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Archive for December, 2011

Nuts About Nuts

I’m probably biased, but I have the best candied nut recipe ever. I made them as gifts over Christmas and have received rave reviews, so maybe I’m not too far off in my belief. We’re going to a NYE party this weekend and I have decided to make a huge batch to bring along.  After tasting these, your friends and family will be eating out of your hands (if you let them, that is).

Sugar & Spice [and everything nice] Nuts

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup of white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (add more or less to suit to your tastes)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 1 1/4  pound of pecan halves (or mixed nuts)
  • 2 egg whites

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees & line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper
  2. Combine sugars, cayenne pepper, cinnamon & salt in a mixing bowl. Blend together with a fork.
  3. Beat egg whites until frothy but stop before it is forming peaks
  4. On a low speed, combine egg whites and sugar mixture until relatively smooth
  5. Fold in the nuts and toss until evenly coated
  6. Spread the sugar & nut mixture onto the parchment-covered cookie sheet
  7. Bake for 30 minutes; pull out once every 10-15 minutes to stir
  8. Remove from oven and separate the nuts as they cool
  9. Once they are cool, they are ready to eat/store/gift.

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Mmm mmm! Delicious!

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I love being married. No really, I do! There are very few days that compare to your wedding day and mine was an absolute dream! It’s the first day of the rest of your life but on a sad note, it’s just that… 24 hours and then it’s over. I miss it every once in a while and that’s when I find myself browsing through the online portfolio of wedding photos.

Since I’m such a sentimental person I’ve been toying with the idea of a shadow box. I have pictures all over, but I wanted to showcase not just photos, but mementos, too. Since I had some time to spare today, I was able to get this project completed. I bought a shadow box frame around Thanksgiving and just needed to figure out what I wanted to put inside. Since mine was for the wedding, it was rather easy because there was only a day’s worth of items to select, but for something like a baby’s first year, or a vacation, I could imagine that being much more daunting.

Materials Needed:

  • Shadow box frame (mine had a fabric-covered foam backing and a hinged door)
  • Straight pins
  • Double-sided tape
  • Pictures and small trinkets (try to make sure that each item has direct relevance to whatever topic/event you choose)

For my project, I used:

  • Fabric (scrap from the clutches I made for the bridesmaids)
  • Groom’s boutonniere
  • Dried Moss, twig, and flower from a centerpiece
  • Remnant from my veil — I cut a piece off a piece of the scalloped edge . (I swear I’m not crazy, but I also don’t live under any ill-conceived notion that my future daughter will think my fashion selection is as timeless as I do.)
  • Portrait of us
  • Save the Date announcement
  • Wedding Invitation

Directions:

  1. Gather any items you may want to place in your shadow box. You may notice that once you have them all together, you will want to create a color scheme or maybe something is just a bit too large. For example, I had originally wanted two pictures, but one was black and white which conflicted with the natural hues of everything else so it was an easy decision not to include it.
  2. If covering the backdrop, cut the fabric to the exact size of the opening (if not, go to step 3). While the back of my shadow box wasn’t ugly, it was a bit too white plain. I placed the double-sided tape all over in order to create a sticky surface to easily adhere the fabric from my bridesmaids’ clutches.

    it's faint, but you can see the tape criss-crossing all over

  3. Arrange all the items in a visually appealing way. Consider size, depth and texture in your layout. Larger items should be placed in the background, while smaller items that might get lost should be placed in the foreground. If using all flat items (say photos, postcards, and ticket stubs), consider attaching layers of foam board to the back so that you get some dimension rather than just a collage.

    trial and error!

  4. Once you have a layout you are happy with TAKE A PICTURE
  5. Remove all of the items.
  6. Following your photo as a guide, begin attaching the items. For flat things I used double-sided tape, but for items that need more stability, use a pin to attach them. If using a pin, do not use it like a thumb tack!! Go in on a very tight angle, as close to horizontally as possible.
  7. Once you’re finished, step back and stare in awe at your masterpiece!

Hmm… now where do I put it??

its temporary home in my office

 

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supercalifragiLIPSTICK

I normally wouldn’t obsess over a beauty product, but I need to declare some love for Maybelline’s Super Stay24 hour lip color! It is uh-maze-ING! I was walking around Target last week (I know I’m not the only one who peruses the aisles on my lunch hour) and I was trying to pick out a red lipstick. I was originally planning on grabbing one of the regular kinds but at only $8.29, trying out an all day color seemed like a smart alternative. I have tried the 24-hour glosses and I’m not impressed. I can’t stand the sticky goopy feeling, but this is balmy like chapstick. It’s a simple 2 step process, and while it takes 2 minutes rather than the 10-second swoop, it’s definitely worth it in the long run.

Step 1: Apply the color base. The one I bought is called All Day Cherry. I apply it rather thinly and in 2 layers. Let it dry completely – about a minute or two.

Step 2: Apply the clear top coat. (FYI, you will have to apply this coat intermittently throughout the day)

Voila! It’s shiny and beautiful but my husband won’t have to fear smudges all over him 🙂

don't mind the weird angle...

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Thank You, Santa!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas because mine was out of this world! I was so excited to share in the joy with our families and to give out all of the gifts, especially to our niece and nephew. I’ll be honest though, and it might sound bad, but getting my presents on Christmas morning was the most fun I’ve had in awhile.   I was absolutely spoiled this year and received a ton of great gifts so Santa must think I’m doing something right. Each gift was a perfect present for me so that just goes to show that the people in my life know me very well.

  • Farberware Millennium Cookware Set – This is by far my favorite present. These are such a great set and I know I will be using them every single day. The nonstick is probably the best nonstick ever and I could not love them more. Besides their practicality, they are very attractive; we’ve already discussed getting a hanging rack just so they can be on display.
  • Cuisinart Fondue Pot and Melting Pot Cookbook – As previously discussed, I really wanted a fondue pot and Santa brought the exact one I asked for! In addition, I was also given a great recipe book to make all of our favorites from the Melting Pot. (We already tried the Brie and Crab Cheese Fondue tonight)
  • Kate Spade Prize Ball Thermos –  This was one of the presents from my BFF. It’s super useful but, even more importantly, look how PRETTY it is!! I’m lucky to have a friend who understands my love of the finer things.
  • Hello Cupcake book and 2011 Cupcake Ornament – I have been wanting this book  for forever and now I finally have it all because of my favorite coworker, and on top of that, I got the cutest cupcake Christmas ornament.
  • Nordic Ware Cupcake Decorating Set and a set of 27 icing tips – The cupcake theme continued! While I don’t generally eat cupcakes, I absolutely love making them and now, thanks to my husband, I have all of the tools to make the decorating aspect that much easier.
  • Brinkmann Zone Grill – When we moved into our house, we had no grill, but the previous owners left theirs on the patio so we thought we had hit the lotto! To our dismay, it was just a rusting pile of garbage. That’s where my in-laws came to the rescue… they surprised us yesterday with this awesome grill. I cannot wait until BBQ season!
  • Blog Logoed Items – Last but definitely not least, I had to share these!

    pardon the cruddy quality, but I used my laptop's webcam

    My husband kept the elves busy and customized some cute little items with my blog logo on them. Isn’t he just the best?! I have a mug, a pillow, a notebook/sketch pad, and pin with my S&S insignia on them. Spool & Spoon is “official” now!

I wasn’t the only one who received some entertaining gifts yesterday. In addition to many other things, my honey got a Forever Lazy (if you don’t know what that is, prepare to laugh) as well as an awesome Xbox Kinect.

Did you get anything brag-worthy?

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I do not expect anyone to read this until after the holidays are long-gone, but I have a few minutes to spare and wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a super Happy Hanukkah.

Joe and I spent the day in the city and we may make it a Christmas Eve tradition for years to come since it was such a wonderful experience. We started off by seeing The Nutcracker at the Academy of Music and it was beautiful. Afterwards, we did some shopping and had dinner at the oh so fancy Capital Grille (it was out of this world delicious!). Aside from getting locked out of the Kimmel Center parking garage and almost being stranded in Philly, the day really was a delight. I’m happy to be home though because not only do I love spending time with Aubrey, we got to act on my favorite Christmas Eve tradition and open one present each tonight (so much fun!). Nevertheless I need to be in bed before Santa makes his rounds so Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Merry Christmas Eve from the Mr & Mrs!

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While perusing some pins last night I found a random, but darling, idea for a Christmas tree garland. Yes, I know it’s a bit late to create a new decoration, but making a garland that combined two sentimental elements was more than I could resist.

The holidays were always a very special time with my grandparents and I have been trying to come up with some type of Christmas ornament to honor their memory. For my Pop-pop, my solution was a traditional Polish glass ornament and for my Nanny, I had originally filled a glass ball with some of the teeny tiny buttons from her collection but it seemed to lack something special. I think the button garland is a better alternative because not only did she have a large collection of buttons but she was also the one who taught me how to crochet (plus it’s super duper cute!). Now, I haven’t crocheted in about 10 years, but I immediately went to town and even with my lack of recent experience it was an incredibly simple project.

How-to: Crocheted Button Garland

Materials needed:

  • An assortment of random buttons in the color scheme of your choice (I used a little over 100 and my chain is around 23 feet))
  • Yarn of your choice (can’t be too thick/fuzzy but needs to be durable)
  • An appropriate sized crochet hook (dependent upon the yarn you choose)

Steps:

  1. Thread all of the buttons onto the yarn
  2. Create a continuous chain for about one foot
  3. Pull up one button and create a stitch around it to keep it in place
  4. Crochet a 1-2” chain (about 5-10 stitches)
  5. Pull up another button and stitch around it
  6. Crochet another 5-10 stitches
  7. Repeat, repeat, repeat
  8. Finish it off with another foot or so of chain stitches

The most involved step in the process was the first and that’s only because it’s hard to shove a hearty sized yarn through the holes of most buttons. Once you get that down (I taped/rolled the end of the yarn to make it easier), it’s pretty simple. I finished mine without too much of a hassle and still had enough yarn left to make a matching pot holder.  It’s too bad our tree is already decorated because the garland will have to wait until next year to be put to use. That’s okay though because it’s absolutely precious and goes well with our homey Christmas décor.

wrapped around some cardboard to prevent tangles

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So far, so good. I’m already seeing space freeing up and money being saved as we’ve eaten some things that were purchased but long forgotten. Rather than go into detail about our meals for the day, I thought it might be better to share a great tip that I picked up along the way.

As a working  lady, I know it is difficult practically impossible to carve out time to prepare home-cooked meals every night. You leave for work and half-way through the day you realize that you forgot to marinate the steak or, without thinking ahead you throw that 15lb bulk package of chicken into the freezer… whoops!  This is where the random tip comes in handy. You hear it all the time: “Buying in bulk saves money.” Well, it’s true but unless you’ve got a family of 10, you should break that 15lb package of chicken breasts into separate portions. This little pointer will go one step further: add a marinade while you bag it up.

If you’re going to freezer bag 2 breasts at a time anyhow, you might as well throw in a zesty marinade while you’re at it. I wish I remember where I got this ingenious tip, because I’d love to give credit where it’s due. It might sound silly to freeze marinade with the meat because it won’t do any good right away but it’ll save you a whole day in the future… no lie. Normally, you’d have to give the meat a day in the fridge to thaw and then a night of marinading until it’s ready to cook. Now, while it’s thawing during the day it’ll be doing double duty by soaking up the marinade at the same time. It’s like getting a free 12 hours today in exchange for 5 minutes last week. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Try it out and mix it up. Some of my favorites are: rosemary and olive oil chicken, Jamaican jerk chicken, barbecue chicken, honey and ginger chicken/pork,  A1 steaks, and Chipotle Lime steaks (all using store-bought marinades).  Don’t forget to label the freezer packs or you might as well throw money down the drain with your leftovers because I can guarantee you will never EVER use them if you can’t remember what’s inside.

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