Five Fave: Online Shops for Home Goods

These are my top five favorite websites for finding creative, fun ways to spruce up the place:

  • Fab.com – Fab features great deals from fabulous designers. You can find a bargain on just about anything – from clothing to pet accessories – but I love browsing their home goods section the most, naturally.
  • Gilt.com – Gilt offers major discounts on designer labels to its members. Just one catch though: great deals go fast. If there’s something you have in mind, you have to log in early or you could be out of luck.
  • Etsy.com – I’m always surprised when I meet someone who’s never heard of Etsy. This is a great place to support small businesses while finding the exact thing you never knew you needed. Also, it eliminates the thing I hate about antique stores and resale shops: rummaging. Hello, Vintage English Deckchair!
  • OneKingsLane.com – Like Gilt and Fab, One Kings Lane offers deep discounts gorgeous home goods. You can probably find bowls like these at Anthropologie for quadruple the price.
  • BallardDesigns.com – Ballard Designs is more understated than other home goods websites I listed, but I still come across great pieces here. The lotus garden seat would really dress up my balcony. And I just can’t get enough jute lately.

Painted Wooden Spoons

This DIY project was love at first sight. Unfortunately, I’m not so skilled in arts and crafts. This project looked über easy, but for someone who isn’t always crafting up a storm, it was quite the commitment.

My main issue was trying to figure out how to dry the spoons without the handles touching anything. As you can see here, my method was a bit flawed. Any time I put a new spoon into the container to dry, the rest came tumbling out. I cursed a lot.

In order to keep costs down, I picked up some inexpensive jute cord from Paper Source to bundle the spoons and made my own wrapping paper by stenciling pink and green polka dots onto craft paper. Passing up the rails of beautiful wrapping paper at Paper Source was its own challenge.

I tied it all together (get it?) by using the cord as ribbon. For someone who isn’t so crafty, I’m pretty proud of myself. I made these specifically for Mother’s Day, but they’d make a cute housewarming gift or stocking stuffer for your favorite chef.

Road Trip

We’re heading north to Squamish, BC for the weekend to learn how to climb on actual rock, as opposed to that artificial stuff at our local indoor climbing gym. We love you, VW, but it’s time to expand our horizons.

In the meantime, I thought I’d leave you guys with a few of my favorite things lately…

  • It seems like everyone is as obsessed with Pinterest as I am these days, and now there are lots of cool shops adding to the fun. I’m really digging the boards from BHLDN and West Elm. I wonder if they would consider hiring a professional pinner…
  • I still can’t stop thinking about terrariums. There are so many great DIY tutorials out there, but this one really speaks to my inner child.
  • Charlie and Lily need a new scratcher STAT. This scratch-friendly lounger combines form and function. And it’s on sale!

Thirty Before Thirty

I’m a big fan of lists, and an even bigger fan of life lists. Inspired by Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely, I decided to put together my own list of things to do before turning the big 3-0 next February. I borrowed a few items from my life list. All told, this list feels ambitious, but what better to end my 20s and usher in my 30s.

1. Pay down the credit card.

2. Update the blog at least once a week.

3. Lose the last five pounds.

4. Figure out what I want to be when I grow up, and make a plan to get there.

5. Fly Mom up to visit.

6. Back up photos and writing.

7. Start planning and training for the Wonderland Trail.

8. Learn how to dance.

9. Learn outdoor sport climbing.

10. Build and design a website.

11. Donate clothes I don’t wear and replace them with fun, new clothes.

12. Summer vacation in Texas.

13. Go whale watching.

14. Clam digging.

15. Tubing.

16. Bonfire at Golden Gardens on 4th of July.

17. Climb Monkey Face in Bend, OR.

18. Go blonde for summer.

19. Replace my million year old bathing suit.

20. Plant an herb garden.

21. Makeover Dave’s office.

22. Get a new mattress.

23. Frame photos for the hallway.

24. Learn to play poker well.

25. Buy myself flowers once a week for a month.

26. Send thank you notes to teachers who inspired me.

27. Find a better way to organize/store our CD collection.

28. Take a cooking class.

29. Do at least one of the DIY projects I’ve “pinned.”

30. Learn stand up paddle boarding.

Feet on the Ground, Head in the Clouds

My goodness! It’s been a while. Since I last saw you a lot has happened.

I hosted a movie night for my girlfriends and, while I was a bit apprehensive about the lack of space and seating, it was a success. Tip: Floor pillows are a lot more comfortable than one might think. Stay tuned for more excellent small-space movie night tips.

I turned 29. I feel seven in spite of myself. In fact, I threw a tantrum and cried like a little girl when I realized my 20s are slipping away. I can’t even pretend to be a child anymore and it’s not fair and I need my mom.

Dave and I went to Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, where we gathered lots of inspiration for how we want our space to look and feel. I love that beach-y, bohemian vibe that seems to come naturally to Californians.

And with all of the weekend getaways, working hard at our day jobs, and finding time to hit the gym, I’ve realized how important it is that our home be a comfortable sanctuary. Hopefully, this blog will help me get it there.

Smooth Operator

Smoothies have been rocking my mornings lately. Not only are they super tasty and versatile, but they’re a filling and low-calorie way to get in your recommended fruits and veggies. Below you’ll find my smoothie making dream team  and my favorite smoothie recipe.

Kikkerland Paper Straws – These colorful straws are biodegradable and make mornings a little more fun.

Oster 8-Speed Glass Blender – I’ve been using a Hamilton Beach hand-me-down to mix my smoothies, and I’m on the hunt for a replacement. You can spend lots of money to play “Will it Blend” at home, but this affordable blender gets great reviews.

Aladdin Insulated Tumbler with Straw – When you’re strapped for time, taking a smoothie on the road with you is so much more satisfying than that Luna Bar.

Purple People Eater Smoothie 

Yields 1 smoothie

1 banana

4-5 frozen strawberries

1/3-1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup skim milk

1/4 cup fat free vanilla yogurt

Add milk and yogurt to the blender first. Then add frozen fruit and banana. You can vary the amount of frozen fruit to taste. The more blueberries you add, the more tart the flavor will be. Blend until smooth. Makes 1 large serving or two small servings to share. Enjoy!

The Greatest and Best Sandwich in the World… Tribute

Remember the movie Spanglish? Remember the part when Adam Sandler’s character, John Clasky, makes that glorious sandwich? Yeah, me either. I do remember hating that movie and, oddly, discussing the movie with guys who LOVED it. But a while back I stumbled across this post about a sandwich relating to the movie and knew I had to try it. Then I found it here, here, and on about a million other blogs, and let’s not forget the YouTube videos.

I’ve kept that sandwich on my radar for some day in the future after I’ve completed a workout worthy of such gluttony. Sadly, the days I work out that hard, I’m too tired to cook and end up down the street at Red Mill. So I decided to make this sandwich leaner and enjoy it on a moderate workout day. Since I started The Shred, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to stuff my face with The Greatest and Best Sandwich in the World… Tribute, and have done so twice in the past week. So, without further ado…

The Greatest and Best Sandwich in the World… Tribute 

Yields 1 sandwich

2 slices of turkey bacon

2 slices of low-fat/calorie, high fiber bread

1 slice of low-fat cheese (I use muenster or monterey jack)

1/2 of an avocado, mashed

Sliced tomato

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the turkey bacon in a medium pan over medium heat until thoroughly cooked. When it’s done, remove the pan from the heat and set the bacon aside. Save the bacon grease for frying the egg. Place the bread under a broiler to toast. Once it’s almost finished toasting, remove one slice of bread, add the cheese to the other slice, and continue toasting until the cheese is melted. Spread the mashed avocado on the other slice.

Add a little cooking spray or a small amount of butter to the pan used for frying the bacon and place the pan over medium high heat. Once the pan has heated up, fry the egg until done.

Once the egg is ready, assemble the sandwich by placing the tomato slices on top of the mashed avocado. Place the fried egg on top of the tomato and season with salt and pepper. I like to add a dash of hot sauce at this point too. Layer the bacon slices on top of the egg, and then top the bacon with the second slice of toast, cheese side down.

Enjoy!

Curtains Revisited

Here I am! Wow. Between cleaning up the apartment after a bunch of boys visited, soaking up the sunshine, and catching up on sleep whenever possible, I haven’t had much time for anything else. Now I’m getting ready for my sister’s visit in a few weeks. At the top of my to-do list is replacing the shower curtain in the guest bathroom. Again. I’m embarrassed to admit it. I stupidly thought I could trust the cats to leave the shower curtain alone while our last round of guests were in town, and this is what happened:

The whole shower curtain looks like that. I think they hoisted each other up to thoroughly puncture every inch. Perhaps they took turns dangling from the towel rack. I know, I’m single-handedly ruining the environment with my shower curtain purchases. Let this be a lesson to those of you with kitties – buy cotton curtains!

So I found a few new curtains and thought I’d take this opportunity to style the room a bit more. I like this curtain from Echo:

And this Chloe Floral Organic Shower Curtain from PB Teen is pretty in pink or blue:

And of course, my favorite, the Stripe Shower Curtain from West Elm:

Dave says the stripe curtain is “too Parisian.” I reminded him that our current curtain is a photograph of Paris. Regardless of which one we decide on, I will keep the rest of the bathroom clean and simple with white linens and accessories. With all the money I’m spending on shower curtains, I should have just bought that great Thomas Paul curtain.

Better Than Mom’s King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Growing up, King Ranch Chicken Casserole was in the usual family dinner rotation. And I hated it. Imagine a bratty kid throwing tantrums on the kitchen floor, because her mother is preparing a wholesome meal that includes green chiles and onion. Not only that, but the offending ingredients are sandwiched between layers of cheese and tortillas, making them impossible to pick out. Aren’t casseroles the worst enemy of picky eaters? In hindsight, my mother had the patience of a saint.

The King of Casseroles - basically, a giant enchilada - about to go into the oven.

This casserole made regular appearances at Church of Christ potlucks, and the recipe was always tucked into family cookbooks – always including gloppy Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, Ro-Tel tomatoes, and canned green chiles.

Dave and I whipped this up for dinner recently, using Homesick Texan’s recipe. She uses fresh vegetables and swaps the canned soup for her own sauce. To lighten the recipe, we used fat-free sour cream and low-fat cheese for the full fat versions. It all came together perfectly, and I’m happy to report my taste buds have evolved.

Best topped with avocado, cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream.

For the full recipe and a little history on King Ranch Chicken Casserole visit Homesick Texan. Happy eating!

Thing I Like…

I’m digging these “American Atlas” posters by Brainstorm Print and Design.

I wouldn’t mind having The South, The Midwest, and The West, since we’ve lived in each part of the country. I think it would be really cool if Brainstorm did each state individually, but with more detail. I mean, Texas is an awfully large state and has much more going on than oil, cattle, and cotton. And wouldn’t the complete set look great in a classroom?

I’d put the Get Outside, Go Camping poster in Dave’s office, since his space is as much about his favorite hobby as it is about working.

Shop their entire collection here. Fabulous job, Brainstorm!