Monday, April 30, 2012

monkey muffins

Seriously? Seriously! Who knew a little homemade breakfast treat could be this good! I've never had monkey bread before, but when I saw these monkey muffins from The Pioneer Woman, I knew they had to be mine! They were well-received and completely devoured the morning I chose to make them. The ingredients are simple, and the measurements are fairly nonexistent. But it's so easy!

Here's the recipe:

Monkey Muffins

What You Need:
Sweetened, Condensed Milk
Refrigerated biscuit dough
(and a muffin tin for baking)


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. 

Grab your muffin tin, and get ready to layer! 

First, you put in a small slab of butter in each muffin tin (about a half teaspoon). 

Then sprinkle in about a teaspoon of sugar (or a sugar substitute) into each tin. 

The sprinkle in 1/4 a teaspoon of cinnamon into each tin.

Then comes the dough! I use a package of Pillsbury biscuit dough. I take each biscuit and split it into three balls of dough. You put the three balls of dough into each tin on top of the ingredients you've layered in already. (So, one biscuit for each tin.)

Now it's time to finish layering! Another small slab of butter on top of the dough in each tin, a sprinkle of sugar, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. 

Pop those beauties into your oven until they are bubbly and golden (I'm thinking approximately 15 minutes or so, but check often!). 

Once they look done, and you'll know when they are, take them out and pour a bit of sweetened, condensed milk over each of them. So good. 

They remind me of cinnamon rolls, because of the ingredients included. But they are the perfect size when you want a little something sweet. I've even made these in paper muffin cups and have kept them in the fridge. Whenever I craved a little something, all I did was scrape the monkey muffin off the paper muffin cup and would pop them into the microwave to heat. 

Perfection on a plate! And lovely with a tall glass of milk. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

diy glitter ombre nails tutorial

Seriously sparkly. Seriously gorgeous. Seriously fun. And totally do-it-yourself appropriate. 

Glitter is something I use all the time. I'm obsessed. (Ask my boyfriend and he will agree.) I love nail polish. I love nail polish that has glitter in it. I'll sometimes do a solid base color with a glittered tip. This idea of using loose glitter and creating an ombre effect is one that appealed to me, and I decided to give it a whirl while watching Hairspray last Friday night. 

It's easy.

Basically, you give yourself a general manicure to start--take off any polish, cut, buff, file, etc. Then grab your base color (if you choose to have one), clear polish, loose glitter (thank you Martha Stewart), and an eyeshadow brush that usually comes with eyeshadow palettes you buy. I wrapped a small dish with tin foil for ease on clean up. 

I have seen the glittered ombre effect done multiple ways, but this is how I did it and it worked well for me. I picked a base red color and paired it with bronze glitter--very glam. I painted my nails the base red color and let them dry pretty completely. Using my small tin foil covered plate, I made a small pile of glitter (this was beyond enough!) and a small pool of clear nail polish (to the left of the glitter, and barely noticeable). 

Once the nails are basically dry, it's time to glitter! A dip in the clear nail polish and a dip in the glitter should do the trick.


Now how you do this next part takes practice and probably is dependent on your own preferences. I started on one hand and focused on that hand only. I wanted my glittered ombre effect to start from the tip of my nail and slowly disperse towards the bed of my nail. 

With this in mind, I used the glitter polish concoction and began painting my nails like I was giving myself a french manicure---focusing the glitter the heaviest around the tips of my nails. Once I did that, I used the brush to make the glitter slowly "trickle" down towards my nail beds. Each nail won't be the same, but that's the beauty of it. There is enough sparkle that no one will notice anyhow. 

I let this dry and harden a bit, but then I applied two coats of clear polish to top it and smooth it off. The next morning I added another, totaling three top coats. This made them super shiny and smooth.

These are hard to photograph a bit (because of the glitter), but I love them! They are different, elegant, and so much fun. The color combination possibilities are endless! (I even had a grown man examining them, so you know they are cool.)

Oh, and I did my toenails too. :) The sparkle in the sunshine is to die for.

Do you think you would rock this look? Would you try it? If you do, please show me the colors and techniques you used! I'm ready to try it in a few more combinations myself. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

monogrammed canvas (or: personalizing anything)

Personalizing things makes them your own. Personalizing things is one of my favorite things. You can always find a treasure while shopping or at a garage sale, and there is always a way to make it your own.

I love damask (as is evident by my bedspread above), and I found this blank small canvas for $2.50 in the front area at Target this past fall. I didn't know what I wanted to do with it, but I wanted it. Come on. It was black velvet!

For the longest time, it sat. I thought about trying to put a picture on it or hand-stitching into the canvas something. And again, it sat. I finally decided to personalize it with my initial with buttons. I'd seen a lot of canvas art involving this, and with this being so small I knew it would be easy. And personalizing is something I love! I have an "A" decorative glass decor piece in my bathroom, and a black glittered "A" and "J"  in my bedroom. 

First off, I wanted the canvas to sit upright like a picture frame. The canvas had a hardware attachment for hanging on a wall, and it also came with a stick. I stuck the stick into the hardware, and figured out what angle I wanted the canvas to sit at. Once I found an angle I felt comfortable with, I made sure the hardware was bent to reflect the angle I picked. 

I took the stick out, flipped the canvas over, and stenciled an "A" that I liked. I had a stash of red buttons in my scrapbooking supplies, so I just started playing around with them over the stenciled "A" till I figured out a formation I liked. I used my hot glue gun to apply the buttons. Once I was done with the front of the canvas, I took my hot glue gun to the hardware on the back. After liberally applying it to the hardware, I was able to shove the stick back in at the angle I chose to really secure it in there. 

Simple, but gorgeous (to me at least!). You can even see in on my craft table still. Along with my gorgeous fabric banner and tissue rosette wreath. And a million other projects. I promise now it's much cleaner!

This simple projects makes my heart happy every time I see it, because it's mine. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

baked chicken taquitos (with a special sauce)

I love taquitos! They are always a treat, but I have avoided buying them from the freezer section at the grocery store (too expensive!). As we are in a Mexican food mood this week, I decided to figure out how to make them, and let's just say, they were better than the frozen kind. As they should be! We devoured them, and whipped up our favorite sauce to accompany Mexican food (more on this later!). 

The recipe was easy and simple, and these would freeze great for a simple snack or addition to a meal. 

Here's the recipe:

Baked Chicken Taquitos
Yields: 8, using 8 inch tortillas 

What You Need:
-3 ounces of softened cream cheese (I used 1/3 fat)
-1/4 cup of green salsa or enchilada sauce
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon onion powder
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon chili powder
-2 tablespoons diced onion
-2 cups of shredded cooked chicken (I used 2 frozen chicken breasts for this)
-1 cup of shredded Mexican cheese
-flour tortillas (I used 8 inch ones, although smaller might have been nice)
-kosher salt
-cooking spray


Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, combine and mix the cream cheese, green salsa, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, homemade fajita seasoning, and onion. (Using a fork worked best to really combine the ingredients.)

Then add in the cooked shredded chicken and cheese and mix well. Admire the amazing smell coming out of this bowl!

Take your tortillas, pop them in the microwave for about 20-25 seconds, and you're good to go. Take between 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture and spread it onto the bottom third of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla up as tight as possible. Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with all tortillas until the chicken mixture is gone. 

Make sure the taquitos don't touch each other on the baking sheet. 

Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt. Pop in the oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes. (This is when I checked on mine, and the edges were browning nicely and the insides were bubbly. They were ready to eat after that!)

These could be served with sour cream or guacamole, but I prefer our secret special sauce. It doesn't have a name, and the ingredients aren't so secret. The secret special sauce consists of equal parts sour cream, ranch, and taco sauce. Add a couple dashes of tabasco if you want a slight kick. Seriously, you won't be able to turn this sauce down! It's divine with quesadillas too. 

The perfect baked treat.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

how to reuse old candles

Do you ever accumulate half-used candles that you have no idea what to do with? Have you ever had a candle wick get buried in the candle-burning process?

I had a Christmas tree shaped candle that I had no idea how to burn without the wax getting everywhere. I was tempted to throw it away, until I saw an online blog post on how to make your own candles. That tutorial was about buying the wax, essential oils, etc. I took the easier route since I had my candle, but the process was easy! This could even work well for making your own candles for gifts for others.

I grabbed the twine wrapped mason jars that I had lying around, the Christmas tree candle I had, a package of wicks that I bought at Michaels, and an extra pot that I grabbed at Goodwill just in case this process got messy. 

I grabbed a little piece of sticky wax and attached it at the bottom of wick to secure the wick more firmly to the bottom of the jar. This probably could've been skipped or glue could've been used. 

After pushing the bottom disk of the wick to the bottom center of the jar, I used a pen to wrap the top of the wick around. This helped keep the wick centered before I poured the wax into the jar. 

I used a double boiler system to melt the candle wax. I filled a pot with water, got it to boiling, and then stuck in my slightly smaller pot from Goodwill. With the huge candle in place, it slowly started to melt the wax. Because of the odd shape, it took awhile to melt. But you could also do this process with multiple candles or you could add in scents. 

I got the mason jar in place inside my sink in case of any spills. 

Once all the wax was melted, it was go time.

Make sure to pour the wax in slowly, so no air pockets or bubbles form. My one large Christmas tree candle filled the jar perfectly. I tried not to check on it too often, and let it fully harden overnight. 

And voila! A perfect re-purpose for the twine wrapped mason jar and a way to re-use those oddly shaped old candles. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

twine wrapped mason jars

They are gorgeous and simple and classic. Some may even say timeless. I think that's what I love about them. They will never go out of style.

This is a slightly older project from last summer, but definitely a labor of love and something I still cherish. My sister, Heather, got married last August and was looking for centerpiece inspiration. She wanted to utilize mason jars and didn't mind doing some do-it-yourself work, so off she went to find something she liked. She found her inspiration here.

It is a great tutorial and featured mason jars in a slightly different way than she had seen them before. With the help of the tutorial, we created over 30 large jars, along with some smaller ones with a slightly different look.

All you need are jars in the size of your liking (she got hers from family and from garage sales for cheap!), twine (huge rolls from Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon), ribbon (in one of her wedding colors), and a hot glue gun, which is the way we decided to attach the twine and ribbon.

Her jars didn't match perfectly in size or style, but it didn't affect how we attacked this project. We decided we were covering the bulk of the jar, and specifically the printed logos on them.

When looking at a clean mason jar, I started gluing and attaching the twine from the top right corner of the jar. Once I glued the starting point down, I simply just continued squeezing a line of hot glue out and wrapping the twine around the jar towards the bottom of the jar in a clockwise motion. When I reached the bottom of the area we wanted covered, I started to create a wrapped around pattern.

The pattern is hard to describe, but essentially it's a diagonal pattern. I started on the bottom front and did the pattern wrapped around the jar from there. I glued everything along the way of course at this point too. I did it about five times, and ended the pattern where I started. 

We grabbed green ribbon to tie around each with a bow to complete the look. 

The big jars held the flower bouquets at each table. In addition to these big ones, my sister had some smaller jars that she wanted to put tealights in. These ones were done a little bit different, but gorgeous. Wrapped twine, a bit of lace, and green ribbon. 

Even after the wedding, I still love the way they look. I have three of the large jars and one of the small. The small one holds tealights like it was intended too. One of the large one holds a fake bouquet of flowers. I have two left now with no purpose beyond being perfect for spring decor. 

My next project to make a better purpose for them. I plan on melting some old candles for the wax and to fill the two jars to make larger candles. 

There is always a way to transform the purpose of something into something new, which is good, because I'm not quite ready to give these up yet. 

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

pizza dough

Homemade pizza may be one of the best things in the world that no one ever tells you about. It's one of my favorite weekend activities. Breaking out the dough, dreaming up the toppings, and making those dreams come true. 

It all starts with the dough, and this recipe is the place to start (courtesy of the lovely Pioneer Woman).

Pizza Dough

What You Need (makes enough for two crusts):
1 teaspoon of active yeast
1 1/2 cups warm tap water
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Take 1 teaspoon of active yeast and pour it over 1 1/2 cups warm tap water.

2. Combine the 4 cups of flour with the 1 teaspoon of salt. Slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil and mix until just combined.

3. Pour in yeast/water mixture and combine. 

4. Coat a separate smaller bowl with a bit of olive oil. Form the dough into a ball and place in the coated bowl. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least a day.

This dough is fantastic. When we started making our own pizzas at home, we used Jiffy's dough, frozen dough, etc. Tried them all. This dough tops all the others. It's lovely fresh, and I think even better frozen. A day after making the dough and it rising, I separate it into two smaller balls and place them in sandwich-sized ziploc bags to put into the freezer. We usually enjoy a homemade pizza every weekend, and all you have to do is take the dough out to let it thaw when you're ready to enjoy it. It doesn't take long, and it is the perfect consistency when rolling it out.

Now that you have the dough, it's time to make that pizza (or calzones...or another delicious treat). Pizza sauce (I've done homemade and from a can----extras I freeze and thaw out when I thaw the dough.), ham, pineapple, onion, green pepper, mozzarella cheese, and a bit of parsley are our favorites. We've even broken string cheese in half and made stuffed crust pizza. 

Now that you've got the basic crust recipe, the topping choices are endless. Get to creating.

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