Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chocolate, Champagne, and the 1970s

What do Cadbury Creme Eggs, family, pink champagne, and 1979 all have in common? My week, that's what. It's been a busy week, so I apologize for the lack of posts. I was doing some super important things like baking these:

Oh yes, friends. Those are Cadbury Creme Egg BROWNIES! Holy goodness. I found the recipe here. They were ah-mazing.

My parents and sister came up from Jupiter to visit us this week. And just like the rest of the country, Mother Nature decided to play a nasty little trick on us and made Spring feel more like Winter. They came up on Saturday and naturally, the weather finally started getting nice the day they left. We had a nice time, though. We went to the aquarium, Coca Cola World, Piedmont Park, and my mom got to check out the Gone With the Wind museum (her favorite movie).

Now, here's some pretty awesome news...on Sunday, I got a phone call from a local casting company. Atlanta has become THE place for movies and TV shows to film lately (which is pretty exciting!). "Anchorman 2" has been filming here since last month, and we've seen them around town several times. I follow several of the casting companies on facebook and Twitter, and I've submitted myself to be an extra a few times when I've seen postings requesting extras with my age and look. I submitted myself for AM 2 a few weeks ago, and finally got a call back to play a waitress! It was such a cool experience. I had to go for a fitting and wear some pretty tacky 70s clothes. Granted, we spent more time in hair and makeup and in the holding room than we did on the set, but it was still fun and I would absolutely do it again. I couldn't take pictures and I can't disclose any info about the scene I was part of, except that it's a bar scene and I'm in the background taking drink orders. I believe the movie comes out in November, so keep an eye out for me!

I also had a very well-needed girls night on Thursday night. One of my friends decided to start a ladies wine league, which is pretty much just an excuse for all of us to get together once a month and have some food and try different wines. Since most of the other girls were bringing wine, I opted to bring dessert. To keep with the night's theme, I made cupcakes with pink champagne. Champagne cupcakes with champagne buttercream. They were quite tasty, I must say.

Remember that nasty weather I told you about? Well, the cold finally went away and we had a beautiful Saturday. I was actually able to go outside in capris and short sleeves! Mike and I packed up some cheese, crackers and wine, and took Penny to Piedmont Park for the afternoon. We had a little picnic and then took her to the dog park.

That's about it. Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

I love eating healthy, and one of my favorite finds (that I really don't eat as often as I should) is quinoa. For those of you who don't know what quinoa is, it's a healthy seed, often prepared like a grain. It's loaded with protein and when cooked, produces a grain-like fluffy texture. A lot of health conscious people and vegetarians like to use it as a substitute for rice, etc. It has a nutty flavor and can be used in both hot and cold dishes for dinner, lunch or breakfast. What I usually like to do is cook it up and mix it into a cold salad that I can keep in the fridge and eat for several days. One cup of dry quinoa makes four cooked cups, so a little makes a lot. It's sold in every grocery store, so it's easy to find. My favorite is the Whole Foods 365 Organic Quinoa.

Even though I work out all the time and try to eat healthy the majority of the time (we all have our splurges), lately, I've been really trying to up my vegetable and protein intake even more (could be that I'm dreaming of warmer weather, which means bathing suit season...). I was doing my weekly grocery shopping yesterday and ended up loading my cart up with things such as spaghetti squash, spinach, miscellaneous veggies, cottage cheese, and quinoa. Maybe spending the weekend with my vegetarian friend, Danielle, had something to do with my veggie craving... Anyway, as you know from my lentil soup post, my husband is not a fan of veggies or anything healthy for that reason, so I'm usually challenged with when to make these kinds of things. From time to time, I'll make myself something different such as last night, when I made grilled pork chops and green beans, and made macaroni and cheese for him and spaghetti squash for me. Fortunately for him, at 36 years old and 6'3, he has the metabolism of a 15 year old boy, so his hatred of health food hasn't affected him (yet). Making my healthy dishes for lunch is usually an easier option, so I decided to make a Mediterranean quiona salad that will give me enough servings for lunch throughout the week. It was easy to whip up and super healthy, so I thought I'd share. 

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 10 oz fresh spinach
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 3/4 cup quartered artichoke hearts, drained
- 2/3 cup black olives, halved
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons of white or red balsamic vinegar
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- lemon juice (optional)

Rinse 1 cup of dry quinoa until the water runs clear. Add to 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed and the seeds begin to enlarge and "pop." Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl or container. Stir in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and set aside.

Heat half a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir for about a minute.

Add spinach and stir, while allowing to cook down. Add tomatoes and artichokes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add to quinoa and mix well. Cover and store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Once completely cooled, add the olives and feta. Sprinkle with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (I use white, but red will be fine too). If you'd prefer a more mild taste, you can add less.

Before eating, drizzle with some lemon juice for an extra kick and enjoy!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Doggie Window Seat

Remember a few months ago when I mentioned in this post that I needed a raised dog bed for Penny since she likes to sit by the window? I finally made one! I didn't really have anything specific in my mind - I just wanted to find something practical that she could sit in and stare out the window in. I was walking around Goodwill, when I came across this bathroom medicine cabinet. The creative juices started flowing and after measuring it, realized it would work out just fine.

What I liked about it, is that it can double as storage too. I took out the shelves and gave the whole thing a good cleaning.

I put a piece of cardboard over the mirror, along with some painter's tape. Then I took it outside and gave the whole thing a good spray with black spray paint, inside and out, using Krylon Dual Paint + Primer in black. 

After it was completely dry (I let it sit for a day to be on the safe side), I removed the tape and cardboard and put 2 thick strips of velcro tape down, so that the bed can be removable, but also hold down while Penny's sitting in it.

I found the bed at TJ Maxx. What's cool about the Mooii brand beds, is that a portion of the proceeds go to the Humane Society. 

As for the storage element of it, it was the perfect spot to keep all her doggie shirts, bandanas, harnesses and collars.

The whole thing cost me less than $20 to do! I'm pretty psyched about the way it came out. Let's hope Penny is too...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Etsy Love

Have you been on Etsy yet? It's one of my most favorite sites! I discovered it a few years ago when I was getting ready to plan my wedding. It's a site where you buy things from people that are homemade or wholesale - anything from plants, to clothes, to art, etc. It literally has EVERYTHING. It came in so handy for my wedding since I was able to purchase some really cool things off of it that were really unique and customized for me, compared to the standard items you see on most wedding websites. Here are a few things I bought for our wedding:

I wore the rhinestone clip during my reception (I wore the veil at the ceremony), the unity candle was personalized with our names, colors and wedding date, the glasses and bracelets were gifts for my bridesmaids and were customized to look like their wedding dresses (and a bride glass for me), and the bracelets had their initial and rhinestone. I also ordered our table cards and a few other little things. In addition to my wedding items, I've also ordered lots of personalized gifts for family and friends.

You can literally find anything on this site...which is why I decided to open up two shops of my own! With all the baby showers that I've been doing decorations for, I decided to put some up on Etsy and see if they'd sell. I chose one of my favorite decorations that I've made and posted them on there - the owl nest centerpieces I made for my sister-in-law's baby shower in October. Two days after posting, I had an order placed! I've had a few more since then and decided to make some other decorations to post on there as well (which will be up soon).

My other shop deals with dogs, of course. As you know from previous posts, I love baking treats for Penny.  Lately, I feel like the novelty of gourmet and homemade dog treats have been getting more and more popular and whenever I bake for Penny, I always make sure to have extras on hand to give her friends. People keep telling me that I should sell them, and after seeing them all over Etsy and at farmers markets, I decided to put them up on Etsy and see what happens. This shop was just posted - as in, today. By next week, I'll have a few more varieties of treats up there. 

You can check out the shops by clicking on the shop logos above. I figured it would be something fun for me to do since I love to work on crafst and I love to bake. Let me know what you think! And while you're at it, play around on Etsy - you'll thank me or curse me later :)