3.25.2013

Cleaning Jeans- Put Them on Ice


Fashion.



I admit it, I made fun of my husband for putting his jeans in the freezer to kill any germs and odors, but he was right.  When you spend a load of money on new raw denim, the last thing you want to do is go and wash them, taking away all the color. 

Jeans are durable and may be worn many times before they start smelling bad.  To zap that odor without washing,  put them into a plastic freezer bag and in the freezer for a few days, preferably two.
The freezing temperatures kill the pungent bacteria and will keep the color intact.

It seriously works!  I bought myself a pair of dark Paige skinnies over six months ago and haven’t washed them once.  There were a few spots I had to spot clean with a towel and water, but they still fit, the color is the same as the day I bought them and they're odor free.

However, if you do need to wash the jeans, make sure you put them inside out and wash with a dark fabric detergent and in cold water.  Woolite makes a dark wash detergent that I have been using on all our darks for a few years now.  It is worth the investment to keep you darks from turning to grays.

<3 mk

3.22.2013

Homemade Chunky Guacamole


Homemade Chunky Guacamole

Food.



I’m pretending that it's warm outside - I have a margarita in my hand and a chip covered in guacamole in the other. There's about two months before that becomes a reality, but it doesn’t mean I can't make the guac or the margarita!

Guacamole is one of those foods that is best when it is made fresh.  Having ripe and fresh ingredients is a must when it comes to this Mexican dip. This recipe is enough for a few people or just two if you're both really hungry. 
You can tell when an avocado is fresh if you feel it slightly give when squeezed.  It shouldn’t be hard as a rock or really soft.  You can also tell by taking off the stem. If it is dark brown, it is not ok.  White is the color you are looking for. The best bet it to get it slightly hard avocado and check it each day to use when it is ready. 

Read below for how to make some of the best guacamole ever.


Chunky Guacamole

Two avocados
One vine ripe tomato
Fresh cilantro 
Red onion
Fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp Mayonnaise (Cool Whip)
Packet of guacamole powder (optional)
Tortilla chips for dipping

Run a knife (large chopping) the length of the avacodo all around the circumference (long way).  This will cut it in half.  Pull it apart with a few twists.  Using the same knife, strike it into the pit/seed in the middle with a brisk hacking motion and you will be able to pull out the pit/seed with the knife. Throw away the pit/seed.  

Scored each half of the avocado using the knife going veridically and horizontally.  Run a large spoon on the inside edge of the outer skin.  Put the pieces into a bowl and throw away the skin. Repeat the same steps with the other avocado. 

Put the guacamole powder or salt on the avocados pieces and mash with a fork.  This will mash the pieces into the consistency you prefer.

Chop the tomato,  cilantro, and red onion into small piece.  You can remove the seeds of the tomato by cutting it in half and using your finger to remove the middle seed.  This cuts down on the liquid in the guacamole. 

Add in the tomatoes, cilantro, and red onion to the avocado.  Mix in the mayonaise and the juice of a small lime. 

There is not a measurement on the onion or the cilantro because it is all preference.  I probably use about 1/4 cup of onion and 1/3 cup of cilantro.  I LOVE CILANTRO, but others might hate it.  The amount is totally up to you.

If the lime is not juicy, put it in the microwave for about 10 seconds and it will heat up the pulp enough to make it more juicy. 

Serve with tortilla chips or make your own.  It's easy.  Cut round flour tortilla into triangles, brush with oil and some salt, bake at 350 until lightly golden brown. 

Don't forget to make a margarita!


3.20.2013

Easy Fix for a Creaky Floor


Home.

Do you have a carpeted floor that creeks?  Well, if you have an older home, the most likely you do.  No need to rip up the carpet or call in a professional.  Here is a quick and easy solution to your problem.  Enter the O'Berry Squeak No More Kit.

Yes, It sounds like it is from an infomercial and it totally is, but it really works.  The kit comes with screws that are designed to pull the wood together thus eliminating the squeak (the threads decrease in radius).  The tool in the kit allows you to put the screw in just enough so they stick out of the carpet and then break off. 

Here is what is included in the kit, it comes with many more screws though.


Joist finder

Screw in as much as possible, put the drill in reverse.  If it backs out, you hit a joist.

The screw placement tool in action

The screw placement tool has a stopper that prevents the screw from going in to far.  The legs keep it securely in place while putting the screw in the floor.


A screw in place, still with the head

This is how far the screw is supposed to go up to this point.  See the next step, as the head is coming off!


Removing the screw head

The screw stabilizer doubles as the screw head remover.  It breaks off with little effort, leaving the business end of the screw entirely embedded in the wood.


Voila, Squeeeeek No More! 

It sounds like you will have raw metal sticking out of the carpet, but you won't.  We used almost all of our screws that came with the smaller kits and I have been walking on the carpet barefooted for over a week.  Squeaks are gone and there isn’t any evidence that anything was done except that there are no more squeaks!  For $20 your annoying squeak problem is solved.
<3 mk

BTW- I am wearing OPI gel in Did You Ear About Van Gogh?

3.18.2013

Honey Bourbon Lemonade


Food.



I think Wild Turkey is in my blood.  The amber goodness has been a staple adult beverage in my family for as long as I can remember.  So when I saw that Wild Turkey was making a honey version I flipped. 

Wild Turkey Honey is a ladies sipping version of bourbon.  No, I am not saying that we can’t take it straight, but.. my husband and father hate it.  It is really sweet and you have to be in the mood for it.  I have not been in the mood for it lately and was looking for something citrusy to drink.  I had seen an article in a magazine recently that used bourbon, lemonade, and honey to make a drink.  Well, I already had the honey bourbon and just added the fresh lemon juice. 

It’s a two ingredient drink that tastes like you needed to put in a lot of effort.  Fresh lemon juice is a must.  The bottled stuff is not acceptable.

I used Wild Turkey, but I know some of their competitors are also making honey versions.  Some are more syrupy, others have a stronger bourbon content. Have fun taste testing and choose what you like. 



Honey Bourbon Lemonade

2 shots of honey bourbon
juice of 1.5 lemons

Pour ingredients into a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir, dress with a lemon and serve.


<3 mk


3.15.2013

Inside Out Modern Bun Helper

Fashion.



I was inspired by this look from Jetting to the Wedding via Pinterest and tried it at home.  Anytime there is an easy updo, I want to do it. The messy bun is a style I rock on the regular. When I went try this out it wasn’t as quick and easy as I wanted it to be. I have layered hair and there was difficulty pulling all the layers through the hole.  




In comes the helper, a zip tie. I have spoken about my love for these zip ties before for home projects and now I can say I have used it for hair purposes.

What is inside the white container?  Click here




Put your hair into a ponytail at the crown of your head. If you have hair like mine, straight and fine, back comb in a c-shape motion on the top and sides of the head.  This will give you some volume and not such a pulled back, slick look.

Spray your pulled back hair and ponytail with some hair spray before; it will help keep those flyaways contained.  I use Moroccan Oil hairspray, it is light and smells delicious.




Take the zip tie and pull it so it circles your ponytail.  Make sure there is enough room in the loop to fit your fingers.




With the pointed end of the zip tie, aim it towards the front center of the pony below the hair elastic.




 Push the zip tie end through the center until you see it peeping out the back.




With your finger, gently make the small hole you created with the zip tie larger to allow all of your hair to pull through.




It is easiest if you use your thumb and pointer finger and pull through using the end of the zip tie from the back.  To ensure the zip tie does not tighten further, put your finger in the loop as you pull it through.  If it does tighten, not a problem, it will come off your hair, but you will not be able to easily reuse it.   No big deal, it costs less than five cents.




Having layered hair, the bottom piece sticking through doesn’t lay right.  You can take the pieces and wrap them around to the front going in both directions.  They will be hidden by the mess bump you have just created. Secure with some bobby pins, some hair spray and you are done.




To make the bobby pins hold, spray them with hairspray before inserting.  You can use both bobby pins and hair pins.

Hint-  To make sure the bobby pin hold, spray them with hairspray before inserting into hair.





<3 mk




3.13.2013

Sundried Tomato Turkey Meatballs


Food.


OMG! I will never again make another meatball using a different recipe.  This is hands down the best tasting meatball.  So much so, that I didn’t even want to eat it with pasta.  For me that is a big deal.   Pasta and meatballs belong together, but these Italian turkey meatballs can totally stand alone. 

Giada made similar meatballs on her weekly show that I watch every weekend.  I took her basic recipe and made it my own using sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic and a few other tweaks. They are simply delicious with the right amount of heat and flavor.  And don’t forget, lower in fat and calories. If you don't want to make the sauce, simply use you favorite jar version and add some of your favorite spices and fresh herbs.  Enjoy!
  

Sundried Tomato Classic Italian Turkey Meatballs
Adapted from Classic Italian Turkey Meatballs by Giada de Laurentiis

Meatballs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/4 cup half and half, at room temperature

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 large cloves roasted garlic, mashed
4 tablespoons of sundried tomatoes chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 pound ground dark turkey meat

1 pound spicy Italian turkey sausage, casings removed

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling



Sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon crush red pepper
Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes

Directions

Meatballs
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, chopped basil, chopped parsley, half and half, tomato paste, eggs, roasted garlic, chopped onion, and chopped sun dried tomatoes. Using a spoon, blend all together until well incorporated. With your hand, mix the ground turkey and spicy turkey sausage until well combined.  Roll the meat mixture in 1-1½ inch ball. Place on a baking sheet covered in foil and spray with a spray oil. Drizzle each meatball with oil and cook for about 15 minutes.  Cut one in half to ensure it is cooked through. Then add to the sauce.

Sauce
Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet with 2-inch-high sides over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the basil, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup basil. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper to taste if it needs it.  Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and let sit to partner with the sauce. Serve with grated Parmesan and fresh chopped parsley.

<3 mk



3.11.2013

Manly Easter Basket


Home.



There are so many memories of growing up and getting carob chocolate bars for Easter…yuck!  Carob?  Yes, I was allergic to milk and it was a "delicious” treat I would score in my Easter basket.  The Eastern Bunny sure knew my allergies.  Thank goodness for the Peeps and the sugar based candies or my childhood would have been really depressed.

Things have changed and I no longer have issues with dairy, but I also do not have any children to make Easter baskets for.  My sister’s children are up in NY, so I wont be shipping any candy their way, but I do have a husband that I think deserves a basket…a MANLY basket.

There will not be any pink bows, Peeps, or Easter hay (shiny green filling) in this basket.   The basket will not be weaved, it will be only something that carries a manly beverage in a hoppy beer box.  Get it?  Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA is very hoppy!  This basket is personalized for him and the items are not requirements for your man’s Easter basket.  Find what he loves and put it in.  All items apply, even dirty ones (tee hee).

Items in the basket include:
- Beer (many rare varieties)
- Hickory and Mesquite Wood for Jeff to do smoking and grilling
- Reese’s Eggs (Easter themed candy only)
- Cadbury Cream Eggs - Original and Caramel
- Axe Body wash
- Gum
- Grill Brush
- Car Cleaning Cloths
- Manly chap stick


No matter what you put in the basket, if the focus is on him, even better.  Think about it, how special is he going to feel when he also gets a basket along with the kids.  They never really do grow up!

Only a few weeks until Easter, start stocking up for your basket today.

<3 mk

3.08.2013

California Wine Country Decor Inspiration


Home.


Jeff and I took a short weekend trip to Sonoma a few weekends ago.  It is the off season and it was a lot cooler than it usually is in Northern CA, but it didn’t hinder us from experiencing the area.  We took a wine tour and experienced a few of the over 400 vineyards in each of the valleys.

While there, I was constantly seeing décor items that I wanted to make for our home.  Some many of these items included metal and wood.


Metal Circular Orbs for Outside Decor.

The idea of combining natural elements from the garden with metal is very appealing.  Although I would love to get my hands on these, I am sure they aren't cheap.  These will be added to the list of DIY projects for my future home's garden.

Source
Cement floors and bar.

The idea of making a cement bar top, counter top, or even floor is very do-able.  The color can even be added and make for a clean, modern, and affordable look.  Add with a metal base and it's even more appealing and modern.

Source

Circular tables.

The idea of a circular dining table was all over wine country.  They were a bit more rustic than the one above.  This table is one that I am craving because of the gold leaf bottom and the varying wood finished top.

Source

Fountain features.

This is a similar picture of the fountains that were featured in many of the vineyards we visited.  They looked as if they fit into the setting naturally and were so organic to outside environment. 

Source
Plants in between steps.  

The picture above has mainly succulents planted.  This can also be done with moss or steppable ground cover.  It really depends on the temperature in your area and what will grow best.  


Life Sized Jenga.   

Buy a bunch of 2 x 4s and cut into the optimal size (about 10.5"), sand, and stack.  So easy and fun for everyone.  This will be made one day.


Wine bottle Humming Bird feeder.

There are many ideas out there for reusing wine bottles.  This is the first time I have seen them used for hummingbird feeders.  Humming birds don't get to all areas so this might not be a project for you.  If you do want to use those extra wine bottles here is an idea for an outdoor torch. 

This trip was great inspiration for outside projects.  As the weather is warming in Northern VA and the days are quickly approaching spring,  I know some of these ideas will be put into action. 


<3 mk

3.06.2013

Bourbon Cocktail with a Kick



Food.



I was at the lady doctor while waiting for the awkward but routine appointment to start.  TMI?  To fill the time I picked up a magazine to take my mind off of the unpleasantness that would occur.  While fingering through the magazine I stumbled upon this spicy recipe for a delicious Bourbon cocktail.  Besides my love for gin, I also love Bourbon.  It is in my blood to love this caramel colored adult beverage.

I quickly tore out the recipe right before the doctor came in. It was quite a sight, I didn't even fold it up, just shoved it into my purse in a ball.  So classy!

It was made according to the original directions, but I never really like to follow the directions and I wanted it a bit more gingery. The recipe for the simple syrup will make enough for a few drinks, but the rest of the ingredients are for one drink.  Use as much ginger and cracked pepper as your pallet will take.  I had about ½ inch piece muddled at the bottom of my tin and it was just the right amount.  Don’t forget to peel off the outside of the ginger.   The cracked pepper on top was also my addition and it isn’t overwhelming.  That little kick of peppery spice was just what it needed. 



Bourbon Cocktail with a Kick
Adapted from a recipe from Real Simple

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 T peppercorns whole
Fresh ginger; peeled
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 oz Bourbon (sour mashed)
fresh cracked peppercorns

  • In a pan, simmer sugar with 1 cup water, stirring until sugar dissolves. 
  • Take off the heat, steep peppercorns and ginger until cooled.
  • Take a new piece of ginger (sized according to your liking) and muddle with a toothed muddler until it is flat.
  • Add ice to the muddler.
  • Add 1 tsp of syrup and the remaining ingredients; lemon juice and bourbon.
  • Shake in the tin.
  • Strain into an iced filled glass and garnish with lemon, ginger, and freshly cracked peppercorns.


<3 mk

3.04.2013

New Year’s Outfit Inspiration


Fashion.



New Year’s is usually the time when you want to wear something that will wow your friends as well as yourself.  There is nothing better than wearing something that makes you feel good, but also makes you look good.  This year, we weren’t going out on the town, but staying in with some close friends so a hot dress was not necessary.

Yes, I am aware that is has been some time since New Year’s but the opportunity to use this outfit for the Linky Party presented it self. Originally, I was going to forget the post because I am not a big fan of posting picture of just me, but I will get over it in order to show the re-creation of my inspiration outfit.

When I spotted this gold Rock and Republic sweater at Kohl’s for $10, I immediately wanted it.  Not just because of the price, but also because it was different than what I normally would wear.  My main concern was what to wear with it and where am I going to wear it.  I can’t just show up to my job because it totally is not appropriate, so I chose New Years to debut this bold gold sweater.

The Inspiration Photo- Gold Sweater and pants from Ann Taylor


My Interpretation



Shirt: Rock and Republic Sweater, Kohl's $10
Pants: Pencil Cut Dress Pants in black, Express $30, old
Shoes: Brown Suede Ankle Tie Pump, Bought in Paris, old
Necklace: Gold and Black Bead, Bib Style, Target, old

I chose to wear the shorter necklace instead of the long bangle and the leapord scarf. I do have a similar scarf, but never had the opportunity to wear the necklace and it paired well.  I also wore brown shoes instead of the black pumps in the inspiration photo.  Brown and black are no longer a faux-pas and I really wanted to wear my shoes. See side note.

One of my favorite daily blogs is J’s Everyday Fashion.  She literally posts everyday and I get so much inspiration from her clothing combos.  She always uses what she has, purchases reasonably priced clothes, and has an inspiration photo.  She also lists how much she purchases every item along with a link and other similar alternatives to the features items of clothing.  Being inspired by J’s Everyday Fashion, I found numerous inspiration photos and put the outfit together with my new gold sweater.

Shoe side note - I originally brought these shoes home from Paris when I visited about six years ago.  I loved them so much at the time, but my feet did not.  I wore them out maybe a handful of times.  The small amount of walking for New Year's was even too much for them.  Knowing that, I still dont want to get rid of them.  Oh what a girl does for fashion.

I hope you can find some inspiration and use what you have to put together a whole new outfit.
Happy styling!

<3 mk

3.01.2013

Slow Cooker Short Ribs in Wine Sauce



Food.


Check out that exterior char and interior tenderness!

I love food.  Anything that tastes and looks like you spent a lot of time on it is my favorite kind to cook. I came upon this recipe from one of my favorite blogs; Eat, Live, Run.  It had the perfect amount of effort to put into it and it included a meat item that would win my husband's affection immediately.

This dish is amazing.  The meat becomes perfectly charred on the outside and the interior is just right.  It can be split with a fork.  Keep your knives in the drawer for this one!

Making it was relatively easy. You can’t just throw the ingredients in the crockpot, but you won't be slaving over the stove the entire time either.  I cooked it for a quiet at home supper for Super Bowl Sunday.  The smell it created in the house was amazing.  Paired with simple roasted veggies and a nice glass of Cabernet wine, it made for a classier football meal.  No, we didn’t drink with our pinkies in the air.  Okay, maybe after halftime.



Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs in Cabernet Sauce with Roasted Root Vegetables
Adapted From Eat, Live,Run

Ingredients

3 ½ lbs beef chuck short ribs ( done in or  boneless)
2 whole shallots, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 ½ cups Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cup beef broth
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 ½ tbsp all purpose flour (or Wondra)
Salt and pepper
1 Slow cooker liner

Directions
Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. When hot, add the short ribs. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the ribs in the pan and brown. This will take about three to four minutes per side. You want them brown and caramelized.  Try to get each side of the short ribs on the pan.

After the ribs have browned, remove using tongs and set them at the bottom of your slow cooker. You can use a slow cook liner which makes for an easy clean up. Take the pan off the heat briefly to cool down, then return to medium heat and add the minced shallots and diced celery. Sautee for about five minutes until tender and then add the tomato paste. Mash the tomato paste into veggies using a silicone spatula and continue to sauté on medium heat for another four minutes.

Pour the wine and the beef broth into the skillet and stir. Add the brown sugar, a teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of pepper and the flour. Wondra works well in this recipe because it doesn’t clump and is specifically for sauces. Wisk well to be sure of the no-clump factor.

Bring sauce to a boil, then to a simmer. Pour sauce right over ribs in the slow cooker. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on HIGH for six to eight hours or on LOW for 11-12 hours. 

Time Prior to Crock Pot about 20 minutes.
Crock Pot 6-8 hours

Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients
4 carrots
2 parsnips
4 red potatoes
1 medium red onion
3 cloves garlic
2 twigs of fresh rosemary
3 Tblsps olive oil
salt
pepper

Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Peel and chop carrots and parsnips to about the same size
  • Clean and cut the potatoes into eights or about the same size as the carrots and parsnips
  • Peel and cut the red onion into 8ths or 16ths depending on the size of the onion
  • Smash the garlic with the side of a big knife and peel off the outside
  • Remove rosemary from twig and mince
  • Combine all  ingredients in a large bowl and cover with olive oil
  • Generously season with salt and pepper
  • Mix with hands to ensure coating of all the vegetables
  • Pour the veggies onto a roasting pan that is lined with foil or parchment paper
  • Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown
  • Gently stir half way through to make sure the veggies get golden in color on all sides.

<3 mk


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