Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July's Favorite Things

I thought it might be fun to start a favorite item list once a month. Since I decided this two days ago, it is really quite short. In fact, only one item, however, I'm obsessed. It is this candle by White Barn called Mahogany Teakwood. 

This candle smells amazing and leaves the house smelling amazing. I wish I could take credit for finding it, but I can't. In fact, a guy picked this out and not my guy! It was a present to him from another guy! I have your attention now don't I!!

So our family friend Preki (nickname) came to visit in November when my sister and brother in law came to visit. After eating lunch at Burgatory and consuming some alcoholic milkshakes with burgers, we decided to do some shopping to walk everything off. My sister and I managed to drag 3 guys into multiple stores. Then, out of nowhere, Preki wants to go to Bath and Body Works. He said the candles are amazing. We really didn't give him much credit. He bought several candles and then gave one to Sam and said to trust him, it would smell good. I have to say, Preki was right. The candle is amazing. It has a musky smell, but a really good smell. It reminds me of a guy wearing a great cologne. Yeah, what a weird description, but I really can't describe it any other way. I love it though. It makes the entire house smell amazing. Go get one!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Amazing Shrimp Burritos

I always love quick and easy dinners that incorporate fresh vegetables. I seem to prefer fresh veggies over any frozen or canned even if they are from my garden. Last night's dinner was AMAZING!

I used a recipe from Cooking Light and modified it. It was the Chicken Tostadas and Avocado Salsa from the August 2012 issue. Yep, still have my old magazines! Sorry no pictures, but take my word this is amazing.

Start by cooking 1/2 cup of brown rice according to the package direction. I used Uncle Ben's brown rice and it took about 30 minutes. While that is cooking complete the other items.

Whisk these 5 ingredients together:
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.

Then add the following:
1 cup chopped tomatoes ( I used only 1 small tomato since I'm not the biggest fan)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon cilantro (I didn't have so I substituted 1 jalapeño)
1 avocado

After avocado salsa is mixed, I let it sit. The rice was still cooking as I rinsed a can (15 ounces) of black beans and let them drain. Then instead of chicken, I used shrimp. I cooked about a pound of raw shrimp. I sprinkled some chili powder on them as they cooked. Once the shrimp and rice were cooked, I  mixed them with the beans. 

Then it is time to build the burrito! I used a whole wheat fajita tortilla. I placed a little lettuce, then some rice, shrimp, and beans followed by the avocado salsa with some cheddar cheese. I rolled up the tortilla and devoured! It did pack some heat, so maybe seed the jalapeño or omit it. Another option would be to forgo the chili powder. No matter what way, hurry up and try. It is yummy!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Chair #1 Done!

So, I may not have been productive this past weekend, but I was very productive the weekend before and upholstered one dinning room chair. I obviously started with the easiest one first. 

The first part was taking it apart and cleaning it. I used Pledge to clean and shine it up. 

It was very easy to take apart. Flip it upside down and unscrew the 4 screws holding the seat in. Then pop out the covered seat.

I had consulted some websites and purchased a book about upholstering. Everything had suggest getting a tack remover which I purchased. Definitely, made getting all the tacks out easy. Once the tacks were off, then I pulled off all the dirty fabric and batting.

It was then time to measure new batting and I decided to add a piece of linen as well to help provide a smooth surface before I put on the good fabric. I cut the good fabric out allowing for some extra and then tacked it in place.

The last step was to reassemble the chair. Here is the finished product in the dining room.

I think it looks pretty good. Only took about an hour and now I have 3 more to go. Two more will be like this and another will be different with tacks around the bottom. All in all, I love it!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Procrastination Central

So I'm not sure what happened, but after last Sunday I came down with a bad case of procrastination and laziness. I seriously did not do anything Monday thru Thursday except read. This is probably why it seems like procrastination as I can not see any new physical changes in my surroundings. However, I finished two Alex Cross mystery novels by James Patterson. I was productive Friday and Saturday morning, but that was very short lived! I just puttered around the house the rest of the day. I did clean out all my old magazines which was nice and relaxing as I looked through them again. Here's to hoping this procrastination phase passes, and soon!! 

I enjoyed some of this last night as I looked through the magazines again. I have to say, I love that wine!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Card Fun

So I spent Sunday morning with some of my new "toys". I had so much fun! I decided to use one of my Inky Antics stamps that I purchased. 

I stamped my three ladies and colored them in with colored pencils. This is time consuming, but coloring was fun too! Something very peaceful about it.

Next, I wanted to use some bright fun colors for the background.

Then I had to finish assembling it. The best part of the Inky Antic stamps is that they come as a complete set. There are designs for the front with captions followed by a message for the inside of the card. They take away all the worrying and agonizing if it goes together which is nice.

Here is the finished product!

Who couldn't use a little chuckle! :-)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Scrapbooking and Stamping Convention

Where do I even begin? This was how I spent part of my Saturday.  I have never heard for a scrapbooking and stamping convention, however I thought it sounded delightful when a colleague of mine had mentioned it. It was fantastic is all I can say. 

The event was held in a conference center. So imagine a large ballroom with vendors set up through out. I was early enough that some of these pictures show the layout better than I can describe.

Each stand had an area where there were demos being given. You were invited to sit down and try out the techniques sometimes, other times they were demonstrated for you. 

There was a good variety amongst the vendors as well. I know that my style contains more patterns and bright, bold colors, while others like the frilly, lace like designs. There was even a good variety between wooden block stamps and clings. Add in the scrap book dimensions of paper, folding techniques, punches and so on. 

I was quickly able to find the stands that piqued my interest. I probably spent a good hour at one stand which proved to be where I spent most of my money! The people were great and so accommodating. They were Just For Fun Rubber Stamps. When I asked about taking some photos for ideas, he said to go right ahead! Other vendors had signs up about not taking photos. Here are some though from Just For Fun Rubber Stamps.
Remember, these are all rubber stamps and paper!!

Another vendor that I really liked was called Inky Antics. Their cards are time consuming to make due to the coloring detail, but really cool when finished. I couldn't help falling in love with a set of their stamps called Worldy Woman. Seriously, how great are these!

Here are few other Inky Antics designs. They are just so cute! I love all the vibrant colors.

The event cost $6 which was not bad. You were given a ticket to be completed with name and address for door prize drawings. Then on every other hour they drew 2 names and gave away "Tour Bucs" which was money to spent there. They started out at $100 prizes. Unfortunately, I was not a lucky winner. They also had 2 prize basket raffles with $500 worth of stamping supplies in them as well. My phone has not rung, so I'm guessing I didn't win those either. If you were one of the first 100 people through the door, you were given a key to the Treasure Chest. The Treasure Chest had $1,000 worth of stamping and scrapbook supplies. I did not arrive early enough on Saturday to even score a key. When I had left, the winner still had not unlocked the chest!

Overall, it was a great time. I learned some new techniques and picked up some fun stamps. Can't wait to have time to be creative!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Unbelievable Luck

So this morning when I went to jump in my car, this is how I was greeted.
Just what I wanted to see. So this meant I was driving Sam's big Dodge Ram in morning rush hour traffic through the construction zone. Yippee, just what I wanted to do!! You know that was on my Bucket list - not! Needless to say I was less than amused. Thank God it was Friday and "traffic" doesn't exist on Fridays. If it had been Monday, I would have called in sick! Just kidding, I would have drove with white knuckles and extremely high blood pressure!

I had planned on leaving work early today anyways as I was going to use a paid 2 hour early out, but my plan was to do other stuff. Instead I called AAA on my way home to meet me to get off the lug nut lock and change my tire. I can't turn it to unlock the lug nuts and none of them will come off without the lock off first. Sam was working and I just wanted to get my car fixed ASAP. (I have a few issues with a thing called patience if anyone was wondering why my man was left off the hook. Besides, it was probably best I dealt with strangers, less inclined to take out my frustration on them.) AAA arrived 5 mins after I did so it was fantastic timing. Fabulous response time!

I had spoken with the manager Joe at Sears Auto first thing this morning. He was very apologetic on the phone and said he would refund me and fix it free of charge. They were busy when I arrived. Had to wait 15 minutes to ask for Joe and then another 10 minutes for him. They took my car back and he refunded me from the night before. Also, they gave me an extra $20 for my inconvenience. Not bad! At one point, he came out to say that they couldn't find any issues other than they thought it was a bad resealing job from the night before. He said that if it would continue to happen, my tire was defective and I should go back to where i purchased them. The look on my face must have said that was pure BS because he quickly disappeared. I waited for another hour and then he came back again. Guess what, they found a hole that could only be seen from the side of the tire and was extremely small! No kidding, really!! 

So after waiting another 2 hours today, my car is back in business. I have to say, my little Mazda 3 has/is a terrific car. Low maintenance, dependable, reliable, quick to dart in and out of traffic, love it! This was a whole new experience with car trouble that lasts multiple days. I have been very fortunate and didn't realize how much so, until now. Definitely never realized how much I took for granted. Just glad to be back in business!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tragedy Strikes

Remember this beautiful masterpiece. You know, the most expensive, handmade rug!

Well, on Sunday I was in the mood to clean. Was I ever! I cleaned all three floors in the house, 6 loads of laundry, as well as cooked and baked. I had read when making this rug, it was machine washable. Oh, you see where this is heading right! Yeah, threw the rug in the washing machine on a gentle cycle and then in the dryer on a gentle cycle. I'm not sure where, but at some point, the rug became injured!
Yep, the side stitching broke away from the rows! Rug down!
Guess I'm going to have to do some sewing repairs and no more washing machines!

Ironically, as I write this post on my iPad I'm sitting in Sears Auto waiting on my car. It seems my car decided to throw a wrench in my plans for the evening. Today happens to be Sam's birthday and I had planned on stopping at Oakmont Bakery to pick up a little treat for him and then cooking him dinner (venison burgers and homemade potato salad). When I left the office though, my tire pressure light came on in my car. Luckily, it was before I jumped on the expressway. None of my tires were flat, but one was very low. I had to drive through the city at 5 p.m. trying to find a gas station with an air machine to put air in the tire. WHAT FUN! 

Once I found a gas station, I was far enough out of my route, I had to go a different way home. Oh, add about an extra 45 minutes to my commute! Along my wait, I had talked to Sam who said not to go to the bakery, but I wasn't listening to him as I had not purchased anything for him. When I pulled into the bakery, the tire pressure sensor went off again! So I got my order at the bakery and found ANOTHER gas station. I went home, put the baked goods in the fridge, changed my clothes, ate a doughnut as dinner, and went to Sears Auto. As my luck would have it, I had to wait 5 -10 minutes to get waited on and then found out it would take an hour and half to fix my tire. The exact time it would be finished was 8:30/8:45. I think the guy thought I would say no and go on my merry way. Instead I said, okay, I came prepared and I'll wait. They close at 8.

They were able to get me out by 8:15. So there was still time to cook before Sam was home from Tai Kwan Doe. Nothing like firing up the grill at 8:30! The best part, $25 and an hour later, they couldn't find anything wrong with the tire! Okay, so I know I should be grateful the tire is fine. It was brand new in November. They did tell me if something should happen again in the next few days, to bring it back. I thought that was nice. Hopefully, I'm not visiting them anytime soon!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fabric Found!!!

This past weekend, I indulged myself and visited both Stamp Fanci and Loom. Stamp Fanci is a stamp store located in the North Hills outside of the city. It is exclusively related to stamping, rubber stamps, and scrapbooking. I always go in with the intentions of a quick trip and come out an hour later at a minimum. I cant't wait for August 15th as I have signed up for a class!! Who knew it was already time to start making Christmas cards! Oh well, I can't wait. 

From the North Hills, I headed into the city to the Strip District. I was on a mission to find some fabric for my little bench at Loom, this extremely cool and trendy fabric store. 

It took me a little while to decide what I wanted. In fact, I almost gave up because I couldn't find what I knew I wanted. Then I found all of these pieces of fabric off to the side. Since they have SOOO MANY fabrics, they rotate them between their warehouse and showroom. Of course once I looked thru the pile of samples, I found two patterns that I really liked. I was smart and brought paint chips of what is on the walls as well as sample fabrics of what is already in the house. The colors in my two choices matched perfectly! The sales associate ran into the warehouse to bring over the bolts. Luckily, the warehouse is straight above the store.

Once I saw the fabric laid out on the cutting table, I knew which one I wanted for the bench. Ironically, as I was about to discard my other choice, I realized it matches the green wall in the dining room perfectly. So that fabric ended up being the fabric for my dining room chairs! WooHoo, I have my fabric!

Oh and remember this piece of fabric that I fell in love with a few weeks ago? 

I found some of it at Loom. The best part of the deal, it was only $5. Here come some more pillows for the living room!

After finding my fabric, I took advantage of being downtown. I went to Wholey's Fish market and got fresh shrimp. I also visited the Pennsylvania Macaroni company to get fresh feta cheese. Yum, yum! While I was running around, I have to say my feet never bothered me. Early in the summer I found a pair of Franco Sarto sandals at T.J.Maxx for a steal ($20). My sister swears by this name brand and now I know why. They are incredibly comfortable and cute too! See :-)

Oh wait, did I hear you ask about fabric photos? Well, you will just have to come back and visit! I am hoping to start this weekend so maybe I will get some more pictures posted!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Family Visits

Last weekend I went home because my cousin Joe was getting married. It was a great weekend to just sit back and spend time with my family. Here are some great photos!

Loving my sister's hat!

 My phone was hacked numerous times. This photo appeared. I wonder who was the guilty party!

Sitting with Cousin Susan is fun. She feeds me candy!

Uncle Travis and Carmella were blowing bubbles inside for me. Love that smile!!

Guess I should post a picture of the bride and groom.

Garden Update

The garden has continued to grow with the exception of one casualty, the corn. Last year the corn made it to produce corn and then I caught the squirrels shucking it themselves. This year, they are not even allowing it to grow.

These photos are from last week, but it still looks the same. I have the biggest broccoli plant that is not producing broccoli. Not sure what is happening with that. Also, I pulled out some cabbage that was really growing, but was providing meals to various bugs.

Couldn't remember what the one plant was from my grandmother, so I planted it in the garden as it looked like a pepper plant. Turned out to be a forget me not, but with the crazy rabbits, it is staying in the garden.

 The green and yellow beans have been producing some nice beans. I already picked and used a bunch earlier in the week. Last night, I picked a bunch more and will probably get about 6 to 8 cups to blanche and freeze.

That tangled mess are my radishes. I did not have luck last year with radishes and I honestly don't know if I should continue to let them grow or pull that mess out.

Last night I worked in the garden some more. This time I got smart and started to put down some newspaper around my zucchini plants. I also decided I will be planting more lettuce and green and yellow beans in where the corn was located. I will see if I can get more beans to freeze for the winter.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pre-Vacation Workout

I don't know about anyone else, but before I go away on vacation I like to get all the yard work and household chores completed. Something about coming back to a clean house makes me happy, happy, happy!  This meant I spent 4th of July working (sweating) my butt off.

Our lovely chestnut trees requires quite a bit of maintenance. It drops these long blondish, furry things. I have no idea what they are called, but in order to cut the grass out front, I had to rake these up. It wasn't a hard task, but they were everywhere.


It took me about an hour and half and I had them all raked into piles. Whenever I have to do this in the summer, the only thing I can think of it that it looks like a bunch of hippies cut off their dreadlocks!

I always love how it looks once everything has been cleaned and raked. It looks great and was worth all of that hard work!


The sad part is when I came outside the next morning, there was no evidence of my hard work. A thunderstorm came through and brought more down. I can tell you one thing, I'm not raking them again until they are all down!