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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Weekly Wonderings: November 30th, 2011

      The holiday season is almost upon us, which means time to start hunting for gifts. In my love of all things homemade, like food or projects; this year I am embracing the idea of homemade gifts for my friends and professors. (Yes, I give professors  a little holiday gift, normally food of some sort, kindness never hurt anyone’s grades).  Here is what I am thinking of attempting this year:

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1) Peppermint Bark!

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2)Bath Fizzies

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3) Book Plates

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4) Candy Cane Marshmallows

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5) Spiced Nuts (I made these last year and they were a hit!)

 

Extras might have to be made of everything so I can try it! All of these wonderful ideas and photos are from Martha Stewart, I love looking at all the great homemade gift ideas she has! You can find my compellation of gracious gifts here!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Handy House Tip #6: Onions

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Lotti cries, a lot. Well okay, only when cutting onions but still, we eat onions often. I, on the other hand,  wear contacts, so it keeps the onion stuff from making me cry, phew! Anyways, having a crying roommate when trying to make dinner, isn’t always fun so we (okay, Lotti did) for a few ways to solve the problem. Here are our two favorite ways:

1) Place onions in the freezer for about 15 minutes before cutting them.

      - This one works, you just have to remember to do it 15 minutes before you want to cut them, which is always tricky in our house. We tend to have spur of the moment dinner ideas.

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2) Burn a scented candle near you, while you work.

      - We love candles, so it doesn’t even matter if it works that well, but the two things together does tend to help keep tears at bay.

Do you have any tricks when it comings to cutting onions and not crying? Is anyone immune to it like me?

Monday, November 28, 2011

50 Dollar Fix: Buffet Tables

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       So in the midst of planning for our lovely potluck, Lotti and I realized we need somewhere to set all the delicious food, like Hank. We wanted to use our normal dining table for people to sit at and our kitchen is too tiny for doing the buffet there. My first thought was to rent a table, because a 8ft table will normally only cost 6 dollars to rent, which isn’t too bad on the bottom line and normally you get to keep it for three days. I called a party rental store near us but they only had an 8ft by 30 inches, which was way too deep for a buffet. We wanted it to be tall and skinny (about 20 inches wide we estimated), like a traditional buffet. Quandary.  Well, as I was anxiously looking around the apartment for some piece of furniture that could double as a buffet (none found), I stumbled upon some relegated wood, Lily and I had bought two summers ago in the a Home Depot frenzy. Relegated wood, as we refer to it, is wood that is leftover from bigger pieces Home Depot cuts for people. And normally its SUPER CHEAP. It’s great for little projects, like these frames.They were just about the right depth, so now the question was how to make them a table. I went and sat in my living room to ponder while watching Martha Stewart. By the way, love the new layout of the show,  its seems so modern! While there, I saw my bookshelves I built this summer. PRESTO! Idea!

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I could stack two of the crates on top of each other and form a tall structure for the wood to sit on! So now we had one 4ft table figured out, but we wanted a second one, hmmmmm… As I went into our third room (Lotti’s study, my craft room), I saw Lotti’s keyboard. ON A STAND.

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The perfect sized stand to balance another piece of wood. Buffet table born! After craftily covering it with a table cloth, no one was the wiser.

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All and all this buffet table cost me nothing, but I bet if you were to do it on your own it wouldn’t cost you more than 50 either. Most people have some odd furniture that could double as the base of a table so all you really need a piece of wood and just look at the reclaimed wood section at your home improvement store for that! Have you ever had to be ingenious with your furniture to get it to meet your needs?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gracious Gift: Funeral Style

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      I know normally I talk about cute housewarming gifts or the like but I just had to share this gift we received from some lovely people. Days before the service, we received this basket of goodies for the two kids. It was filled (though already eaten when this photo was taken) with candy and movies for each child. A girly movie for Aurora and a boy one for Brandon. Books for them to play with, and games for them to play by themselves with were in the box. It was the most thoughtful gift we received, yes the food was nice but this gift kept the kids entertained for hours which was so much better! I will definitely be using this idea for future.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

So what am I thankful for in 2011…

I am thankful for many things in 2011, so excuse the pictures of people you don’t know but people I love dearly. This is my family, and I love them more than anything in the world, this year has been tough on us but I know we will survive. I am missing pictures of my two uncles but I love them just as much, we are such a tight knit group.

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Clockwise from Left: A, Dad, Austin, B, Mimi, ME, Gramps, Mom

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A & B on the first day of school! Don’t they look so happy? Look at B’s handcuffs (Don’t worry we took them away before school)

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My boyfriend: This is the look he gives me pretty much all the time, I may take too many random photos without giving him notice….

I am also so thankful for the love and support of my friends this year (and yes, even those in the blogosphere), I always know there are people around me to turn to a support. I would post photos, but I don’t want to bore you guys with too many photos!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Easy Entertaining: Thanksgiving Potluck

So instead of 5 things inspiring me this week, I thought instead I would show you guys some pictures from my potluck, the one were Hank was served.

Here’s what the space looked like-

Bar Cart: Best idea ever, Lotti luckily had a tea cart from her grandmother, so we just put all the glasses on the bottom and the drinks up top. I had been seeing the idea all over in design/ party ideas and I can see now what all the hype is about. We even served this strawberry-mint water which was a hit! The drink pictured was a hot apple cinnamon cider made by Lotti’s bf. Once I figure out his secret recipe, I will let you know because it is delicious! Another great drink idea would be this Italian soda idea and would look cute on a bar cart.

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Buffet: Look later in the week for how we put it together, we had labels for the food to say who brought what food. This way people knew who to thank. Hank, of course, was the centerpiece. We had napkins, silverware in mason jars and plates stacked on a table next to it for easy buffet access.

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Decorations:  So we wanted to change things up a little for the party, but we didn’t want to spend a ton of money (Okay, like any, we are on a college budget here). Thank goodness for free printables. Just print on your computer and cut away! And it came with so many different things, we were able to keep it consistent throughout the party d├ęcor! The Thankful Tree was definitely a party favorite as well.

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Pretty cute, huh?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful Tree

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       So if you already have a recipe for Turkey or aren’t in charge of it (lucky devils), and are looking for some way to contribute to the Thanksgiving I highly suggest a “thankful tree”. All you need is come construction paper! And in my case, a very crafty friend who can cut out a tree! 

       We had all the leaves cut out before the potluck and while everyone was waiting for more people to show up, we had them write what they were thankful for on the leaves then tape them up! As you can see, they were quite cute. But expect the boys not want to participate, and I think only half of those here actually ended up writing something as we got distracted with food. I loved this activity and can’t wait to do it with my family this Thursday. I think it makes a great idea for a family tradition. You could even do them smaller and keep them each year, to show how your family’s love grows each year!

Here are some close picture, clearly we weren’t that serious! But it was fun nonetheless!

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     Does your family have any Thanksgiving traditions? I would love some more to add!

Monday, November 21, 2011

How to: Roast a Turkey

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      So I would consider the Potluck a raging success, except for one minor detail. Lotti and I prepared for that turkey so much. We read recipes, we read more recipes, and we searched for tips on how to make him (Yes, it was a him and we named him “Hank” for Hank’s giving (and yes we did steal it from New Girl). That morning, we took him out of the fridge, we defrosted him some more in cold water, we cut up all our stuffing ingredients, we preheated the oven. I basted him every 15 minutes. He was on the table ready to be eaten and we realized we had NO CLUE how to carve a turkey. We forgot that minor detail. Luckily, one guy at the potluck did know, we tried to discreetly get him to carve it so no one would notice but much to our chargin everyone did and it became the joke of the evening. Oh well. In other news, Lotti’s mom came over and tried our turkey, she said it was the BEST turkey she has ever had and was moist! So you know this recipe is going to be good!

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Ingredients:

12 lb Turkey ( You need to by this THREE days beforehand so it can defrost in your fridge, and even then it might not be enough)

1 Stuffing mix (we like cornbread kind)

1 1/2 cups Celery

1 1/2 cups Carrots

1 bag of small Yellow Onions

1 stick of Butter

1 1/2 cups Vegetable broth

Salt and Pepper

Lemon Pepper seasoning

Poultry Bouquet of Herbs (Rosemary, Marjoram, Sage, Thyme about 5 sprigs of each)

Read the instructions!Me REreading the instructions!

Directions:

1) Chop all vegetables into pieces, just roughly chopped into large bite size pieces. Set 1 cup of onions aside, place the rest of the onions in the bottom of your roasting pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2) Take turkey out of its wrapper seems easy but this is actually kind of an acquired skill, our turkey had his legs in the plastic clamp thingy that took us 10 minutes to undo, so keep that in mind when planning prep time.  You have to remove things from the neck and the bottom cavities. It can be a bit gross.

3) Place your turkey on the onions to let it rest.  In  a large pot on medium heat, place 4 tablespoons of butter and add the vegetables. You just want to soften them for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add stuffing mix and vegetable both. Mix thoroughly.

4) Stuff half of the poultry herbs in the cavity, then place the stuffing in it. Leave room for the stuffing to expand while cooking. Place the rest of the stuffing in an oven safe dish.

5) Use cotton twine and tie the legs together. Then take the remaining butter and rub all over the turkey. ALL OVER. It will be quite intimate but that is okay. It will be worth it. Next lightly salt, and pepper the bird. Then sprinkle the lemon pepper all over the bird.

6) Place the turkey in the oven for ONE HOUR. LEAVE IT ALONE. Do not open the oven, to look at it.  It will be fine.

7) Now for the next 1.5-2 hours, baste it everywhere every 15 minutes. EVERYWHERE. Do not skimp. I set a timer and then made a tick mark every time I basted the turkey. You want to roast it till the inside temperature is 165 degrees. Make sure your meat thermometer is NOT touching the bone. I like to slide it in parallel to the leg in the meaty part.

8) Once it has reached 165, let it rest for 30 minutes before carving the bird. Wish I could help you with carving part but I am still unsure. Maybe next year.

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So do you have any funny Thanksgiving stories? How was your first turkey?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Service Details

        I know I already spoke about the flowers, but here are some touches we made to make the event a little more about Austin rather than his death. I think that during these hard times it is so much more important to focus on the good times. Anything you can do to make it less about about death and more about the person is for the best. Plus it makes everyone else a bit more comfortable too.  Again, I partly writing this for other people’s benefit, and partly just my own, I hope you can see the silver lining in this as well.

      For instance, we asked everyone to wear red since it was his favorite color. It was so nice to look out see a sea of 500 people in red. It was a moment that truly made us feel loved and supported.

     Also, we had beautiful programs and buttons made up. To carry with the red and 5 theme, we had a button made that said his name, the number 5 in the middle and the dates. My two little siblings handed them out before the service. They were so happy to do something to contribute and I assure, everyone got one pinned to them, whether they wanted one or not. It was quite funny to see the two little kids all business as they went about distributing the things. 

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Handy House Tip # 5 : Dry-cleaning

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       For some reason I have a percipiency to buy clothing that can only be dry-cleaned. I feel like every time I go to the dry cleaners, I end spending way more than I thought to get a few things lightly cleaned. I am not a mud-wrestler, my clothes just need a little freshening not some deep clean. Enter Dryel into my life! Goodbye large drycleaning bills and hello Dryel. This stuff is great, and it comes with a great stain remover pen. The funny thing is I originally bought it for the stain removing pen, I volunteered at an upscale charity clothing boutique and all the women there raved about it. Nothing else would dare touch their St. Johns suits. So I bought it and then I realized the magic of the dry cleaning kit that came with it! Seriously, you can dry clean 4 items for $2.25. Where else can you get  a deal like that? And all you need is a dryer and this kit!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Weekly Wonderings: November 16th, 2011

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So excuse my normal weekly post of inspirational items as I frantically try to get ready for our potluck this weekend! Since it’s Lotti and I hosting it, we wrote down our Party “Game” Plan. This way, we both knew EXACTLY what we needed to get done and by when. We agreed on what needed to be cleaned, and when it needs to be done by. This way, we can both do things even if the other one isn’t home. Plus it gives peace of mind to know exactly what you have to do before the party. Don’t worry, it will be back to normal next week, plus I’ve already done Thursday’s and Friday’s posts and they are ready to go!

Also, my bedroom is getting closer to being finished. Yay, just 2 years after starting, hahaha… Get ready for pictures next week!

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In other news, look at this ADORABLE basket of goodies my mother sent me! I had forgotten some medication at home and she couldn’t justify sending up just that, so she made me a basket of goodies for my potluck on Saturday. Yay!

It has : a table cloth, thanksgiving plates and napkins, a turkey and leaf cookie cutter, Taste of home, a mini frying pan for an egg (I don’t understand but I LOVE IT),  cupcake tins and leaves for decorations! Plus the cute basket!

Yet another reason why I love my mother! (And my father!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

50 Dollar Fix: Bedside tables

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       If you haven’t noticed by now, I love tables and shelves. I love anything that gives me more room to put stuff because as my roommate has so kindly informed me, I kind of have a lot of stuff. A lot. More than normal. My bedroom is kind of small and I already had put in a number of dressers (three to be exact) to hold my stuff, so the bed would only fit against this one wall. Which is totally fine but leaves very little room for a bedside table.
Problem: I wear glasses and need somewhere to set them at night. I had to have somewhere to put them but I did not have more than 12 inches on either side.
     I thought a bit and came up with a great idea: Sconces! I was wondering through Home Goods one day and found the perfect pair! They were about $12 dollars each, which totally works my budget (or lack there of).
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     They can hold a glass where I put my important stuff: pens, highlighters, glasses and pepper spray (my mother insisted, there are three of them in my apartment) PLUS hold a book! I tend to read for school in bed, so I needed somewhere for that stuff!
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And they are quite sparkly too, which I love.  Have you ever had to get creative with bedside tables? Or do you just forgo that and stick your stuff other places?