Weekend Round-Up

Last weekend was a fairly productive weekend with respect to several home projects. In addition to painting our back deck and potting our urban herb garden, my fiance and I took on a few more Martha recipes. Here is what we tried:

Ricotta w/ Lemon, Basil & Honey Bruschetta
Rating: 8
Comment: Very refreshing bruschetta. Would be great served as miniature appetizers for a summer party.

Prosciutto, Mellon & Balsamic Bruschetta
Rating: 1
Comment: I don't eat meat, so I have to take my very picky fiance's word on this one!

Shaved Asparagus Salad
Rating: 6
Comment: I've never tried raw asparagus before and surprisingly, it wasn't bad. Good recipe if you want to change your asparagus repertoire. 

Gravalax w/ Sweet Mustard Sauce
Rating: 6
Comment: This salmon curing recipe was simple to prepare and enjoyable to try. However, I was slightly skeptical that the salmon was cured enough and I was just eating raw fish. 

Colorful Cows
Rating: 8
Tweaks: Used raspberries to make syrup base.
Comment: Classically good!

Abstract Novice

5' abstract art piece that I created a few years ago after realizing that my oil paints were drying out in their tubes from lack of use. Although this was my first ever foray into the abstract art world, I have truly come to appreciate this form of painting and it has led me to experiment more with different forms of art. 

More to come....


The "Red Bottom" Shoe

No! Not those "red bottoms."

These ones!

My fiance received his much anticipated Ecco Street Premiere golf shoes in the mail on Friday after about a one month wait. These are the very same style shoes worn by Freddie Couples (Yeah! I know. Freddie, who? I included the Wiki link, just in case you are like me and know nothing about golf!) at the Masters and they are (apparently) sold out everywhere until late August. With some solid sleuthing, I was able to score a pair of "red-bottoms" online and it made for a very happy fiance. Woo hoo!

Turns out that he got his first "red-bottoms" before me! I never would have figured... ;)

Quick Fix: The Little Red [H&M] Dress

Before: Fun but simple

I bought this cute, little red mini-dress last summer from H&M during a weekend in Atlantic City. The dress is made of micro-corduroy, so it aptly reminded me of the cheesy red carpet in our casino. I knew that I had to have it - solely for that reason and no other!

As it would turn out, I ended up liking the dress more than I originally thought and I have since found several ways to dress it/up down from "cheesy-red carpet status" by adding a belt, a cardigan or a collared shirt underneath. Despite the bevy options, my favorite way to change the dress (thus far) came to me this weekend as I was organizing some of my art materials. At that moment, I came across an envelope containing flower pins I created for wedding escort cards. I was inspired by the way the pins were bunched together, creating a large, fabric flower conglomeration. Ah, innovation! I knew they would look great on the dress, so I plucked out ten turquoise pins and strategically placed them on the little-red-dress-that-could. 

Here are the results:

After: Great date-night dress


Sidenote: You can find these pins in my ETSY shop if you want to give-it-a-go on one of your own outfits. Tutorial on how to make your own flower pins in the near future. 

Strangely Relevant!

A few weeks back I completed this amazing wooden puzzle with my fiance, who purchased it for me as a "surprise" from my favorite store. By far this was the most difficult puzzle I have ever completed and we had an absolute blast mulling over its intricacies. However, what I liked most about the puzzle was its very apropos message. Just another reminder that it can...

Close up detail


Just a little sneak peek of one of my newest works of art. End goal is that this piece will eventually be turned into a cheery "thank you" card and sent off for print production. Enjoy!


Let's Mural It Up!

A while back, I got this zany idea to completely overhaul the loft office space in my house. It is a great space with lots of light and an open floor plan, which I loved. However, I wasn't sure what to do with the large wall space that spans the bottom of our crazy "ladder-stairs-of-death" on the second floor to the top of the loft space on the third floor. 

For months, this space was a blank, stark white wall - which I despised. But, then it hit me after a night out for drinks at my favorite local wine bar. The space is perfect for a large, abstract art wall mural - much like the one that can be viewed in said wine bar. Shortly after, I got to work and the results were spectacular. The best part is that I used all of the leftover paint colors that I used throughout my house and it really helped to unite the open space to the rest of the house and now we have a huge piece of art to enjoy on a daily basis. I completely recommend this process for a great way to liven up any space! 

Here are the results:

Before: Blank wall space, open to below

During: The sketching and base layers of paint

After: The finished abstract art mural wall

Some close-up detail

Viola! Instant art gallery!


Elephant in the Room

Okay. Let's be straight! I'm sure that this blog might be reminding you of a certain bestselling novel/hit movie (Ahem! Julia & Julia), but let's be clear - that is not my intention. Yes-sir-ee! This blog is different. 

Why? Well, because I'm not trying land a publishing contract or movie deal. Moreover, I'm not going to torture myself to complete my MS Living.  From the beginning, I've thought about laying down some ground rules. Such as: If I won't dare to eat a recipe, I'm not going to make it. If a project is too time consuming or expensive, (such as re-tiling my bathroom) I'm going to skip it.  If costs or life demands get out of control, I'm going to cut back. Finally, this blog is not all about MS. Rather, my true focus is on finding ways to be creative and handy on a daily basis and to showcase some of my own projects so they can be shared with all! You can't beat that.

With all that being said, I had the chance to take on another MS dinner last night with successful results. With the help of my handy, dandy assistant (also known as - my fiance), we whipped together dinner in about an hour. Here is what we enjoyed (and boy, did we enjoy!):

Mozzarella, Pesto, Arugula and Parmesan Bruschetta
Rating: 8

Grilled Atlantic Char with Mint-Chive Butter
Rating: 9
Comments: A refreshing way to serve fish. Great for summer parties.
Tweaks: Char is fish that is somewhat of a cross between a salmon and a trout. We could not find char at the grocery store. Instead, we used salmon and the recipe turned out perfectly.

Grilled Peppers & Chilies
Rating: 7
Comments: Peppers used - Hungarian, Anaheim, Poblano, Italian Roaster

Roasted Baby Potatoes
Rating: 9
Comments: Non-MS recipe. Assistant's specialty!

Kriek Lambic Beer
Rating: 8
Comments: Cherry flavored version of the classic Framboise (Raspberry) Lambic Beer. Wonderful!

Ithaca Apricot Ale Beer
Rating: 7
Comments: Mild apricot flavor. Great summer beer. 

Notes: We were so excited when we finally got a Wegman's grocery store near Philadelphia! Aside from the amazing food selection, Wegman's also carries beer! For many people, it may not be a "big deal" to have beer in a grocery store but this is not common in Pennsylvania and we have only seen this phenomenon recently. Up until now, we were forced to buy an entire case of beer at a "beer distributor," instead of being able to try new brews in six-packs. I can hardly contain my excitement. Thank you PA Liquor Control Board!


Martha & RATM

Well, it finally happened! All components of dinner were finally ready to be served at the same time! 

For me, this was as an absolute first. Why? Because often I find myself serving courses to my fiance when they are finished (rather than as a complete meal) because I somehow failed to calculate the cooking times of the dinner courses properly. Boy, grandmothers use to make it look so easy!

Although I intended to start cooking some of my MS Living recipes a few days ago, I delayed tackling some Martha's "What's for Dinner?" recipe section until last night. The results: Well, spectacular - of course! It was one of the best meals I have cooked in a long time and it got me out of my incessant cooking rut. 

It all started with my enlightening grocery store trip to Wegman's. Instead of purchasing the same six produce items, I finally had some variety in my cart - rhubarb, leeks, various peppers (and they weren't red or green), salmon and fresh mint, to name a few. In the past, if I even dared to purchase these items, they would just sit in the fridge until they "went bad" because I had NO CLUE what to do with them. Not this time! 

Armed with my recipes and ingredients, I was ready to take on dinner. Of course my execution was indeed, hilarious - for several reasons! However, the comedy in my execution first hit me when I when I was in my disaster of a kitchen, chopping fresh herbs in my 4" stiletto stacked heels with crimson lips, all while singing along to Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name Of." How very un-Martha of me! Nonetheless, the dinner turned out great. Next time, I will try a little harder to "fit the part" a little more!

The breakdown of the dinner and the recipes are as follows:

Bruschetta - w/ Tomato, Balsamic & Dill
Rating: 6

Garlic-Jalapeno Shrimp
Rating: 8
Tweaks: Substituted a Hungarian pepper for jalapeno
Comments: We loved this recipe!

Rice w/ Peas and Cilantro
Rating: 6
Tweaks: Substituted parsley for cilantro

Carmel Custards
Rating: 7
Comments: Reminded us of a creme brulee type of dessert - minus the crunchy top!

Drink - The Taurus
Rating: 2 (Holy crap! Strong tequila!)

More to come...

~ I


Mapping Out May

This weekend I spent some time going through the May MS Living and I tried to figured out the best way to tackle the projects and recipes. Luckily for me, this months MS Living is "lighter" than some of the other issues. 

The breakdown is as follows:
26 Food Recipes
5 Drink Recipes
3 Home Projects
3 Craft Projects
By spending a few minutes sorting the issue, highlighting and "halving" the recipes, I have a better sense of my shopping list for the month. This truly is a "good thing" because I have a frequent habit of wandering through grocery (and craft) store like a lost child. Not any longer! I finally have a plan and I can't wait to execute it. 

The fun begins tomorrow!