Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Making of a Gallery Wall (Again), Part I

I am a big fan of gallery walls, especially ones that feature a variety of colors, textures and shapes. Since the gallery wall I was planning in my room never worked out, the next best place seemed to be our living room. For months now, my roommate and I have slowly but surely been adding (and sometimes taking away) to the wall behind our couch in hopes that one of these days, we will have a completed gallery wall.

I think we're almost there - we only have a few open spots! Throughout the process, we have often found ourselves with nothing to frame or hang, so we've taken to some creative alternatives. Here's a current list of what lives on our wall with some photos below. Once everything is up, I'll share more photos of the finished wall...but it could be a few more weeks at this rate.

Cardboard deer, spray painted a sort of metallic shimmer (smaller version can be found here - our's is quite large gigantic)
Elvis silhouette made by yours truly (in case you haven't heard, my roommate is sort of a fan)
Photo of the UGA arch
Dried Farmers' Market flowers in a thrift store frame
Set of 3 metal crosses
Vintage Washington DC postcards I found at an antique store years ago

Framed tile my sister bought on eBay years ago
Gold glitter-dipped feather shadowbox
Papier-mâché fox head
Pencil sketch of my roommate's horse 
in a thrift store frame
Giant mirror from Anthropologie (I can't find the exact one, but here are some more cool ones - I especially like this one)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

BBQ Tofu

Tofu really gets a bad rap. Maybe people think it's too healthy or they're scared that substituting soy for meat every now and then automatically means you're a vegetarian and of course we all know that vegetarians can't possibly be happy or live normal lives (trust me, I have several in my family)But in truth, there are many ways to make tofu just as unhealthy and (almost as) delicious as meat. I mean, Whole Foods has some of the best "chicken fried" tofu I've ever laid tongue on, after all.

I bought a package of tofu recently and divided it into four sections. I wanted to try a new way of cooking as compared to my usual lightly-frying plus spice of sorts method, but I wasn't interested in looking up tips or recipes so the four sections really left room for trial and error. The first batch turned out ok, but the second (and then third and fourth) were bbq-licious and not to mention (ok, I'm mentioning it) really easy to make.

Here's what you'll need:
1 package extra firm tofu
olive oil
chili powder (ka-pow, y'all)
your favorite BBQ sauce

Rinse your tofu and squeeze out the excess tofu juice (yum) and water. Cut into small cubes. Heat an appropriately-sized frying pan with a little olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, place the plain tofu in the oil and allow to sit a few minutes on each side until lightly browned. Sprinkle some chili powder and mix. You want the tofu to get lightly fried here so that it's pretty firm in texture. When you have achieved this, pour a light amount on BBQ sauce over the tofu and stir to mix. Fry for a few more minutes until all the BBQ sauce is soaked into the tofu. Serve over salad, rice or just eat it as is. It also reheats well.

Note: the first method that did not work was putting BBQ sauce on first. You need to fry the tofu first so that it gets firm, otherwise it will be more of a soggy tofu dish.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring Camping

Ryan + Ryan swinging and getting major air...there are so many Ryans

When I was younger, my (then) family of six used to pack up the family van and head to Tallulah Falls to camp for a long weekend. Susie and I were younger, so we'd lay the back seats down and sleep the entire ride. It was a family staple for years, and my parents even named a pet dog after our beloved campgrounds.

During college, Susie vowed to keep the tradition alive and mandated "sister camping weekends" for several years. The last I can remember ended with a tent blown to the ground by some mighty winds, a burning chair (tailgate chairs are flammable, y'all!) and some restless pups. Plus I vividly remember sleeping on cold, wet ground because it had poured right before we setup the tent, but Susie was adamant that we were not leaving (older sisters are the bossiest).

This weekend was the first time I went camping without Susie, now that I'm all grown up I suppose. Ryan and I had been talking about going camping for months, and a few friends agreed to take an impromptu trip to Lake Lanier. With a pit stop at Praise the Lard BBQ, we were off!

Though I don't have any camping supplies to my name, I am fortunate enough to have Ryan, who decided to "invest" in some new gear with the promise that I'll go on more trips. And I'll agree to that so long as I get s'mores, hot dogs and some campfire games.

*Anyone in the market for some fishing bait, this is the one pictured above.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

For Love and Bridal Showers, Part II

For those that I left wondering, the gift I was working on just about every night last week was this an apron for my college roommate (and now bride-to-be!), Christine. I was really going for the frilly, girly look of aprons found at Anthropologie, but my limited sewing know-how and even less sewing machine skill really held me back. In another world, this might have a little peplum skirt or some ruffly layers. Le sigh.

Anyway, I love the way the mismatching fabrics look and think they all pull together quite nicely. Like I said before, this was really hard. Maybe it's because I didn't use a pattern, but instead sort of half-traced an apron my sister made for me; or maybe because I didn't measure anything and was therefore worried before Christine tried it on that it would hang strangely or something, but this apron caused some serious anxiety before all was said and done. But in the end, I was so pleased with the finished product, I think I just may make a few more...but maybe in a month or two.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Closet Cleanout

In a somewhat uncharacteristic move last week, I became inspired to de-clutter my closet (with the help of a
certain OCD roommate, of course). Everything (and I mean everything) was pulled out, cleaned out and some things were thrown out. The process took upwards of three hours from start to finish, but finding a home for all the things that normally clog my closet walls has proven helpful. I even found the CD of underwater photos from my Costa Rica trip last year! But they weren't as good as I remembered, so that was a bummer.

Anyway, three cheers for (more) spring cleaning! Up next: the bridal shower handmade item reveal.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chicken Fajita Salad

Salads have become somewhat of a point of contention between my appetite and myself lately. Generally speaking, I'm all about a bed of greens, some fresh, raw veggies, a protein or two and some dressing to top it off. But these days, I seem to be in a salad rut where all my mixings are monotonous and my dressing is dull.

Enter this salad from Iowa Girl Eats. It's loaded with greens, the fajita chicken has a little kick (ok, unless you're a regular spicy-foods-eater, in which case you probably won't notice or be impressed) and the dressing - oh, the dressing. If I could bottle up this cilantro-lime vinaigrette and marinate my soul in its fiesta-worthy goodness...I would, ok? It's that good. And I've made a few homemade dressings in my day, you know.

And did I mention there's avocado? And cilantro? Lots of cilantro. I'm no nutritionist, but I imagine anything with this much green in it probably means good things. I do hope you'll try this recipe and break through the chains of yesterday's salad. And let me know when you do so we can have a salad party. I'll make pom-poms and hats.

Recipe notes: I used spring/spinach mix, upped the avocado, skipped the zucchini/pepper/onion step and substituted a mix of black beans with frozen peppers and onions. I also only measured the cilantro with my eyeballs, which generally results in a substantial increase from what the recipe asks. Let's just say I didn't hate it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

For Love and Bridal Showers

I'd like you all to know I'm working on a DIY project as part of my gift to my college roommate for her bridal shower this weekend (oh hey Christine!), and it's taking everything in me not to throw in the towel (or fabric). I would tell you what it is, but it's a surprise for goodness sake, people.

You see, though I've known about the shower for weeks at this point, it wasn't until Monday that I decided I needed to make this. And with my schedule this week I really don't have time to be fiddling with a sewing machine that I seem to forget how to operate every 200 stitches or so. Nevertheless, I gathered my supplies Monday evening and got to work cutting and pinning and, well, copying and forging and tracing because who needs patterns when you can just trace something you already have?

But anyway, this has been a particularly hard project and I'm remembering just how much I dislike sewing after all. Not to mention I accidentally cut a hole (well, three small holes) in this not too long ago and have to come up with a fix somehow.

When I'm done, I'll most certainly not be posting a tutorial because I feel that's quite offensive to people who actually know what they're doing. Instead, I'll post some lessons learned for those brave enough to pull out their sewing machines and try their hand at this, all in the name of love and bridal showers.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Build Your Own Barrette

I've been wearing my hair pulled back in some manner a lot more frequently as of late, which has begun a personal quest to look for clips and pins and ties anywhere I go to grow my collection. As with many of my projects around here, these barrettes were inspired by something I saw at Anthropologie while perusing the store a few weeks ago. The ones they had for sale were right up my alley, but $18 for three sets was not. And to top it off, I didn't really need two of each one since I only wear one at a time.

Upon closer examination, the barrettes looked super easy to replicate, which of course led me to JoAnn's this weekend where I picked up some choice supplies and then got to work on Sunday afternoon.

What you'll need:
-clips/barrettes of some kind
-plain, flat ribbon
-decorative ribbon
-acrylic paint/paint brush
-hot glue
-needle and thread, optional

Cut the plain ribbon to the size of the barrette and use hot glue to attach it to the barrette. (You could buy a variety of colors of ribbon for this step, but I chose to use white and paint it with some acrylic paint since you hardly use any ribbon and would have a ton leftover.)

From here, you can attach sequins/beads with hot glue, or glue down a piece of the decorative ribbon. You can also sew the sequins and beads onto the ribbon before gluing, but I found gluing to be the most effective and it's a lot quicker.

I did several variations:
-layer multiple colors of sequins + small pearl beads
-plain version with just the gold decorative ribbon
-large, flat beads
-sequin string + line of ombré beads

There are all sort of combinations you can do - and I'm kicking myself for not looking at other "fancy" ribbons as well. Bottom line: these are really easy, and it's more fun to design your own than buy the ones form Anthro in my opinion!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Southwestern-Inspired Sub

My mom has been making a version of this sandwich for years. She calls them "grinders," which sure does show her Yankee roots. These are easy to make, so I thought it'd be fun to try a few different variations, the first being a southwestern-inspired mix.

I'm not totally sure what qualifies something as "southwestern," and actually I'm really banking on the pepperjack, Chipotle dressing and avocado to do that, but I guess technically this could be somewhat of a club sandwich if you really want to get into it, but let's just go with it for now.

You'll need:French/Italian bread
Turkey or your deli meat of choice
Bacon (duh)
Pepperjack cheese (I shredded mine so it would melt faster)
Chipotle salad dressing, optional
And then maybe throw some butter in for good measure

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook the bacon in butter and sauté the onions and peppers together. Full disclosure: I sautéed the peppers and onions in the bacon grease. To be fair, I did pour out most of the leftover grease, but as usual, bacon/bacon fat/bacon grease is always the right answer, especially if it gets your man to eat a vegetable or two.

Slice your bread and spread on some of the chipotle dressing if you're using it. Top with turkey, cooked bacon, onion/pepper mix, avocado slices and pepperjack cheese. Wrap completely in foil and place in heated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the bread is crunchy and the cheese is melty.

I served these with thinly-sliced (well, sort of) Yukon gold potatoes that I cooked on a baking stone until crispy for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees with some olive oil, rosemary and salt.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Painted Leather Colorblocking

I thrifted this purse probably six years ago and only wore it for a short period of time. It sort of smelled like maple syrup when I got it, which is irrelevant, but it's been sitting in my closet for quite some time now. When I saw this bag on Madewell's site recently, the shape really reminded me of my thrift store find and inspired me to pull it out of my closet and start thinking of ideas to update it a little.

After deciding against sewing fabric to the purse (not one of my better ideas), I landed on colorblocking the purse with some gold paint. I wasn't totally sure how this project would turn out considering I didn't use fabric paint (I used this paint that I've used numerous other times on the blog), didn't research any leather-painting tips and didn't really know what I was doing. Luckily, other than a little bump along the way, everything went over rather smoothly.

Tip: maybe skip the taping if you have a steady hand. The leather on my bag is really soft and the painter's tape peeled off a bit of it when removed. I was able to repair most of the damage with Saddle Soap, but it was a bit disconcerting at the time.