Daily Pics: Sangria & Bling

We're enjoying a lazy Memorial Day weekend with lots of movie watching, cooking and flipping through magazines while laying around on the couch. I did remember to tote my camera around with me a bit and captured a couple snapshots.








From top to bottom:

1.) A new necklace I just finished for my stop, Texas Take
2.) Pasta with ground turkey, basil and fresh Parmesan - yum!
3.) My baby dog, Jersey, keeping me company in the kitchen
4.) A summertime pedicure
5.) A fresh batch of coral bead chips for some new accessories
6.) Our "homemade" sangria, aka a big ol' glass of white zinfandel and fresh fruit like lime, orange slices and chopped apple... we love Barefoot Wine's zin, less than $6 a bottle!

Tomorrow we're off to the pool and then grilling some juicy burgers for dinner. Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Home Improvements

Who doesn't appreciate a little before-and-after action? There's something so high-impact about a photo that shows a tawdry item or space, followed by a sparkling image of the renovated results. I find it's similar to winning an argument so well that the other person is left speechless, so you shout "BOO-YAH!!" 

Seriously, that's just me?  

Don't lie, you know you've used that expression before. Or at least you've thought about it.

But up and onward, shall we?

For starters, it had been bugging me that I'd had a framed photo of a deer in the woods in my office. Because it pretty much didn't go with anything in there - just the color scheme. So I scored a cute little mirror for $5 at a thrift store in Galveston and a pair of decorative plaques from Hobby Lobby for about $2 apiece and hung 'em up. Looks so much better!



I also moved those giant white candlesticks to the entryway of our home, but not before I spray painted them with two coats of bright turquoise. I need to inject this house with some color and I'm determined to do it, one way or another. They may not completely coincide with what's on the buffet pictured below, but I smile every time I spot their cheery hue. Expect to see more vivid additions, however small, in the coming months...

Back in the office, we received some discarded shutters from a friend and applied them to the rather large window you see below. I love the look combined with the curtains, and both shutters pull open to allow more sunlight or a gust of breeze when the weather permits.


Meanwhile, the husband wasn't left out. He was busy repairing our piece-of-crap gate, which the previous owner never saw fit to upgrade. We were finally forced to do something about it after both our dogs escaped in the middle of the night and ran free for hours. I randomly woke up at 3am and decided to look into the backyard for some reason, quickly realizing they were gone. An hour later, after canvasing our neighborhood, we were very fortunate to find them together and unharmed. Hence the sturdy new fence and gate that ain't goin' nowhere.


Lastly, I scored this set of mini alphabet stamps at Hobby Lobby... they were 40% off $6.99. I currently use them to make little tags for the jewelry I sell - love that vintage look. 


Speaking of jewelry, my friend is on her way over right now to enjoy an afternoon of "bling creations" so I better get busy... Happy Friday, y'all!

Showing up the big dogs.

Sometimes, no matter what your size...


...you just have to do what you want. Like napping in a giant kennel, knowing the dogs will hate you for making it smell like "cat."

My Recipes: BBQ pork chops with chickpea & spinach rice

In this recipe, the side dish is actually the main attraction. I've already cooked it up three times since I snapped the pics of this dinner from two weeks ago. Even the husband eats it! The entire meal is easy, quick and painless and the side dish can go from a hearty helping during your meal to a light leftover lunch the next day. Dah dah dah dah dahhhh... I'm lovin' it.



Ingredients
2-3 bone-in pork chops, 1-2 inches thick
Your favorite BBQ sauce
Dried basil
Fresh ground sea salt & black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil or organic coconut oil

1 bag fresh spinach, a bunch of spinach or a lil' box of frozen spinach, thawed
1 can garbanzo beans, aka chickpeas
Feta cheese
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 microwaveable bag frozen brown or Spanish rice

**I use organic veggies, even canned and frozen, from my local grocer. My pork chops are all-natural and preservative-free.**

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add your EVOO or coconut oil and let heat for about 30 seconds. Slide pork chops into pan and coat in the oil, then reduce heat just slightly to reduce charring the outer layer. Somewhere between medium high and just above medium. Liberally douse the chops with BBQ sauce and sprinkle on a hefty helping of the sea salt, pepper and basil. Cover and let cook for 20-25 minutes. Check the pork often and don't hesitate to slice into a meaty portion to see if the inside is fully-cooked (a tender white or every so slightly pink).

Meanwhile, I heated my rice in the microwave. At the same time, I added my spinach to a second large pan with a little bit of organic coconut oil and stirred over medium-high heat until the spinach was wilted and cooked. (You can also steam it, if you prefer.) Then I added my rice, fire roasted tomatoes and chick peas and heated through for a few minutes. A spritz of salt and pepper and a good sprinkling of feta cheese mixed in, and it's good to go!


We paired our meal with steamed broccoli, finished off with a squirt of lemon juice and a dusting of garlic salt. Bon appetit!

Daily Pics: Strawberries & Coconuts

I still have a few hard weeks of work on my horizon and I've been battling strange bouts of exhaustion lately, but there's always a single scent that lifts me up: coconut. Don't you just love that tropical smell-good? It makes me think of beaches, tanning oil and umbrella drinks. And with summer heating up, that couldn't sound more perfect to me right now. I'm dying to live my life in the water, be brown as a bear and soak up the wonderful smells of paradise.

But, seeing as that's not reality for me at the moment, I'll settle for what I can get. Like coconut green tea (photo below and a link to my brand of choice in the captions at the end) and coconut-scented candles. Next time you see me? Well, I just might be lathered up in tanning oil waiting at my neighborhood pool for the gate to open. Let's face it, I've done way crazier.









From top to bottom:

1. Fresh strawberries and Nutella on whole grain toast
2. A pitcher of Zhena's Gypsy Tea in Coconut Rum
3. A self-made note card using Martha Stewart's new collection of dimensional stickers at Michael's
4. Palling around at my friend's house while taking photos of new jewelry I've made for sale on my Etsy shop, Texas Take (Black sundress was a $10 find at Forever 21)
5. A coconut citrus candle I scored at Hobby Lobby for $5. It stays burning in my office
6. Just for a fun, a photo of me on the beach in Pisa (just outside Florence) in summer 2010. It was one of a few big city stops during our jaunt around Italy



The week is half-way through...
so what gets you to the weekend?

Jewels & Wine

After reading this post on Centsational Girl, my friend Lisa and I were inspired to create our own bejeweled wine glasses. I read over CG's instructions and then headed to the hardware store for a tube of liquid nails (silicone adhesive, aka waterproof and temperature-proof glue!) that only set me back about $4. Next we checked the local thrift store and found some wine glasses and martini glasses for 99 cents each. I picked up some jewels at Hobby Lobby at 50% off, making the grand total for this project about $8. Bada bing, bada boom!

We made sure to have plastic gloves handy since the last thing I wanted was to glue my gems to my hand or, better yet, get stuck with a wine glass in my grip. (Although I can think of worse things than having a permanent glass of vino at arm's reach...)

With a bit of trepidation, I glugged some glue onto the base of a wine glass then smeared it around with my gloved finger.


Then I put on a new glove to apply my jewels. I started off with a giant wine glass and sort of "cheated" by using some large jewels, then sprinkled in small beads to fill in the spaces between.





Next, I got a little braver and actually made a pattern out of several acrylic gems (the ones that are flat are one side) and I think it worked for the most part.



Now that's a bling glass of wine!!!

Wanna give it a try? Leave me questions or links to your own crafty endeavors in the comments section! And happy drinking! ;)

My Recipes: Red Pepper Tilapia & Roasted Veg

After guacamole, crawfish, potatoes, fried shrimp, french fries and cokes, I needed to eat something healthy! This past week hasn't been my, er, best effort at cutting away the calories. Normally we eat very healthy at home, but we'd both found ourselves being invited to crawfish boils or having to grab food on the go. So in my effort to make something good, and avoid the typical approach to steaming everything, I stuck it all in the oven. The results? Delicious!



Red Pepper Tilapia
Garlic powder
Dry red pepper flakes
Fresh ground sea salt & black pepper
Olive oil
Fresh lemon, halved

Roasted Veg
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar or dressing for drizzling
Baby carrots, halved
Asparagus, trimmed and washed
Zucchini, chopped into medium-sized pieces
Golden potatoes, thinly sliced
(Can add or subtract any other veggies you want, just chop or slice them first)

Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash, halved
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp each of cinnamon and sugar

Add about 1/4 inch of water in a glass oven-proof pan and place acorn squash halves face down in the pan. Bake at 425 for 40-45 min.

At about the same time, you'll want to prepare the roasted veg since they can take as long to cook. I took a large metal baking sheet and loaded it up. I think I used one bunch of asparagus, 3-4 small potatoes sliced, 1/2 bag of carrots and two zucchinis. As long as everything can be spread out fairly evenly over the pan, use however much of your favorite bites you want! Drizzle the pan full of vegetables with a teeny bit of olive oil then squeeze a lemon half over it. Next, drizzle balsamic vinegar over them (I probably use about 1/3 cup) and sprinkle liberally with a dry herb mix of things like rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil and oregano. If you don't have a pre-mixed bottle of Italian seasoning, you can concoct your own in a small bowl then use. Top off with a healthy dose of the sea salt and pepper. Bake for about 40 minutes at 425 degrees, or until veggies are soft to the touch.


Prepare the fish once you've placed the vegetables in the oven. I baked mine in a small metal baking pan.  Lay out the fish, drizzle very lightly with olive oil then douse with the remaining half of lemon and sprinkle liberally with the spices. Bake for about 20 min at 425 (I crammed everything into the same oven).


Once it's time to plate your dinner, melt the butter and mix with cinnamon and sugar then pour sparsely over the acorn squash halves.

Daily Pics: Manolo Blahnik to Crawfish!

"Daily Pics" is a new category on my blog I've decided to launch, inspired by a recent post on Dallas fashion & lifestyle blog Sparkle Birds. I like the idea of having a post to include all those fun, random photos that I tend to gather in a week. I never know where to put them, since some of them (like my precious pets) don't always warrant an entire post. What's that? You want to read frequent lengthy, gushy sonnets about my adorable cats and dogs? Ha, didn't think so.

Enjoy these "daily pics," and feel free to leave me a comment on anything you'd like to know, see more of or ask me! 







From top to bottom:

-A recent Manolo Blahnik luncheon at Saks Fifth Avenue
-My gorgeous dog who naps, well, any way she pleases
-Crawfish at the neighbor's house for lunch!
-Kitty lounging at home
-My new Martha Stewart "Cooking School" cook book... an early birthday gift from my mother-in-law. Can't wait to learn some new techniques!
-New beautiful turquoise cross beads to use for necklaces coming soon at Texas Take

Happy Sunday, y'all!

Beach Day Getaway

It had been one of "those" weeks. The kind you just need to get away from. So my friend, Lisa, and I hit the road and headed off to Galveston on Friday for a day in the sun. Neither of us could have been happier the entire time! We started off with cajun shrimp at Benno's on the Beach (a very old seafood restaurant across from the water that I've been going to for ages), then we found the perfect spot to lay out on the sand for a couple hours. After that, we traipsed through the local shell shop that stretches out over the water, Murdoch's, then made a few stops at Hobby Lobby, a thrift store and Michaels on our way out of town. All in all, a perfect day and here's the photos to go with it!

The start of our day, with lunch overlooking the water...



Our beach set-up with gorgeous blue skies and a quiet stretch of sand...



One of the magazines we were reading had an article on how to successfully get away on vacation without having calls or inquiries from the office. Seeing as I run my own company from home and my friend is currently in between jobs, we are worry-free when it comes to beach getaways! Although I have to say that I was pretty disappointed in the article... it even suggested getting four hours sleep before  your last day of work prior to leaving for vacation so that your boss will think you look tired and worn out and really need to get away. It said disheveled hair was a bonus! What a crock!


Office or not, we both snoozed on the sand, waded in the water and listened to Roger Creager tunes before heading back to the mainland. Though Galveston isn't the prettiest of beaches, I was craving the start of summer so bad it might as well have been white sand and clear water. And I got my first burn of the year! If you know me, you'll know I prefer to be tan year-round and whenever I'm poolside I'm slathered in a coat of tanning oil like a turkey in a baster. (Hey, I gave up fake baking and aspartame. Not every moment of my life is dedicated to wholesome-ness... if that's even a word. I'm a sun-worshipper!)


Hope you are having a great Saturday! I'll have a new recipe post coming soon as well as the start of a new blog post category known as "Daily Pics," which will be a montage of random photos from the week.

Weekend Recap: Crawfish Boils & Mother's Day

The in-laws came for a visit this past weekend and we enjoyed some early summer time fun at a good friend's crawfish boil on Saturday. While I'm not an avid crawfish fan, there was tons of other good foods to eat like jalapeno cheddar sausage, zucchini casserole, banana pudding, mac and cheese, shrimp and more! We ate so much I could've been rolled outta there twice. The husband's younger brother and his girlfriend also joined us and we all enjoyed the festivities until the wee hours of the morning.



Sunday, mother's day, was a special occasion since we were all able to spend some time together. The husband and I fired up the grill and peeled and cooked some fresh Gulf shrimp to go with the fajita feast we assembled for lunch. Some Aggie Blush wine poured over ice with sparkling water, apple and lime was a perfect lunch time cocktail. (The vino came from Bernhardt Winery.) I honestly don't think I got enough to eat over those two days, do you? Brownies and guacamole be damned. ;)



Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and a fabulous mother's day! 

Front Porch Sittin'

I wish I've been doing a lot of front porch sittin' lately, and that it's why I haven't posted on the blog in nearly a week! But alas I've been swamped with work and preparations for the in-laws who just visited this weekend. Every time I want to work on my Etsy shop or put together some posts, I think about the long to-do list I have sitting in my office and decide to be responsible.

I did get a couple minutes to make a few improvements on our front porch, though. It needed some help and I'd been wanting to get a bench ever since we moved into our house. That mixed with some new flowers, a DIY chalkboard paint-pot and housewarming gifts from friends equals a much prettier porch, perfect for sittin'.

BEFORE





AFTER



Just having a nice bench makes such a difference, and I love the pattern of the bench cushion as well. Both items are from Garden Ridge, the oak bench was on sale for $40 (normally $80) and the cushion was $25.



This super cute wreath was a housewarming gift from friends, who spotted it a boutique out in Boerne, Texas while away for the weekend. Isn't is perfect for us? I love the "howdy" at the top. :)


I replaced the plastic hanging pot with a much more eye-pleasing version that I scored at Big Lots for $5. The pink geranium is from Houston Garden Centers and was on sale for $2. 



I have been trying to think of ways to use my chalkboard spray paint again, and when I spotted this terra cotta pot for $6 at Garden Ridge, I instantly envisioned a chalkboard welcome sign on the front. I used painter's tape to tape off a large rectangle and covered the rest of the exposed pot with newspaper. Then I sprayed two coats of the chalkboard paint, letting it dry in between. Some of the paint seeped down on the bottom, but a little sand paper (my husband's genius idea!) got it right off and you can't even tell. Then I took a piece of chalk and rubbed it all over the painted square, wiped it off and scripted my message.




I also added a planter hook in the backyard, and suspended two pots of white begonias. I planted the red flowers before our housewarming party, and added a row of red geraniums to the very back. (They were $1 each at Houston Garden Center.) The dogs look pretty happy with the additions, don't ya think? :)



This weekend, we did quite a bit of grilling, including some delicious shrimp fajitas for mother's day today. I'll have a weekend recap coming up soon, along with an event for Manolo Blahnik and some new additions to my Etsy shop, Texas Take.


Hope you had a great weekend!

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