Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Updating a skirt - Upcycling

Confession: I tend to obsess about clothing when the seasons change. If I see a trend that I like I check every possible website until I find one that I like and can afford. Case in point:


I love this floral pencil skirt, but I don't love the price!

What to do? Well, if those thoughts cross your mind when the seasons start changing I suggest you look in your closet first. I found some skirts that I have not worn in awhile, nothing wrong with them, I actually had it in my pile of clothes to wear around the house (yeah, like I wear a skirt around the house) They were good, I am almost surprised I did not donate them to Goodwill. Anyway, they were perfect for a pencil skirt makeover... A word of advice, if you want to attempt the same thing make sure the skirt you want to alter has a zipper in the back. It works so much better.

You want to see how it turned out?

Before:                                      After:
Here is what I did:
  1. I took another pencil skirt to use it as a guide
  2. Turn the skirt inside out. Position your favorite pencil skirt on top of the skirt you are altering, making sure to align the waistbands. Trace around the pencil skirt with a fabric pencil.
  3. Sew your new side seams on the line.
  4. Cut off the extra fabric, leaving about a half-inch. Zig-zag stitch just over the edges to close them in and prevent fraying. 
That's it friends! So easy. But wait, I did not stop at one skirt (remember? Obsessed!) Check out the others:

I am so happy with the way they tuned out. I have been wearing them for work and for play...
My most resent obsession has been satisfied (without having to pay any money), I wonder what will be the next one...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Orange and almond shortbread cookies

Recipe from here... Oh so good!

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
Grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup sliced almonds

Directions

Make the dough: In a mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar, almond extract, and salt until smooth. With mixer on low speed, add flour and orange zest; mix just until a dough forms. With a wooden spoon, rubber spatula, or your hands, gently mix in almonds.

Freeze the dough: On a piece of waxed paper, form dough into a rectangular log, 12 inches long, 2 1/2 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. Wrap log in the paper, and freeze until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 months. If freezing longer than 1 day, wrap log again, in plastic wrap (follow my favorite way to freeze cookie dough here).

Bake the shortbread: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove dough from freezer. (If dough has been in freezer a long time and is frozen solid, let it sit at room temperature 30 minutes so it slices without crumbling.)

With a sharp knife, cut dough into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. Bake until edges just begin to turn golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet; transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.

Make sure to share them...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Keeping memories

Do you want a cheap (and very original) way to display your photos? I have the perfect idea for you. On my last scrapbooking retreat one of the awesome ladies there showed us how to make a little paper bag photo album.

I leave you with the paper bag mini photo album - the photo tutorial...

Here is what you need:

6 lunch paper bags
Glue (Beacon's glue is recommended)
A bone folder
Assortment of card stock - preferably coordinating patterns (great way to use up leftover card stock)
Embellishments if desired (such as stickers, photo corners, etc)
Ruler, scissors
Round paper cutter
Some ribbon

Steps:

Take your paper bag and fold the bottom up. Use a bone folder to get a straight edge. Do the same with all of the bags













Take 2 of the paper bags and glue the small flaps together, repeat with the other 2 pairs of paper bags

Once the small flaps have been glued take the larger flap of one pair and glue it to the other pair.
Repeat until all the 3 pairs of bags have been glued together (remember large flap with large flap). It will start looking like a little book


Measure the dimension of the bags, large flaps and small flaps.
Measure the card stock of your choice and glue it to each of the pages of the bags. To make the book more interesting mix and match card stock with a similar color scheme or theme...

Now you are ready to add any embellishments like stickers, photo corners, etc...

Next, add a piece of card stock to create a binding. The dimension of it is 5x5. Also, glue two pieces of ribbon so you can tie in a little bow. Embellish the cover as desired
I am planning on making a few more of these to be gifted to the girlies in my life. Maybe I'll add a little disposable camera so they can document a moment in time (are you with me? I'm thinking Christmas, perfect season to document) I'll be posting pictures of those later on in the year...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weekend getaways

Summer is officially here! Which means its the perfect time for traveling (hence the absence of daily posts in this blog). If you are looking for a fun weekend getaway check out this slide show from the New York Times. It lists 14 very fun getaways. Good news, 5 of the getaways can be reached from Atlanta... Take note friends, and pack your bags.
Picture from last Summer - The kids and their cousins on one of the getaways listed - Destin.

Source NYTimes via La Dulci Vita

Friday, June 17, 2011

My heart is beating like a jungle drum...

Another stained shirt that needs rescuing. I saw a similar shirt on a Mini Boden catalog (check it out here) and I thought I could recreate it. Once I started to put it together it took a life of its own
Here is what you do...

  1. I took a plain white t and drew with a fabric pencil the desired shape (make sure to cover the stain)
  2. Cut fabric circles about 1 inch in diameter (I used an old t-shirt I have not worn because of a stain).
  3. I fold each circle in half and then in half again.
  4. With needle and thread I sew the folded circles to the t-shirt
Cute right?

Give it to a girly in your life who will be so happy to wear it... It never gets tiring to hear from your little ones how awesome you are to them... Never...
And yes... Emiliana Torrini's song is stuck in my head... Check it... It may bet stuck in yours too!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chilerita

This spiced vinegar is so good, you would want to put it on everything... Even your eggs for breakfast.

This vinegar can be found in every little restaurant across Costa Rica. Curious me asked the lady at one of our favorite Sodas how to make it... It looked simple enough. However, she said it required special, very small (and spicy) chilli peppers. She could see the disappointment in my face as I thought I may not be able to find them in the US. Before we left, she prepared a little bag for me to take home... So sweet... That is the quality of people of Costa Rica.
Sidenote: I did have a moment of panic when we went though customs at the airport... I forgot I put that bag in the suitcase so for a moment there I was worried I was going to get in trouble... Fortunately, at that exact moment M starting misbehaving (shocker!). The agent felt sorry for us and waved us to pass quickly... (maybe he could relate...) All that to say, sometimes tantrums can be used to our advantage...

Here is how you make your very own Chilerita:

Gather enough ingredients to fit in your (sterilized) jar

Carrots
Jalapeno peppers
very spicy peppers (can be found on Asia or Mexican supermarkets)
Onions
Garlic
Blanched Califlower

White vinegar to cover
Pepper corns
1 tablespoon of Salt
1 tablespoon of Sugar (adjust salt and sugar to your taste)

Clean your jar with soapy water. Sterilize by putting it in the dishwasher or by boiling it for a few minutes. Let it cool enough to be able to handle
Layer your veggies, pour vinegar, add pepper, corn, salt and sugar. Shake to incorporate. Let rest for 24 hours (and for all the flavors to mingle). You will be ready to use on soups, grilled meats, rice and yes, even eggs. The sky is the limit for ways to use this Chilerita...

I hope you give this a try

Monday, June 13, 2011

I made this

Remember me talking about wanting to do this? - see previous post here, well, I finally got around to doing it and I love it. I organized the kiddos' craft supplies and they never looked so good. If you want to make them go here for the link with directions.
And because Martha and I seem to be always in sync, here is a similar project I received on my Organizing Tip of the Day Newsletter from a few weeks back.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reykjavík Bound


Backpacks are ready, all possible research has been done...

Thing that I am most looking forward to in Iceland:

20 hours of daylight

Thing I am least looking forward to in Iceland:

20 hours of daylight...


Other fun facts about Iceland:

  1. In Iceland you will find 800 hot springs, 10,000 waterfals, 15 active volcanoes and 4,500 square miles of glaciers, WOW!
  2. The English word geyser comes from Icelandic (perhaps the only Icelandic word imported into English). 
  3. There are only about 320,000 Icelanders in the country. About half of them live in the capital Reykjavik and its suburbs.
  4. Iceland is roughly the size of the state of Kentucky.
  5. Icelandic water is so clean and pure that it is piped into the city and to the kitchen taps in the home without any treatment. 
  6. Like Costa Rica, Iceland has no army, navy, or air force. It does have a Coast Guard.
  7. Iceland is the world’s oldest democracy. Its parliament (Althingi) was founded about 1,000 years ago. 
  8. About 81 percent of total primary energy supply in Iceland is derived from domestically produced renewable energy sources (geothermal and Hydropower). 100 percent of the electricity used comes from renewable power... Impressive, right? 
  9. Iceland is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which makes it one of the most tectonically active places in the world.
If you think you will be craving a dose of Plan and Play, don't worry. In my absence I will be leaving you with some crafty and foodie posts for you to peruse. So, be sure to check back every once in a while...

OK, we are ready! See you back here in a few weeks...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The breakfast project

Aren't you loving all the beautiful berries that we have in season right now? I for one, cannot get enough of them. I love buying my fruit when they are in season. They are so sweet and delicious, not to mention super affordable! Here is my favorite way to use up all those delicious berries that are on sale right now.

Berries parfait

2 to 3 cups mixed berries such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries
1 quart of low fat Greek plain yogurt
 
Optional:
Granola (I use our homemade recipe - Try it out) or Trader Joe's nut and berries granola, also yummy
 
Wash and dry the berries; hull and cut strawberries into pieces, if using. Spoon a layer of yogurt into 4 individual glass bowls or parfait glasses. Add a layer of berries, and sprinkle with a layer of granola if desired. Repeat the layering once or twice more, depending on the height of the bowl or glass, ending with a layer of granola (if desired).
 
Yum Yum!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shadows of Rincon de la Vieja

Rincon de la Vieja is one of the most accessible volcanos in Costa Rica, although it is still remote enough that is has remained a natural wilderness, with as yet little adverse impact from tourism.

The name Rincon de la Vieja is translated as 'Old Woman's Nook' and refers to the legend of a young girl whose lover was thrown into the volcano by her father, after which she became a recluse with healing powers.

Eerie for sure...



Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How to rescue a stained shirt

Do you have an everyday t-shirt? You know what I am taking about, the one with simple design that you can wear for work with a blazer and for play with some jeans. My favorite is plain white and I buy them 2 at the time from H&M. I love the way they fit, and for $12 for 2, you can't beat that.

Even though they are reasonably priced I take good care of them, so the other day when I stained one of them I could not stop thinking how I was going to save it. I tried everything, nothing worked. I was stocked with a white t-shirt with a small (but noticeable) stain in the front...
I have seen at the store (such as GAP, Banana Republic and such) plain t-shirts with flowers applique, so I decided to try adding an applique on mine too (to cover the stain).
All I did was cut long strips of fabric from an old t-shirt (I save old t-shirts from when they shrink or get stained - are you starting to see a pattern here?) and I did some free sewing (the great thing about using knit fabric is that it does not fray... and it gives it a raw look). It is that simple, really!
I even use black thread on mine for no reason other than I ran out of white. I think it makes it look great. Don't you think?

And for good measure, here is the back side so you can see the it better
The beauty of this is that it does not have to be perfect so if your sewing skills are not up to par (like me!) it will still look good. Now, I want to do the same with other shirts, I may have to start staining them on purpose to have an excuse to make more (but I won't, don't worry... But I wanna...)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pictures from the weekend

Last weekend we got to go to Kansas to visit family and have a family reunion. We had a fantastic time. The kids had a blast, the adults got to talk and catch up (in some cases we met for the fist time). Really a lovely time. Here are some snap shots from our weekend...

Looking through some old pictures (really good laugh... Especially when I'm not in the pictures)
Picking through some of Grandma's treasures
Lots of playing around at the family picnic

And a visit to the grandparents farm...



It was so nice to spend the weekend with the Sand Family...

Goodbye Kansas, I can't wait to see you again!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Menu for the week

Rotisserie Chicken/Green beans/Rice
Minestrone alla Genovese
Chicken and sausage pasta Jambalaya (made with orzo instead of rice)
Pizza Margarita (I'm trying the grill this time, wish me luck)

Breakdown:

Aldi $18
Kroger $20
Costco $11

This coming week is going to be extra busy for me getting ready for our upcoming vacation. All the meals will be made in advance so the husband can warm it up and feed the kids while I am working crazy hours to leave everything in order... I'm feeling the stress!!!

Besides cooking (and laundry, straightening up, cleaning, organizing, you know, the usual) I am planning on taking it easy this weekend. I know Summer is not officially here but boy we are feeling it... How many more months until Fall?

Enough complaining, have a great weekend everybody!

Oh wait, I almost forgot to broadcast this: Welcome to the world baby C, my newest niece. I can't wait to meet you and take lots of pictures of you!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wildlife of Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

Set near the Nicaraguan border in a marshy, jungle-like area, the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge is one of the most difficult places to visit in Costa Rica. It is set in a remote area of the country and is often submerged in water from flooded rivers. We visited the area during the dry season, making it easier for us to explore the area (with a tour guide, of course). Take a look at a small sample of what we saw there:

Howler Monkeys

Basilisk Lizard (or commonly known as Jesus Christ lizard for its ability to walk on water)

And so much more...



In the dry season the area is reduced to lagoons, channels and beaches which gives home to thousands of migratory birds of many species. See further proof here

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The breakfast project

If you want to start your day Costa Rican style I got the recipe for you. Delicious Gallo Pinto. We ate this hearty breakfast everyday while there and it was so delicious. I got the recipe from the chef in our hotel... It is very simple. Check it out:

Gallo Pinto:

1 lb of black beans cooked and seasoned.
8-10 sprigs fresh cilantro
1 small or medium red onion
1 small red or yellow sweet pepper
2 cups of cooked white rice
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

If beans are dried, cover with water and soak overnight, if they are fresh, just rinse them off. Drain the beans and add fresh water to an inch (2.5-cm) above the top of the beans, salt, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce heat to very low simmer until beans are soft (~3 hours).

Chop cilantro, onion, and sweet pepper very fine.

Add 1 Tablespoon oil to a large pan and sauté the dry rice for 2 minutes over medium high flame then add some salt. Add water or chicken broth, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer until rice is tender (20-35 minutes).

Once the rice and beans are cooked  and cooled off you can refrigerate overnight. Keep a significant amount of the “black water” with the beans (about ½-1 cup). This is what gives the rice its color and some of its flavor. Sauté chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro together in vegetable oil for a few minutes then add rice and beans. Sprinkle with a little fresh chopped cilantro just before serving.

You can make a small portion and refrigerate the rice and beans for later. I like to make a big batch and have it ready for breakfast or for filling for burritos for the kiddos to take to school.

In Costa Rica some people add a tablespoon or so of salsa Lizano (can be found at the Spanish supermarkets here in the US) or Chilerita (Recipe for Chilerita coming soon!!!) to the beans while they're cooking.
Gallo pinto with queso frito... YUM!