cooking DIY life

Cardamom Coffee

It’s Monday and school is closed (tomorrow too!) and we got to enjoy a lazy, no rush kind of morning.  This occasion called for something more than my regular mug of morning coffee so I decided to amp it up with some cardamom.  The aroma and flavor are subtle, yet obviously there (if that makes any sense).  It definitely sets the mood for a calm, relaxing day.

I crack open a few pods and drop them on top of my coffee grounds.  Start off with just one or two crushed pods so you can adjust the strength from there.  I just pour hot water over my grounds, but this will work in a drip maker too.

I like to serve it up black or add a bit of frothy almond milk.  Ahhhhh, enjoy!

XO

decor shopping

Review: MINTED

I’m always happy to do a review when I think the product or site is something my readers are into.  Minted carries a huge selection of greeting cards, birth announcements, wedding invitations, journals, art prints, decorations and more!  Many of their designs are customizable and there are lots of options to fit anyone’s style.

One of my favorite aspects of Minted is that they use the work of independent artists for many of their designs – which adds an originality and personal element to the products.  They hold Design Challenges where artists submit their work, fans vote, and the winners’ works get sold on the site!  Pretty cool.

The customization is super easy.  Just select a card, upload your photo, edit colors & text (if you want to), and you’re finished!  You even have options for changing the shape.

I thought this Classroom Valentine I started working on was super cute.  Great idea for handing out at school!

I had no idea they also had party decorations like these – I can’t resist the gold circles.

Some pretty stationery designs.

More party supplies!

Unique and large selection art prints.

So I guess I have nothing bad to say about Minted – They really do have a great selection, are easy to use, and support independent design.  Three cheers!!  XO

fashion shopping

Moonstruck! (Lunar Items for You & Your Home)

I’m really into the whole ‘moon trend’ that seems to be on the uprise.  Who doesn’t love the moon?

Now you can show off your Moon Love both night and day.

Give your finger a celestial feel with this Bronze Full Moon Ring by cells dividing .

Pretty sure I will soon be rocking this Moon Phases Tank available at Brandy Melville .

Super cool Trompe L’Oeil Lunar Floor Mat from Urban Outfitters .

I love this Aluminum Moon Phases Cuff by Neurons not included .

A giant moonlight wall decal?  Heck yes!  (from i3lab)

Speaking of giant moons on walls … Laura Gummerman did this AMAZING painted gold moon DIY for A Beautiful Mess and it is other worldly for sure.  I am in love.

It’s Moon Time!!!  Glowing Moon Wall Clock from Think Geek .

I thought this vintage moon print sweatshirt from The Salton Sea looked super comfy.

And I saved my favorite for last.  A screenprinted moon phases calendar from Little Lark.  It satisfies my obsession with the moon and with gold.  This will be mine … today.  Seriously, I’m adding it to my cart right after I finish this post!

Happy Moon Gazing, Everyone!  XO

cooking

Homemade Sloppy Joes

We have been getting pounded with snow and cold here in Chicago, so this saucy sandwich was just what we needed to warm our bellies.  It’s pretty easy to make too (not quite as easy as opening a can, but much better for you!).

INGREDIENTS

– 1 lb. Ground Beef (I think ours was 80 / 20)

–  Jar of Pasta Sauce (Choose something simple like garlic or basil & tomato.  I used a jar of arrabiata, which is basically tomatoes, chili peppers & garlic)

–  1 Diced Bell Pepper (color of your choice)

–  2 Cloves of Garlic, minced

–  1/2 an Onion, diced

–  BBQ Sauce (to taste … about 1/4 cup)

–  Brown Sugar

–  Chili Powder

–  1 to 2 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar

– Salt & Pepper

–  Buns

Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat with a little salt and pepper and chili powder (use as much or as little of this as you like.  We use much.).  When there’s just a bit of pink left, add in the peppers, onions, and garlic.

Continue to cook until the onions take on that translucent color, the peppers soften up, and the beef finishes browning.  Next you will remove the mixture from the heat and dump it into a strainer to drain the fat.  DO NOT skip this part.  You will be amazed how much fattiness oozes out.  Gross – you don’t want to eat that.  Return the mixture to the skillet and add in your tomato sauce.  Give it a stir while simmering over low-medium heat.

Stir in the BBQ sauce and brown sugar a little at a time (tasting as you go) until you reach your desired flavor.  Add in a bit more salt, pepper, and chili powder if you need too as well.  Then add the apple cider vinegar – start with 1 tsp, taste and then decide if you want another.  The vinegar just gives the dish a little kick of acid and amps up the flavor.  Let everything simmer for about 5 more minutes and then slap it on some buns and chow down!  (Because that’s the way you do it with a Sloppy Joe).

Enjoy!  XO

life local shopping

5 Things I Miss About Portland

Last year, we moved to Portland, OR for about 6 months.  I still miss it and here are five reasons why.

1.  THE FOREST

We had the pleasure of living about half a block away from a trail head entrance into Forest Park, one of the country’s largest (5100+ acres) urban forest reserves.  It was our Wonderland.  Ava never stopped looking for fairies and it was easy to believe they could exist there.  That forest is magical.  The scenery/greenery all over Portland is amazing.  Spring is beyond imagination.  Every time we went outside we were like, “Whoa – it’s so colorful here”.

2.  NEW SEASONS

(image via new seasons)

New Seasons really is the ultimate neighborhood grocery store.  We do plenty of grocery shopping and have visited lots of different grocery stores in lots of different cities, but this is the only one I’ve ever found myself missing.  It’s sort of like a Whole Foods except there is so much more local stuff – the “Home Grown”  produce rocks.  Every time we went we found new things to try and were never disappointed with the selection.  Love this place.

3.  SCRAP

(image via eric steindler)

Now this place does not look like much from the photo, but trust me, it’s AWESOME.  SCRAP is a donation based creative reuse store.  You can find pretty much any craft based item here – glue, yarn, paper, boxes of buttons, crayons, ribbons, stencils, wood & metal scraps, buckets of foam, corks, ceramic tiles, etc. (I think you get the idea).  A collage artist’s dream.  Always new stuff to check out and because they run off of donations, it is super cheap.  We filled up our basket one day and spent about five bucks.  Score.

4.  LOCAL MADE EVERYTHING

The sense of community is abounding in Portland, which is what I feel drives people to make and create.  At least half (if not more) of my husband’s and my Christmas gifts were made in Oregon.  If you live in Portland and aren’t making or growing something, you’re doing it wrong.  A few faves:

Capturing the pure essence of the forest – Juniper Ridge

Self-proclaimed “plant nerds” at Portland Apothecary making amazing teas, extracts, and more

Delicious “farm to cone” ice cream – Salt & Straw

My list of faves could go on for days.  The people of Portland know how to get down.

5.  PAPER BAGS

Yes, I miss paper bags.  Sure, we have them here in Chicago.  You see them at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and some smaller shops, but in Portland you get them EVERYWHERE.  Even Target.  I detest plastic bags.  I try to always bring my own shopping totes, but I will admit that sometimes I forget or sometimes I have more items than I have bags.  When I have to bring items home in plastic bags I always drop them off to be recycled, but I’d just rather them not be around at all.  Don’t even get me started on the recycling issues here – it’s horrible.  People have no idea what they can and can’t recycle and where we live, it rarely gets picked up.  So yes, I miss paper bags.

And there you have it, five things I miss about Portland.  I’m not sure if it’s in the cards for us to move back there, but we will definitely visit again and may even end up somewhere close by.

XO

creativity decor DIY

DIY Wooden Stool Makeover

I found this plain wooden stool left behind in a closet when we moved into our new rental.  I figured that made it fair game for a little makeover.  I was inspired by a fur covered footstool I had seen in a magazine and thought to myself, “Hey, I could make something like that.”  And so I tried, and I’m pretty happy with the result!

First I sanded the bottoms of the legs to get them ready for painting.  Then I thought I would tape off the bottoms and dip them in white paint … which I did, but it didn’t turn out exactly as expected.  I forgot to take into consideration that they are slightly angled and the paint didn’t dry very evenly.  So, I sanded them down to look a little whitewashed/worn.  I also toyed around with the idea of wrapping the bottom portion with twine or rope, but so far I’ve just left them alone.  My husband suggested using leather or suede scraps, which might look cool if I can find the right shade.

Next, I cut out a foam circle (slightly larger than the seat itself), put some spray glue on the seat and stuck the circle to it.  I didn’t have any quilt batting on hand, but I did have a sheet of a fake snow blanket leftover from the holidays and figured that would do.  I laid it on the ground, put the stool on top and started tightly stapling all around (in doing this, I found that I really love using the staple gun – maybe a little too much).  Then I trimmed off any excess quilting.

For the cover, I used a faux sheepskin (Tejn from IKEA) that I had laying around.  I put it through the washer & dryer to get the shorter, curlier effect on the “fur”.  I then cut out my stool seat circle, leaving about 2 extra inches all around.  I attached it the same way I put the quilting on … pulling tight, lots of stapling, and trimming!

Voila!  New stool!  It makes for a super comfy seat at our counter & my daughter loves to pet it.  LOL

XO!

fashion shopping

Warby Parker – New Collection!

(Sponsored Post … Sort Of)

When I was contacted by Warby Parker to blog about the launch of their latest collection, I replied with an enthusiastic YES!  I’ve been loving Warby Parker eyewear since 2010.  Their frames (for men & women) combine retro and modern styles, making for some fun & funky affordable glasses!  I love that I can try them out at home (and wear them around town for a bit) before making my selections.  And the best part – for every pair of glasses purchased, a pair is given to someone in need.

Everybody wins!

The new (limited edition) Palm Canyon Collection debuts today, adding amazing colors and patterns to some of your favorite frames (optical & sunglasses).  Check them out below:

DUCKWORTH in Painted Desert

I love the striping on these – gorgeous pattern!

WINSTON in Cognac Tortoise

PRESTON in Red Canyon

WHEELER in Windswept

Must haves for this summer!  I think of laying on the beach just looking at these!

Thanks, Warby Parker!  XO

decor shopping

Found These at Target Today!

Just got home from a quick trip to Target to pick up a few household supplies.

As I passed by the home goods section, a few newer items caught my eye.

Loving the bright orange on these stools / side tables!

These wooden and felted stools are pretty cool too.  If only I had a place to put them!

I thought this cork table lamp was pretty cute!  Might have to pick one up on my next trip.

And this side table … hexagons, metallic finish … not bad, Target, not bad.

decor

Macrame is Back!

I’m really excited to see macrame making a comeback.  When I was a kid we had a macrame owl with wooden bead eyes hanging in the living room.  I probably made fun of my mom for having it at some point and now I wish she still had it.  I recently spotted some really pretty and quite modern looking macrame pieces I thought I would share (I also included links to some simple knotting techniques.).  I think I know what DIY project I’m adding to my list!

White Owl via The Vintage Loop & Blue Wall Hanging via Warp & Weft

White & Neon Pink Plant Hanger via Pipni & Yellow Plant Hanger via The Vintage Loop

Natural Wall Hanging via Warp & Weft & Fringe Wall Hanging via Slow Down Productions (I heart fringe.)

Fringed Macrame Purse via True Rebel Clothing & Red Macrame Purse via Two Moxie (too cute!)

Macrame Dreamer (I LOVE THIS) via Ouch Flower (Check out their awesome tassels too!)

This macrame “curtain” is TO DIE FOR!  Image via The Brickhouse

And here are links to learn some macrame basics:

“How To Macrame” via Free People (This is the one I am going to try!!!)

“Macrame Lanyard Tutorial” by Jenny Doh

life

Back In Action!

The past year has been quite a roller coaster ride!  A move to Portland, a fractured foot, a move back to Chicago, a sprained foot … and so much more in between.  Now that we are (sort of) settled again, it’s time to kick this blog back into action!  Get ready for some DIY attempts, decor roundups, delicious recipes, a spattering of cute photos of my daughter, and lots more.

I’m excited and hope you are too! XO

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