Monday, March 31, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday 3.30.14

We were in NYC this weekend and I thought I'd get a lot of photos but it was raining most of the time so I didn't get that many.  I was still thinking about Scavenger Hunt Sunday and here are my interpretations for this week.
What IS that?
At the American Museum of Natural History (the ceiling in the cosmos exhibit).

The M & M's store.

On The Road
 Looking out onto Times Square.
On The Shelf
 These Lady Liberty M & M containers get me every time!

Bad Habit
We're addicted to this game (2048).

Linking up with:
Scavenger Hunt Sunday

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Friday, March 28, 2014

{Recipe} Guinness Brownies with Bailey's Icing

I made these brownie bites for Irish Night. They were so easy and so good!
 Guinness Brownies with Bailey's Icing
1 box of brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli Double Chocolate)
1 bottle of Guinness (you won't need the whole thing, so you have enough left over to make my Leek & Cheddar Dip!)
Prepare brownies according to package directions, substituting the Guinness for water in the recipe.
Bake in mini muffin pans.  You really don't taste the Guinness so it's more for fun than flavor. 
I promise!
Let cool while you prepare the icing.

6 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 TBS of half and half(or heavy cream)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 TBS Bailey's Irish Cream
Green food coloring
Beat cream cheese and half & half until smooth, gradually add in the powdered sugar. 
Add the Bailey's and food coloring last.
 I made some with and some without the Bailey's. (The Bailey's has a very strong flavor so since I was making a half batch of it, I used 1 TBS.)
Pipe the icing on the brownie bites.
 Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

{Entertaining }Irish Night

We hosted our annual Irish night on Saturday and kept it small this year, which is what we normally do. Last year we had a much bigger one.
I did a little Irish chalk art in the kitchen.  

We were serving dinner but started with some green appetizers.
Like this cucumber shamrock from Pinterest.
I served some Dubliner Irish cheddar along with a wine soaked cheese from Trader Joe's (thanks Katie!) and paired them up with green grapes and apples. I found green tortilla chips from Late July that had a touch of lime and chili. Yum!
 I also found a cold spinach and artichoke dip at Wegman's which was green so it fit the theme.
(not picutred)
I made this Leek and Cheddar dip. Wow was it good after it baked up in the oven!   It had just a touch of Guinness in it too. I put it together the day before and baked it that night.  The above photo is before it was baked.
I used these mason jars for our 'girly green beer'  (light beer + green food coloring+ a lime wedge) for the ladies.  
The guys used these tall pilsner glasses and of course we had wine too. 
We even tried some Mead after dinner (a gift from last year's party).  Mead is white wine mixed with honey and herbs and where the term "honeymoon" comes from.  You can read all about it here if you're interested.   It's also believed to enhance fertility and virility. 
For such a small group I was able to set us up in the dining room and break out my good wedding china.  I used some silver chargers from Goodwill (Target brand) and my favorite green goblets from Pier 1.
I made a few flower arrangements and used the Irish themed picks that I made last year.
Of course things got busy and I didn't get any photos of the main course, but I made two kinds of shepherd's pie: one with ground turkey and a vegetarian one made with lentils.  For the vegetarian version, I started with this recipe and adapted it quite a bit.  Our friends brought their delicious colcannon(potatoes and scallions) and we had roasted asparagus. Miss Middle School made Irish soda bread muffins too!

For dessert I served these Guinness brownies with Bailey's icing (recipe to come!) and
  Irish potato candy.
Do you do anything special to celebrate St. Patrick's Day?
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday {Dinner for 40}

We were lucky enough to accompany our daughter and her confirmation class when they made and served dinner at a homeless shelter this weekend.  It was a first for us and I'm so glad we did it.
I mostly helped with the set up since the kids were cooking. Do you like our "U" formation of the tables?  It was really enlightening to sit, chat and eat with the gentlemen who were staying there.  I haven't stopped thinking about them since.  I know I was surprised at what homelessness looks like and it wasn't what I expected.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Warm and Thrifty

I popped into Goodwill to find a sweater for the St Patrick's Day parade and couldn't believe it when I stumbled upon this one (on top).  The dancers in the parade had to wear Irish knit sweaters while they were walking so I had just purchased (a much more expensive) one for my daughter but didn't expect to find one for myself. I found a 100% Merino Wool Inis Craft Irish sweater for $5.50!!
I instagrammed this photo of my stack of sweaters that I found that day but you can't see them all in the photo so here they are....
Here's a solid black Izod pullover.  I'm loving the layered look of a blouse under my sweater.
The Irish wool sweater.
I also found this long green sweater that I wore for Irish Night (post coming soon).
What's with the hats you may be asking? 
They were our hats for the parade and we had fun with them.
And finally this green argyle sweater also came home with me. I wanted options in case I didn't wear the Irish sweater in the parade and I love argyle.
This week's photography assignment is self portrait so I was practicing that in my argyle sweater standing on the tub of course. Doesn't everyone?
I also found this cute little vase that says "Je T'aime". It had a little chip in it but I used some red Sharpie marker on it and it's good as new! I think it was .25c.
It's amazing what you can find in the thrift store. 
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Monday, March 24, 2014

{Recipes} Tested and Approved!

I'm sharing a few recipes that I tested out this winter but didn't take enough photos of any of them to warrant their own posts. They were all "thumbs-up" in my book and I will definitely make them again! 
1)Stuffed Spaghetti Squash-Lasagna Style from Celiac In The City
I adapted this one by using vegetarian sausage and skipping the ricotta cheese.
Melty, cheesy and filling and you can eat in the squash shell!
You know how I love my spaghetti squash.

2)Creamy Pumpkin Faux-sotto from Hungry Girl
I was in the mood for butternut squash risotto and this one mimics the flavors with easy to use pumpkin puree.  It's similar to her Mushroom Faux (Risotto) that I love and it didn't disappoint!  She uses cauliflower to bulk up the rice and you cannot tell the difference one it all cooks up.
A generous 1 1/4 cup serving has 6 Points+.

3) Quinoa &Veggie Stuffed Acorn Squash from Hungry Girl
Another hit from HG.  I don't remember ever making acorn squash before this.  It was easy to roast it in the oven and then stuff it full of quinoa and healthy veggies.  You get to eat a whole half of a squash and it only has 5 Points+.
4.)Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins from Healthy, Happy Life
Miss Middle School baked these yummy muffins up on National Peanut Butter day (January 24).
What a way to celebrate such a momentous occasion!  The chocolate chips add just enough sweetness to these rich, chewy and dense muffins.
Linking Up With:
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday
Inspire Me Tuesday
Thrifty Things Friday
Tasty Tuesday
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Friday, March 21, 2014

{No-Sew} Faux Roman Shade

Exactly one year ago today, I posted a Simple, No-Sew Valance from a Tablecloth. I'm finally getting around to using the rest of the tablecloth fabric to make another easy, no-sew window treatment.  
Total coincidence!
The window has been 'undressed' since we took down the scalloped piece of wood that connected the two sets of cabinets here (that was back in December 2011, boy I really take my time on these projects, don't I?)
I didn't want to lose much of the natural light that we get and I didn't need the treatment to close or go up and down so this faux Roman shade was perfect.  There are many tutorials on Pinterest for making these, I used this one as my guide.
{Materials needed:}
Fabric-1 yard or so depending on your window size (my piece was probably smaller)
Stitch Witchery (the stuff of sorcerers or lazy seamstresses like me)
3 small tension rods that fit your window
Fabric scissors
Pins (optional)
Tomato Stakes (or wooden dowels) What??? I'll get to them. (optional)
First I ironed the fabric then laid it out on the kitchen table (it was much longer than the window but I wanted to make sure I liked the look of the pleated shade.)
 I pinned pleats to see how they looked and held it up to the window.
I liked!
 After measuring the distance between the windows, I cut the fabric about an inch longer than the length(I would deal with that later).  I made a channel for the curtain rod by flipping the top of the fabric over and securing with Stitch Witchery.  For more information on using Stitch Witchery, you can read this post or this one.
I put the fabric up on the first tension rod that was pushed up as high as it would go toward the ceiling.
 I installed the other two tension rods below the first one and pulled the fabric through each one to make a pleat. I pinned it again to see how it looked.  I measured one more time then made a hem with Stitch Witchery on the right hand side (where the fabric was unfinished). 
*Since this used to be a table cloth, I had two sides that were already finished, otherwise you'd have to hem all sides).*
 If I'd had more fabric, it would have been a little easier and I could have made bigger pleats but I was ok with the smaller pleats because I didn't want the shade to be too long.  After a little adjusting of the rods and the fabric I was done.
To weigh down the pleats and help keep them in place, I added tomato stakes.  I thought they'd show through the fabric but the don't.  I already had them on hand so that saved me a trip (and money) to the store to buy wooden dowels.
Here are the two No-Sew window treatments side by side. I like that they're not exactly the same but are the same fabric.  
I only had to buy the tension rods for this project so it came in under $18.
Not bad for a former Target tablecloth bought on clearance!
Linking up with:
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

First Day of Spring!

 The first day of Spring started out promising with lots of sunshine and warm breezes but it's gotten cooler and the sun is hiding right now.
I wanted to see if anything was blooming in my garden yet and I found a little something! Snowdrops, maybe?
These mini daffodils have survived a few snowfalls, let's hope the snow stays away and that they bloom soon.  Is anything blooming in your neck of the woods?
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday {Irish Dancer}

 I wasn't in a great spot for their performance but you can see Miss Middle School is in the back row at the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
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