Saturday, December 31, 2011

My First Project = Complete

If you've been reading my decor posts, you know I'm making pillows for the house. I finally completed all of the ones for the couch and the yoga room.

I have two like this which are different fabrics for each side. They took the longest because we had to 1) monogram them and 2) sew the zipper. These are the only ones we did like this. They are 20 inch pillows, sewed on 3 sides and a zipper being on the last side. 

These are the matching pillows for the couch. They are the same fabric on each side and have a fold over in the back. One is 16 x 16, one is 18 x 18 and one is 12 x 18. 

Placed on the couch. The flower fabric actually has a color guide, so I'm going to use that to pick the paint for the walls. I still have to paint the living room, finish decorating the mantle, choose artwork and the right side of the room will be done. I'll have to buy a chair, table and some type of desk for the other side. That will be the reading area. 

Pillows for the yoga room. This is all I have done in there. I have a LOT more to do. The backs gap a little but I think it has more to do with the pillow. I think as they flatten out, they'll be okay. 

I'm pretty excited about my new pillows. It took some time, but I think as I get better at sewing, it won't be as time consuming. The whole project only cost me about $60. 

Next on my list - curtains. I have already bought the fabric. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blueberry Pancakes and my First Pillow

I made blueberry pancakes after yoga this morning. I found the recipes on Allrecipes using whole wheat flour.


  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk, plus more if necessary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon artificial sweetener
  • 1/2 cup blueberries


  1. Sift together flour and baking powder, set aside. Beat together the egg, milk, salt and artificial sweetener in a bowl. Stir in flour until just moistened, add blueberries, and stir to incorporate.
  2. Preheat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, and spray with cooking spray. Pour approximately 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan for each pancake. Cook until bubbly, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn, and continue cooking until golden brown.

I went to a couple of different sites, including FFF, but I don't have wild rice flour or oat flour or any of those things, so I just googled whole wheat pancake recipes. This is what I came up with. 

It was good, but it was a little floury. I'd prefer to use Whole Wheat Pastry Flour because it tends to be a little softer. 


Yesterday was a crafty day for me. I started off painting the cabinet for my kitchen. Here is the rug I'm basing all of my colors on 

I love the blues, greens and oranges. My kitchen is like a beige, so these are all in the same color family

This is the before

our paint

This is where we are now. I'm going to try to finish it today

I also went to my mother in law's house and we worked on pillows. We decided to monogram the pillows which seemed to take a long time. So we got 1 pillow done, but it is awesome. 

We're making another one like this, but it will have a W&J on it for Wendi & James. Then we have a small pillow to make and we'll be done with the living room pillows. Woot Woot!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I got it!!

I just ordered my new stand mixer -

The Cuisinart 5.5 qt stand mixer!! I bought it from Everything Kitchens. It was on sale for $249.95 with free shipping and I get a mail in rebate for a free food processor attachment after mail in rebate. Woot Woot!! 

So which do I choose?

I hope your break has been good so far. I am at home, enjoying a FULL WEEK off from work!! I have done some stuff in my house, cleaned, organized, I even took the christmas decorations down already. A lot of people are going back to work today, so if you're just catching up, I made a dessert, I entertained, and I did some christmas shopping.

I realized through the holidays after baking a bazillion cookies and even making some mash potatoes, that I am in serious need of a stand mixer. I've been wanting one for a long time, but it because they are so expensive, I've been holding off. My husband has sold a couple of things after our move, his trailer, his 1964 Bel Air, etc, and he has now given me permission to buy my mixer. I'm super excited, but still trying to decide which mixer to get. Here are my choices -

Some rules I've been given by my grandmother and mother in law -

*it needs to be over 400 watt. Anything under that is going to break or burn out
*the parts need to be all metal. Plastic is going to break

That's it. So Simple.

Kitchen Aid

The thing I like about this mixer is that it comes in a lot of colors and it has all the attachments, mainly for pasta and for ice cream. I also like that it's affordable BUT it's only a 325 watt motor and some of the gears are plastic. There are some bad reviews on Amazon, so all of those combined make me think this isn't a good idea. 

This mixer does have all metal parts and it's 525 but it's also $500. So, I could get a refurbished one, but let's see what my other options are first. 


The Viking is a professional grade mixer that fits all of the qualifications. It has an 800 watt motor with all metal parts. My only issue - it's at least $350 or more. That's not as bad as the one above though as far as cost and it has better reviews. Some of the reviews aren't great, but there aren't as many as there were for the KA. 


550 watt, I didn't see anything about the parts. The reviews were all good and it's about $300. 


This is the highest wattage and my mother in law has one. Some of the reviews say that the motor smokes, so that makes me nervous. 

Which one, which one? I don't know. Anyone have experience with any of these??? 

Monday, December 26, 2011

And the DIY begins

Now that Christmas is over, the decorations are coming down and it's time to being thinking about making my new house a home. I've had all kinds of design ideas, but making those come to fruition is a bit overwhelming. I'm having a hard time visualizing a finished room, and really, even just choosing paint colors. One tip that a lady from work suggested was to go ahead and get my fabrics, then I can decide on my paint/room decor later. Thank goodness I listened because what I had envisioned is a lot different than the fabric I got. 

My mother is law is super crafty, and she knows how to make all kinds of things, so she went with me to buy the fabric for my pillows. I got fabric to make pillows since buying pillows seems to be expensive. Here are the fabrics I've chosen for my pillows

Two 18 x 18 pillows in this - 

2 14 x 14 in this

it's actually more orange than this picture shows 

1 12 x 16 in this - 

I'm not sure what paint color I will choose. I may do a green, or I was even thinking it might be neat to use that wallpaper that has a linen look to it. You can tell the room downstairs used to be wood paneling that they painted over, so I don't know if it'd be better to do wall paper vs paint. 

In my yoga room, I have nothing but two pillows. I got some fabric to cover those as well -

Again, I don't know what color I'm going to do for that room, but I have lots of thoughts about it. I also need to just get some furniture for that room, but it's a beginning. And I bought enough fabric for 7 pillows, 3 form pillows and a headband for $60!!! 

I start sewing Wednesday!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A New Christmas Tradition

Yesterday was a special day because it was a day of firsts. It was our first Christmas Eve in our home, our first dinner party in our home and hopefully, a first year for many Christmas Eve dinner's with our family. My parents and James parents came over to have dinner and watch the girls open their Christmas parents.

We got up early and spent the day unpacking boxes that were still hanging around, cleaning the house and preparing the food.

I made herb crusted pork tenderloin

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Green Bean Casserole

and mesquite chocolate chip cookies

I got to use my fine china and crystal for the first time since we got married - almost 5 years ago

And I got to use the napkins my mother in law made me for our wedding that match my china

I bought some flowers

We still don't have a formal dining table and I didn't want to buy a table cloth for a table we don't have, so there are some little things that I will do differently next year, but overall, it was a success. The food turned out great and I have found that I LOVE cooking. I knew I did before, but when I have time, I REALLY do. 

Overall, I feel a little emotional because I am so grateful for everything. A house is a material thing but this new house has brought us a lot of gifts. We now have a space to fill with love and to share with others we love. Our old house was cute, but it was hard to have anyone come over and be with us because there was no room. We both never thought we would have anything like this, so we are humbled and very grateful for the gifts we have been given. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Vegan Dessert - Sort of

Last night, we had our Yoga Teacher Training Christmas Party and I was to make a dessert. My goal was to make a vegan dessert because there are a couple of vegan friends so I wanted to make sure they'd have something to eat!!!

My friend, Peggy, let me borrow some vegan books, and there is one that I LOVE -

It has vegan recipes but they seem fairly normal. Some vegan books have the craziest food that doesn't sound appealing at all, but these are just normal recipes with vegan ingredients. It was hard choosing a dessert, because they all sounded good to make. I decided to go with the Apple-Walnut Crisp

The Ingredients

This is just for the topping - it got a little messy after this

Oat-Nut Topping

1 cup walnut halves
3/4 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup maple sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
6 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cinnamon, for dusting top
1 teaspoon maple sugar, for dusting the top

Apple Filling

3 lbs medium apples
1/2 dried cherries, cut in half
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons maple sugar or cane sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice


I want to put this in here because as I continue to use cookbooks which use whole ingredients, I'm having to learn how to substitute ingredients. Not everything is readily available in Greenville, even with a Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Creative Health and Trader Joe's SO.... I'm learning as I go.

A great reference is Joys of Baking. She has an alphabetical list of ingredients that can be substituted. I found this yesterday when I was looking for a maple sugar substitute and was excited to see how extensive the list is.

Maple Sugar - I could not find this yesterday, although, I was at Publix and couldn't get to a health food store, so I had to improvise. There are a couple of substitutes but let me tell you my mistake and what NOT to do.

Brown Sugar is not vegan. This is because it is typically white sugar mixed with molasses. White sugar is bleached somehow using animal bone. I don't think the brown sugar I had was made this way because it was brown cane sugar and it was not bleached, but since I can't say for sure, it made the dessert no longer vegan. I was very sad. So in the future, you can use raw cane sugar, as the recipe uses as a later ingredient and maple syrup.

1/2 maple sugar = 1/2 cup regular sugar & 1/2 cup maple syrup

IMPORTANT - YOU MUST REDUCE YOUR LIQUID, typically by 1/4 cup. My recipe didn't have that much, but I read another blog that said reduce by 3 tablespoons, so that's what I did. Instead of using 6 tablespoons of canola oil, I used 3.

Make the oat-nut topping

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from the oven and place in a strainer. Increase the oven to 400 degrees. Rub the walnuts against the strainer (over the sink or wastebasket) to loosen the skins. Remove the walnuts from the strainer and chop into small pieces. (I used my chopper)
  • In a medium bowl, toss together the rolled oats, flour, sugar, walnuts, and salt. Drizzle in the oil, stirring lightly with a wooden spoon. Drizzle in the water and toss. The topping should be crumbly, like wet sand.Set aside. 
  • Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside
Make the filling

  • Peel and core the apples. (I have a apple core thing and I LOVE it. It really helped because 3 lbs is a lot of apples and to sit there and cut them would've taken forever). Slice the apples into 1/4 inch slices. cut each slice into thirds. In a large bowl, toss all the filling ingredients together. Pour into an 8x8 inch glass baking dish. Preferably Pyrex (I used my pampered chef stone baking dish). Next time I make this, i'm going to cut the apple pieces smaller. 
Assemble the crisp

  • Sprinkle the reserved oat-nut topping over the apples evenly to completely cover the apples; the cinnamon-sugar over the top
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes to 20 minutes, or until the topping is cooked and a toothpick inserted into the apples indicates they're cooked. If your crisp topping is browned before the apples are completely tender, cover with a piece of aluminum foil to finish baking. 
  • Remove the crisp from the oven and let it cool

All the oven temps are Fahrenheit

I did have to cover with foil the last 5 minutes and really could've cooked it another 5 minutes just to soften the apples a little more. 

It ended up being really good and a lot of people ate it. I will definitely make it again. 

WARNING - don't try to do this in a hurry. It's fairly involved and takes a lot of times. But it's worth it in the end. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Tonight is my Yoga Teacher Training Christmas party and I have to make one regular dessert and one vegan dessert. I'll post about both of them once I do it.

I also still have to buy my mom a christmas present, yes, I know, and I'm going to get stuff to fill my cat's stocking. yes, I know.

And I can't upload any photos to blogger right now so I don't know what's going on with that.

Lastly, I'm hosting our first dinner in our new house on Saturday. Our parents are coming over so I have to get a card table since we still haven't found a dining room table we like/can afford, and a christmas table cloth.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Trading Spouses and a little fish

One benefit we have of sitting at our desks all day here at work is that we have TVs. Yes, we have TVs here and normally, it's just on ESPN and a news channel, but since I have moved closer to the TV and have control, we watch a lot of HGTV and more recently, CMT.

Yesterday, on CMT, there was an episode of Trading Spouses. In this episode, a white upper class wife traded with a wife from Harlem. I'm not sure what I was expecting but the show made me uncomfortable at times. Many of the questions that the family in CT asked the mother from Harlem were inappropriate and kind of rude. The worst was when the mom was with the family in Harlem and they were driving through the neighborhood and came across Malcolm X blvd. She asked who Malcolm X was. I was like - uh... uh...... Really? How can one be that sheltered? That's a part of history. The family just sat in silence. I was embarrassed. 

I don't know about this show. Hopefully, people can learn from it, but really, it just seems to incite conflict and stereotypes - I may just be overly sensitive.


On to more fun things - DINNER

Last night I made Salmon and it was so good....

My cute christmas plates - and yes, that's an nc state cup - don't ask

Salmon - 

I marinated it with half a lemon and honey and a little pepper. I cooked it on broil for about 20 minutes but it was also 1.3 lbs of salmon. 

Brussel Sprouts - 

Boil them until soft, add olive oil, kosher salt and broil for 10 minutes

Salad - 

Spring greens
Roasted walnuts
dried cranberries
a pear
goat cheese

and a store bought rasberry vinaigrette

I spent the rest of the night wrapping gifts - so I am done - at least with the gifts I've bought. I still have more to get. Whoops!

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

9 Rounds Review

I went with a friend last night to9 Rounds.

9 rounds is a little gym that seems to be in strip malls and is focused on boxing/kickboxing. It's basically circuit training, having 9 stations that you do for 3 minutes a piece with a 30 second in between. It is a full body workout and is meant to be short but intense. 

What we did - 

It was a combination of punching bag, kicks, jump rope, sit ups, sparring, etc. In the 30 second "breaks", we did things like plank, wall sits, jumping squats, etc. 

It was awesome! I was so tired by like, Round 4, so I knew I was getting a good workout. I also haven't worked out in a while, but it was a nice, mindless way to go workout for 30 minutes and be done. The prices were $29.95 per month if you sign up for a year, $39.95 if you sign up for 6 months, and $49.95 with no monthly commitment - so fairly reasonably priced. They are having a 2 for 1 special, so I'm trying to convince someone to sign up with me for $15 a month. 

I definitely recommend it. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend Recap

This weekend was wild and crazy - woo, party. Not really, but I did do a lot of things so I thought a weekend recap might be fun.

First of all, if you read my post friday, you know I wanted some music. Since my brother in law is the bomb, he got me the music from my list.

I've been listening to them all weekend.

Country Strong - one of the best soundtracks I've ever gotten. One issue, Faith Hill completely messes up the Give Into Me song. Boo. Not a fan. Gwyneth Paltrow's Coming Home is amazing. Amazing.

Sara Bareilles - I haven't listened to this one as much simply because I wanted to utilize my christmas music time while I can. So...

She & Him... I'm not a christmas music fan. I get kind of annoyed hearing the same carols over and over. She & Him is a great way to listen to christmas music and still feel like you're listening to regular music. So good.

Got my hair did...
I decided to go back to short instead of growing it out. I was growing it out from the short short cut I had earlier this year. I'm not doing that again. I felt like a boy.

This was it then -

I'm on the right in the jean jacket

This is it now - 

it's a little different but I can't seem to find a good pic right now

The Nutcracker
My friend, Jeanne, has a little girl who the THE LEAD, CLARA, in the Nutcracker. How awesome is that?? So I went to see her. I use to be a dancer, not sure how many of you know... 

a demo of my skillzzzz.....

But seriously, I was blown away by the performance. One, Selah was amazing. She was so convincing and she put so much emotion into the role, even with me sitting way back in the back. She is a very talented little girl! 

Selah with her daddy

Selah as Clara

Two, I saw a girl I went to high school with - she is now a teacher and she is a beautiful dancer!!!

REBECCA LEE - Ballet, Modern
Rebecca Lee is a native of Greenville, where she received her dance training with the Greenville Ballet, the Greenville County Schools' Fine Arts Center, and the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts.  She received her B.F.A. in Dance, Performance, and Choreography from Columbia College and her M.F.A in Dance, Performance, and Choreography from Florida State University.  She has been a company member with Dance Repertory Theatre in Tallahassee, FL, and a guest artist with Wildwood Ballet and the Power Company in Columbia, SC.  She has also danced with Christian von Howard in the Von Howard Project and with the Garage Girls a Go-Go in New York City.  She has taught for FSU Summer Dance Intensive, FSU non-major dance classes, Tallahassee Ballet, Pas de Vie Ballet Company, Ballet Spartanburg, and Broadway South.  She has also choreographed for Converse College, Columbia College, Ballet Spartanburg, Tallahassee Ballet and the Fine Arts Center. She currently teaches for the after-school A.R.M.E.S. program at the Greenville County Schools' Fine Arts Center.

*this is from the Greenville Ballet website

Third, the Sugar Plum Fairy was amazing. She is a professional dancer, and I don't know where she's from, but she was awesome. No pics, sorry. 

Christmas Cookie Exchange
To continue on the with Boughners, Jeanne has a christmas cookie party and I made Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies. They were very good. 

Recipe - 

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (I used Whole Wheat Pastry Flour instead)
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 cup of butter
3/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups of coconut
1 cup chocolate chips

*Preheat oven to 325 and grease pans
*Mix flour and baking soda together and put to the side 
*Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together. Mix until smooth, about 1 minute and a half. 
*Add egg and beat into mixture until blended, about 15 seconds
*Mix in dry ingredients
*Stir in coconut and chocolate chips
*Scoop heaping tablespoon of dough onto cookie sheet and smash to make cookie 2 inches in diameter

I wasn't sure what to expect with these because I felt like they had a LOT of flour. They're supposed to be more like sugar cookies vs chocolate chip cookies, hence the amount of sugar/flour. They don't really melt so you have to shape them into the shape you want before cooking. They ended up being really good. 

Grandma's Singing
Grandma is in the choir at church and every year, James & I go listen to her sing. Last night, they did Mary did you know, which is one of my favorite christmas songs, BUT, the song that stole the show - That Little Baby. It reminded me of the Grand Ole Opry and Tammy Wynette. I don't know why, but I LOVED it. The singer was awesome and I am sad they didn't have her sing more. 

So overall, it was a fun weekend full of LOTS of christmas things. I also had an amazing yoga class saturday and am STILL sore. 

On the agenda this week - 

Tonight - 9 Rounds - it's like boxing kind of - i'll talk about it tomorrow
Tuesday - work and rest
Wednesday - Lunch with the old crossfit gang and a celebration of the winter solstice with some friends in the evening
Thursday - my friend's husband's graduation party. He graduate from college with a degree in engineering - super smart
Friday - YOGA PARTY!!

What are your plans???