11.30.2010

Sustainable Style: Coffee Sleeves by Aimee Bee


Afternoon my friends! Apologies for the late post today. We just arrived back in sunny California after a great week in St. Louis visiting family and friends, and we had so much fun last night I neglected my blogging duties, yet again. (It's been a patchy week, but thanks for sticking with me!).

Today I'm super excited to share with you a lovely lady I know from my college days, and whose blog I've been following for a couple months now. Her name is Aimee, and she's constantly creating cute crafts (yeah alliteration...) and sharing them with her readers. She's even started a special Crafting for Christmas section with loads of homemade ideas for friends and family.

Her latest project is a coffee sleeve made from repurposed coffee bean bags, and it's got that I-make-style-look-effortless kind of vibe to it. Super simple, but a great way to give a second wind and pay tribute to something that keeps coffee — so near and dear to many — safe and sound.




Click here to check out her step-by-step tutorial, and nose around while you're there. I'm sure you'll find many more projects to add to your own list!

{Image courtesy of Aimee Bee}

11.29.2010

Pyrex Patterns: Spring Blossom Green or Crazy Daisy?

Anyone who has ventured into the world of vintage resale is familiar with the popularity of Pyrex and Corelle kitchenware. People are scooping up the old patterns left and right, building their own sets, so I always keep my eyes peeled for pieces at thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales. But there are SO many patterns, and some that are really similar to each other, that I can hardly keep them straight.

This, of course, gave light to an idea for a new Monday series: Name That Pattern! I am the first to confess that since the close of this season's "Mad Men," I've been struggling to come up with new and interesting mid-century posts, however I will of course keep them going whenever something of interest comes up!

Today we're going to go over the argument of Spring Blossom Green and Crazy Daisy, a Pyrex and Corelle pattern, respectively, that may both be Spring Blossom Green. A lot of people use these names interchangeably, but some claim that they're two different patterns.

I came across a website called The Pyrex Files that was discussing this very dilemma, and overall the writer feels that they are both the Spring Blossom pattern, it was just tweaked a bit when Pyrex made the Corelle version. A lot of this is based on the fact that she has yet to see an original box with the pattern name of "Crazy Daisy," but she does go ahead and list the differences:

1. The green in old the Spring Blossom Green pattern is more...green, while the newer pattern (which is apparently called Crazy Daisy) has more of an olive tone to it.

2.  The size of the flowers and leaves in the Spring Blossom Green pattern is smaller than those in the Crazy Daisy pattern.

The old pattern (Spring Blossom Green)

The new pattern (Crazy Daisy, or a redesigned Spring Blossom Green)

3. The leaves are different. In Spring Blossom Green, they're a three-leaf cluster; in Crazy Daisy, the leaves are fan-shaped.

Old pattern (Spring Blossom Green)

New pattern (Crazy Daisy or redesigned Spring Blossom Green)

4. When it comes to the casserole dishes, the Spring Blossom Green pattern is always white and outlined leaves on a green background (with different shades of green), and they came with clear glass lids (see photo above). In Crazy Daisy, some are white and outlined flowers on green, and some are green and outlined flowers and outlined leaves on white. These dishes came with clear glass lids (see photo above) or a lid boasting the same pattern as the dish (see photo below).



What do you think? The same pattern, redesigned, or two different patterns? I vote redesign, but I'm open, especially if you have that ever-illusive box that says "Crazy Daisy." :)


{Images courtesy of The Pyrex Files}

11.25.2010

Thanksgiving Break


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

 ~Ralph Waldo Emerson 


{Image courtesy of Woman's Day}

11.23.2010

Bites: Last-Minute Fuss-Free Pumpkin Pie


As you read this, I am probably somewhere in Oklahoma. I'm probably a bit cranky from lack of sleep. My legs might be a bit cramped from sitting for so long. And my hair is most certainly crazy. Ah, the joys of driving halfway across the country!

Seeing how I'm in no state to be giving you a lecture on style (perhaps I should have done one on how to find your road trip style?! Dang it...maybe next time), I'm going to give you last-minute pumpkin pie makers an easy out that still has delicious results.

The hubs and I have already made this pie about four times in an effort to use all our homemade pumpkin puree, so I can attest to its ease. And the taste isn't compromised at all from cutting a couple corners. Plop some whipped cream on top and everyone at your Thanksgiving feast will be hoisting you on their shoulders as the pumpkin pie queen (or king)!


Perfect Pumpkin Pie
{by Eagle Brand via All Recipes}

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14 ounce) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust (I bought the deep dish one in the freezer section)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes. 

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator. 

Bada-bing, bada-boom. You're done!

Sustainable Style: Aprons

One of the most vivid memories I have of Thanksgiving growing up is...aprons. Not turkey, gravy, stuffing or passing out in a food coma on the couch, but aprons. You see, both sides of my family love to cook, so holiday meals were always quite the production. Great aunts running to and fro in the kitchen, my grandmas by their sides, my mom somewhere in the mix, and me munching on food before it was ready. And almost everyone wore an apron of some sort, even if it was just tucking a dish towel into your waistband.

Reliving these memories made me curious: What kind of eco-friendly aprons are out there on the market? A lot, actually, but I've pared it down to one representative of three categories: aprons repurposed from old fabric; aprons made from organic cotton; and good ol' vintage aprons (because resale is a great way to keep the waste down!).

Callie Micks Apron Collection

{Made from recycled fabric}





City Chic Country Mouse Aprons
{Made from 100% organic fabric}





Vintage Fancy Aprons
{aprons that are actually old!}





These are just a small sampling, but enough to know that there are beautiful (and sustainable) options for aprons that don't cost you in style!

11.22.2010

Mid-Century Monday: Cooking Tips From the 1940s

Today the hubs and I will be packing up the car, and by 5:30 a.m. tomorrow morning we'll be heading to my hometown of St. Louis for Thanksgiving. That means today is a busy, busy day, but I certainly can't leave you without a little mid-century inspiration for those of you who will be prepping and cooking all week for Thursday's feast!

I found this hilarious (only because it's ridiculously sexist) video via Bon Appetit of poor Marjorie, a 1940s newlywed trying her inexperienced hand at cooking for her new husband, Tim. It was produced by the University of Kansas to help "demystify" cooking terms, and I don't know about you, but I'm SO glad they helped me understand what it means to "stir" something. :)

11.20.2010

Whimsical Weekend: Kitchen by Errez Design

This week I fell head over heels for this kitchen makeover by Errez Design via the Desire to Inspire blog. I've always wanted a little nook with benches, and the quilt pattern on the walls is so colorful & whimsical I couldn't help sharing it with you! Hope it bring some whimsy to your weekend!




{Images courtesy of Errez Design via Desire to Inspire}

11.18.2010

It's Friday. I'm in Love. {With Wreaths}


{Images: 1. Retro Paper Straw Wreath via Dow; 2. Gold and Cream Rosette Wreath by Handmade Collectibles on Etsy; 3. Pinup Wreath from Martha Stewart & Leaf Punched Wreath from Avie Designs via Creature Comforts; 4. Autumn Fabric Wreath by Elise Blaha via A Beautiful Mess; 5. Ruffly Felt Rosette Wreath by Domestifluff; 6. Green wreath by Frolic via The Mudroom.}

DIY Thanksgiving Round-Up

Well, here we are only one week away from THE day of eating delicious food, watching tons of football, and giving thanks for the amazing friendships and family that we have in our lives. If you're like me, you've been dragging your feet with Thanksgiving decorations (wasn't it JUST Halloween not long ago?), so I thought for today's Thrifty Thursday post I'd scrape together some amazing DIY ideas. 

Fall Felt Leaves
{via Made}




As you can see, they're great for hanging, scattering on a table, on putting on sticks for a festive bouquet! Click here for the tutorial. 

{Images courtesy of Made}



Printable Thanksgiving Paper Chain
{via Silverbox Creative Studio}


Here you print out strips onto some craft paper, and each one has space for you and your family and/or guests to write down what you're thankful for. Great idea! Click here to get to the site, where you can download the design. 

{Images courtesy of Silverbox Creative Studio}


Leaf Placecard 
{via Sunset}


This is a great idea that I've seen done on various blogs with many kinds of leaves. Just collect what you can in your yard (or your neighbor's!) and write guests' names with a metallic paint pen. 

{Image courtesy of Sunset}


Lettered Bottles With Wheat
{via Thrive}



I really, really love this idea, because it's so inexpensive to do! The bottles are former drinks with the labels peeled off, then stencil the letters on the there with a paint pen, and fill with bunches of wheat (which cost practically nothing at grocery stores, or free if you happen to live in the country!). Click here for the tutorial. 

{Images courtesy of Thrive}


Interactive Table Setting
{via Country Living}


Now, most people will say this is a great idea for the kids' table (and it is), but as someone who loves to scribble random drawings, I would love to sit at a table like this for Thanksgiving. All you need is some brown craft paper, cups to hold colored pencils (and pears if decoration), and then draw squares around the plates to create a "placemat" (I think that's my favorite thing about this idea). Then when all is said and done, you can just crumple up the paper and put it in recycling. 

{Image courtesy of Country Living}


Gold Pumpkin Placecards
{via Martha Stewart}



This is also a great and inexpensive idea, especially if you still have some mini pumpkins left over from Halloween. Just paint them gold and tie a hand-written card around the stem to help guests find their seat. Oh Martha, always so thrifty. Click here to check out her tutorial. 

{Image courtesy of Martha Stewart Living}

Hopefully this has got your creative juices flowing! Thanksgiving is such a great holiday for decorations because you can use so much nature in it, making it super thrifty. Even grabbing some fallen branches of colorful leaves and sticking them in a vase is better than nothing!

11.17.2010

Bites: Homemade Falafel + Pita Bread


Happy Hump Day afternoon! I confess I let the blog slip out of my mind today. There's a lot going on around here, so unfortunately there won't be a What's in Your Closet? post (I'm sure you can find something to do in one of the older posts though!). Instead, you can feast your little eyes on this amazing meal the hubs and I cooked up last week: homemade falafel and homemade pita bread.

As we plan our weekly meals, we've been trying to make things ourselves that we usually buy to see if it's more cost-effective (plus it's fun to make things from scratch!). Pita bread has been on our list for some time, and what better to put on it than fresh veggies and falafel?

Everything turned out really good, so of course I want to pass the recipes along. Let me know if you give it a try! I'd love to hear how yours turned out.


Pita Bread Recipe {via The Fresh Loaf}

Makes 8 pitas

3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 packet yeast (or, if from bulk, 2 teaspoons yeast)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, roughly at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil, vegetable oil, butter, or shortening

If you are using active dry yeast, follow the instructions on the packet to active it (see the note on yeast above). Otherwise, mix the yeast in with the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the olive oil and 1 1/4 cup water and stir together with a wooden spoon. All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water (I had to add an extra 1/4 cup).

Once all of the ingredients form a ball, place the ball on a work surface, such as a cutting board, and knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes (or until your hands get tired). If you are using an electric mixer, mix it at low speed for 10 minutes.

(The purpose of kneading is to thoroughly combine the ingredients and to break down the flour so that the dough will become stretchy and elastic and rise well in the oven. A simple hand kneading technique is to firmly press down on the dough with the palm of your hand, fold the dough in half toward you like you are closing an envelope, rotate the dough 90 degrees and then repeat these steps, but whatever technique you are comfortable using should work.)

When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. I use canola spray oil, but you can also just pour a teaspoon of oil into the bowl and rub it around with your fingers. Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the ball of dough around in the bowl so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it'll be easier to shape.



While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.

After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.





If you have a spray bottle in the kitchen, spray a light mist of water onto your baking surface and close the oven for 30 seconds. Supposedly this step reduces the blistering on the outside of your pitas. I've skipped it many times in the past and still been pleased with my breads, so if you don't have a bottle handy it isn't a big deal.

Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes. If you want your pitas to be crispy and brown you can bake them for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, but it isn't necessary.





Sean's Falafel Recipe {via All Recipes}
Makes 4 servings

1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 egg
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash of pepper 
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
Oil for frying

In a small bowl combine egg, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice and baking powder. Stir into chickpea mixture along with olive oil. Slowly add bread crumbs until mixture is not sticky but will hold together; add more or less bread crumbs, as needed. Form 8 balls and then flatten into patties. 

Heat 1 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry patties in hot oil until brown on both sides.





We ate ours with grape tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and hummus. Usually there's a delish cucumber yogurt sauce, too (check Sean's recipe for that).

Hungry yet? :)

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