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!  ...in 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 allrecipes.com  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!


Ingredients

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

Directions
  • 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!!

healthy shakes for breakfast

We recently purchased a refurbished Vitamix from Vitamix.com.  We chose refurbished because it came with a 7 year warranty and didn't think we needed a quieter version that was worth the additional $300 price tag.  Besides a few finger prints on the stainless steel, it works perfectly!  Eric and I talk about how this purchase is probably our best home purchase yet; we use it EVERYDAY!!

I make a smoothie everyday as a breakfast replacement, which is actually a much healthier, much more filling breakfast than my normal banana or Pop Tart.  Because I don't eat meat, I lack iron therefore bruise very easily; and normally stay for a month or so.  But I've noticed after 2 months of smoothies, my bruises only stay for about two weeks!!!  I have to thank spinach and kale for their health benefits!

Additionally, I hate the texture of yogurt but I force myself to eat it because of the active cultures that are good for you...  And into my smoothie it goes, no more texture or force-feeding issues!!

I noticed that it takes me about 10 minutes to prepare my morning smoothie (including cleaning it) and when I'm running late, unfortunately, I can't spare 10 minutes.  So I came up with a make-ahead smoothie cup!
And you can't see it, but I made a 'nest' in the spinach and spooned yogurt in there too!!  Just dump it in with some ice and PRESTO, my smoothie is done!!  I've since learned that I can actually use an ice tray to freeze my yogurt- wayyy better idea!!

And as a side note, banana's make everything taste better!!  It mutes the bitterness of spinach and kale (oh heavenly!)

Here's some smoothie recipes that I make:
Handful of grapes
4-5 strawberries
Handful of spinach or Kale or both!
1 banana
1/3 cup yogurt
1 cup of ice

2 handfuls of frozen fruit (I buy a pre-mixed bag from Costco)
Handful of spinach or Kale or both!
1 banana
20 raw almonds
1/3 cup yogurt
(frozen fruit helps with the smoothie consistency)

Handful of spinach or Kale or both!
1 banana
8 baby carrots
20 raw almonds
1/3 cup yogurt
1/2 medium apple
(this one comes out more juicy and smoothie-like because of the apple juice)



It's quick, it's easy, it's healthy, it's delicious!  Happy blending!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

bang bang shrimp

There was a restaurant called Bonefish...  Then it closed...  They had a shrimp dish called: Bang Bang Shrimp, which was my FAV...  Then I had none...  But I found a recipe on Fake Ginger via Pinterest!!  And OH MY is it Yummy!!! 

It takes a while because you have to dip the shrimp, then fry, then coat with the sauce.. But it's well worth it! The best part is you can add more Siracha to make it more spicy!!  I took the advice of some others who suggested dipping the shrimp in corn starch before the egg/flour mixture and added 1/4 cup of sweet chili sauce to the mixture.
I also made the entire 2 LB bag of frozen shrimp and had more than enough sauce for all of it.
SOoOooooo  Good!!!   Get the recipe here!

Monday, July 2, 2012

photo booth props

As a graduation gift, we thought that a photo booth would be a fun and memorable way to congratulate Eric's Brother.  He'll be headed to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to continue with his passion of being a pilot.

In addition to some fun props, I made some call-outs and mustache's to dress up the photos.  Everything was made on Foam Boards that I purchased from Wal-Mart and cut with an Exacto Knife.  Cutting was the most difficult part; more curves are more hard!!  I purchased Dowels from Michael's, they measure 3/16 x 12 inches and glued with a glue gun.  The call-outs were hand drawn.  The mustache's were printed from AccentTheParty.com and was super-duper helpful!!  There are a ton of other free printables so check it out! 







Say Cheese!!

raspberry chocolate torte

This one came out better than the last one!  This raspberry chocolate torte is rich and heavy.  It's chocolately, but not too sweet because it's bittersweet chocolate which pairs perfectly with the raspberry filling.

Oddly enough, it tastes better a day old, once the flavors are able to set and the torte soaks up some moisture from the chocolate ganache. And BOYYY is it worth the wait!!

Perfect with a glass of milk or hot coffee, my oh my!!

...Yet another one I'm adding to my menu!!  ...Now accepting orders!!

whipped cream frosting

This recipe is a keeper!!  It has a taste lighter than marshmallows, is super airy and light and just enough cream to let the red velvet shine.  It's consistency is very soft, but it doesn't lose too much of it's shape once piped- weird but awesome at the same time!


Sorry, can't share the recipe because it's going to be added to my menu!!

On to the next recipe experiment!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

cake pops galore!

I have been blessed with the start of my business: cody cakes and my very first order from a client that needed cake pops for a trade show.  They asked that I use a recipe they provided using a product that they had just introduced and asked for 450 cake pops!  I had TWO WEEKS to prepare!!  WHOA was this exciting stuff!!

Needless to say I'm stubborn, a control freak and perfectionist- which somehow didn't work in my favor for this project.  I wanted each hand-rolled cake pop to be uniform, packed to a certain pressure of my hand, weighing all the same weight (0.9 oz), as round as round could be; quite simply, as perfect as a hand-rolled cake pop would be. I have learned that my perfectionist and control attributes could quite possibly be my greatest weakness.  However, I was 110% pleased with the outcome of my perfectly rolled cake pops- but it took me MUCH longer than I thought...Maybe I should have... YES, I should have accepted the help that was offered!!   *note to self, accept help when offered.  Thank you, Eric, for the last minute help!!

 As much as I thought I had prepared for this, there was still more I could have done to have been more efficient.  I probably should have ordered my supplies in excess, because I ended up needing more of some things and had to buy them last minute (thank goodness the baking supply store had what I needed!).  I should have planned out my days making a timeline of where I should be at a certain point in the day- so I have a bench-mark to base my progress.  I should have better prepared the little things in advance, such as prepping the cupcake liners.  There are so many "should have, could have" moments that I have learned from this experience, I am positive I'll be much more prepared for my next order.  (I'm also very hard on myself, if you haven't noticed!).


I wish I had snapped more photos of my cake pops- so I could have shared them with you all.  But the time constraints left me with no option to do so, until the car was packed and we were on our way.  I did get to use all of these fun colored sprinkles which were perfect accents to the cake pops!!


With all of that said and done, I was able to get the delivery out on time and in perfect condition, despite the desert heat!  This was the best learning experience I could have asked for.  It has made me realize that baking IS my TRUE passion.  For the days that I spent in the kitchen, no matter how high the stress level was, I was in a happy place, in my own little bubble, so content and at peace with my work.  Each and every cake pop was made with so much passion and love- and I hope the attendees of the trade show enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed making them.

A special thank you to my client who gave me this wonderful opportunity to introduce cody cakes to the world, for giving me credit at their trade show and allowing me to have business cards on the table.  I will never forget who jump started cody cakes and will be forever grateful to you.

Here's to many more opportunities!

Monday, June 18, 2012

rainbow colored cake pops

I'm working on a project and a company sent me their sugar crystals- look at all of these fun colors!!  It even shows up on the dark chocolate candy melts!!!

Can't say much just yet, because nothing is official but they sure are a cool company with great products!!  Grateful and appreciative are words that keep re-surfacing lately and I can't say it enough!!

Happy day!

peanut butter rice krispies treats

Peanut butter and Rice Krispies TOGETHER... Oh my!!  Not to mention that it's super quick and easy to prepare makes it even better!

Recipe
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup agave nectar
1 cup peanut butter
7 cups rice cereal

Instructions
Heat brown sugar and agave nectar until sugar is melted (almost boiling)
Remove from heat and add peanut butter
Mix peanut butter mixture and rice cereal
Pack into a 9x13" pan
Refrigerate to harden and cut

Viola!! xoxo

Friday, May 25, 2012

a milestone for cody cakes

I just wanted to share a proud moment.

codycakes.com is officially LIVE!!

...and [gasp with excitement] I have a LOGO!!

How COOL...  [quietly in awe and having a moment]

...just wanted to share!! [all smiles]

sesame shrimp

Oh YUM!  This sesame shrimp recipe is a keeper!  I'd say we eat very healthy in our household and shrimp is hardly on the menu because Eric has ingrained in my brain that "shrimp is high in cholesterol, it isn't healthy."  Needless to say, our dinners have become very mundane because there's only so much one can cook when we don't eat red meat, chicken, pork...  Just veggies and seafood (we do this by choice if you're wondering).  So I figured I'd change things up a bit, shrimp is 'okay' every once-in-a-blue-moon.

My blue moon has risen and I found a sesame shrimp recipe on allrecipes.com.  I've deviated a little from the recipe and my additions are italicized below.  If you want a little more sauce to pour over your rice, you might want to double, or triple the recipe.




Ingredients
2 tablespoons soy sauce 
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided 
2 teaspoons lemon juice 
2 tablespoons sushi vinegar 
2 tablespoons mirin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 dash lemon-pepper seasoning
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Hot cooked rice
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

I also added veggies (because I had them on hand):
cabbage
carrots
broccoli 
mushrooms
pineapple chunks - optional
green onion for garnish

Directions
In a re-sealable plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, lemon juice, garlic powder and lemon-pepper; add shrimp. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 30 minutes.  I doubled the recipe and let the shrimp soak overnight.
Drain and discard marinade. I cooked the veggies and shrimp IN the sauce. In a skillet, sauté shrimp in remaining sesame oil until shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes. Serve with rice if desired. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.


Yum!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

mashed potatoes with a spinach twist

I wanted to make some seasoned potatoes for dinner and noticed a 10 pound bag of potatoes for $1.99.  It was cheaper than buying two individual potatoes, so I went for the bulk purchase.  In light of trying to use up 8 pounds of potatoes I found a Potato Spinach Casserole recipe on allrecipes.com.  OK so I didn't follow the recipe exactly and ended up with mashed potatoes with spinach in it- but it tasted super yum and my tummy was satisfied!  My additions are italicized below.



Ingredients
7 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
6 cloves garlic
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 2 quart casserole dish. I didn't do this part
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and garlic and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash.
In a large bowl combine mashed potatoes, spinach, sour cream, butter, green onions, salt and pepper. Spoon into prepared dish.
Bake for 15 minutes. Top with cheese and bake 5 minutes longer. I didn't do this part either, I was hungry


I should also note that I gifted myself a Canon 60D and this is my first food photo!  Better quality photos to come shortly...I hope!! 


Smile and say Cheese!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

curried quinoa

I've been on the hunt for tasty quinoa recipes.  I LOVE the stuff but Eric isn't so fond of it, so I'm trying to find more ways to cook it so it's a little more enjoyable for him.  He doesn't ever complain but it pushes me to research and find more ways to be creative in the kitchen.

I added a few veggies to the dish to give it some texture and added a little more chicken broth to cook the quinoa.  Other than that, I didn't deviate from the recipe and it was good.  It doesn't taste like a strong curry and it's not too spicy, however I did dilute the spices when I added the extra broth.

curried quinoa

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook and stir for 2 minutes; add quinoa and cook and stir until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes.
  1. Pour broth into the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add curry and chile powders; cover and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Happy Healthy Eating!! xoxo

LARGE chocolate chip cookies

Lately I've been on a junk food rampage, rummaging through my pantry for something sweet, something else salty, something crunchy, anything that isn't my normal healthy veggies.  I've exhausted my searching (and indulging in a candy binge) and resorted to baking with whatever ingredients I had on hand- cookies!!  

[seriously I'm hoping this nasty craving that's taken over me passes soon or my waistline will be unforgiving]

My eyes are probably larger than my stomach and I made them HUGE!!  ...so huge that it takes 20 minutes to bake AND you can only bake 6 per batch! ...sighhh, soooo, it took longer than a normal batch of cookies to bake.

BUT, they are SO delicious!  Totally hit the spot and subsided my junk food craving...for now.

[I should also side-bar here to tell you that I made a major baking NO-NO and answered the phone while putting my ingredients together and added more butter than the recipe called for... so my cookies flattened out more than they should have...lesson learned. No multi-tasking while baking.]

I found the recipe here: The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies - but they won't let you see the recipe without membership
     [but mine weren't thick because of my butter error]

I'm afraid I can't publish the recipe because of copyright stuff but you can purchase the book USED from Amazon for $9.00 ... Trust me, you'll get your money's worth from this book, it's phenomenal.  AND if you can catch them on PBS, this show is so captivating and you can actually learn a thing or two from them!!

...I just ate THREE of them.  

Happy Eating: oink oink!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Zucchini Bites

Simple Ingredients for a yummy and tasty appetizer!  Thank you to The Curious Country Cook for your Zucchini Tots recipe (adopted by The Naptime Chef)!  Straight out of the oven, it actually has a meat texture (for the carnivores out there) and doesn't really taste much like zucchini (for the veggie haters out there) which equates to a very well-rounded food dish that appeals to all!!

I doubled the recipe so I'd have a little more.


Zucchini BitesVia The Curious Country Cook & Recipe adapted: The Naptime Chefyields: 
12 mini muffins

Ingredients

1 cups zucchini, grated
1 egg
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup cheese (cheddar or Parmesan work the best)
1/4 cup bread crumbs - I used Italian style
Salt and Pepper

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a mini-muffin tin with non-stick spray, set aside.

2. Grate the zucchini and then place in a dish towel to squeeze out the excess water- like when using frozen spinach.
3. In a bowl combine, the egg, onion, cheese, bread crumbs, zucchini, salt and pepper.
4. Using a spoon or a cookie scoop, fill the muffin cups to the top. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the top is browned and set.


And here's the end result!!  This is definitely staying on our dinner menu!!

Happy healthy eating!! xoxo

Williams-Sonoma "New Flavors for Vegetables"

At the Nevada and California border there is my favorite outlet mall.  It's my favorite outlet because there is a Williams-Sonoma outlet.  There are always great sales and deals going on, so I like to stop by, ohhhhh once a month...

I decided to get this recipe book because it was half off.  $11!!  Go get the book!

I've never purchased a recipe book that

  1. I didn't have to purchase special ingredients
  2. Each recipe is so quick and easy; no complicated utensils or cooking apparatus's 
  3. I've actually made more than half the recipes
  4. I've actually made more than half the recipes AND liked it!!
Being a part-time vegetarian (I eat seafood) it's often hard to find TASTY vegetable recipes.  It's always the same stir-fry...  Additionally, I'm always curious about all of those vegetables at Trader Joe's and not have any recipes or the know-how to make it.  This entire book has Trader Joe's written all over it- it's all of those vegetables!!

I made wok seared baby bok choy with chili oil and garlic. 

I added mushrooms...because I LOOOOOOVEEE mushrooms!!!  I add mushrooms to EVERYTHING, I love them so much.  And it was deeeelicious!

Chilled Sesame Spinach

Sooo super yummy and refreshing, this Chilled Sesame Spinach hits the spot!!

I found this recipe on WholeLiving.com and had all the ingredients on hand.  

Ingredients
·         Coarse salt
·         2 pounds spinach, stems trimmed, washed
·         1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
·         1 1/2 tablespoons naturally brewed soy sauce
·         1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
·         1 1/2 tablespoons mirin (rice wine)
·         3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Directions
1.     Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; season with salt. Add spinach, and cook just until wilted, about 30 seconds. Drain immediately in a colander, and plunge into prepared ice bath. Let spinach cool completely, about 30 seconds; drain again. Using your hands, squeeze excess water out of spinach, and transfer to a work surface. Coarsely chop spinach, and place in a medium bowl; set aside.
2.     In a small bowl, whisk together sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and mirin. Add dressing and sesame seeds to the spinach; mix to combine.
Happy healthy eating!  xoxo

I LOVE spray paint!!

I am HOOKED on using spray paint!!  A few days ago, I used it for the first time and it's so wonderful!

Living in Las Vegas and with the unfortunate downturn of the economy, there have been hotel liquidations selling furniture, accessories, kitchen items, etc.  I found a mirror for $25 and it was a gold color.  I envisioned it in a glossy white so I purchased the mirror and stuck it in the garage for another day.

I just got around to sanding it to create a more textured surface and spray painting it.  It's so quick and easy!

I wish I took a 'before' photo, but I jumped the gun and was too excited to use the spray paint.

Here it is!!  I'll show you once I find a home for it!

Happy spray painting!! (trust me, it's GREAT!)

Painting my Craft Room

Our home has been a work in progress and I've been having lots of fun with colors!  I've been surfing the web looking for craft room ideas.  There's SO many great ideas, paint colors, color schemes, organizational ideas, it's endless!!

I knew I wanted a teal blue, turquoise-y, bright fun blue.  I selected three different blue samples and tested them on the wall.

I asked my Facebook and Twitter friends what their color preference was and we all [most of us] chose the same color!

I painted three walls the solid blue.  And one wall would be my striped accent wall (blue and white).  I decided I didn't want uniform sized stripes, so I chose a pattern of 8 inches, 4 inches, 4 inches - alternating blue and white.  I measured my wall, which was 122 3/4 inches in length.  I knew that my last stripe would be a little short of 4 inches (124 inches total) so I decided that stripe would end right above the door; it won't be as noticeable, being such a small area.

...I guess it would be a good time to note that if you want two different colors, you should paint the entire wall one of the colors you want THEN put the tape up for your second color.

I marked my walls with tick marks with a pencil, indicating my 8", 4", 4" measurements.  I did this on the top, middle and bottom of the wall to ensure that I was always taping the correct place.  (Technically, I could have done this several more times to ensure I was always on the right track)  I also made a sort of ruler with an extra piece of tape as another good measure (haha pun intended) to ensure I was always on the right track!  This took a LOT of time, so be prepared and be patient!

The next step isn't much fun either.  It too, also takes time and patience.  But this is the MOST important step and very crucial for super straight, clean lines once the tape comes off.  This is especially important if your walls are textured.  You can find a paintable caulking that is available at your local hardware store.  Looks like this (you'll also need to purchase the apparatus to put the caulk in):

Follow the manufacturers instructions or ask the workers at your hardware store.  I LOVE my local Home Depot, they are very friendly and helpful!  Also factor in time to allow the caulking to dry per the instructions.  It makes a HUGE difference.


Now for the fun part, painting!  Make sure you paint every other line.  A few rooms before this project I learned the hard way, that you MUST pull the tape off while the paint is still WET!  Once the paint on the tape dries, it hardens and is difficult to pull off the wall.  Additionally, it could pull off pieces of paint and ruin your hard work caulking.

Here is my finished project!  Whoo hoo!! I was so excited and so pleased with the outcome!  It was so fun to do this project from an idea to reality!

Here's the adjacent wall with my quote-artwork that I'll find a home for once I buy a stud-finder.

I guess it would be a great time to mention that I found a desk on craigslist.com.  I'm not pleased with the color, so I'm trying to figure out how I can change it up [ideas welcome].  I'm also not happy that the corner piece doesn't fully go to the corner of the wall- so I'll have to figure that out... I guess that's what I get for $75!!  It also takes up a lot of space in my tiny room, but I'd rather have lots of table space for all of my projects!

Happy Painting!! xoxo