stenciling your floors

Remodelista posted this great piece today. Living in large urban cities, if you’re lucky, you may still have the original flooring that came with your hundred year old brownstone, row house, or apartment. If you’re really really lucky, you either own or have a super who would appreciate hippy stenciling on the wood. Just be careful not to destroy your precious wood floors as they are hard to come by, and linoleum isn’t a good fix, regardless of what your grandma believes. 

If you don’t have the option to try this (like me), it does seem like an interesting idea for an old dinner table. Reclaimed wood and barnyard tables are super in these days, here’s a way to make it your own. Cheers! 

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the great couch debate

Buying the perfect couch or seating for a space can be the most overwhelming decision. Seating is the first thing people typically see when walking into your home, especially in apartment living. It’s where you spend most of your time. You want it to be comfortable, but not sloppy. Available for wine nights, football season, movies, Netflix binges. You want your space to represent you. And to top if off, damn, it’s an expensive decision.

It’s always been my taste to create a nook like seating arrangement. Make it cozy, conversational, and warm. Here are a few couches that I love. Someday, when you and I are both rich and fabulous, we can each buy the exquisite love seats from Restoration Hardware. Until then, keep hoping to find a great original from a flea market.

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This is a $4000 couch. I’ve visited him in several RH stores – a few times more than I’m willing to admit. The Kensington is sexy, authentic, comfortable. Just like Don Draper in your dreams.

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West Elm, you never cease to amaze me. The Crosby is so good. It comes in a few colors, but I have to say, aegean blue is my favorite. The cost is middle/high range ($1500) — think wedding gift, first home piece, raise or bonus splurge, you get the idea. And the craftsmanship is simply lovely — the feet, incredible. The extra pillows, and the texture… Well done, WE.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 10.37.12 AMOh, Urban Outfitters furniture. You’re somewhat affordable, thoughtful about the legs, texture and color. And I like that you make trendy sofa sleepers. However, I fear your craftsmanship sucks. While I’ve not seen this particular piece up close, I have purchased seating from UO in the past, and it’s not the sturdiest. Not necessarily a deal breaker depending on how long one plans to keep said sofa, but with all due respect to your bank account, $600 is a lot of money.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 11.05.16 AMI think this piece is a total winner. World Market Cost Plus is a gem of a store — affordable, good quality, and unique. Particularly, the Wyatt Sectional is a great way to enhance your personal taste. Add funky side tables, a throw, artwork…. It’s got the charm and durability in basics. It’s about $850, but one thing to note about WM; they love a good sale. So never buy unless shipping is free or all furniture is 20% off. My mother actually purchased this piece, and I must say, we all agree it’s great.

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reupholstery is cake.

is that a mustache on your chartreuse chair?

is that a mustache on your chartreuse chair?

honestly, kinda an ugly chair from Ikea.

Before: Ikea could have done better. 

  1. Chair
  2. Paint – just buy a quarter gallon – indoor, with primer is lovely.
  3. Sand paper – if the chairs are already painted, get the medium grind. If they are basic unpainted food, the smoother paper is fine.
  4. A paint brush
  5. Staple fun
  6. Fabric of your choosing – make sure you buy enough. If you live in the city, I would recommend looking on Etsy for fabric… not too many places in DC. Make sure you buy enough!
  7. Scissors (cut your fabric)
  8. Hammer

First, you will want to wash and sandpaper down the chair – give it a clean, fresh feel. It will help making the paint go on smoother. At this time, if you can, unscrew the seat from the chair.

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-04-07Then, you’re going to want to start painting. Make sure you shake and stir your paint to make it even. I recommend doing one basic coat, let it dry for 20 – 30 minutes, and then add another. I wanted a really bright, fun, summer color. Obviously throw-up green chartreuse was the answer. 

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-04-16After your first coat, let the chair dry, and begin working on the reupholstery of the seat. As I mentioned, I purchased fabric from Etsy. Make sure  your order enough to go around the top, and underneath where there needs to be enough to staple that baby down.

IMAG0335Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-03-17The key is to pull the fabric firmly around each side, to ensure there are no kinks or wrinkles in the fabric. The corners are tricky, I recommend treating it as if you are wrapping a present. Now, if you’re terrible at wrapping gifts, try something else. 🙂 If you don’t have a staple gun, you can always nail in small hanging nails… but do consider buying a gun at Ace Hardware, they’re only like $30 and last forever. If not all of the staples go in completely (they can sometimes be a sucker), use a hammer to smooth them out.

Here you go! Mustaches!

Screenshot_2013-06-06-22-03-46After the first coat is dry, work on your second paint coat. Touch ups can always be done the next day, too. I recommend waiting 1-2 days after painting to ensure the paint is 100% dry before reattaching your seat.

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what’s inspiring me

Inspiring me, driving me crazy, coloring my mind.

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why yes I’m pumped for CSA fruits and veggies.

let the pickling games begin.

let the pickling games begin.

If Martha Stewart can make buttercream flowers, I'll be damned to say I can't.

If Martha Stewart can make buttercream flowers, I’ll be damned to say I can’t.

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I cooked carnitas in a slow cooker. This was the only photo I took.

I cooked carnitas in a slow cooker. This was the only photo I took.

sprinkles making the world go boom.

sprinkles making the world go boom.

my favorite lamp from a flea market. of course I never bought a lamp shade for it. Com-pro-mise.

my favorite lamp from a flea market. 

honey & nutmeg mask

A friend of mine passed along seriously the best face mask recipe I’ve ever used. I’m in heaven. It makes your face smooth, your pores small, and can be used as an exfoliator. Yes, this is definitely not a beauty tips blog, but I couldn’t resist sharing. Here’s what you need:

  1.  Fresh nutmeg – just about a tablespoon grated. 
  2. Raw, natural honey. Not that bear stuff.

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Before making it, I prefer taking a shower. the steam opens your pores and preps your skin. Once ready, grate the nutmeg, about a teaspoon. Mix it with about a tablespoon of the honey. Rub it lightly on your face. If you have sensitive skin, don’t rub too hard as it will rough your face up a bit. Then, wait thirty minutes. Wash it off with warm water. And then I’d recommend blotting your face with some sort of toner, I use witch hazel ( like my sweet great grandmother used to do). 

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One very important sidenote: when first moving in with your boyfriend (or girlfriend. Or hell, anyone), I would recommend not putting this on and then sitting in the living room, waiting for the thirty minutes to pass. You will freak out said person. If it’s a male companion, he will remember why he was told at an early age that women are insane.

Last sidenote: place a paper towel around your neck. Honey drips. Enjoy!

final thoughts on studio living

Sooo I’m like three months behind. I should be ashamed, but damn I’ve been busy. Started new school programs, been traveling back and forth for work, and oh yeah… I MOVED again.

Oh yes, I said it. I have moved again. But before I get to that, here are my last thoughts on studio living. While it was only six months, I loved living on my own in a tiny shoebox. I will definitely take the sustainability and basic living along with my new space. Here it goes:

1. Don’t let a small kitchen prevent you from cooking. No really, don’t. Enjoy cooking, and figure out a way to organize all of your equipment. Check it:

IMG_1210Here, I hung a coat/towel rack and embellished hooks onces used for jewelry to hang my pots and pans, mugs, colander, and dish drying rack (when I wasn’t using it). In the middle is an Ikea bathroom shelving unit that I used to store all of my dishes and baking sheets. On top, you’ll see recycled jars I kept to store my silverware.

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Magnetic knife strip: best. purchase. ever. Ok, maybe not best per say, but seriously, this saved space, and it actually got me using all of them, rather than than just a simple pairing knife. At the bottom right is a metal paper organizer I purchased in college for my desk. I hung it on the wall and actually kept mail, coupons, and recipes in it. Really helpful, and brought a little more personality to the space.

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So, that’s the kitch. See at the bottom right, my mini fridge. Perfect for one person. On the front is a magnetic hanging rack that I hung scissors, hot pads, and measuring cups on. It was purchased about a decade ago from the Container Store. Note to future self: Never age yourself by dating your kitchen equipment. Above the fridge is my favorite DIY item ever – spice rack in a mason jar.

Moving on…

IMG_3298When this studio was first built, a murphy bed was up in the closet where my bed is placed. As you can see, the perimeter insert is still there, making somewhat of a nook for my bed. It makes it private. Additionally, I placed my beast of an Ikea dresser as a room divider, between the bed and living area. When you walk in the front door, you can’t see the bed, and honestly, most assume it’s what’s behind the closet door. Win. For studios, less is more, and spacing things out the best you can will definitely help.

Lastly, you should definitely try and make one of these mason jar racks. They’re WAY fun, super easy to make, great storage, and just plain rad.

IMG_1854Cheers to fabulous studio living!

 

dazzle you with my lip balm

So many blogs and posts – DIY this season! Make your own gifts! First off, I don’t have time to print out every Instagram photo and make coasters. Nor do I have time to try and crochet a scarf again this year. (I can never remember how to start.) However, I figured I would try to make lip balm. Simple enough. You can make a bunch in a short amount of time, and awesome. You have lip balm that’s cheaper than $4 a tube at Target.. You can buy everything you need at Amazon.com and Whole Foods. Again, Amazon prime this, and you’ll be ready the next day.

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First – buy some tins. Or plastic containers. Whatever you want to put the balm in. You’ll also need:

1. Beeswax! I bought the small pellets – it’s easier to melt, and cheap!

2. Oil – I made two batches, the clear one has coconut oil, the rose tinted has a mix of olive and vegetable oil

3. Raw honey

4. Essential oils – for the clear one, I used rosemary, lavender and peppermint. Ha – kind of a weird mix, but it worked out well. For the rose tinted balm, I used rose essential oil and peppermint. About 40 drops of each

5. Pipettes! You can buy 100 for $5 on Amazon – They make pouring the liquid balm into the tins a whole lot easier.

6. I also took a couple Vitamin A liquid pills, sliced em open, and added them to the mix. Good for your skin. I added Vitamin E, but naturally forgot to photograph. These were just in my medicine cabinet – as were the oils.

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Next you’ll want to use a double boiler. Since I don’t have one, I used a frying pan, and then put a glass pie dish on top. Pour water into the pan, and let it start to boil. While waiting, in the pie dish, add all of the ingredients. Depending on how much you want, you will want a 3:1 ratio of oil:beeswax. A tablespoon or so of honey. And 30-40 drops of each essential oil. If you want to add color, buy a tube of natural lipstick, and add half of it to your mix. When the water is boiling, put the pie dish on top, and let everything melt. No sense in starting to stir, because everything will just stick to your spoon. So wait, and use the time to remove all the tops to the tins.

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When all of the ingredients are melted, take the pie dish off the burner, and use a spoon to stir everything together. Then, use the pipette to put the liquid mix into each tin. About three squeezes per tin.

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The mix cools and solidifies super quick, so if it hardens before you finish, just put the pie dish over the boiling water/pan and let it melt again. And there you go! I am going to give the balms away in pairs – it will be a nice little gift. Everything total – and I still have more than half of what I originally purchased – cost under $75. And I made 50 tins of balm. Boom.

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christmas threw up in my studio last night

It happened. Earlier than usual this year, simply because I realized late last night that I didn’t need to ask anyone if it was ok to start decorating.

Boom.

Anyway, here are some photos of my little casa. I have had all the decorations for the last several years — some from when I was in college. They are from various places like World Market, Target, and some of the ornaments are from around the world – Russia, Mexico and France. Anyway, check it out. Here are some thoughts when decorating your own place –

– Keep your regular home designs out, and decorate them. Example: Where my bottles are, I added a couple Christmas trees. It just adds more color and liveliness. You can also see that I hung cinnamon sticks, pine cones and a cranberry wreath on top of my frames. I like the layering look. It’s fun, and not perfect.

– Mix classy with trashy. I love the shiny, tacky garland. And I love natural and earthy color ornaments and decor. Mix them just a bit (see my bits of garland), and I think the finished product looks good.

For this area, I hung strings of stuff- The flower-like ones are from Target, the other string is small pine cones, cranberries and cinnamon sticks I put together after seeing it done in a magazine several years back. I also love the little green bows and stockings that seriously date back to like 2006. The cranberry (alright, they are puff balls) wreath is from Target three years ago, and the ornament is from France. There was a time when I wanted an ornament from every country. That last lasted like half of one trip. Nice idea though.

These are some of my favorite Christmas decorations. I have an affinity toward Christmas trees (like bottles), so I have slowly collected different ones throughout the years. Similar to my original set up, they all share a warmth in color – while they may all be different, the sizes and mixed colors make for a nice balance. There’s also a photo of my college girlfriends and I. Nice memory to bring out each year.

The center piece is a mini cinnamon broom from Whole Foods. I LOVE IT! And it smells AMAZING. I had one a few years back from Trader Joes, one of the larger ones. But trust me, if you live in a studio, the tiny one is all you need. Again – gotta love the gold garland… that was purchased my sophomore year of college, and has lived in seven homes since. Ha!

sidenote: my cat just fell off the couch. hilarious.

My version of a Christmas tree. The little Russian dolls were hand painted in, you guessed it, Russia. I actually picked them up at the World Famous (I am actually not being sarcastic) Gem and Mineral show in Tucson, Arizona… one of the best places for amazing jewelry and random pieces like this. The wreath is fake, but I use it every year … maybe that’s sustainability in action?

Here is one big view. I love my cozy space, and I love Christmas decorations. Win. The garland balls 1- 12 represent the Twelves Days of Christmas. I bought them a few years ago from Target (seriously, they sell amazing decorations), and actually kept them up in my last place the whole year.. but not in that you-still-have-your-Christmas-lights-up-in-February sorta way. They’re pretty cool.

I’m going to check out new things this weekend, and see if I find anything fun to add to my collection. Woohoo.

I hope this inspires you to get decorating! (or have me come decorate your place!)

Summer 

Carrot Curry Soup. With pistachios. Boom.

Tonight I prepared two recipes I found in Vegetarian Magazine’s October Issue. I received a six month free gift earlier in late summer, and just received the October, November and December issues this week – Ha! Anyway, I went through them and cut out the recipes I was excited about. Today, I made the curried carrot soup with roasted pistachios AND this warm millet and brussel sprout salad. I’ll post that recipe next. I made both recipes for tonight’s dinner,  dinner tomorrow, and lunch on Tuesday (maybe I’ll freeze the rest)… with Thanksgiving on Thursday, I want something light and nutritious so I can eat a disgusting amount of stuffing, turkey, and pie. Not sure in what order. I. Can’t. Wait.

I changed some things around, based on what I had and how it tasted. Let me know your thoughts. Both recipes are vegan.

Curried Carrot Soup – 

What You’ll Need

Bag of carrots – the recipe called for grated, I just bought a bag of baby and chopped them up

2 large leeks – The grocery store ran out of leeks, so I bought a large white onion instead and chopped it up

4 cups of water – I didn’t want my soup that watery, so I only added two cups. (Note: maybe use vegetable broth, low sodium, next time)

handful of roasted pistachios – chop ’em, or don’t. they are a nice crunchy and salty garnish

olive oil

1/4 and 1/8 tsp. baking soda – not sure why the recipe adds this, but maybe it’s a thickening agent?

1/2 tsp. curry powder – what?!! In my humble opinion, that’s definitely not enough curry powder. I think I probably ended up tripling that… so add how much you want based on personal preference. I like spice. I also added cinnamon to mine.

Screw it – add cinnamon. It’s a nice, autumn-y touch. 🙂

Directions-

In a large pot, heat up the olive oil, probably like two splashes of it. Add the baking soda (Note: this feels like a science project) Then add the cut up carrots and onions. BOOM. Just kidding. Stir ’em up, close the pot, and let everything cook for like 15 minutes or less. Stir every couple minutes, and watch for the veggies to soften.

Add 2 cups water and curry powder. Let it cook a little. Then pour the soup into your blender (if you don’t have an immersion blender, ugh, sad face). Blend up, maybe add some black pepper.

Serve with pistachios on top. Maybe some raisins too, if you want something a little sweeter. If you aren’t going veggie, this might be nice with a savory, roasted rosemary chicken. Yum.

Seriously, this soup is SO easy, cheap, in season, and delicious. Carrots are one of the super veggies, spices are good for you system and your soul. And really, who doesn’t like pistachios?

Additionally, cook while listening to Mariah Carey, have football on mute, and you’ll have yourself a golden Sunday.

 

 

 

chickpea curry with cranberry almond quinoa

While I wait impatiently on Election Day, I decided to prepare my favorite Indian dish – a spicy, savory chickpea tomato based curry, and sweet delicious quinoa with cranberries and almonds. Looks pretty tasty, right? It’s not only delicious, but it’s super cheap, and super easy.

Here’s what you’ll need –

For the curry

can of chickpeas

can of chopped tomatoes – I like the fire roasted ones with garlic

a yellow onion

garlic

fresh ginger

a little olive oil – to cook the onions, garlic and ginger

turmeric – a tsp

cumin – a tsp

coriander – a tsp

cayenne pepper – to taste (I made this batch a little too spicy)

garam masala – on top, after it’s cooked

veggie broth – two cups, maybe three depending on how long you cook

For the quinoa

two cups veggie broth

one cup quinoa

handful of cranberries – I prefer to unsweetened ones, but they are sometimes difficult to find

1/4 cup slivered almonds

cinnamon stick

couple bay leaves

Directions

Give yourself about 30-45 minutes to cook. First start on the curry. Chop up the onion, garlic and grate the ginger. Add all of it to a pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Cook it up til the onions soften. About 10 minutes.

 

Next, and this is the tricky part, open up the cans of tomatoes and chickpeas. Pour em in. Add the veggie broth. Then add the turmeric, coriander, cayenne pepper, and cumin. Stir it up. Ha – I told you, this is a super simple and inexpensive meal. Initially the spices cost a bit, but they last forever.

 

Cover and stir occasionally. After reaching a boil, turn down the heat, and let it simmer for about 35 minutes. In about 20 mins, start the quinoa. Add the veggie broth, quinoa, cranberries, almonds, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves. Reach a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes – until the broth is gone, and the quinoa has a white rind around the grain.

 

A couple notes – I didn’t have cranberries this time, so I substituted currants instead. Turned out ok, but wasn’t as sweet. In fact I added a little Raw Stevia to balance out the cayenne pepper I overdid. I think I’m trippin over the election. In addition, I totally forgot to add the veggie broth to the curry. Fail. It dried up super quick, and the chickpeas weren’t as soft as they should’ve been – it also didn’t take a lot of time for the curry to cook. Kinda gross. So I added a little broth and let it simmer a little more. Much better. I’ve seriously made this dish half a dozen times, and today I screw it up.

Hmmm anything else I forgot? Don’t think so. This dish is served nicely with naan, if you aren’t stressin’ about carbs. It’s also nicely paired with sliced pears in cinnamon and honey… again, a nice cooling taste to add while eating this spice-rich meal. And oh yah – it’s vegan, and pretty healthy in it’s fat-carb-protein ratio! Enjoy!