Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Textured Leaf Stencil Art

I'm still in the process of decorating our new place. I have a lot more wall space in here than in our old house, and I'm trying to decide what to hang up without overdoing it. Our bathroom has some empty wall space and I wanted something to compliment our shower curtain, which is blue, brown and tan with floral/leaf design. I had some blank canvases and paint on hand, and came up with the idea of using leaves from our yard as stencils. I also used a paper towel technique instead of painting. It's easy to do and gives the pictures more texture.

What you'll need:

Place small pieces of double-sided tape on the leaves and press down on the canvas to help hold them in place.
Dip the paper towel in paint, and dab on the canvas. Be gentle around the leaves - the paint can stick to the leaves and put the leaves off the canvas. It's OK if it's not perfect - you want that messy texture anyway. Once it's completely painted, you can remove the leaves.

I used two different branches since I was doing two canvases. I also alternated the color placement so they would be slightly different.

I gave them a quick spray with my Mod Podge Acrylic Sealer Spray and they were good to go!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Vegetarian Lentil Soup

*Update - I revised this slightly from the original posting. I added garbanzo beans, cumin, and bell pepper. Of course, if you don't like any of those ingredients, you can certainly omit them and it will still be good. However, I feel like the cumin gave it an extra kick :)

I love anything made with vegetables. With the exception of peas and lima beans, I'll eat any vegetable you put in front of me. My husband, on the other hand, doesn't share my love of veggies. The only vegetables he likes are green beans and asparagus, and I can only make those so many times (he claims that corn is his favorite vegetable, but doesn't believe me when I argue that corn is a grain, not a veggie...Help me out here, people!). Unfortunately, he also won't eat any sort of bean. You can see this poses a problem for someone like me, who loves to eat healthy and cook up fresh, seasonal veggies. When Mike travels or isn't home for dinner, I like to take advantage and make things that I love, that he normally won't eat. Since he was out of town for work this past weekend, I decided to cook up something he wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole - lentil soup!

I was grocery shopping a few days ago, when a bag of dry lentils caught my eye. I love lentil soup, so I figured I'd whip some up to eat while he was gone. It was actually quite easy and I used everything I already had on hand. It's also a great option since Lent is going on right now and we can't eat meat on Fridays. Although this soup can be eaten right after you make it, it's better if you make it and let it sit in the fridge overnight. All the flavors get some time to sit and infuse together. It was so good and is a great vegetarian/vegan option as well.

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Lentil Vegetable Soup

- One 16 oz bag of dry lentils
- 3 medium carrots, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 14.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- One 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, juice included
- 6 to 8 cups of water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- Salt, pepper, and paprika to taste (I like to cook with sea salt or kosher salt however, regular salt will do just fine)

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, bell pepper, and onion and saute until soft - about 10 to 12 minutes.

Add garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Add 6 cups of water, lentils, garbanzos, bay leaves and tomatoes and juice, and increase heat to medium-high. Cover and let come to a boil. Let cook for 10-15 minutes.

Add additional water, if needed. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, discard bay leaves and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. 

Like I said, this is even better if you let it sit overnight. It's hearty, comforting and healthy! Tastes great when served with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top, and some warm, crusty bread on the side. It also freezes well.

I was a little unsure as to how the flavor would taste since I normally add chicken broth to most of my soups. However, the flavors of the veggies, combined with the seasonings and tomato juice, make a delicious broth. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Puppy Luv

Another week gone by, and now February is almost over. 2013 is just flying right by!

We had a nice Valentine's Day last week. We broke our usual tradition of Mike making fondue for dinner and changed it up a bit. My parents sent us a huge box of Omaha Steaks products, so we decided to cook up some filets and potatoes. Mike still made a cheese fondue appetizer though...and it was so good! I could have eaten cheese and bread all night. For dessert, I made a flourless chocolate cake with sugared strawberries and whipped cream. Along with some champagne, we had a good night :) Penny also enjoyed her Valentine's Day. Of course, I had to dress her up in pink hearts and give her a new toy.

I also spent some time at the park up the street from us. It's called Memorial Park and it's not a dog park, but I still let her run around off leash and it's nice and close by. Plus, she comes home nice and worn out. 

This HUGE pine tree fell down after a (strong) storm a few weeks ago.

I still have a list of projects I need to work on...I'll have some new stuff up soon, I promise!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Trestle Bridge

Happy Sunday, friends. Hope everyone had a nice weekend. We took advantage of some gorgeous weather this weekend and hit up a crawfish boil at the Cajun restaurant up the street. Between the unspeakable amount of those that I inhaled and sushi on Friday night, I think I've had my fill of seafood for awhile.

It's still a little chilly here in Atlanta, but we've had a few days this last week that are too perfect for words. A few days ago, we took Penny to her favorite park for a little while. Since Mike came with us this time, I decided to take my camera since I'd have my hands free. Tanyard Creek Park is a great park about a mile up the road for us. It has some historic significance to it too - the Civil War Battle of Peachtree Creek took place in parts of the park. The reason I wanted to take my camera is because there are some old train tracks there that I'm fascinated with. I have no idea how old they are, but they look like they've been around for quite some time. They're old and rustic and even though I'd probably be scared out of my wits to be riding in a train over them, they're pretty cool looking. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wedding Card Art

I am SO excited to share this project! I absolutely love it and though it took some time, I'm smitten with the way it came out.

After our move, I was going through a large bin where a bunch of our wedding stuff is stored. I came across a box where all of our wedding cards were packed. As I looked through them, I realized that I didn't want to get rid of them, but how often do you really go through and read all of those cards? I started thinking of things to do with them and came up with a few ideas.

My first idea was a fail (and a pain). I was going to make a wreath out of the cards, and cut circles out of each card. Mind you, I did this by hand...

Once they were cut out, I realized that I didn't love the idea as much as I hoped I would. As I played around with them, I started to really like the idea of making a collage. However, I hated the circles. I made a trip to Michaels and found this 2x2 inch stamp (which happened to be 50% off by the way. Score!). 

The circles were about 3.5 inches, so I was still able to cut out the shapes from the circles.

After I cut them all out, I decided to sort them by their main colors.

I played around with the layout a few different times and I came up with one that I really liked. To make things easier, I took a pic with my phone so I would remember where they were all placed (this is where my OCD kicked in...).

I bought a 16x20 Ikea Ribba frame and painted the mat black, so that the cards would pop out more. 

Now, here's where it got tricky...

After arranging the squares a few times, I realized that I had JUST enough space on the top and bottom to make them all fit. I did have to rearrange some of the squares a few times, and I didn't want to glue them down and have to take them apart if any of them needed to be rearranged. Using the picture on my phone as a guide, I took double-sided tape and put a small amount on the back of each square and arranged them in the order I wanted. This helped keep all the squares together before gluing it down on the mat.

Once the entire collage was done and taped, I made sure it fit properly on the mat, and then flipped it over to apply the Mod Podge.

I know, I know - I shouldn't be using Mod Podge on the floor. I should be sitting at a table. For some reason, I prefer to sit on the floor and have everything spread out around me.

Once the entire back is covered in Mod Podge, carefully flip over and place on the mat. Let it dry for about 15-20 minutes and it's ready to frame!

We have a corner in our house by out staircase, where a lot of our wedding items are placed. I figured this would be the perfect spot :)

Mike really liked this project too. Now I can display all our wedding cards in a unique way, and not worry about them being stored away in a box. This would be a great project for any event that you have cards that are sentimental to you. It would be really cute for a baby's first birthday! 

On a totally unrelated side note, I also bought this little paw print cutout since it was 50% off too. It was only a $1.99 too cute to pass up! I'm sure I'll find some use for it.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

When in Doubt, The Answer is Beer.

I'm losing my mind. Seriously. I had the intentions of making a pork recipe in my Crock Pot this week, so I wrote down the ingredients that I (allegedly) didn't have, on a list that I took to the grocery store on Monday. Here's what I wrote down:
- 1 medium onion
- 2 to 3 lb pork shoulder
- ground cumin
- lemon juice

I went to go get everything ready on Wednesday for our dinner that night. I opened the cookbook that I assumed it was in and nope, no recipe. I opened another cookbook. Not there either. After flipping through all my cookbooks and scouring my boards on Pinterest, I came across no recipe that required any of those ingredients together. What in the world?? Did I dream up this recipe? Being that it was 11:00 and I needed to get that cooking, I decided to just go ahead and make a BBQ pulled pork. I opened the fridge and found a bottle of BBQ...that was only about 1/4 full. I didn't even have any ketchup on hand to make homemade BBQ sauce. As I stared blankly into my refrigerator, I spotted a bottle of Trader Joe's Apple Cider (Mike's hot drink of choice when it's cold out). I remembered that I had made some sort of recipe with pork and apple cider awhile back, but I wasn't about to go tearing through all my cookbooks to find that recipe, so I figured I'd just wing it. Not that things could get much worse from here, right?

I poured the cider into a measuring cup and saw that there was exactly 1 cup left. Not enough to cook an entire 2 1/2 pound pork in. Adding water would make it less flavorful, so I opened the fridge and spotted beer. Beer goes great with pork, right? So I figured, what the heck - let's do this. And you know what, it was GOOD!

Slow Cooker Pork with Cider and Beer

- 2 to 3 pound pork shoulder
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 oz apple cider
- 8 oz beer (I used Miller Lite)
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Layer onion on the bottom of the slow cooker and place pork on top.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cinnamon.
Mix beer and cider and pour over pork.
Add bay leaf, cover, and cook on low for 8-9 hours.

Crisis averted.