Monday, December 19, 2011

DIY Photobooth

Meg and I hosted a Christmas party last Friday at her house. We've been itching to have a fun party and really wanted to have the party while our good friend (and former college roomie!) Jess was in town. We made fun cocktails, had a white elephant gift exchange, and made a photobooth. A dance party even broke out around midnight (YES!). I was so shocked that almost everyone who came brought a gift for the game.

My gift for the gift exchange was a Four Loco shirt and a can of Four Loko. So bummer that you can't find the kind with caffeine anymore. Jess and I were running around in the morning one day to find a can for me, and it was pretty hilarious to check out with nothing else but a can of Four Loko at 9am.

I am SO HAPPY about the photobooth we had set up for the party!

(notice Kara in the last photo got my white elephant gift!)

The photobooth was pretty easy to set up. Meg and I found cheap props from Family Dollar and Walgreens. I was dying to find a big plastic reindeer or a flamingo at a thrift store, but I never did.

Camera: I used my Nikon D50 with the 55-200mm lens. Due to space (I couldn't back the tripod any more), I had the camera set to 55mm. You should set the focus to auto.

Lighting: I bought two of those cheap metal clamp lights. I used two 100 watt light bulbs. The rest of the room was pretty dim and this was enough light. Don't use your camera flash; you'll get shadows in the pics.

Our backgroud: $3 wrapping paper.

Setup: I left the camera on for three or four hour window during the party with the remote and timer on. A sign directed guests to pick the remote to take their pictures. I determined the max area someone could be in and still be in a picture and taped that box on the ground using masking tape.

The only tricky part was the lighting. The night before the party we spent a while moving the lamps around to find the perfect spots. We had one lamp on each side and ended up pointing them up towards the ceiling.

The photobooth was so much fun; we might have one again if we have a new year's party!

Oh, and the invite I made is worth sharing too:

(don't worry, that's not her real address)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Ultimate Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

Tiff's Treats here in Austin make a ridiculous chocolate chip cookie. There's a hint of coconut flavor to them, so I was suspecting that they may use coconut oil. I found a recipe online that uses coconut oil and OMG they are the best and richest chocolate chip cookies (and SO chewy!).

Recipe adapted from cheekykitchen.com


1/2 cup coconut oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tbs vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
8 oz dark chocolate chips

In a large bowl,beat together coconut oil, eggs, and brown sugar. Add remaining ingredients, mixing together until just incorporated. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in the oven at 400 degrees for 9-11 minutes, or just until the outside of the cookies have browned ever so slightly around the edges. I made mine large and took them out right at 10 minutes (a little spot or two on the cookies still looked goo-ey.)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy Friday

yay, Friday!

John Waters tonight!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vegetable Soup

I made a huge batch of vegetable soup on Sunday in our crock pot. Several months ago I made a goal of trying to make a big batch of soup once a week. Other than this week...I think I only did this once. Sigh.

I was happy to use the chicken stock that I froze after Eric and I roasted a chicken. Something feels so right when you aren't wasting anything (we had a couple of old-ish tomatoes too that I wouldn't eat, but made it in the soup too!). I crammed as many fresh vegetables that could possibly fit in one large crock pot, and I added some chopped fresh jalapenos for a little heat.

This week is incredibly busy. I'm giving an exam in all of my classes this week, I desperately need to get my grades set up, and I need to finish writing final exams...but the end of the semester is so close...I'm happier than a student counting down.

P.S. The boyfriend loves this soup too......WIN! (His brussell sprouts and carrots usually end up on my plate.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Beaded Collar

This is what I've been working on for a couple weeks now. The idea came from Meghan Nielsen who made one (and posted a pattern) from this vintage inspiration.

I was going to sew my own collar, but I'm so glad I ended up using her pattern. The collar lays (lies?) beautifully around the neck. The beading took me 15 hours or so. I ran out of the pearls and had to go back to Michael's. They were out, so I had to head to another Michael's. And the number of knots the thread got while I was beading was ridiculous. Every night of the past couple weeks Eric will ask, "what are you going to do tonight?" and I would just look at him and he'd go, "beading?".

I took some pictures throughout making the collar, but I don't have that SD card with me. I sewed the scalloped collar from some heavy duty off-white fabric I had. If you're curious to see what the steps look like, you can go to the link I posted for where I got the idea.

P.S. I got a new camera lens! I'm so happy with it.
P.P.S. Happy Friday and late Thanksgiving. Eric and I are in Houston enjoying time with some of his side of the family.

Friday, November 18, 2011

happy birthday friday

Happy Birthday Kara! (don't worry Kara..that pepperoni and ricotta looking stuff is totally vegan.) Eric and I will be meeting up with our friends tonight to celebrate her birthday with lots of homemade pizzas and beer.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lemon Scones

I made lemon scones last night. They're delicious alone and ridiculous with a touch of honey butter (I forgot how much I love honey butter.) Recipe here.

It's a rainy morning here. I go into work later on Tuesdays and Thursdays because I teach an evening class on those nights. It's always really hard to go get up and leave on mornings like this after you've had three hours to relax in the morning. I almost end up running late to 11:30 meetings because I can't pull myself away from something I've started, and I never run late.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

espresso dark chocolate chip biscotti

I've made biscotti once before (here) and switched the recipe concept slightly. I read the blog Angry Chicken, and she commented that she completely cuts out the oil when she makes them. I did a compromise between that idea and the normal amount of oil; I used about 1/8 a cup of oil when a normal recipe calls for a 1/2 cup.
(If you completely cut the oil, you are probably limited to only dunking to eat them, but I like some nibbles without dipping into milk or coffee.)

Here's the recipe I used:
2 cups flour (I used half white and white wheat)
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon instant espresso
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 teaspoon lemon extract
1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
really good dark chocolate chocolate chips
a dash of milk

You follow the standard steps like you can find here. They are basically twice baked cookies. You bake the two blobs, let them cool for about 15 minutes, cut them into slilces and then bake the slices more (at a lower temperature.)

* Recipes suggest that when slicing, use a serrated knife. I thought it was much better to use a sharp chef's knife and just press down very hard. The serrated knife seemed like it was going to crack the biscotti and took more effort.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Happy Friday! Eric and I will be at Fun Fun Fun Fest all weekend. I can't wait to see M83.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

jalapeno cilantro sauce

I'm currently in love with the fresh jalapeno + cilantro flavor. There's a banh mi sandwich that I love to get from a trailer that has lots of mayo, fresh jalapeno, and cilantro. Eric and I were with some friends for happy hour last Friday and tried some chicken sliders that I think were ground chicken, mayo, cilantro and slice of jalapeno. YUM.

Last night I cooked some white fish (frozen), made this sauce and made tacos. I used butter lettuce to make a lettuce shell and Eric had tortillas. Both were so good.

You can find various recipes for a sauce like this, but ours went something like this:

2 cloves garlic
3 jalapenos
3 handfuls cilantro
2 tablespoons mayo
3 tablespoons greek yogurt
1 teaspoon white vinegar
salt + pepper
lime juice

Just put everything in a food processor. This is delicious on fish, tacos, burritos, you name it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

fresh squeezed grape juice

I am perfectly okay with grapes going bad in our fridge. YUM.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Friday, October 21, 2011

happy friday!

Eric and I roasted our first entire chicken this week. I never realized it was so easy. I watched this video to teach me how to cut out the backbone and take out the breast bone. We stuffed sage and slivers of garlic under the skin and slathered a little olive oil on the outside of the skin. Delicious and so cheap.

Today I'm going to a work happy hour and then going to see the band Battles with Eric. Then I want to do a whole bunch of laying on the couch reading a book.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Built by Wendy Boatneck dress

Fairly simple boatneck dress from a Built by Wendy pattern. Her pattern calls for using a few different color fabrics for the four front pieces, but I just used all the same fabric. I tried to match up the fabric in contrast (shown below.)

I wish the neckline was more boatneck-ish, but I'll keep that in mind if I make this dress again.

Friday, October 14, 2011

happy friday

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Asparagus and Ricotta Pizzas

Asparagus and Riccotta Pizzas, Recipe from Real Simple Magazine

  • 1 pound pizza dough, at room temperature (I made my own dough from the pita/flatbread recipe I use)
  • cornmeal, for the baking sheet
  • 1 pound asparagus, halved crosswise and lengthwise
  • 5 ounces  mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups arugula/spinach
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Shape the dough into 4 balls and place on 2 cornmeal-dusted baking sheets.
  2. Dividing evenly, top the dough with the asparagus, mushrooms, and garlic, then the ricotta, parmesan, and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the crust is golden brown and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the arugula with the lemon juice, the remaining tablespoon of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Top the pizzas with the arugula just before serving.

Recipe taken from Real Simple magazine.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Favorite Antique Fair Finds

Orange beaded necklace, thrown in as a deal with other items

Set of six yellow tumblers, $1 each

Earrings, in a bundle deal for $5

favorite find: Leather boots, $35 (bargained down from $40)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday! I'm just recovering from being pretty sick the last couple of days. I caught whatever sore throat/fever/achy/ear/head thing that's going around. I actually slept 16 hours between Wed. evening and Thursday afternoon. Dang. And last night I went to bed at 9pm. I feel fairly normal today thanks to all the sleep (and lots of hugs from the boy.)

Tomorrow morning the girls are meeting up early to go out of town for an antique fair. I'm hoping I can come home with a purse and some jewelry.

Happy Friday!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Carmelized Onion Tart


We went to brunch at a friend's house this weekend and brought this and a couple of other little things. The tart is very easy to make and OMG it's good. Everything at our brunch was delicious. Our hosts even made a fun punch of honey water, champagne, and rum (very good and refreshing.)

We went out the night before and I woke up early to get everything made for our brunch. It wasn't easy getting out of bed early but it was rather strange/amusing to carmelize onions at 9am while someone is passed out twenty feet away from you sleeping on your couch (you're not going to sleep through that one!).

Carmelized Onion Tart with Apples, recipe from Real Simple Magazine

2 tablespoons olive oil

  • medium onions, sliced
  • Gala apples, cut into small pieces
  • salt and black pepper
  • sheets frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream (go for the creme fraiche!)


  1. Heat oven to 400º F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Stir in the apples, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until just tender, 2 minutes.
  2. Place each sheet of pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Spread with the crème fraîche, leaving a ½-inch border. Top with the onion mixture and bake until the pastry is crisp and browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Cut into pieces before serving.
Recipe taken from Real Simple.

Friday, September 23, 2011


So yesterday was an interesting day. The day started off like the previous two days: every 20 minutes I would refresh the Austin City Limits music festival website, because at random on one day between Tuesday-Friday they would post a limited sale of their "souvenir tickets" for ACL 2012. They are only $50 opposed to the usual $185. Well yesterday it happened and I totally missed it. I had checked about 10 minutes before and when I looked several minutes later, it had already happened and it had sold out. Apparently the tickets sold out in three minutes! And guess what? Eric got two!!!!!!! He caught it and actually got through. My day was totally made (very few people win these!) Their website says about the souvenir tickets: "Get one and you should buy a lottery ticket that day!", that's how lucky it is.

And in the evening I was invited to get a drink with Meg and Stephanie. I ended up declining because I still had a stack of exams to grade. So I stayed at work after my evening class grading exams and came home and graded more....only to find out later that they saw Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan at the bar they went to. WTF !! I guess you can't win it all in one day.

No big plans tonight except cleaning our place. But I'm a little interested in going to the area where the film festival is happening in Austin.


Monday, September 19, 2011

terrible blogmaster

I missed a Happy Friday. I could have made an awesome one for ACL. sigh. I'm sorry I haven't blogged in while. I was swamped making preparations for ACL, having a couple friends in town, and going to ACL. Normal life will resume soon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Happy Friday!

The boy and I are going to two of my university's soccer games tonight. I have a ton of soccer players this semester and I've become really fond of them. I announced that I was coming to the women's and men's games tonight and they freaked out. Cute.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Butterscotch Macadamia Nut Cookies

Last night seemed like the appropriate time to bust my (non-intentional) non-baking streak. I had half a bag of butterscotch chips in the freezer, some macadamia nuts, and no chocolate chips. A small bag of macadamia nuts from Central Market's bulk section ended up being $4.00 and I couldn't decide if it felt like wasting them to put them in a cookie..but I have no regrets. They're delicious.

I still haven't finished the purse I started. I can't get the purse frame onto the top ledge (hard to explain, but one of these.) I quit working on the purse and starting knitting a scarf. And like most weeks of the past month, I've been watching lots of Mad Men.

Butterscotch Macadamia Nut Cookies

1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cup quick oats
7/8 cup unbleached white flour
7/8 cup toasted macadamia nuts
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375F. Toast the macadamia nuts. Beat the butter, salt, sugar, baking soda and vanilla extract. Beat in the eggs and then the flour. Add oats, nuts and butterscotch chips. Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack.

Friday, September 2, 2011

happy (girl's night out) friday!

Girl's night out tonight!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

homemade items in action

I think classes are beginning to settle (i.e. I'll have more time to make stuff.) Last night I began working on a new purse, but finishing it is throwing me for a loop. I'll post the purse as soon as it's finished.

In the meantime, here a couple of old items I made and am documented wearing:

soft cover-up original post

spotted last year during SXSW and featured on The Style Co-op (Photos above and below compliments of The Style Co-op)

My post about making the flower hairpiece and their post featuring it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

doodles for the office

Well, I don't really have anything for ya. We've been doing a lot of cleaning this weekend and last night we went out. I did make some doodles yesterday for my office. Now I'm off to a bbq for a friend's birthday..a bbq on the hottest day of the entire year. I don't know if you can sense my excitement or not.

(We ended up skipping out on the picnic yesterday because of the heat.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday! Tomorrow Austin is having an SEC picnic in Zilker Park. Me, Meg and Sean will be reppin the University of Florida and I'm hoping that Eric will tag along too. The picnic should be fun/funny.

I promise to post something on the blog this weekend!

Friday, August 19, 2011

happy friday!

Happy Friday!

Am I ready for classes to begin Monday? Why no, no I am not. I'm trying to quickly put together my syllabi and all that. My office is a disaster because I got approved to move into a much bigger office, so I quit cleaning up my office because I knew I was moving...

I just feel like laying around all day reading instead of getting all of my  stuff together for Monday's classes. I'm reading two books right now: The Death and Life of the Great American School System by Diane Ravitch and A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. Diane Ravitch is a really remarkable education historian and educational policy analyst. I've been oblivious to most things happening in education because of how far removed I am from what's happening in the K-12 system. I went to a good high school and never spent any time in any K-12 after I finished high school. Then I began teaching college in South Carolina where most students came from good high schools. My new position here in Austin faces some students who have come from weaker high schools and I also have made good friends with a colleague that taught high school for many years. She really got me thinking about the state of education and recommended this book.

Haddon's book is an easy fiction read. He is the author of The Curious Dog in the Night-Time, which is an adorable book. You could finish it within a few hours. I love that book. I remember one of the exact spots I used to sit on the University of Florida campus reading the book and laughing out loud.

Two of my friends want to start a book club next month. I'm excited. The rules are so far are: (1) you read the book before the get-together at the end of the month (2) the get-together must have wine (3) there must be food inspired by something in the book.

Have a good weekend. I need to go work on my syllabi...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

wine & cheese dinners

We've been doing this frequently. I am so in love with aged goudas and stilton blue cheese. After a full belly of tasty bites and wine, we usually go out downtown. Last Friday night one of the friends came back to our apartment around 2am and ate the leftover cheese by the grabful. I laughed so hard when I woke up the next day and heard that story.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

back in town.

I'm home. San Diego and South Carolina visits were lovely. Above is Riley, the daughter of my good friends Danielle and Ty. She is the happiest baby I have ever seen.

I haven't made anything since I've been out of town. Hopefully this week..if I can pull myself away from my recent Mad Men marathons (it's available for streaming on Netflix now.) This is the last week before classes begin, eek. Lots of meetings and such. :/

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

out of town for a bit.

I'm at a math teaching conference right now...I get back in town to Austin tonight, get to hang out with my brother and his wife (they are in Austin for a conference), and then tomorrow Eric and I fly out for San Diego. We stay in SD for 10 days and then I fly straight across to the east coast where I get to see some of my best friends.

I don't get back into Austin until August 9 and I don't think I will be able to post much until then. Have a great next couple weeks!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Brad!

Love you so much! Have a good birthday!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

DIY hair bun piece

My hair won't make a bun like this on its own. I wear my hair up almost every day of the summer and my hair makes a pathetically tiny bun due to being fine and not super long (3 inches or so longer than my shoulders?). If you have long hair (or thick hair), then this project is of no interest to you.

Do you remember something from the 90s that looked something like this?

I owned two of them in middle school I think. They were velvet material and I think my mom ordered them from QVC. The QVC commercial demonstrated making a french twist and different buns easily form their weird looking hair contraption.

I recently have been in CVS and Target and was wishing I could find one of these again. No luck of course. People would look at that thing and laugh. A scrunchie looks cooler than that thing.

CVS does sell something similar, and less geeky looking, that seems like two slap bracelets, connected, covered in velvet. It essentially does the same thing, but is a HUGE pain in the ass. I bought it, and it snaps constantly as you are trying to roll your hair before assembling the bun. It slaps on your hands and it hurts. Eric hears me whining in the bathroom and steps in to see what's wrong and I have to say "I'm just trying to put this stupid thing in again.". Occasionally I successfully get it in, then get dressed and completely mess it up...and have to go through the process again. I get slapped repeatedly and ending up getting frustrated and an array of curse words get said.

Make Your Own Weird Hair Bun Contraption

Materials: at least 6 regular size pipe cleaners, two 11 x 3 in. pieces of fabric in a color that won't boldly contrast next to your hair
Tools required: scissors, sewing machine, needle nose pliers

First: Cut your fabric. The length should be around the length of a pipe cleaner. (Cut two 11 x 3 in. pieces).

Second: Twist two pipe cleaners together. Don't do this too tightly so that you would be losing a lot of length. Repeat with another two. Now attach both ends to form one big loop. Make sure to use pliers to push in any wires that might poke you.
**Read rec. at the bottom of post.**

Third: Take one of your pieces of fabric and fold in half lengthwise. Cut a slit in the middle about 1.25 inches. Repeat with your other piece, trying to make the slits in the same place and of the same length.

Now take two new pipe cleaners and twist them together. Take one end and attach to the other to form a loop. (The loop should end up being roughly around 2.5-2.75 inches in diameter.)

Fourth: Open up both pieces of your fabric and lay them on top of each other, good side to good side. Now sew a shape like a giant enlongated almond. You want to be fairly close to the edge at all times, except when close to either end. Make sure you meet in the middle like shown below.
Now both of your pieces should be sewn together and you're staring at the wrong side and there's an open floppy slit in the middle.

Fifth: Trim off excess fabric.

Sixth: Turn it inside out (use that open slit in the middle to do so.) Shove your large loop of pipe cleaner inside and put it fairly snug to the outer edge. Then place in your smaller loop of pipe cleaner. The spots where the wire should be are shown below. (The stitching you see in the interior comes in a later step.)

Seventh: Now sew a zig-zag stitch on both ends of the slit. (This will prevent it from fraying and becoming a larger opening than you want.) Don't sew over any pipe cleaners!
(Again in this photo you see some stitching in the interior that you haven't gotten to yet.)

Eighth: Take both top flaps of your slit, turn them slightly in toward each other, press together, and sew a stitch. Do the same for your bottom two flaps of the slit. This gives the slit a slightly larger opening (don't make it too large!) and some reinforcement for the open hole. It's difficult to make a nice seam here. No one will ever see the middle (we just want to prevent fraying.)

Ninth: Sew a couple of loops that will hold your pipe cleaners in place. See picture below. (Outer stitch loop shown below, but I left off the inner.)

Finished product:

How to use thing:

** I regret not having a little more wire on the two ends. When you tuck them under, it's much easier with more wire. When I make another, I'll add some additional wire to the ends of the loop (the outer loop---the inner doesn't need any more.)

LONGEST POST EVER, my apologies.