Thursday, May 8, 2014

What I've Been Listening to Lately: May 2014

My theme for this month seems to be mostly love songs.  It's pretty funny how I can look at the songs I've been listening to and notice a totally subconscious similarity… it's really pretty telling, I think!  I guess that's what an engagement will do to you.  In any case, I've certainly had my moments of listening to melancholy music as well!  Why not love songs for a change.  :)  Anywho, enjoy!

1.  Cop Car by Keith Urban - I think this song is so fun.  I'm drawn to songs that tell a story (which is probably why I'm unconsciously drawn to Country music), and this one tells a fun, light hearted story about falling in love in a unique circumstance.  It makes me happy.

2.  Gold Dust Woman by Karen Elson - I watch Revenge, and I heard this song on an episode recently.  I believe it is a Fleetwood Mac cover.  It's a good song to have on in the background when you're cooking dinner in the evening.  :)

3.  Arms of a Woman by Amos Lee - Amos Lee reminds me of another favorite singer/songwriter of mine - Ray LaMontagne, who I have included a song by in this same playlist!  They both seem to write thoughtful, acoustic songs with memorable lyricisms, and this song is no exception.  I love how he sings the simple line: "when she wakes me, she takes me back home."  

4.  In Your Shoes by Sarah McLachlan - Sarah McLachlan is one of my favorite singers, and she has a new album coming out this month - meaning there will probably be more of her songs on my next playlist…!  This is one of her new singles.

5.  Higher Love by James Vincent McMorrow - Love this cover!  Especially the beginning.

6.  You've Lost the Loving Feeling by The Righteous Brothers - I watched Top Gun recently (I hadn't seen it in a lonnnnng time), and the final scene with the Jukebox is SO GOOD!  Him hearing this song playing in the background, and then there she is…  ::sigh::.  

7.  Not a Bad Thing by Justin Timberlake - A current song on the radio that I find myself turning up whenever it plays.  Gotta love JT.

8.  Shelter by Ray LaMontagne -  Another example of a lovely acoustic love song.  :)  

Saturday, May 3, 2014

An Overdue Update...

Okay, so I know I haven't posted in awhile…  (As in not once in the month of April, awhile…!)  No excuses.  The first rule of blogging is to post regularly, and I blew it this month.  Still, sometimes life just gets in the way… and I must admit that I've had a couple of other priorities lately.  

Speaking of which, this happened while I was in San Francisco last month…!

Jon and I got engaged!  He surprised me with a beautiful proposal at the Palace of Fine Arts at sunset - it was perfect.  I hate to admit that I have become "that girl" who has been momentarily blinded by the prospect of marriage, a wedding, and and all that jazz… but it really is a ton to think about, and I've really been enjoying my first month of being engaged.  

The wedding won't be for awhile yet, but maybe you can look forward to a few wedding DIY tutorials at some point… who knows!  Otherwise, I've been doing a lot of jewelry making lately as well, and have been planning to expand my Etsy shop.  (Mostly bracelets and wire rings.)  Keep an eye out!

Otherwise, that's what has been happening with me lately!  I hope everyone else has been doing well, and you didn't have too many April Showers last month.  :)  

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.

Meltable white chocolate 
Colored sprinkles
Parchment paper 

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 - 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!  

  • 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.)
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?)

  • 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.
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??  :)