Sunday, February 23, 2014

Apple Cider Onion Soup with Gouda Cinnamon Toasts

I always forget how amazing this soup is until I make and eat it again.  Onion soup is ok, not my favorite, but this one is special.  It has APPLES in it.  And BRANDY! Wahoo!! Not to mention cheesie toasts that have cinnamon and sugar caramelized on one side that float on top of the apple/onion goodness. make it in the crockpot so there's no work involved when its time to eat! ...You're welcome.


2 T of olive oil
2 T of butter cubed
2 medium granny smith apples, peeled cored and chopped
4 medium to large onions peeled and sliced thin
4 C chicken broth
1 1/2 C of apple cider
2 T of Brandy
salt and pepper to taste

Gouda Toasts
2 T butter
Loaf of French Bread
2 T sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
2 C shredded Gouda cheese

1. Spoon oil and butter over bottom of crockpot.  Add onions and apples and set on low for 8-10 hours until caramelized.

2. An hour before serving, add broth, cider, brandy, salt and pepper to taste, and set to high, heating until hot, about an hour.

3.  Make toasts while soup is heating:  Mix sugar and cinnamon together.  Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread and top with cinnamon sugar mixture.  Broil for a couple of minutes until golden brown.

4.  Flip your toasts over, top with Gouda cheese, and broil again until cheese is just slightly bubbly.

5.  Serve soup with toasts floating on top, cheese side up.

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How To Redesign a Dress

I was fortunate enough to inherit a lot of my grandma's clothes when she passed away a few years ago.  Most people may think, " you want to wear your grandma's clothes?"  Yes!!  This woman had extreme style and class.  I never her saw her not put together...even when she was working outside in the yard!  (And yes, I got some of the cool gardening clothes, too.)  This particular dress was one she wore in the late 80's early 90's, I believe.  I LOVE the lace and floral print and the unexpected color combination!  I had a vision for making this pretty, flowy dress a little more fitted so that I would be able to wear it all the time.   This could apply to any dress that needs a little tweaking.  This is how I did it:

I chose a dress that I already had and used that as kind of a pattern for the top and the length.

I left an extra inch or so at the bottom because I wanted the length to be a little longer, and to allow extra fabric for hemming.

Then I cut off the excess fabric from the length.

Using the top of the dress as my guide, I cut around the edge leaving 1/2" of extra fabric all the way around the edge of the top and stopping where the waistline began.

I then flipped the dress inside out, connected the armpit and the waistline using pins as my guide.  and then sewing in a straight line through all layers from the armpit to the waistline.  I then trimmed the excess fabric to 1/4".

Next, I ironed around the armhole edges folding down 1/4", and then another 1/4" and sewed 1/8" seam all the way around on both armholes.

Doing the same pressing method of 1/4", and then another 1/4", I sewed both the lining and the lace hems of the bottom of the dress.

Using the extra fabric that I had  cut away from the length, I folded and hemmed at 2 1/2" sash to go around the waist.

I like to finish the edges at an angle so they look like a ribbon.

Here is the finished product!!  I love how twirly this dress is!  It looks like a vintage inspired piece that I would buy, but this one happens to be priceless!  I like to think that my grandma had a hand in helping me make this little beauty.  I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, I would love to see what kind of dress redesigns you come up with!!

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Galaxy Nails

Even though there are 6 steps to create these super spacey galaxy only takes a couple minutes longer to do  than a regular 2 coat polish.  Start with a full coat of black.  Then begin adding color in layers by wiping most of the color off of the brush and doing random back and forth strokes in small patches.  These steps are done really quickly, there's no set method, random is best!! Overlap the colors as you go just a bit to create galactic dimension.  Do the same thing with a glitter polish, using the same random, overlapping technique.  You can stop there, or you could add some tiny crystals for a 3D look.  Finish with a shiny topcoat and admire your cosmic handiwork!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Rosemary Mint Shaving Cream

If you are looking for an easy and natural DIY shaving cream recipe, this one is FANTASTIC!!  The scent is refreshing and its perfect for men or women.  Its a very thick consistency that starts to melt as you put it on the skin.  The moisturizing coconut oil and shea butter are a great combination for even those with the most sensitive of skin. Its also great for those with eczema.  This makes a really great customized gift.  You could play around with the essential oils,  the types of containers to put it in, and the  possibility of different labels are endless!!  For full pictures of the process, head over to Food For My Family  where Shaina gives a great tutorial!
1/3 cup shea butter (72.67 grams)
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil (72.05 grams)
1/4 cup jojoba or sweet almond oil (54.88 grams)
10 drops rosemary essential oil
3-5 drops peppermint essential oil

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the shea butter and coconut oil, stirring until just melted. Remove from the heat and transfer to a heat-safe bowl. Add in the jojoba oil and the essential oils. Stir to mix.

Place the bowl in the refrigerator and chill until solid. Remove from the refrigerator and whip using a hand beater or a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Spoon into a jar. Lid and keep in a cool, dry place.

Makes 8 ounces.
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Monday, February 3, 2014

Romance on a Budget: 13 Free (Or Almost Free) Date Ideas

The season of love is upon us, and I thought this would be the perfect time to share some very inexpensive date ideas!  My husband and I live on a fixed budget, but that doesn't mean we don't have a blast with each other. All. The. Time!  Some people may wonder what we do for fun because we really don't spend money going out to eat, or shopping, or going to movies, or any of those things that seem to cost a fortune to do these days.  We do love to do those things, too,  but they are generally saved for a special occasion.  These ideas may seem like kind of basic, common sense ideas, but its easy to get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life that we simply forget about these kinds of things! I hope these inspire some creative sparks in your relationship! 

1.  Go for a bike ride!  I love to put stuff in my basket when we go (obsessed with Wizard of Oz, much?  My freakin' bikes name is Dorothy. Yes, I named it.)  I really want to pack a picnic to carry in my basket and go for a ride to the near by park.  As soon as the weather warms up!!

2.  Plant a garden!  We got started doing this a few years ago when we were so sick of winter.  We bought a light and some seeds to help us beat the winter blues, and since then, we've found that its become a passion!  We love going out to check on the plants everyday as they grow, its really exciting to see their progress, and a fun tradition to do together!

3.  Have cocktails in the garden!  We love to take herbs that we've grown and invent new cocktails with them, and then enjoy them in the garden.  That's probably one of my most favorite things to do in the summer! (Dang groundhog, when will this winter ever end?)  We love being surrounded by every thing that we have grown: it looks bountiful, it smells beautiful, it tastes amazing, and we did it together!

4.  Check out local entertainment!  The local college in our town brings in tons of great acts to their auditorium and usually for a very reasonable price.  This was a Michael Jackson impersonator that we saw, and since I've been obsessed with Michael since before I could talk, we had to go.  And we HAD to dress up. Duh. It adds to the experience!  P.S.  Our first dance at our wedding was to "Thriller".  The full dance. In a wedding dress and suit. Oh yeah!!

5.  Make fondue at home!  The Melting Pot is one of our favorite restaurants, but it comes with a hefty price tag.  We love it so much! Its dipping cheese and chocolate!! We like to put together all of the same kinds of things you would find at a real fondue place, and then just take our sweet time.  We are usually stuffed when its all over with, but man is it good!!

6.  Take the pets on a walk!  This may seem like a no brainer, but what if you hopped in the car and found a new place to explore? Our pets are like our kids, so seeing them get excited is a blast, its good for the soul, and its fun to explore new places together!

7.  Pretend your are on a tropical vacation!  We have some cheap tiki torches we light up on the back patio, have a cocktail, and prop your feet up.  There's really something to be said for just stopping and relaxing for awhile.  It allows you to turn inward, and toward each other...and forget about everything else for just a little bit.

8.  Work on a project together!  Now, I know this one may be a little controversial.  Some people, *uh-hum* (don't ask me how I know this), don't get along when working on projects together.  We have completely redone our entire house together.  That adds up to be a lot of projects together. A lot.  But we finally figured out that one of us is better with details, and one is better with big picture type stuff.  The work is hard, but the payoff is so rewarding!  These projects give you something to be very proud of and to have even more appreciation for because of the blood, sweat, and tears you put into it.

9.  Go for a field day!  Our local organic community has a foundation that sets up free visits to organic farms in the midwest.  We were able to visit a local organic farm and see all of its inner workings from their crop production, to their livestock, to bees, and a whole segment on their wild prairie and tips for selling at a farmers market.  It was a blast!  We learned so much, made some great connections, and it was completely free! 

10.  Play tennis!  This is a great activity for two!  Once you have a racket and balls (we just bought cheap ones from Wal-Mart), its free!  There are tennis courts all over, and its fun to work up a sweat and get a little healthy competition going.

11.  Go to a butterfly house!  This was AMAZING!  Unless you are afraid of butterflies.  In that case, please don't go to a butterfly house. This was almost like walking through a dream.  There were hundreds of different kinds of butterflies, all over the place, and they would land on you like it was their job.  It was just ethereal.  I think we payed less than $5 a piece to get in.  We felt like little children, light hearted, excited, and in awe...   Experiencing those feelings together are reason enough to go with your hunny bunny.

12.  Go to a local dance!  Last year we went to a Valentine's Day dance at a local community center.  It was a blast!!  Granted, we were the youngest people there by about 15-20 years, but that made no difference!  They had a nice dinner, we made friends with all of the people at our table (one was my principal from grade school who was at least in her 70's back then.)  They had an awesome band that played music from the 50's and 60's (my fave!! eeek!!) and we danced the night away!!  It was fun to be out of the comfort zone of our peer group, which makes you really feel close, and just cut loose!!  Aaaaaand... I had an excuse to wear my fluffy pink and purple dress.  We would do it again in a heartbeat!

13.  Get shaved ice!  Its cheap, its good, and you can pretend like you are in high school again (if you are, of course, not in high school).  Its the little things, really.  As long as you are present, (AKA not buried in your technological devices) and really enjoying each other, you can turn anything into a fun date!

We really just entertain the crap out of each other.  I think if someone were to secretly video our conversations, and made up songs and voices that we use for our pets (and accidentally in public sometimes, *note to self: really gotta watch that*) we may be taken away to the looney bin.  But that's fine by us!! We wouldn't have it any other way!  What kind of dates do you like to go on??

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