Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ensemble: Halloween

Remember my favorite skirt?  Well I've been having a hard time styling it for fall so that I don't look, well, like a pumpkin.  Luckily on Halloween, pumpkin outfits are totally acceptable.

Tee - Old Navy / Skirt and Bracelets - Loft / Necklace - eBay / Tights - Simply Vera Vera Wang / Boots - Chinese Laundry

I hope everyone is having a fantastic Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Current Pinsperations

So despite the fall colors that are surrounding all of us right now, I'm currently feeling really inspired by dreamy pinks, gold, flowers, and sparkle.  What's inspiring you?

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Halloween Costume: Loofah!

This past weekend my friends and I dressed up as loofahs to hit the town for Halloween.  We followed the instructions posted by Razmataz, except added quite a few safety pins to spread out and fluff the netting up a little more.  This is a no sew costume that is quick and easy to make.  I also added a toiletry bag as a purse, and threw in a Bud Light for good measure.

We were concerned, being that we were down at the University of Illinois, that the combination of Homecoming and Halloween would cause the bars to be super crowded.  We were wrong, got to the bars obnoxiously early, and were the only ones in costume when we arrived.  What to do?  Put some Spice Girls and Gangnam Style on the jukebox and take over the dance floor.  I really mean "take over" because there wasn't much space for other people to dance with all that tulle in the way, although a few were brave enough to jump in the middle and get a scrub down.  

What are you dressing up as for Halloween?  Will any of you be rocking your costumes in the office on Wednesday?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012


I'm heading down to University of Illinois today for Homecoming! Wahoo!  Yep, I just said "Wahoo," that's how excited I am.

I haven't actually managed to make it back for Homecoming since I graduated, terrible alumnus that I am.  We're going to tailgate, go to the game, and dress up for Halloween (!) along with the other alums and 18 year olds sneaking into bars.  

Oskee wow wow!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Pinterest Success: DIY Fall Candles

So last week I posted about wanting to complete some Pinterest projects.  It turns out that sharing your goals with others, no matter how small they may be, really sets a fire under your butt to get them down. And thus, I present to you, some fall candles.

(my roommate put out the pumpkins and gourds in the background, how cute!)

The idea for the cinnamon stick candles came from 320 Sycamore.  They were really simple to make, I simply hot glued the cinnamon sticks directly to the candles.  Each candle took about 1.5 packages of cinnamon sticks (look for them in the spice aisle).  

The twine-wrapped candle was a little trickier because for some reason the glue and the twine didn't want to stick to each other at the same time.   Eventually I got it though, and then wrapped the rest of the twine around the piece I had glued to the candle.  Hot glue might not be the best choice for this candle since it melts the candle.  

Not sure yet if it's safe to actually burn these, but the cinnamon candles smell great without having to light them!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ensemble: Color Block

Before it starts to get really cold here in Chicago (saw a bunch of 40 degree highs in our immediate future), I've been trying to give all of my favorite skirts one last wear.  I'm a real wimp in the winter here and can't handle just wearing tights when the temperatures drop.  I love this top from Express, it's super versatile and can be worn for work or for play.  

Shirt - Express, Skirt and Necklace - Loft, Boots - Chinese Laundry, Watch - NY & Co

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Broccoli Cream Pesto

Somehow I haven't dedicated any posts yet to my love of broccoli.  I was a little weirdo kid, and while I refused to eat fruits, I could have had broccoli for every meal.  When I moved into my first apartment and wasn't great shakes at cooking, I ate broccoli almost every day (which I'm sure my roommates loved).  Last weekend I went to the grocery store and came home with about two pounds of broccoli.  I may have a problem.  Luckily, Deb from Smitten Kitchen (who has a toddler with remarkably similar eating habits to my own) recently posted a recipe for Spaghetti with Broccoli Cream Pesto Sauce.  So good and really easy to make.

Pasta with Basil Cream Pesto Sauce (modified slightly from Smitten Kitchen)

1/2 pound broccoli cut into florets
1/2 pound dried pasta (I prefer rotini, the shape lets the sauce stick to the noodles better)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
8 TB. heavy cream
Grated parmesan cheese to top

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Steam broccoli over boiling water using a steamer attachment or mesh strainer, or steam separately in the microwave.  Once broccoli is tender (approx. 5-6 minutes on stove, 3-4 minutes in microwave), remove from pot and add pasta.  Cook until tender (approx. 7 minutes).  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, strain and remove pasta from pot. 

In the bottom of the pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add onion and cook until soft, stirring frequently (~ 5 minutes).  Add garlic and continue to stir for 1 minute.  Add in cooked broccoli, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Continue to cook for 3-5 minutes.  

Transfer everything from pot into a food processor and pulse until everything is chopped through.  Transfer back to the pot, still on medium-low heat, and stir in cream.  Add reserved pasta water, one tablespoon at a time, until sauce begins to appear saucy.  Add cooked pasta to pan and toss with the sauce until all of the noodles are covered.  Serve with a lot of parmesan cheese on top.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Five Minute Halloween Costumes

Halloween is right around the corner.  If you haven't come up with a costume yet, don't worry.  By combining a few items you already have in your closet, you can create a simple Halloween costume in 5 minutes or less!

A ninja is one of the easiest outfits out there.  Just tie a black scarf around your forehead and make a few ninja stars to throw around.  Origami ninja stars are really easy to make, find the instructions here.  Once you're dressed, sneak around and fight crime, ninja style.

To be a super hero, all you really need is a cape and a belt.  To make a quick and dirty cape, fold the dress just below the waist and pin it to your shoulders using safety pins with the top of the dress on the inside and the skirt of the dress on the outside.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October Birchbox: Essie Powder Clutch

So I promised myself I would never write a Birchbox review, mainly because there are enough reviews of Birchbox out there every month.  I'm not great shakes at beauty products, so my review probably wouldn't mean much anyway.  This month, however, my box came with a full size bottle of Essie's Powder Clutch.  I may have peeked at the site before my box came to see what was inside, and was hoping to get this lovely dark gray.  It has the edge of black but is still soft and feminine.

Don't know what Birchbox is, say whaaaaat?!  It's a cute little box that arrives at your door once a month full of beauty samples.  I love getting packages and mail, and I love samples, so Birchbox is perfect for me.  Learn more/sign up here.

Oh and just an FYI for you apartment dwellers who can't get FedEx to deliver packages, this is delivered by the mail carrier so it always gets to my door.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Flop: Healthy Cauliflower Bacon Soup

I think "Friday Flop" may become a regular feature on here.  So many blogs are about showcasing perfection, and let's face it, we're all far from perfect.  Flop celebration, begin!

So one of my favorite soups to make is Cauliflower Bacon, it's creamy, rich, and delicious without completely terrible for you since the base is a vegetable rather than starch.  I don't actually follow a recipe for it, I know the basic ingredients and toss it together.  Bacon, cauliflower, onion, chicken broth, chives, cream, and cream cheese.  The last time I was planning on making it, I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be nice if this were a little healthier?  Couldn't I swap out the cream and cream cheese with greek yogurt?  Everyone is doing it."  It was peer pressure's fault.

No.  No you can't swap in greek yogurt for this recipe.  The yogurt did something very odd when it mixed in and made the soup really grainy in texture.  Like, to the point where I had to struggle to eat it.  I thought it would get better when I ran it through the blender.  I thought it would get better if I let it sit in the fridge for a day or two.  Wrong and wrong.  

Oh creamy soup, I now long for you and your full-calorie awesomeness.  If you are having a similar craving, check out this recipe from Pinch My Salt.  I recommend using less cream cheese/bacon and skipping the cheddar if you decide to go for it.  Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Easy Calendar Display

So last year I bought a beautiful desk calendar from Eye Poetry, but neglected to read the full description and didn't realize the calendar was unbound.  So what to do with individual calendar pages?  Frame them, of course!

Frame from Macy's

The fancy frame looks great on my desk, and the photos on the calendar are so dreamy and beautiful, I plan on cutting them out when the year is over and framing those.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pinterest in real life!

So I went over to my friend's place a couple of weeks ago (whose roommate, by the by, also happens to have a bangin cooking blog) and realized the beautiful coffee table happens to be a very popular pin.



This post is making me feel two things.  One is that I really need to get my hands on a new camera to do this whole blogging thing.  Second is that I should really get going on some of the Pinterest projects I have on the docket:

Cinnamon Stick Candle

Wooden Letters Wall Art

Holiday Canvas
What Pinterest projects are you planning on creating?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ensemble: Girl Uniform

I like to call a sweater, boots, and a scarf "girl uniform" for fall.  I wore this with my riding boots and a necklace to run errands during the day, and then dressed it up with a clutch, dark boots, and a brocade scarf for dinner and drinks with my siblings last weekend.  During dinner, we managed to enter into a pact that we will all "sync up" when we have babies.  Suffice it to say, it was an odd night.

Sweater - Forever 21, Scarf - Simply Vera Vera Wang, Tee and Jeans - Gap, Bag - Jennifer Lopez for Kohls, Boots - Chinese Laundry

Monday, October 15, 2012

Easy Costume: Wendy from Peter Pan

Last year my friends and I decided to come up with an easy group costume - Peter Pan.  I was Wendy, accompanied by Peter Pan and Tinkerbell.  It was a very odd love triangle.  Tiger Lilly also showed up at some point.

This costume ended up costing me about $10 total.  I found the light blue nightgown at Sears, and then added a ribbon at the waist and tied a ribbon around a curled ponytail.  It ended up being cold that night, so I made the outfit a little more "little girl" with white tights and a white peacoat.  

Teaching Wendy how to fly: trickier in real life.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Hint of Halloween

Yesterday I went out and bought the supplies for my Halloween costume, and I'm super excited about it!

P.S.  Buying fabric for your costume?  JoAnn currently has a 50% off coupon on their app.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Flop: Turkey Cake

Happy Friday everyone!  On my pumpkin cake post, I mentioned that I also tried to make a turkey-shaped cake at one point that sort of flopped.  This used the same technique as the pumpkin cake, except I doubled the recipe.  After I stacked the cakes on top of each other (in an aluminum baking pan), I cut off the sides to make it more oval like a turkey, then took the parts I had cut off and cut them into drumstick shapes and stuck them to the ends.  Then I dyed some frosting a tannish brown and covered the whole thing.

Post-flop thoughts: If I had really been thinking, I would have made some wings as well, or stuffing or faux veggies to fill up the rest of the pan with.  It just needed a little more oompf.    However, this was actually an irish car bomb cake (thanks Smitten Kitchen!) so it still got eaten ;) 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Their Way / My Way: Wall Art

Sources: 1 / 2 / 3

My sister and her husband (augh!) just moved in together and wanted some artwork for their walls, so I thought making something for them would be the perfect gift.  I had been toying with something using the phrase "home is wherever I'm with you," and my friend mentioned she had found some map art on Pinterest so I swiped her idea ;)

First I went to a used book store around the corner from my apartment and found a map of Lake County, where we grew up and my sister currently lives.  I decoupaged the map to a canvas and let it dry completely.  While it was drying, I laid out the words the way I wanted in InDesign and printed them out.  Then I lightly taped the words to the map and traced over them with a mechanical pencil, pressing down hard so that the pencil made an indentation on the map.  Using good lighting, I traced and filled in the letters using a marker.

Next, I watered down some paints (if I had watercolors in stock, I would have used those instead) and painted over everything to age the map up a bit.  Now, I used a washable marker, which led to a bit more of a distressed look than I was going for, so I used some paper towels to pick up the extra color.  Then I finished it off by tracing around the letters with opaque white paint and the tiniest paint brush you can imagine.  

Voila!  Present!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Easy Costume: Carebear

So I love Halloween costumes.  Actually, all costumes.  I have a fairly impressive costume drawer when really I should be using that storage space for something else.

A few years ago I went to Madison for their big Halloween street party with my college roommates.  Knowing it was an outdoor event and it would probably be pretty cold, I wanted to come up with a warm and comfy costume.  Enter: the sweatsuit Carebear.

My roommate, the mad scientist.

I found the sweatsuit at Kmart for about $4 a piece.  I bought an extra sweatshirt to use for the hat.  I took an old white t-shirt and cut it into a large oval, and traced two hearts onto it.  I then hand stitched it onto the front of the sweatshirt, leaving two holes on either side to make a little pouch pocket.  For the hat, I used a beanie as an example and traced it onto the extra sweatshirt, adding on the two ears, then cut it out and sewed the two sides together.  Then I hand stitched on two white circles of fabric for the inside of the ears.  

Finally, I colored a red heart onto the extra white fabric, cut it out, and sewed it onto the bottom.  Because I did a lot of hand stitching since I'm a crazy person and not that confident on my current sewing machine, this probably took me 3-4 hours to complete.  Super comfy, super warm, and everyone wanted to give me a hug.  Win.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Coat!

Last week the coat I had been lusting over at Loft (yes, Loft again!) went on a good enough sale that I thought it high time to make the purchase.  And I am loooooving it.  Came in super handy for the 38 degree sister wedding last weekend! Sorry fellow bloggers, but it appears to no longer be available online.

Wore this on date night with the boyfriend last week, hence the tights.  Boyfriend likes it when I wear patterned tights.  

Excuse the mess in the back of the picture, not only was I packing for the sisterface wedding, I was also working on a DIY project that I'll be sharing later this week.  Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sisterface Wedding Extravaganza

This weekend was my sister's wedding.  She went super untraditional, and got married on a beach in Door County, WI.  Just immediate family (and my boyfriend, lucky man) were present.  It was about 39 degrees and windy, but a very beautiful and intimate ceremony.  Didn't get any pictures at the beach since I was technically the maid of honor, but did snap this in the driveway:

How do I do a trip to the woods?  With chambray and denim, of course!  Silly iPhone makes blurry photos: 

 Shirt and Sweater - Old Navy, Jeans - Gap, Boots - Bandolino, Earrings - Loft

Now I'm decompressing, tomorrow the construction in my office will be complete so pajama week is officially over.

Friday, October 5, 2012

You had me at "Meat Tornado"

Not to go Ron Swanson crazy or anything, but I found this on Pinterest yesterday and just had to share.

Also, I'm about to leave for Door County, WI for the weekend for my little sister's wedding!  She's having her wedding on a beach and it's supposed to snow.  That's what sweater dresses and tights are for, right?!  Perhaps I'll post some pictures along the way.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ensemble: A Loft Problem...

Loft clearly has me where they want me.  With all of their sales this summer/fall, they have been slowly taking over my wardrobe.  I also bought this fantastic coat.  

Shirt and Skirt - Loft, Jacket - Express, Booties - Katie & Kelly

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Happy Ron-oween

Wishing I were able to pull off a mighty moustache so I could be this guy for Halloween: 

Source: Buzzfeed

That is all.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Halloween Pumpkin Cake

So last Fall I was really into making shaped cakes.  Including a Turkey-shaped cake, which turns out to be much less cute than it sounds.  One of the successes though was the pumpkin cake.

I originally made this for a Halloween potluck at work, hense why it was made on a cake carrying case.  

Now, you could make this with a pumpkin cake recipe.  I suppose that would make the most sense.  However, I actually don't like pumpkin-flavored things.  I know, I know, you're gasping in horror right now.  Just because it looks like a pumpkin doesn't mean it has to taste like a pumpkin! 

It's actually a dark chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting.  The cake recipe came from Smitten Kitchen's Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, it's my favorite chocolate cake recipe.  Yes, it has some Guinness in it, but that bakes right on out.  

To bake the cake, follow the prep directions from Smitten Kitchen, but instead of turning it into cupcakes, bake the batter into two well greased metal bowls.  The size of the bowl you use will determine how round the cake ends up.  I think the bowls I used were ultimately a little too big (mine were 6qt) so my cakes ended up a little bit like space saucers instead of half circles.  Smaller bowls will make a more circular cake.  Bake  at 350 for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick poked in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool completely.

While cake is cooling, mix up the frosting.  If you're using store bought, you will need two containers.  If you're making the frosting yourself, you will need more than for a regular cake.  I started 3/4 cup of butter, which I creamed with an electric mixer.  Then slowly add in 4-5 cups of powdered sugar while continuing to mix.  If you mix slowly, you actually will end up using less sugar.  Once the mixture actually resembles frosting, add in 2 - 3 TB cream (or milk if you're trying to save calories or you don't feel like buying cream) and 2 tsp. vanilla extract.  Mix together.  If the frosting is too thin, add in a little more powdered sugar until it thickens up a bit.  

Split the frosting into two bowls, with 1/4 of the frosting in one bowl and 3/4 in the other.  Add green food coloring into the 1/4 bowl (hint: gel paste food color will lend better color than regular food coloring) and yellow and red to the 3/4 bowl.  Mix until the color is to your liking.  

Spread a layer of green frosting to the bottom of the serving dish for the cake.  Add crumbled Oreos on top for ambiance.  

Place one of the cakes on top of the Oreos and cover completely with orange frosting.  Place the second cake on top and cover completely with orange frosting, making sure to fill in the gap between the two cakes completely.  

To make the stem, connect two Oreos together with a layer of green frosting in between.  Cover the Oreos with green frosting, and then stick to the top of the cake.  

If you're feeling really creative, turn it into a Jack-o-Lantern cake by drawing on or carving in a face.  Serve and enjoy!

Like the cat wine in the background?  I've had it now for three years because it's so cute I don't want to open it.  Thanks to the fact that it is now three year old cat wine, I am also now scared to drink it.