Thursday, August 30, 2012

DIY Book Ends

At our new apartment there was this super awkward space above our giant TV and a bunch of DVDs that didn't have a home... We bought this shelf from IKEA to store the DVDs. Once they were up on the shelf, it was obvious that we needed book ends to keep the DVDs up. I went to a few stores and couldn't find anything I liked.... Then I found these two matching vases that came with flowers Tom gave me a while back. I thought they would look really cool with rocks and flowers in them and then use them to hold the DVDs up. I was right! I love how they turned out! Check out the directions below!

What you need:
1. Empty vases of your choice
2. Decor sand {I used a 28oz bag from Michaels - $2.99 a bag}
3. Rocks, marbles, or even seashells {I used two 2lb bags of black river rocks from Michaels - $2.79 a bag}
4. Fake flowers of your choice {I used silk white hydrangeas from Michaels - $7.99 a bunch}
5. Floral styrofoam block {I used a 2x2x4 in. block from Michaels and cut it in half - $2.49 a block}

1. Cut the floral styrofoam block in half
2. Trim the stems of the fake flowers to the correct length you want, also to make sure the flowers are the same size
3. Fill each vase about 1/3 full of decor sand
4. Place one half of the styrofoam block in the center of the sand
5. Push the flower stem into the styrofoam
6. Place rocks accordingly in the vase insuring that the flower stands up straight and you cover up all of the styrofoam block
7. DONE :)

Hope you like!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grilled Shrimp Pasta Salad in Parmesan-Garlic Dressing

If you know me at all then you definitely know that I LOVE EVERYTHING SEAFOOD. If I could afford it I would honestly eat fish or shell fish for every meal every day. Funny thing though, I've never actually cooked seafood.... I grew up in a house hold where I'm pretty sure we had seafood at least 3 nights a week. Tom calls me a seafood snob because I'm so picky about eating "good seafood," which is probably why I've never tried my hand at cooking it. Yesterday afternoon I decided that today was the day. I wanted to start with shrimp because seriously how can you mess up shrimp?! It's honestly almost impossible to mess up.

I found The Cozy Apron Blog on Pinterest a while back and have been following ever since. She posts new recipes once or twice a week with adorable poems and/or stories; it is seriously so cute {you should go check it out}. Anyways, she posted this recipe back in July and I've been waiting for the right time to try it. The recipe turned out AMAZING and really really simple which is an added bonus. As always, here are the things I changed.

Ways I altered the recipe:
- 1.5 pounds of large shrimp instead of 1 pound of medium sized shrimp {because Tom and I love shrimp, duh; plus it was on sale at Kroger}
- I used two red tomatoes for ganish instead of one red and one yellow {I couldn't find a yellow tomato}
- 6 cups of mixed greens instead of 4 cups
- 12oz of penne instead of 16oz {16 oz is A LOT of pasta}
- In regards to the dressing: I only used 1/4 cup of olive oil instead of 1/3 cup, 2 tbsp of lemon zest instead of only 1 tbsp, and 5 cloves of garlic instead of 3 {real shocker there}

Serves 6-8 depending on bowl size!
6 servings = about 450 calories per bowl
8 servings = about 340 calories per bowl
Over all pretty healthy!!

Woohoo for Wednesday and 3 days until football!! :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Banana Bread x 2

Banana bread always reminds me of home. My mom makes it all the time and her recipe is seriously the best ever! The other day I was craving some of banana bread but I didn't have her recipe on hand so I went searching for a simple recipe online. I found this recipe which turned out super simple and scrumptious! Though, next time I would add about 1/2 cup of walnuts to it. I also only used 3/4 cup of sugar instead of one cup.

I use Splenda no calorie sweetener with my coffee and I've always wanted to try baking with it. Since I planned to make two loafs of banana bread, I decided I would make one with real sugar and the other with Splenda to see how they compared. There are two big differences when using Splenda instead of sugar. First, Splenda does not brown like normal sugar, so in order to get that same browning effect you should lightly spray the batter with cooking spray just before placing in the oven. The second difference deals with the bake time; recipes made with Splenda don't need to cook as long as recipes made with sugar. The Splenda website explains how to correctly adjust the bake time in regards to what you are cooking. The recipe I made here suggests cooking the bread for one hour; the Splenda version I made only took 50 minutes.

[Left: made with sugar/Right: made with Splenda]

I haven't tried the sugar version of the banana bread yet, but the Splenda version was super delicious! You would never know there wasn't real sugar in it!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Lace Tanks

[Cream is by ISSI; Navy is by Eyeshadow]

I found this navy blue lace tank top at Marshalls a couple months back for like $7, which is totally awesome right!? Now I know you're not supposed to where black and navy together but I find that this top looks super cute with a black cami under it, a pair of dark jeans and leather sandals {or boots te hehe}! A couple days ago I found the cream lace tank top at TJ Maxx for $8 and I was pumped! I plan to wear it with a white cami under it plus the same bottoms and shoes as the navy one! I like these two outfits because they are super easy {and cheap} but unique and textured.

OH and I also found maroon skinny jeans at Marshalls yesterday for $15.99.......... YES!!!!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Tom's sister Amanda turned 21 the other weekend and the one drink she requested was a mudslide so, of course, Tom and I bought mudslide ingredients and made her one! Since we only made her one, we had a bunch of extra ingredients haha. Two days ago while making dinner I decided I would find a recipe for the perfect mudslide. I really like this recipe because it's simple and delicious!! Though, instead of using original Baileys we bought the mint kind which is SO MUCH BETTER!!

As you can see I added whipped cream to the top plus I drizzled some Hershey's syrup to make it look pretty! Yum yum yum! Yay for it almost being Friday! :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Teriyaki Lime Chicken & Roasted Red Skin Potatoes

Yesterday I was looking for good chicken marinades containing lime juice to cook for dinner {because I already had it in the fridge}. I came across this recipe for Honey Lime Chicken which sounds delicious. Unfortunately, I didn't have honey so I decided to scratch the honey and add in teriyaki sauce... That sounds good right? WELL IT WAS! I plan to try the actual recipe another time but the one I made up was yummy!! Here is what I {well really Tom because he made the marinade while I was at work :)} did!! Let me know what you think?

Ingredients for chicken:
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 cup lime juice
- 4 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 10 boneless chicken tenderloins

1. Place chicken and all ingredients above in a gallon size Ziploc bag
3. Let sit for at least 2 hours
4. Pour contents into a medium-sized frying pan
5. Cook chicken on medium-high heat for about 6 minutes on each side then flip and repeat {cook longer if needed, duh}
6. SERVE {Tom ate his on a hamburger bun to make it a sandwich and I ate mine plain, both were delicious}

 Ingredients for potatoes:
- 24oz small red skin potatoes {about one container}
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil olive
- 4 cloves of garlic {minced}
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2. Slice potatoes in half
3. Place the potatoes and all ingredients above in a gallon size Ziploc bag
5. Pour contents onto a baking sheet
6. Cook in oven for 25-35 minutes depending on how crispy you like your potatoes {I usually cook mine for 30 minutes}


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

My sister, Madeline, is a vegan so when she came in town a couple months ago we decided to go to this delicious vegetarian restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor called Seva for dinner one night. I ordered the black bean and sweet potato quesadilla and fell in love!! I kept craving it every night after that but I didn't really want to keep spending money ordering it and going there to pick it up... So I decided to find a recipe online and then make it myself! Personally, I think mine tasted better! I used this recipe and, of course, changed a few things to make it even better {and easier}.

The recipe tells you to put the cubed sweet potatoes in a bowl to mix in the oil and spices, however, I find that it is much simpler and cleaner to just pour all of those ingredients into a gallon size Ziploc bag and shake it up! Another thing that I did differently is instead of making a full quesadilla with two tortillas each time, I made a half quesadilla with one tortilla. This makes it much easier to flip the quesadilla and ensure that each side gets cooked correctly without loosing any yummy ingredients out the side of the tortilla.

My directions: place one tortilla on the frying pan, sprinkle some cheese on half of the tortilla {about 1/8 of a cup} then cover that same half with cooked sweet potato plus 1/4-1/3 cup of black beans and another chunk of cheese on top. Flip the empty side of the tortilla over to cover the contents and let cook for a couple minutes then flip and allow the other side to cook; I usually do this a couple times in order to let all the ingredients and cheese cook together. Once cooked remove from pan, cut, and serve! I like to eat mine with salsa, but Tom likes his with sour cream so pick your poison and EAT!

 Hope y'all have a great Tuesday!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Apt 101

Sorry for the lack of posting last week, I was moving!!!! Yay!!! So we're finally pretty much all settled in the new apartment and I love it!!!! It's so cute and cozy! Last night we finally tackled my closet and FINISHED it. We started the closet adventure three nights ago but had some minor set backs due to drywall giving out on us.... Apparently I have too many clothes.... Now there are still some organizational things that need to be done and I think I need to donate a couple more loads of clothes to the Salvation Army (I've already gotten rid of one HUGE trash bag, two HUGE boxes, and a couple smaller boxes worth of clothes, very painful). Pictures to come later! Any ways, I like to think the way Carrie Bradshaw does! Te hehe!
[Pulled from here]

Last week consisted of a lot of picture/shelf/mirror hanging, furniture building, and organizing. This is what our hallway looked like all last week.... Tom said he is never using the drill again...

Here are some of my favorite things in the apartment so far!!
[My mom's awesome paintings that are going up in the kitchen]
[Super cool magnetic knife rack]
[The only piece from IKEA that I put together haha]
[The sombrero made it to the new apartment!!]

We went antique shopping this weekend and I found three awesome things! The first is this amazing old wooden chest that we placed at the end of our bed to store extra bedding. The second is a ladder shelf (not pictured) that fits perfectly in the living room and the third is this adorable hippo paper weight that I couldn't not buy....

More pictures of the finished apartment to come soon! Happy Monday!
Tonight's dinner and tomorrow's post: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas :)