Tuesday, March 29

Snapshots




















Favorite things lately:
  • Cooking & baking ALL THE THINGS. Now if only I could get my recipe filing in order.... (Cats make this difficult, clearly.)
  • Reorganizing our kitchen cabinets... kind-of. Either they're too small, or we have too many things to store, but we struggle to find adequate space for everything. Why do they put cabinets over the refrigerator, microwave, and corner counters? Who is actually able to reach any of these spaces?! I have to climb up onto the counter to reach the top shelves!
  • Eating salads for lunch. Maybe in an attempt to be healthy, or maybe I'm just tired of eating the same two things at work all the time, but either way, I've finally found a salad combo I enjoy. Pickled vegetables are where it's at, yo!

Friday, March 25

Fun Finds Friday #122


Also,

Happy Friday!!!!!

Thursday, March 24

Sew Many Patterns

This is the year of DIY! Well, for me it is. At least that's what I decided back in January. Every year I tell myself I'm going to make more stuff, and every year I disappoint myself. At the end of last year I surprised myself and actually did complete a fair amount of sewing. I don't think I ever shared them here, but for Christmas I made my brother and sister some fun tote bags. I also sewed a few kimonos, though none that are "wearable" because I'm a perfectionist and I think the hemlines still need some work... (Any tips for sewing a curved hem? Mine are such a mess!) All of these projects were free-styled, by which I mean, I didn't use any patterns. But I know from the past that I quite like sewing with patterns, and I like the re-usability of a pattern. So I've been looking at a few lately and thinking about what sewing goals I want to set for myself this year.


Patterns: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

I definitely want to make some pajamas. I feel like I could get so much use out of a pajama pattern! Pajamas for everyone! They seem like a relatively simple thing to sew. And I like that first pattern up there because it would prime me for making button-down shirts (which Shawn has been requesting I make him for years....) so that's pretty neat! I also love circle skirts- I have a bunch saved in my "Loved items" on ModCloth, and a few in my favorites on Etsy, but why can't I just make some myself? They're super easy to sew up, and that pattern above has a few different options - skirts for every occasion! I also really like sewing bags, since they're pretty much all straight lines. I've sewn a few messengers in the past, but again, never with a pattern, so I'd love to try something new!

As far as fabrics go, I've only thought about pajamas so far. I spent an hour or so browsing Spoonflower yesterday after learning about their Sprout Patterns line. (Which is an awesome concept, by the way - sewing enthusiasts should check it out!) Anyways, playing around on that website led me to take a look at all the fabrics they have, which reminded me that I want to make pajamas, which then made me think "Hm, I should write a post about that!"


Fabric: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

My interest in sewing pajamas actually grew out of falling in love with that polka dot cat fabric... I first spotted it on this dress, which is absolutely lovely, but not something that would get a lot of wear in my closet. But that amazing print! - I had to think of something to do with it. Pajamas seem like the most wearable option for me, and pajamas are also a spot in my closet that is particularly lacking. I've always just worn huge ratty t-shirts to bed, but the older I get, the more I want and appreciate legit pajamas. (As in, matching tops and bottoms in luxuriously soft fabric...) But the prettiest pairs are always so gosh-darn expensive! Then I stumbled upon the two pajama patterns above, and thus, my desire to make my own pajamas was born.

One of the first things I ever sewed was actually pajama shorts! In middle school home ec class... I picked out a soft brown fabric with horses printed all over it. (Clearly my love of animal print started early.) I'm not sure what happened to those shorts, I haven't seen them in years. But hey! I'm ready to make some more! And maybe bag and a skirt or two while I'm at it!

Wednesday, March 23

B.Read List Jan-March 2016


My reading game has been strong this year! That's not a difficult task (or a task at all, really) when the books are so good you can't help but settle into the couch with them, alongside a mug of warm tea in the morning. Which is exactly what I've been doing! Instead of messing around on my phone or the computer immediately after waking up, I've been making a conscious effort to sit down and read for a little while first. Lloyd usually settles into the couch next to me, and most days I look up at the clock and realize that an hour or two have flown by!

I borrowed two books from a friend of mine; one of which I couldn't get past the first 30 pages (Everything is Illuminated), the other of which I devoured in less than a week. You're probably all familiar with the film version of Catch Me If You Can... but you should really read the book. I seriously couldn't put it down! It's a memoir worth reading.

Some time last year I picked up Not That Kind Of Girl for $1.99 at Urban Outfitters. I'm a fan of Lena Dunham's show Girls, so I figured her book would be along the same lines. While it didn't grip me in the same way that other popular female comedienne's memoirs have in the past, I don't consider it to have been a waste of my time. The illustrations that accompany the essays were my favorite part.


The highlight of my bookshelf these past few months has been The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. I don't know why I didn't read it sooner! I bought the first book to read on the plane on my way to Spain last year... it was so good that I went out and bought the second book, and then I got hooked. The movie is really only vaguely based on the first book in the series, but there is so much more to the story. I'll admit that the third and fifth books were not my favorite, but the series is still worth a read.

What have you been reading lately?

Friday, March 18

Fun Finds Friday #121

  • I've never been a big fan of backpacks, but this one is so pretty!
  • Such a simplistically awesome jewelry box!
  • I want more colorful pillows in my life....
  • I already have way too many notepads... but what's wrong with a few more?

Also,

Happy Friday!!!!

Wednesday, March 16

Cat Overload

You guys! It has been over a month since my last cat post. Let's fix that!









We recently figured out that these guys have been suffering from a mild case of ear mites :( Thankfully, Shawn caught it early and has been treating them with OTC ear drops. We thought they would give us a difficult time about it, but their reception has been so positive! It always reminds me that cats are very much like babies... they can't verbally communicate what's wrong, but if you look hard enough you'll see the signs and they'll be so thankful for it. Now, if only we could figure out how they got ear mites in the first place....

Thursday, March 10

Dresses (& Other Fashion Stuff)


1 | 2 | 3

Earlier this year, I mentioned my shopping goal (or lack there-of). I am very proud to say that I have been fairly successful so far! I've only been out physically shopping three times.... and I don't quite count the first time because it wasn't mindless shopping, I went with a specific goal in mind. I also went shopping with my sister a few weeks ago, but it wasn't so much for me as it was to help her find some new pieces. And today I went out to look for a sports bra, which I ended up finding, but I also came home with a poncho, and I was so tempted to come home with a dress.

I've been looking for a basic every-day kinda dress. Of course, I wouldn't actually wear the dress every day... but I think you know what I mean. Something that works with sneakers and a jacket to run errands, but also something that I could easily dress up with a nice necklace and flats. There are so many options out there! Today I tried on two of them. The Anthropologie dress looked cute on its own, but even better when the fitting room attendant gave me a belt to wear with it. I kinda fell in love! Then I went to Athleta (looking for sports bras) and tried on this dress in black, which, with my curves, was WOWZA. (Seriously though, I felt so sexy! In a casual, girl-next-door kinda way.) The models in these photos really don't do either of those dresses justice. But then there's also the skater dress I've been admiring on Etsy for a while.... though after today I'm partial to the ones I'm able to try on. All three are at different price points. I'm definitely going to buy one as part of my 7-pieces. But which one?! Any thoughts about this are appreciated!

I've been talking a bit more often about fashion here this year because I'm really trying to pin down my style. The other day my sister and I were talking about it and she said "In high school you had a pretty good feel for it, and had a lot of good pieces, but you didn't have the knowledge to piece them all together in a way that made any sort of sense." I've been thinking about that... I've always been attracted to bold patterns, bright colors, and structured pieces, but as I've aged I have really learned to appreciate the quality that a good neutral piece brings to a wardrobe. Last year I focused on neutrals and now my closet is overrun with (mostly dark) solid colors, but pieces that have good structure to them. This year (basic dress aside...) I want to focus on bringing some color back in, and adding my personality back into my closet. I can't deny how good I feel wearing black skinny jeans and a white button-up, but I also know that I'm a little more fun than that, and I would like that to find the right pieces to highlight that but that still fit in with the rest of the wardrobe I've cultivated.

Cultivating a minimalist wardrobe that properly represents the person you are is tricky stuff, dude! How do I build a uniform that still has some personality to it? Have any of you been working towards that too?

Wednesday, March 9

Vegetable Lasagna


I'm not sure how food bloggers do it.... lasagna is a damn tasty food but it's near impossible to take an attractive photo of. But seeing as I made this two weeks ago, there's no more lasagna left to photograph, and I don't want to put off posting this recipe any longer, so these sub-par photos will have to do! The recipe is worth it though, so bear with me.

Savory cooking is still relatively new to me... I was always comfortable roasting vegetables and cooking pasta, but making sauces and more complete dishes is only something I've been doing for the past year or so. Needless to say, this was my first time ever making lasagna. It's just one of those dishes I had never thought to make before, but it's actually quite simple!


I grew up eating Costco lasagnas - the giant 9x13" frozen ones that could easily feed a large family. We didn't have them very often, so it was always exciting to come home and see it out on the counter, waiting to go into the oven. The waiting was the hardest part - the bake time took well over an hour or two! We would usually alternate between meat and vegetable lasagnas, but I remember being partial to the vegetable ones. I mean, how can you go wrong with ricotta, mozzarella, and vegetables?!

Shawn and I don't buy much frozen food at all; our freezer is strictly for ice, frozen vegetables, and ciabatta pizza crusts we toss in there for easy dinner nights. We try to cook fresh and cook at home 5-6 nights of the week. I hadn't even thought about lasagna for years until a friend of mine mentioned one she had recently at Reading Terminal Market. Suddenly, it occurred to me that it had been years since I'd had lasagna, and gosh-darn-it, why couldn't I just make some myself? So I did. And it was amazing, and delicious, and... well, just everything I wanted it to be. So here's the recipe!

Side note: The cauliflower sauce requires a blender or food processor... don't do what I did and spill the sauce all over the counter while trying to remove the pitcher from the blender base... Somehow the blade part of the pitcher got detached from the glass part and when I lifted it up, gravity forced all the sauce down. Oops. When I told Shawn later, he said "Ew! So we're eating counter sauce?!" Yummy yummy counter-flower sauce.


Vegetable Lasagna


1 package dry lasagna noodles
1 package baby spinach
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small head broccoli, chopped
1 tablespoon neutral oil
salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 cups shredded mozzarella

Cauliflower Sauce (inspired by Pinch of Yum)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
5 cups cauliflower
6 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper, to taste
parmesan, to taste

Ricotta Mixture
2 pounds ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
4 ounces parmesan, grated
salt and pepper, to taste

- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Boil the cauliflower in vegetable broth until the florets become tender. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid before straining.
- While the cauliflower is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan. Add the zucchini, onion, and broccoli and cook until everything has softened and the onion is almost translucent. Add the spinach in handfuls and cook until wilted. Season to taste, and set aside.
- In a blender, add the cooked cauliflower, garlic, and butter, and blend until smooth. Add the reserved vegetable stock to mixture in small amounts, until you reach a sauce-like consistency. Grate some parmesan into the sauce, and season to taste.
- Boil the lasagna noodles as indicated on the package.
- While the noodles are boiling, make the ricotta mixture by mixing all the ingredients in a large bowl until smooth and combined.
- Now you get to assemble the lasagna! In a 9x9" pan, spread a little bit of the cauliflower sauce - just enough to cover the bottom. Top this with a layer of lasagna noodles. Spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture atop the noodles. Then spread a layer of the cooked vegetables atop the ricotta. Sprinkle a little mozzarella cheese atop the vegetables, and then start over again. Layer sauce, noodles, ricotta, vegetables, and mozzarella until you reach the top of your pan. (I think I ended up with 3-4 layers.) Your final layer should be noodles, and a sprinkle of mozzarella. Wrap the top of the pan in foil and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and browned. Let the lasagna rest for a few minutes before cutting into it.
- Enjoy!

Side note: If you don't have a blender, you could just make this without the cauliflower sauce and double the ricotta cheese mixture. But the sauce kinda makes this recipe, so I recommend borrowing a blender from a friend, like I did!

Wednesday, March 2

Snapshots










I haven't been taking many photos lately... just a lot of photos of the cats, but that's nothing new. We keep being teased with warm spring weather for a day or two and then the temperatures drop right back down to freezing. This constant shift has been taking a toll on my sinuses, and I can't seem to get rid of this congestion that has been plaqueing me for weeks now. Hopefully the temperatures will stay up in the more pleasant range soon and I can start enjoying being outside again!

Favorite things lately...
  • Silly cat faces!
  • I've been making so much tasty food lately! Some tried and true, and some new. That has been one benefit of being cooped up inside this year... more motivation to make food at home. I will be posting more recipes here - I promise!
  • I got to see both of my siblings in the past two weeks and that makes me happy :) We don't see each other very often, so there's always a lot to catch up on. They both seem pretty happy though!
  • Two weekends ago I met up with some girlfriends to see The Chippendales at the Sands Event Center! Mind you, this is not something I thought I would ever do in this lifetime, but with the right group of ladies it seemed like an interesting prospect. My friend Amy invited me out of the blue, and at first I said I wasn't interested but then Shawn said I should go (!), so I did. It was... entertaining. We were all laughing hysterically the entire time. And afterwards I won $71 at the casino!
  • Every single one of these bullet points ended with an exclamation point! That makes me happy!

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