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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Weekly Wonderings: June 28th


     So my computer got a virus and decided to hide all my icons and files. Thus my blogging adventures will have to wait till it get fixed. In the mean time, look at this cool grill I got! It's a pig! It's from world market, and is perfect for my small space and at 24 dollars, it's not too big of an investment for me!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thank You Letters

  
       I always write thank yous for gift received; I even write them for professors who help me with a recommendation or research. A little thank you can get you a long way. I also try to always give end of the year gifts to professors, even if it's just a box of chocolates, they will be so thankful for the thought. Recently, a research librarian helped me with my thesis, so in return I wrote her a thank you and gave her a mason jar filled with Hershey kisses, it did not cost me much, way under 5 dollars, and she was so happy. She wrote back how nice it was to feel appreciated and I know I can count on her for any help with future research. Thank yous don't have to always be long, sometimes even one sentence will do if its for something little and the payback for one will amaze you. This semester I sent thank yous with macaroon cookies (recipe to be posted soon!).


Here are some of my favorite thank you letter tips:

*Dear ______ is always appropriate

*Write about how you tend to use the gift (even money!)

*Thank them for coming to your party/helping with research, etc

* "Thank you so much for the ____. I will always think of you when I use it."

* Cursive if you can!

* Sincerely is always appropriate as a closing


 

Do you have any thank you tips or tricks? Or do you just find them too old fashioned, it's okay I won't be too offended!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How to: Make your own projector

 
      I love canvas artwork but on a shoe string budget, its not really possible. Unless I buy some off my 10 year old brother, and even he is pretty expensive. So what is a girl to do? Improvise! I found this beautiful textile print off the internet. I loved it but it was about 4 by 5 inches, not nearly big enough to go over my bed, maybe big enough for my Barbie house (I kid, I kid). Anyways, I needed a way to blow it up without breaking the (piggy) bank. I could have taken it to the print shop and have them blow it up but that would have cost like 60 dollars, at least. 


    Instead, I took it to the print shop and had them enlarge it on regular paper, costing me $3 dollars. Then I went to Michael's, and using a 40% coupon bought a 28 by 30 canvas. I also used another to buy yet another paint pen, after first using them here, I've fallen in love with them. 



   

  Next, I jerry-rigged a projector. I cut out the pattern and used adhesive spray I had to adhere it to the back of the canvas. Then I took a lamp and shone it through the back. Working in small sections at a time, I traced the design. Then I would set it down and color in the pattern. I am not going to lie, it took me a fair amount of time, but luckily there was I Love You Man on. This DIYing has certainly increased my TV viewing that or I now have things to do while I watch TV.






     I do have to say I am very proud of the end product. Seriously. Now I just have to decide what colors to paint it! Any ideas?



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Easy Entertaining: Italian Sodas


     My first Italian soda was in Stone Mountain, Georgia. I was 11 and I have been addicted ever since. I consider it part of my daily water intake, since hey there is water in it, even if it is carbonated. (I am just pretending the syrup is not there). They are great for parties, just set out a bunch of different syrups and bottles of carbonated water (my favorite are Perrier bottles, but I am a snobby Francophile like that). 


Ingredients: (Per glass)

1.5 oz (a shot) of flavored syrup

16 oz carbonated water (a normal glass)

*Tip put the syrup in first so it mixes well

*My favorite flavor is almond, try it! It is simply delicious and refreshing great for summer BBQ!

What's your favorite summertime drink?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Father’s Day Gift: BBQ Sauce



      My father is one of the hardest people to shop for not only that but he just buys himself whatever he wants. So it is always an issue come holidays to find him gifts, June is the worst because it's Father's Day and his birthday. It's always a mad scramble to try to find him something. He's from the south at heart, thus his sweet tea must be hand brewed and BBQ is a staple of his diet. Not having a ton of money to drop on a father's day gift, I came across this great recipe for bbq sauce. The ratings were all great on Allrecipes.com and I will just leave it at: I was licking the spatula after pouring it. 


Ingredients:
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 2 teaspoons hickory-flavored liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Pour, pinch and scoop all ingredients into a pot on simmer at medium heat for 30 minutes.
  2. Pour into mason jar and decorate!
*Adopted from Big Al's KC BBQ Recipe, makes enough for a 12 oz Mason jar plus another half cup for you to use for dinner!

What are your plans for a father's day gift?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Weekly Wonderings June 15th

video

I've never one to be afraid of the dark. Well not really. I do not necessarily like the dark but I am not afraid, large spiders however are a different story. This past Sunday there was an awful storm in my town and power was out. FOR THREE HOURS. Luckily I had just finished making dinner when the power went out at 8:30PM; I know I know, I eat too late. We ate by candlelight, which is so romantic and my makeup looked excellent, probably because you couldn't see anything. But after about 30 minutes, it got a little boring. It's amazing when you realize how much you cannot do without electricity. No internet, no tv, it's hard to read without much light. You just can basically talk without AC as well. I was unaware but I am quite well prepared for a blackout because of how many candles I have. I went around for 15 minutes trying to find all my candles, and lighting them. It took up time at least. Here's a video of my place all lit up: *it was actually much lighter than it seemed, the video makes it look much darker, weird*

Saturday, June 11, 2011

50 Dollar Fix: Trunk Love

 

      Remember that shocking pink trunk I bought here? Yeah, well I finally got around to doing something with it. The hot pink color did not exactly match the rest of my living room. So a little fixin' was in order. Here's what I did:





      First, I decided to paint it. Originally I thought about black but then I realized I had this great olive green color. I had picked it up at home depot at their reject paint section. If you haven't been to it, go! They have basically returned paint for about 1 dollar a quart which is a HUGE savings. Why not profit off someone else's indecisiveness.


 

So as I started to paint the top of the trunk, I realized the trunk is plastic, i.e. hard to paint. The green paint kept letting the pink show through. At first, I was quite upset and tried my best to cover it up. But then I realized I kind of liked the effect. So I left it.


 
   
     Once it was all covered, I had to decide what to do next. I thought about tracing a pattern all over it but I am quite lazy. Instead I went off to Michael's to purchase a stencil. I found the perfect one for about 4 dollars and got a gold paint pen to trace it because again, I am too lazy to paint it. I was also too lazy to completely line up everything, so I just kind of eyeballed it. I figure it gives it a nice old hand-painted look. Also, I now realize why DIY-ers are always talking about TV shows they just watched, it's because when you are doing a project it's nice to have the TV on as background noise.


 


      I simply love the way it turned out, I am so happy with it. The muted pink and green look great against the pop of gold pattern. Here's a breakdown of my costs:


 

My arm did get a bit of gold treatment as well...
Costs:

Trunk $26

Green Paint $1

Gold Paint Pen $3

Stencil $4________

Total : $34


What's your favorite DIY project?



 


 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weekly Wonderings June 8th


     So I made "Scarlett Letter"s the other week for dinner with a girlfriend. They were delicious! And so simple to make.


A Scarlet letter-

One glass Champagne

One shot Chambord or other raspberry liquor


     Yummy! Even better the Chambord came in these cute jars. Now I just have to figure out something to do with them. Any ideas? Maybe Christmas bulbs? Christmas in July anyone?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Martha Stewart Sunday: Easy Chicken dinner

          On the Martha Stewart website there is a whole slideshow devoted to easy chicken dinners. As a college gal, I think eating chicken is a necessity because of how cheap it is to buy (even better are the frozen kinds, because you can just take out one at a time) and how versatile it is, chicken can be cooked thousands of different ways. Martha just did 101 easy chicken dinners so think of how many more there are out in the World Wide Web. I did not have a lot of time to make dinner, nor a bunch of ingredients on hand so I went with one that looked fairly simple. Chicken, white wine, parsley and flour. Done. Okay also a few other ingredients but you get the point. It turned out delicious, and was easy. The most important thing is to keep a careful eye on the reduction as it reduces fast and once it burns there is no going back! (Not that that has ever happened to me……….)
So I cooked pasta and broccoli and PRESTO meal. 





Anyways, here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 thin chicken cutlets (1 1/2 pounds total)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley or mint (or a combination) (chop before starting chicken, makes your life much easier!)

 

Directions:
  • Place flour in a shallow dish. Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Working in batches, cook chicken until browned, 1 to 3 minutes per side, adding more oil to skillet as needed. Transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil. (Yeah, I just placed flour on a cutting board, worked just as well)

 

  • Pour wine into pan with chicken juices still there and boil until liquid , once it reduces to half then add chicken and turn to coat. Remove pan from heat and swirl in butter and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. 

 




What's your favorite chicken dish?


 

Friday, June 3, 2011

How to: Not decorate a lamp


     Even the Best must fall sometimes. My grandfather once gave the book The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody, and to this day, it is one of my favorite books. It's an amusing way to look at history. Well, I too have finally met my fall. It started out so simple, a lampshade. How hard could that be to decorate? Martha Stewart and Real Simple each had tons of ideas on how to do it. Ombre, tassels, stripes, the ideas were endless. Surely, I could do it. So off I went to target to purchase a lamp. I should have seen it coming then. It took me nearly 30 minutes to decide on one, and then I went back and exchanged it halfway through the rest of my rounds in Target. I think I spent nearly 2 hours there and far too money, but that alas is another story. So here's my lamp:




    First I tried to stamp a pretty design on my lamp. FAIL. It's way to curved and not strong enough to take it.



    So I was spending way too much time on the internet and found this cool pattern. I thought it would look good on the lamp shade. I printed it out then went to Office depot to get Carbon Paper to copy it with. (By the way, never by Carbon Paper from a craft store, it was double the price at Michael's and only gave me one sheet! At Office Depot, I got it for 4 dollars and 25 sheets). Here's my attempt to copy it:







      It was really difficult and I got bored, plus I could not get it to line up correctly since it was curved. It was a HUGE pain to line up and trace. Way too much for the 10 dollars it cost me. So I did what every good DIYer does, painted it and stuck glitter stickers on it!






 

      The stickers believe it or not, were also a huge pain. It is not at all how I imagined it would turn out. Not even close. A total and utter flop. I put it in my room for kicks and giggles, maybe one day I will try again. Until then, I am leaving curved surfaces to the pros. Too be honest, when it's turned on, it's not half bad, I am kind of warming up to its kitschy charm. Oh well. Have you ever tried to do a DIY and have it fail on you?