watercolor rainbows (and they had dried completely) before actually printing the "You're the Gold at the End of My Rainbow!" sentiment on them.  This is because the printer ink and bleed a little bit when you paint watercolors over them.  It turned out much better this way!




I used regular tape to tape the chocolate coins in the bottom corner of the cards.  Boom!  You can write on the back to give out and/or mail them to others.  I thought they were a fun way to wish someone Happy St. Patrick's Day, along with a sweet treat!  Enjoy - don't get pinched today!  


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It's Nuts! A Basic Granola Recipe



I made granola for the first time this past weekend!  My healthy breakfast of choice lately has been Nancy's Nonfat Vanilla Yogurt (with live cultures = good yogurt, it really is awesome) and granola.  However, all of my store bought granola doesn't seem to go very far, and I've seen so many awesome granola recipes I thought it was high time I gave it a try.



I based this recipe on Alton Brown's granola recipe.  (Alton Brown is one the chefs that I absolutely trust - love him!)  It turned out AWESOME!  Sweet, a tad salty, buttery and yummy!  I've actually been eating handfuls of it all day today, which I never would have done with my store-bought granola.  I'm not sure if it's any healthier than store-bought, but I am going to tell myself it is.  (Isn't everything that you make yourself healthier?)



INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 cups rolled oats (or "old fashioned oats" if you can't find rolled oats at your grocery store.
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup cashews 
  • 3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
  • 1/4 c. plus 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. plus 2 tbs maple syrup (REAL maple syrup!)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup dried fruit - raisins, dried cranberries, dried banana's… the sky is the limit, I think!  I used golden raisins.
INSTRUCTIONS:
1.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, almonds, cashews, coconut and brown sugar.  In another bowl, combine the vegetable oil, maple syrup and salt.  Mix everything together.  Spread the mixture onto 2 baking sheets.  Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to make sure it is browned evenly.  Mix in your dried fruit until everything is well distributed.  Voila!  


Sooo good!  Next time I would like to try making a hawaiian granola.  One of Jon and I's favorite places here in West Seattle (well, in all of Seattle to be honest) is Marination Mai Kai on Alki.  They serve a homemade "Aloha Granola" with coconut and (I think) papaya, and it's pretty awesome.  Stay tuned for a future hawaiian themed granola recipe!

In the meantime, have a wonderful week!  

Like my awesome re-use of Classico spaghetti sauce jars??  :)


Monday, March 10, 2014

Lucky You! 7 Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day


St. Patrick's Day is a lot of fun.  It's a good excuse to dye random foods green, give out colorful candy and blame unfortunate happenings on those pesky leprechauns.  The last few years, my cousin has had some of us over for some Guinness and corned beef - it's a good time!  This coming Monday, that is where you'll find me!  If you aren't sure how to take advantage of this random holiday, I've collected a few ideas I've found around the internet that I thought were fun.  If I had kids, unlimited resources or tons of time on my hands I think I'd do all of them.  As this is not the case, I hope you might enjoy one or two of them!  (Follow the links below to get the instructions/recipes, and/or to pin the images.)  

1.  Make some Rainbow Fudge to give out at work or school.

2.  Have some friends over and make your own Irish Coffee.  (Just like at the famous Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco!)
Source:  YumSugar.com

3.  Give out green bracelets to save your friends or coworkers from a friendly pinch… :)
Source:  Living Locurto

4.  Kick back and enjoy a Green Leprechaun cocktail.

5.  Make some easy rainbow candy packs to give away to friends.

6.  Print out a free printable and display it at your desk for some extra luck.  
Source:  Mom 4 Real

7.  Serve a traditional Irish Dinner of Guinness, Corned Beef and Cabbage.  Yumm!
Source:  Tammilee Tips

Happy (early) St. Patrick's Day! 

*~*~*

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Trifecta Writing Challenge #2


I have entered this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge once more.  (I can't get enough!)  This week, the prompt was to write 33 words using the word "worm" and it's 3rd definition (below).  Enjoy!

WORM:

********


Even if it's true,
I can't give you all the control.
Each kiss seems to try 
and worm it out of me.
I think love is most dangerous
when it's spoken out loud.



NOTE:  Image is from MorgueFile.com