Saturday, December 15, 2012

Nursery Plans

Nursery Ideas

Nursery Ideas by tryallthethings on Polyvore

I'm super excited to decorate the baby's nursery! I've never decorated a room from the ground up, it's just been about what we already owned, so this will be fun and different. (Although it's still all about what we can find at reasonable prices, so sadly I'm sure it won't resemble anything on pinterest.) I made a quick polyvore set of some of my ideas.

1. A red crib. I hate the more formal-looking cribs that are popular now so I hope we can find a cute Jenny Lind crib and paint it.

2. A bookcase, because obviously my newborn will be a voracious reader. I'm keeping an eye out for a nice vintagey one at thrift stores. (I wish I could ask if anybody wants to sell one, but everyone I know lives far away.) Even if it's only board books at first, I want my kids to always have a library.

3. A cozy chair. QUERY: why do all rocking chairs marketed to expectant mothers cost over a thousand dollars? (The one in the picture is from Anthro I believe. Ha. As if. Mine will be from a garage sale.) I don't plan on spending a thousand dollars for the whole room, much less a single chair. Does anyone have specific recommendations for what kind to get? I know I'm going to want a little seating corner but I really don't know if I want a glider, a rocker, or maybe just a cushy chair. And do I need one of those "nursing" ottomans or is a regular one fine?

4. If I get around to it, I want to make a cute mobile inspired by this canopy and mobile from IKEA. (I'm doing a circus-themed room inspired by some toys I inherited from my grandparents.) I like the circus-tent-esque shape of the canopy but it wouldn't be safe over a crib so I need to make my own thing that's going to be ok for a baby.

5. Here is the part I'll be super proud of if I get around to it before the baby is born. A gallery wall. I want to do some art that fits the circus theme (isn't the button elephant cute?) mixed with some family pictures, and then after the baby arrives I can make a shadow box with a tiny hat, hospital bracelet, etc.

6. Fun, colorful toys - I've been creeping on ebay already looking for vintage fisher-price but in real life I know I will give in and allow non-cute non-vintage plastic toys. But at least while the child is a newborn it can have a cute room that is not entirely occupied by a hot wheels track. (Kurt is really excited to buy it a hot wheels track for its birthday eventually. Also, nerf guns.)

My mom has a baby dresser for me, and we have a floor lamp. Besides a crib, bookcase, chair/ottoman/side table, does anybody have suggestions for what we need to have in the baby's room? I know people say you don't need much but it's just like going on vacation, you're always scared you're going to forget something. I need to have my list so I can start hitting up thrift stores for furniture!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Practically-restaurant-style Pad Thai.

Yesterday I was excited to find that my grocery store carries fresh bean sprouts! So naturally I decided I had to make Pad Thai. It wasn't super authentic - no tamarind paste or anything - but definitely the closest to what you get at Thai restaurants that I've ever managed at home. And although it has a lot of ingredients, the only important one that's not fairly standard in American kitchens is fish sauce.

(Sorry for the terrible picture. I can't find my camera lately so my phone has to do.)


  • Package of wide rice noodles. (These may actually be labelled pad thai noodles.)
  • One small steak (I just bought what was on sale), or chicken or pork or shrimp....
  • Half a block firm tofu. Or more if you want.
  • One egg.
  • Oil for frying - I used mostly canola with a bit of sesame seed oil.
  • Soy sauce.
  • Lime juice.
  • Vinegar.  (I used rice vinegar but you could substitute regular white vinegar.)
  • Fish sauce. (Grossest-smelling thing in the asian aisle.)
  • Brown sugar.
  • Paprika.
  • Ginger.
  • Crushed red pepper.
  • Garlic.
  • Green onions and/or cilantro.
  • Unsalted dry roasted peanuts.
  • Fresh bean sprouts.
  • Fresh lime.
  • Thai chili sauce. (Not the sugary sweet chili sauce, the spicy kind that basically looks like crushed red pepper.) Optional but adds a lot to the dish in my opinion.

  1. Prep your tofu by slicing it up and cooking it over very low heat for a while to get the water out. It's important to keep the heat low because you want the water to evaporate before the tofu browns (it will brown later and soak up flavor when you fry it), and also you don't want to use oil here so keeping the heat low means your tofu doesn't stick to the pan.
  2. Put your rice noodles in to soak as per package directions.
  3. Make the sauce! Start with equal parts soy sauce, lime juice, and vinegar. I didn't really measure but probably 1/4 cup each? Then add around a tablespoon of fish sauce and a tablespoon or two of brown sugar. Season to taste with paprika, crushed red pepper, and ginger.
  4. Chop up some cilantro and green onions and grind or chop some peanuts. (However much you want.)   Slice your lime into wedges. Chop up a couple cloves of garlic. Set aside.
  5. Heat up a skillet or wok over high heat with some oil. Slice your steak as thin as possible and fry it. Add the tofu, the garlic, and some soy sauce for color. Let it get a little brown, which should only take a few seconds really.
  6. Drain your noodles and add them (and maybe a bit more oil) to the pan. Stir them around so they all get at least a bit of oil on them which is by far the most unhealthy part of this dish but it's important. Then add the sauce and let it cook, while stirring, until it's all evenly soaked up.
  7. Put the noodles in bowls or plates, however you're serving them, and then mix in the cilantro/bean sprouts/green onions/peanuts. You don't want them to get warm and you don't want the noodles to get cold, so serve it right away.
  8. Lime wedges and chili sauce on the side add a ton to the flavor of the dish. Mmmmm chili sauce.
I added up all the calories on this and it makes four servings at around 650 calories each, depending on how much oil you use. (Unfortunately if there's only two of you and you each eat half because Pad Thai doesn't keep well, you will get fat. This is what happened to me and Kurt.) Anyhow as far as the oil goes - you need to use enough so all the noodles get a little oil or they won't taste right, but as long as you don't deep-fry them you should be ok. Like, there should be a spot of bubbling oil in the pan when you add the noodles, not an entire layer of oil across the whole bottom of the pan. Explaining this would be a lot easier if I measured my ingredients... 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DIY Faux Oxford Sneakers

An actual craft project made because I pinned something on pinterest. I've only been pinteresting stuff for over a year now. WORLD RECORD fastest time to get on this, obviously.

So I had this pair of shoes.

I'd been wanting black-and-white oxfords for a while, so when I found them online for under $20, I ordered them without worrying about how well they would fit. (Not well, it turns out.)

So after coming across a couple of ideas on pinterest, I decided to turn these cheap but comfy sneakers into oxfords.

Here are my inspiration pictures. I found the first one here, and I actually bought the materials for this project planning to copy it exactly. I figured black-and-white saddle shoes are just as cute and classic as black-and-white oxfords, right? But then this morning I found a second project idea here - she painted her shoes to look like actual oxfords! Both projects use the exact same shoes I bought - they were $5 at WalMart.

Materials: shoes, sharpie, and pencil. (The project I got the idea from used a fabric marker, but since I don't plan on putting my shoes through the washing machine I just went with regular sharpies.) If you already own markers, that would put the cost for this project at just $5 for the shoes. I bought the fat sharpie because I thought it would help me fill large areas faster but I ended up using the small one the whole time for more precision.

Trying to replicate the look of my oxfords as closely as possible, I started by sort of eyeballing the design on the toe. (I traced around a quarter for these curved bits to get them the same on both shoes.)

Then I drew in the zig-zag edge and the dots. For the zig-zag part it helps to pick up the marker between the zig and the zag - short strokes - to get crisper corners. For the dots, I didn't really think about how much the marker would bleed. None of them were small enough where it bled completely through, but it helps to draw them a little bigger than they have to be. Filling in around all the dots is the biggest pain but really didn't take that long all together.

My original shoe and my sneaker had different seams at the heel, so for the heel detail I just used the seams I was working with as my guide.

And added dots and filled it in just the same as the toe.

I also had to make it different from the original on the top part, but I was happy to add more black.

Aaaaaand the finished product! 
I love them.
They're kind of a fun cartoon version of real oxfords.
Don't try to tell me that 22 is too old to be sharpie-ing all over my shoes - at least I finally got rid of my heavily-MCR-lyric-encrusted fake converse when we moved.

The black is sort of the color black jeans get after you wash them - you can see the white coming through in the background - but it's more uniform than this picture makes it look.

I still have to decide whether I should paint the tongue black and whether I should put the laces back on. 
What do you think?

P.S. You can have my old oxfords if you're a size 6 and will see me or my parents in the near future! I barely wore them because they were so uncomfortable so they're pretty much new - I just have wide feet that are a little closer to 6.5 than 6 so they didn't work for me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fall Leaf Doily Bunting Garland Thing!

(Are there enough pinterest keywords in that title?)

I know I said I was going to post more recipes on here! 
It's just that the ones I've tried lately haven't turned out spectacularly.
So here is a craft project instead.

There was this big blank wall in our dining room. Kurt's grandma gave me some metal candleholder wall art thingies that I was planning on putting up there, but Kurt just couldn't deal with the silliness of hanging candles so close to the wall that they would leave smoke all over it. So I decided it would be an ideal area for my fall bucket list item of "make a craft, maybe a bunting thing."

P.S. The furniture proportions are weird in the picture because we don't have a dining room table at the moment but we do have multiple coffee tables so we've just been eating sitting on the floor.

Materials: Doilies from the dollar store, twine, push pins, and glue. 
Gluestick ended up working better than hot glue, actually.

I started by putting two push-pins on the wall and tying on two lengths of twine.
(I measured to center it between the hutch and the other wall, and then just eyeballed the length of the twine to get it to hang where I wanted.)

I had originally planned on hot-gluing the doilies to the twine, but it was easier (and less hazardous to my fingers) to use a bit of gluestick on the stem of the "leaves" and just fold it over the twine. 

It was really easy to just put the whole thing together while it was on the wall, 
instead of assembling it first and then hanging.

I decided the garland would look best with just the leaf doilies, but I still wanted to bring in the yellow, so I glued one to each of the push-pins at the end. I just used gluestick and so far they've stayed on, so yay!

Pretty cute, right?
And such an easy way to fill up the empty wall.
I'm already planning a winter version with snowflakes.

While I was at it, I tackled the stupid box on the dining room wall.
I'd been on the lookout for a cheap "tapestry" looking scarf to cover it since we moved in here.

I just strung some twine between two push-pins. 
(I had to raise this a couple inches, actually, because it droops in the middle.)

And added a $5 scarf I found at Wal-Mart. 
(Hanging it on a string instead of just pinning it up means I can grab it and wear it when I want. It's the perfect fall colors! Ben helped me pick it out.)

So here is my cute fall-themed dining room.
Not super appropriate for the 85-degree afternoon we had here. Sigh.
Tomorrow we're going hiking so I'm hoping for more fall-ish weather!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Because I can't eat veggies without putting gravy on them.

I had a ton of green beans I needed to use up the other day. I grew up mostly eating green beans as a side dish, but there were too many for that and this variety takes so long to cook that I wanted to use them all at once. So I decided to make a green bean casserole type dish, but without baking it, so it's a pretty quick dinner. (It is inspired by the delicious green bean casserole my mom makes for Thanksgiving out of real ingredients, not the gross canned-beans-and-cream-of-mushroom-soup kind.)

Ingredients: Green beans, onions, mushrooms, bacon, chicken breast, french fried onions, half-and-half/milk/cream, olive oil/butter for sauteing, salt and pepper. 

1. Cook the green beans. The ones I was using simmer for 45 minutes. You can use the ones that microwave in like five minutes and it will be fine but not as good.

2. While the beans are cooking, saute your chicken breast and some onions and mushrooms. Remove from skillet and keep warm.

3. Fry some bacon in the same skillet. Remove and chop or crumble. Turn down heat to medium.

4. Combine beans, onions, mushrooms, chicken, and bacon and keep warm. (I drained the beans and combined everything in that pan and then just kept the lid on because the next step only takes a minute.)

5. Make a quick roux by stirring a tablespoon or two of flour in with the bacon fat and letting it cook for a minute. Then add half-and-half or milk or cream, whatever you have, and cook it until it thickens, stirring constantly with a metal whisk.

6. Stir the sauce and plenty of salt and pepper in with the veggies and meat, then put individual servings in bowls and top with french fried onions.

(Not the most beautiful dish ever, but it was really good.)

Monday, September 10, 2012


(photo found here)

I'm so glad to live in the Midwest again. We're far enough south that it's still sundress weather - I can wear a cardigan until about 8:30 am and then it's too hot - but the air smells like fall!

Things I want to do this fall:
  • Go on a camping trip! It's no longer too hot to sleep at night and I'm pretty sure the burn ban is over - now we just need to get on this before it's freezing cold.
  • Find an orchard where we can pick apples or buy fresh apple cider. My parents always took us to a cute little place to buy fresh pressed cider and it was so very much better than what you could get at the grocery store.
  • Go to a pumpkin patch with hayrides and everything, even though I have no little kids. Then buy a pumpkin and actually roast it to make pie instead of using it for decoration until it gets all gross.
  • Do a little fall decorating. Maybe a burlap bunting, so my life can be more like pinterest. Also sneakily put up a halloween decoration or two even though both sides of my family hate halloween. :-)
  • Hike at a state park once the leaves start turning. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate.
  • Finish the scarf I'm knitting for Kurt so he doesn't freeze to death.
  • Try lots of new fall recipes.
  • Stock up on cranberries because grocery stores are evil and only carry them in the fall.
  • Wear as much plaid and cable-knit clothing as I can stuff onto my body at once.

Things that make it feel like fall now:


I've been looking up a lot of fall recipes on pinterest, and making menu plans and everything. Grocery shopping is more expensive when you plan for recipes and then buy those things instead of buying what's on sale and then planning dinners, but I think it's worth it to plan on trying new things every week. Fall soups, squash, things with gruyere, and pumpkin everything! (Except pumpkin-flavored coffee because that's disgusting and besides why would you get it when you can have a salted caramel mocha?)

I haven't been posting on here lately because with all the stress of moving (and then the stress of trying to settle in - I expected to love it right away but Evansville is so different from Dallas or Chicago) I kind of fell into a rut of eating out too often and cooking mostly boring stuff like pasta and eggs. I did make one fall recipe yesterday, this cream cheese pumpkin bread, but it wasn't my favorite, too eggy for me. Kurt liked it though, and thought it had a sort of french toast taste. 

Since I still haven't found a job, there is really no excuse for not cooking delicious food or doing projects around the house, so I'm going to try to do things I can post about! 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

One-ingredient ice cream.

This was one of those things I'd been meaning to try for a while.

I'm glad I finally got around to it.

It's this recipe from The Kitchn - you freeze bananas and then blend them up in a food processor and they make lovely ice cream! It really has a nice creamy texture.

(It's a good recipe for me because I'm always buying a bunch of bananas, using a couple, and then the rest get too ripe - now I can just freeze them before that happens.)

It's easiest to cut the bananas into half-inch chunks before freezing them, and then let them sit out of the freezer for five or ten minutes before blending them up so they can soften a little.

In this batch, I added unsweetened cocoa powder - you don't really need sweetener since bananas are naturally pretty sweet but I bet chocolate chips or nutella would be delicious. Or peanut butter!

One banana is 100ish calories so definitely a good snack sized serving.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Freezer McMuffins!

Since I made my freezer breakfast burritos a few days ago, freezer cooking is my new favorite thing.

That way when I make lunch for myself but not for Kurt I don't have to feel guilty, because he could just eat a burrito from the freezer. :-P

Ingredients for these sandwiches:
-English muffins or other bread of your choice.
-Sliced cheese of your choice.
-Breakfast meat of your choice.
-Butter or cream cheese.

Step 1: Cook your eggs. 
I did mine in a muffin tin as seen on this recipe
 I actually used an oversized one to get a little wider of egg discs.
They went for about ten minutes at 400 degrees.
Use plenty of cooking spray or butter and they come out really easily afterwards.

Step 2: Prep the bread.
I just toasted mine in the oven for a couple minutes.
I used these sandwich thin deals that are 100 calories for both pieces. Normal bread is about 100 calories per slice so these are nice since I'm trying not to eat so many of my calories from carbs.
Now I could have buttered these, but I decided to go a slightly different route... 
I know I called these homemade McMuffins, but I actually like McGriddles better because of the maple syrup flavor.
 So I mixed some maple syrup with half a package of cream cheese that I needed to use up.
I spread a thin layer of the cream cheese mixture on all my bread.
It's actually important to spread something on, all the way to the edges, if you're going to freeze pre-assembled sandwiches - helps keep the bread from getting soggy and weird.

Step 3: Bacon!
(Ham or sausage patties would also be excellent.)
Have fun fitting an entire package of bacon on a small broiler pan.
This went for about fifteen minutes at 400 degrees.

Step 4: assembly.
Put a slice of cheese on each bottom half of the bread.
Add your eggs. Even though I used a big muffin tin, these are still pretty little... I ended up squishing them with a fork a little to distribute the egg more evenly... next time I may just cook an egg or two per sandwich in six-inch egg skillets, which would get me perfect better sized circles.
I used a couple of pieces of bacon per sandwich.
Six breakfasts!
I wrapped mine in just aluminum foil even though paper towels and foil would have been better.
Because I'm a dork who can't be trusted to keep track of her own household's paper towel inventory.
I love having a stocked freezer.

These are under 400 calories each so they will work with my diet!