Sunday, November 24, 2013

matching flasks: birthday gifts for him & her

There's a couple that Eric and I absolutely adore.  We consider them our very close friends.  We can all hang out together and have a blast, or I can hang out the Danny by myself and laugh my butt off, so can Eric and Jen.  How often can you find those type of friends who you can go on double dates too?!  

If you haven't heard of the Hydro Flask, well, well....  If you like your drinks ALWAYS cold, or like your hot drinks to stay hot, then this is the perfect answer!!  Put some ice in this baby and you'll find the ice still there in 24 hours!!  No joke!  Comes in all kinds of sizes and colors, which makes it a really great gift!!

Danny and Jen's birthday happen to be very close, so they always have a joint birthday.  I decided to get them semi-matching Flasks.  Jen is into Bikram Yoga nowadays.  If you know Bikram (hot yoga), your water canister doesn't stand a chance after an hour and a half.  And Danny always mentions how he wishes he had a flask.  Found great reviews on a flask on amazon that didn't have a metallic taste and it had a small spot for engraved initials.   (did it at an engraving shop locally)

I also found some really cute shot glasses made out of the travel-size alcohol bottles that was a perfect gift for Danny, who loves to host parties at his house.

Just thought it was a really cute gift for a couple and I know they loved it just as much.  Happy birthday Danny and Jen!

cheap and easy [temporary] privacy window covering

Who would have knew how many uses there were for GLAD Press'n Seal??  I've never actually purchased or used this before, but decided to copy a neighbor and use it as a temporary privacy window covering.  We ordered shutters and lucky for us, our order lands over two major holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) which gets our installation date in early January.  We've got windows EVERYWHERE in our new house and our next door neighbor can see into our living room window, as can the neighbors from the street...

Our shutter company, unfortunately, didn't give us those temporary accordion shades, but some plastic that purely acts as a privacy covering- it prevents people from seeing through however doesn't do much with regards to blocking the sun from shining in.  They only provided them for the bathrooms and master bedrooms [boo].  So much for the other 16 windows in the house...

In comes Press'n Seal!  It's sticky on one side and it easily sticks to the window, making it 'look' etched.  It still lets some light come through and peels off without any sticky residue.  Here's the before and after of the window in our entryway.

And here's the before and after of our door leading to the balcony in the front of the house.  Because the door was so long, I did use painters tape to secure the top and bottom of each, along with the center, just in case it peels off over a month duration.  (I should have cleaned the windows BEFORE I covered them, but I was lazy...)

I'd say that this was the perfect temporary solution to give us the privacy we need.  It covered 3 windows of varying size (the one in the photo being the smallest) and the door- all for under $4!!!!  I feel pretty darn accomplished.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

bridal shower gift: wine glasses and a wine basket

Soooo, I'm in that age range that falls in the wedding, new baby, new house, new life category...  In comes the bachelorette parties, bridal showers and baby showers.  Seeing that I'm a massive commit-a-phobe, the thought of weddings and babies give me anxiety...  so it's just the perfect place to make me uncomfortable and antsy- happy happy happy [insert sarcasm]...

BUT that doesn't mean that I'm not a good gift-giver and an even better gift presenter!  I happen to love all things paper and given enough time to plan and prepare, love to make things pretty!

I've known about Judy's bachelorette weekend for some time now.  She has a great wedding registry selection and of course my eyes went straight to the Riedel Pinot Nior Wine Glasses.  Ohhh so many fun things I could do with this as a gift!   I recruited two other girls to pitch in for this gift because I wanted to make it super special.  Judy is the most wonderful person; someone I've grown up with, went through elementary, high school and our first year of college together.  Her friendship is priceless.

So I put together a gift basket that will pair perfectly with her wine glasses: a bottle of Pinot Nior, Vinturi Red Wine Aerator, Trader Joe's Organic Chocolate Bars, and a fun and funky wine marker set that looks like chewed up gum!  Placed it in a basket I found at Home Goods and wrapped it in cellophane and tied it with a butcher string that I braided.  I made an easy love bird quilled card (photo above).

The thing about Judy is that she is very green, earthly and eco-friendly.  So I knew that she would appreciate gift wrap that had a green-feel to it; hence the brown color theme.  (which will look out of place in the sea of wedding gift wrap-but whatevs!)

I think she'll appreciate the thought put into her gift and how pretty it looks.  I couldn't be happier for her and can't wait for her to tie the knot!  Congratulations Judy & Sam!

Judy and I (and Sam that I'm holding) at the Happiest Place on Earth, celebrating her big day! LOVE YOU!

Friday, March 29, 2013

solar lights -re-purposed-

Last summer we gave our tiny back yard a makeover and I went on a mad hunt looking for solar lights.  The big box retailers had some mediocre looking ones with a price that made me cringe and the 'cheap' $5 ones looked, well, cheap...  One day I wondered into the Target clearance area and low and behold, I find end of summer clearance solar lights that had a super contemporary look, $2.50 each!  I bought a bunch and ran home with excitement! 

The extra solar lights sat on the side of the house until today when I was looking at my last DIY project with dismay...  It was supposed to be a wine bottle lamp, with a little glass votive hanging inside the wine bottle...  It took 30 minutes to drill a hole into the votive and I still had to do the other side, not to mention make 6 of them... I got bored and that project went to the unfinished cemetery (aka the garage under a pile of other unfinished projects).

I realized that the long stainless steel body, under the solar light/glass was hollow so I knew I could drill a hole into it.  I drilled on the side that had remenints of the price sticker (because that would be the back side) and I was too lazy to walk 15 feet to get the goo-gone and wipe it off. 

 Then I used a washer and bolt on the inside and outside of the body to secure my threaded (3/8") rod.  I also found a plastic tubing that fit perfectly over my threaded rod; aesthetically I thought it would look prettier not seeing the threading.


The bottom of the solar lights had a cap with a hole in it to accommodate the steak.  I'm paranoid about black widows and bugs in general so I thought I'd plug that entry point.  In my mind, I picture a bug motel in each light tower.


So I got a plastic cover that was sitting in my recycle bin, traced the cap and made a little seal to close up the hole.


I was worried about the solar light being top-heavy so I gathered some rocks from the front yard and filled it up!


And VIOLA! I now have some cool accents to my bamboo fence, it lights up the yard, it looks pretty and I absolutely LOVE that it's solar!

And just because I'm fascinated with hummingbirds, here's our little friend who comes to visit us throughout the day. 

And here's an evening shot of my solar lights re-purposed and fully functional!

I'd call it a successful day today!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

our back yard project

We've always wanted to have a small house party, but felt overwhelmed with just 5 people in the living room.  In comes MY back yard project because I was tired of dust blowing into the house and staring at that ugly cinder block wall...not to mention that project that the previous owners started and never finished (see lower right hand corner of photo below).  Eric took ownership of wanting to decorate and 'spruce up' our living room, making it feel really homey and welcoming.  So MY project was the yard and my vision to make it less drab.  Our yard is teeny-tiny and fits right in with our 3 bedroom, 1200 sq. ft. house.  

Our friend had a landscaper do their back yard and he came highly recommended, so we went with them without question.  I wanted pavers, artificial grass and two trees/plants.  The landscaper recommended plants that crawl on the wall in effort to sooth my Issue with the cinder blocks...  I wasn't satisfied...  So I hunted and surfed the web for a week straight looking for some sort of solution...  The cheap option was to buy pre-made wooden fence sections from our local hardware store.  Then I found Cali Bamboo- my savior, the answer to my Issue and the most beautiful solution that made my heart happy! 

Cali Bamboo advertised that you could DIY or we could pay the contractor $250 to put up 4 sections of bamboo...  We opted DIY!  (I must mention that Cali Bamboo+ my landscaper was GREAT to work with and I recommend them!)

So I stained and treated one side of the bamboo (this will be the back) and also stained the treated 2"x4"s.  Then we mounted 2"x4"s to the wall with concrete self taping screws- this was the hardest part...

I had to order the 8'x8' bamboo sections because our wall was over 6' tall ...I've been wanting a circular saw since forever and this was the perfect 'excuse'!! So I cut the bamboo to our desired height.

Then section by section, we put the bamboo up! (this is 2 sections of bamboo)

...It wasn't easy, but it was worth every drop of sweat!  Our back yard is now an extension to our house, it really creates another 'room' or area to hang out!  Not to mention that it creates a little more privacy from our neighbors.

The boys absolutely LOVE the yard and they actually beg to go outside! (It's artificial grass because we live in a desert)

Here's the before and after panoramic shot:
It was a great experience and honestly came out just as I had envisioned it!  It has exceeded our expectations and we can happily say that we had 14 guests over and they were very comfortable spread out throughout the house!  xoxo!!

p.s. in retrospect, paying the extra $250 for a contractor to do it for us may have been worth it.... but the fact that Eric and I did this project together makes us love our home That much more!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

fun and funky artwork (diy!)

My guest bedroom and craft room/office needs a little inspiration, these bare walls are making me anxious!!  It stares and me and shouts "I want art, crafty projects, photos and frames!"  ... In comes Pinterest and all the awesomeness that pinners and diy-ers are creating.  I saw this pin that Better Homes and Gardens posted about DIY wall art and I couldn't wait for the next day to come so I could go out and buy my supplies!!

Michael's had a coupon for 40% off canvas- CHECK!
I headed to the Hancock Fabrics and the Sale section and found this cool tie-dye, silky fabric- PERFECT!
Then off to my FAV, Home Depot to get a staple gun and some staples- DONE!

This is the fabric I found and steamed so the creases would come out.

Cut the fabric about 3 inches longer than the canvas.

This is the section of the fabric that I wanted to showcase.

I don't have any handy tools, like those giant clips, so I tugged and pulled the fabric with all limbs to make it taut! retrospect, I probably should have purchased a few of them at Home Depot!

I folded the excess fabric under then stapled the edges.  The folding isn't necessary, but I was afraid the silky fabric would snag or rip.  (I don't think it would require as much staples if you were using cotton fabric)  Just remember to pull the fabric each time you staple to ensure it will be tight across the canvas!

Once all the sides were stapled, I gathered the fabric corners that were lose and stapled it down.  If you didn't fold the edges and had excess fabric on all sides, cut if off near the wood frame- remember no one sees the back, so it doesn't really matter how messy it looks back there!

Here's the finished product!!

  • 2 yards of fabric originally $12.99/yd, discounted 50% because it was in the scraps section! (I got extra yardage so I could choose the area of the fabric I wanted, you don't need that much if you have a small canvas)
  • Staple Gun $19.99 and staples $3.39
  • 7 pack of 12x12 canvas originally $19.99 and my 40% off coupon made it cheaper!!

What an inexpensive and fun project!!  It took an hour and a half from start to finish!  I LOVE projects with a quick turn-around!!

Go make some wall art!!  It's SO rewarding!!  xoxo

Thursday, August 2, 2012

mushroom risotto

Ahh Risotto... The ever scary, don't think about attempting it, super difficult- RISOTTO...  The only reason as to why the stigma of risotto is so ingrained in my brain is because of Chef Gordon Ramsey's show: Hell's Kitchen.  "You can't make a @#*$% Risotto?? You Donkey!"

I stumbled across a recipe on  with 1,149 reviews and 5 stars.. WHOA this must be A-mazing! Thank you Myleen for this Gourmet Mushroom Risotto recipe!!  So I scan the ingredients- simple -and I have most of them in my kitchen already... White wine- YUM; that's an added plus because I can drink it!!

...Nervous... Still... I read the reviews of the first 30 people just to see if they have tips or tricks and I pick up a few!  I also saw a video explaining how to make it, which greatly helped me visualize my success (haha).
And a success it was!!  Level of difficulty: intermediate in my opinion.  It's just high maintenance during cooking, you honestly can't walk away from the stove for 20 minutes with continuous stirring.  But bakers know that 20 minutes of constant stirring is easy-peasy... it's the cooks that complain about that!!

I followed the ingredients and instructions to the "T" with the addition garlic.  See my helpful tips below as well!


6 cups chicken broth, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 pound white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 shallots, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.
  • Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.
  • Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the shallots and garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter, chives, and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cody's Tips
  • I thinly sliced my mushrooms for a dainty, accent the rice texture kinda-deal.  (I love mushrooms so I added all of it!)
  • Make sure the heat for your RICE is medium low or your cooking time will double!!
  • Make sure your chicken broth is simmering/boiling when adding it to the rice or your cooking time will double!
  • You know the rice is done when it's soft on the outside and al dente in the center
  • Every risotto is different, you may need more/less liquid: wine/broth each time you make it
  • The reason for the constant stirring is because you don't want the rice to get stuck on the bottom of the pan AND you want the broth evenly distributed in the rice
  • It tastes just as great the next day!!

It's a hard dish because you can't taste it in between steps to know you're on the right track... You have to wait until you're DONE before you can actually taste it!  TRUST ME, it is SO worth it!!  It was rich, but not a two-bite and you're done, rich.  It was fulfilling, but not "oh I over-ate and my stomach is going to burst" filling.   To be very honest (and I hate to toot my own horn) but it was seriously restaurant quality good!!

This is definitely a dish I'm making when we have company.  And there are so many variations, asparagus and sun dried tomatoes.. chicken and mushrooms... scallops and truffle oil... NOM NOM!!

The stigma has gone away and trust me when I say, it's risotto night at least every other week!!