September Monthly Goal Recap

Before we jump into the monthly recap I have to say I’m humbled by another featured post. Fawn over at Dear Creatives was kind enough to feature me today and a few of my projects. I know I said it before, but as a newbie blogger, this is such an honor. I never in a million years though that thousands of people would stop by my little blog.


Please stop by Dear Creative and share some love, the site is fantastic! If you’ve found your way here through the featured post, Welcome and Thank You!


Wow, another month gone, it’s finally Autumn, and it’s almost Christmas!! (A girl can dream, I LOVE Christmas). September was a fun month and I accomplished more around the house than usual.

Top 10 Goals for September!

  • Cut out Sugar
    • Ok, I promised to try really hard at this, but in all honesty, IT SUCKED. I feel better and have had far fewer mood swings. I don’t feel as congested and I’ve cancelled my doctors appointment. Yes, that’s all good stuff, but there were days where I REALLY just wanted a cookie and I slipped up A LOT. I’m glad I cut out most sugar this month, but it was always meant to be temporary. I will continue to reduce sugar as much as possible, but let’s face it. I’m making a batch of these tonight.


  • Start Training for the Iron Girl Del Mar 10K
    • I’m getting scared excited about this one. I started training with the personalized Smart Coach training plan and have struggled with the scheduled plan so far. You can see my training plan here, my first training check in here. Another progress post will be up next Tuesday, but I can say that I’ve been doing much, MUCH better. Who thought I’d say, “I have to jog 3 miles tonight, no big deal”. Yeah, it happened.
  • Continue Home Projects
    • So many fun projects happened this month, you can catch up on it all here.

Homemade Deco Podge

  •  Purge and Donate extra crap stuff from around the house
    • Lots of stuff was given away this month, and I still have MORE. I also repurposed some frames destined for donation into the coolest bulletin boards.


  • Write something everyday.
    • I’m working on a special writing project and I need to make some major progress this month. Hopefully I can share more about this soon.
      • Still can’t share anything on the special writing project, but it’s coming along. I hope to actually be done with it ahead of schedule.
  • Read something everyday
    • …beside my email and twitter feed
      • This is a daily battle, but I did finish a few books. Check out the Mental Dumbbells posts here. Then I got sucked into Pinterest and let’s face it, reading took a back seat.
  • Bond with Goober
    • With the 100+ degree heat, my little pup been forced to stay indoors more than I like. We need to make a few more trips to the Dog Park.
      • We hit up the dog park a few times, and Baxter loved every minute of it. Unfortunately this past week he’s been housebound with a hurt leg, but he’s getting better day by day.
      • I also shared how we stared the grass planter project so he could relax on the cool grass in his own backyard.
Baxter Chillin' at the Dog Park
  • Cook and share more recipes
    • I can’t wait to break into the Fall Themed recipes I’ve been seeing everywhere!
      • It’s still so hot lately that I haven’t really busted out the Fall themed recipes, but I did enjoy some good eats. I need to revamp the Recipe page but you can see most of of the recipes here.
Fish Tacos
  • Stick with a regular blogging schedule
    • A post a day for the entire month, so proud. In fact, 38 posts to be exact. I also had my biggest hits month ever thanks so some excellent linking parties and several featured posts. I can’t thank you guys enough!
  • Local Adventure
Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA 

It’s been a banner month and I can’t wait for October!

Monthly Project Recap – September 2011

September was a fun month and I’m shocked by how quickly it went. The end of the year always brings out the craftiness in me so there are plenty of craft projects on deck for the coming months. However, I’m so thrilled with the projects from this month.

Here is a quick recap of the projects completed in September.

I shared the big Powder Room Reveal and provided the links to my favorite bathroom hardware (hint: they are from West Elm).

I had to buy some twine for the grass planter project and decided to turn a simple paint can into a Twine Dispenser.

DIY Twine Dispenser

I turned old framed pegboard into new Bulletin Boards using Cork Tiles.

DIY Bulletin Board using Cork Tiles

How do you bring grass into a paved backyard? I figured out how to Grow Grass on Concrete. I’ll be installing a sprinkler system as well, without tearing up the existing concrete. It just takes a little thinking outside the box.

Laundry Room Removal Sticker This was my least favorite project, but the most rewarding. It took hours to remove that blasted sticker, but the result was well worth all the work. I’ll be posting the Laundry Room Reveal in the next few days.

Phase 1 to a new fireplace by Christmas is DONE!! Painting the Fireplace Screen Doors was fast and only cost $5. Next up, tear down that tile.


Homemade Mod Podge – By far the most popular post to date, we all love our Mod Podge.


Mason Jar Match’book’ – This was a last minute project for this month. I actually planned to do this in December but I couldn’t help myself. I loved this project and will probably be making a few of these for homemade gifts this year (maybe including it in a s’mores kit??)


I’ll be back a little later for a end of month goal recap, but in meantime…

C’mon brag a little, any great projects in September that you want to share?

Baked Ziti Marsala

I’ve always considered myself a pantry cook. Meaning, I don’t really create recipes, I grab and dump. I’ll stare in the pantry for a few hours minutes then come up with some random meal. If all goes well, it turns out pretty good.

My recipes always have a little of this and a little of that.

This one has a surprise ingredient…Marsala Wine.

You may be thinking that I’ve lost my mind…but it adds the perfect kick to the sauce.

Baked Ziti

Here lies the problem of my pantry cooking method, I don’t write down how much of something I put in the recipe. I tell you this, because it’s really hard to screw up any of my recipes. If you really like garlic, add more. Have a date later? leave it out. Don’t have fresh onion? Used dried.

You get the point.

Hell, you’ll probably just make it better! (If you do, I want to hear about it!)

Baked Ziti Marsala

Serves: 2-3

1/2 Box Ziti, uncooked [I used Rigatoni, but any tube pasta will work]

2t Garlic Powder

1t Dried Oregano

1t Dried onion

1/2 Jar Pasta Sauce

1T Marsala Wine (Or any red wine)

1/4 C Parmesan Cheese, shredded (1T reserved for before baking)

3 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach

1/2 C Shredded Mozzarella

Dash of Panko (Or any breadcrumbs)

Step 1:

Cook the pasta according to the boxed instructions.

While the pasta cooks, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Warm some pasta sauce over medium heat. I added dried onion, garlic powder, and dried oregano while it was warming up.

Once the pasta sauce starts simmering, add about 1 Tablespoon Marsala wine or other Red Wine. Allow the sauce to simmer until the alcohol cooks down and the sauce thickens. Add the parmesan cheese. Allow to simmer a few more minutes.

Baked Ziti Marsala

Step 2:

Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and add back to the pot. Stir in 3 cups Spinach and keep warm until the Spinach has wilted.

Baked Ziti Marsala

Once wilted, add the sauce and toss to coat.

Baked Ziti Marsala

Step 3:

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and add pasta mixture.

Baked Ziti Marsala

Add mozzarella, the remaining 1T Parmesan, and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs (I used Panko). I also sprinkled a dash of dried Italian herbs over the top. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. You want the cheese to melt and start to brown.

Baked Ziti Marsala

Serve and Enjoy!

Baked Ziti Marsala

*By the way…this makes great leftovers. If you have any left, that is.


Linking To: Remodelaholic, The Shabby Creek CottageAddicted 2 Decorating, The Crafty NestThe Shabby Nest

Mental Dumbbells – September Edition

I love reading, but like many others, after college I was burned out. Now that I’m out of school and not reading any technical books I can spend more time reading the books that I want.

I try to read a handful of books each month on a variety of topics. I’ll share my monthly reads at the end of the month. If you have read any books that you would recommend, please do so in the comments.

Sleeping Naked is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days

Verdict: I LOVED this book. It was a true story about a girl that made a ‘green’ change in her life everyday for a year. It was funny, smart, and informative. It was also easy to read and touching to listen to her journey through the year. There were also some great suggestions for going green, that I hadn’t heard elsewhere.


The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the Story Within

Verdict: I also LOVED this book. I haven’t quite finished the book, but it’s been fun to read. Even if you’re not planning on writing a novel, you can use it for creative writing prompts. It really helps to flip through this book when I need to break out of a creative writing slump.

The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the Story Within by Alan Watt: Book Cover


The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World

Verdict: I really enjoyed this book. It’s the story of 3 friends who give up their traditional New York based jobs to travel the world. The story is told from the point of view of each girl as they visit each destination. Parts were a bit slow, but most was enjoyable for the travel talk alone. They visited a lot of areas that I had never heard of and triggered the travel bug in me. If you’re looking for a fun, summer, beach read, consider this book.

The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World by Jennifer Baggett: Book Cover


** I was not in any way compensated for my review or recommendation of any book. These are books that I bought with my own money and decided to share with my readers. I am in no way affiliated with any of the authors or publishers. They are simply books that I have enjoyed and wanted to share. The opinions are my own and not solicited by anyone.

Mason Jar Matchstick Holder– Super Simple DIY

I have another fun DIY for you today, and who can’t use something fun  and simple on a Wednesday?

Almost every family has a pack of these in their house…


…but let’s face it, boxes of matches tend to be UGLY. We can do so much better.

How’s this?

Canning Jar Match Holder

SO MUCH better. And it’s so easy.

Edited: You will want to use ‘Strike Anywhere’ matches for this project. I have found them at Amazon for a couple dollars more than standard matches; but I have also purchased them in the past in camping section of sports stores like REI, etc.

Step 1:

Gather your supplies.

  • Canning Jar
  • Wooden ‘Strike Anywhere’ Matches
  • Black Sandpaper (I used 150, but I recommend 220 or the finest grit you can find)
  • Tacky Glue

Canning Jar Match Holder

Step 2:

Cut the sandpaper down to the size of the canning jar lid. This is made easy by tracing the lid onto the back of sandpaper.

Tip: Don’t use your favorite scissors, the sandpaper will dull the blades a bit.

Canning Jar Match Holder

Step 3:

Use the tacky glue to affix the sandpaper to the lid.

Canning Jar Match Holder

Step 4:

Put it all together and admire your GENIUS!

Canning Jar Match Holder

No one needs to know it took less than 10 minutes or that it cost only $5 to make.

Project Cost Breakdown:

Ball Canning Jar = $1.50

Black Sandpaper = $3.50

Matches (already owned) = $0

Total Project Cost: $5

Now you can showcase your matches on a shelf with your favorite glassware, instead of hiding them at the back of your junk drawer.

Canning Jar Match Holder


Linking To: Polly Want a Crafter, Ginger Snap Crafts, Blue Cricket Designs, Very Merry Vintage Style, We Are THAT Family, Savvy Southern Style, Shabby Creek Cottage, Beyond The Picket Fence, Addicted 2 Decorating, Remodelaholic, The Crafty Nest, Ohh Baby Designs, The Shabby Nest, French Country Cottage, Funky Junk Interiors, The Artsy Girl Connection

Weekly Eats Wednesday

This week was all about leftovers and pantry cooking. I didn’t really want to go shopping this week so I tried to make all my meals out of what we had on hand at the house. Unfortunately most were not picture worthy so I thought I’d also share a few of my favorites (but not necessarily eaten this week). I’ll also apologize for the quality of some of these pictures, they aren’t the best.

Simple Marinara Linguine (with Whole Wheat Linguine, Marinara, and Parmesan)

Simple Marinara Linguine

Macaroni & Cheese with Garlic Snap Peas

Green Juice (Cucumbers, Apples, Celery). Love this in the morning.

Mocha Chai from Top Dog Coffee Bar, Morro Bay, CA (heaven in a cup)

Blueberry Oatmeal Bake

Ricotta Coconut S’mores

Italian Wedding Soup

Orange Chicken with Brown Rice and Snap Peas

Featured Post – Homemade Mod Podge!

I know I am going to bombard you with posts today, I’ll apologize now, but I can’t help but share this amazing news.

I’m thrilled to share that Very Merry Vintage Style & Savvy Southern Style have featured my post on Homemade Mod Podge, original post here.



September 27, 2011


As a new blogger, I feel so honored to be featured on these sites. 

Please stop by Very Merry Vintage Style & Savvy Southern Style and share some love, these sites are fantastic! If you’ve found your way here through the featured posts, Welcome!




Planting Grass on Concrete – Part 1

One of my ‘must haves’ when buying my home was an enclosed backyard. I have a dog that needed his space and I was tired of having to make midnight trips outside when he needed to ‘go’.

It’s funny, looking back, all the big things in the house aren’t as important now; the pretty kitchen, large bedrooms, and walk in closet. They’re nice, but the things I love the most are having a garage instead of a car port (or parking spot), having personal trash cans instead of having to use apartment dumpsters…

…but best of all is having a backyard for my dog to enjoy throughout the day.


He sure loves his grass…


The backyard is large and enclosed with a full size locking gate, perfect for the pup. The only problem is that it’s entirely concrete, with exception of the sides by the fence. You can see the weeds growing in the picture above, this is what it looked like when I purchased the home.

My first reaction was to remove a few sections of the concrete and plant sod. However, that would require HOA approval and ‘design approval’…which is code for give us several hundred dollars and we’ll review your plans. Not only would it cost hundreds to have them review construction landscaping plans, it was going to cost at least another grand to remove the concrete since it would require damages to a shared retaining wall.

I needed a low-cost fix that would not require invasive construction to the existing surfaces.

I needed to grow grass on concrete, so I began brainstorming and came up with the idea of a traditional planter. A traditional product used in an unconventional way. Perfect.

2011-04-02 17.00.18

I sketched plans for a design that would provide both grass and a built-in planter. This was the first planter we built, it’s about 4 feet by 6 feet. However, it was too small and didn’t give the pup enough room. So a second planter was needed, this one needed to be much bigger. In the below picture you can see the smaller planter on the right (just about cropped out of the picture). The grass in that planter has since been ripped up and needs to be redone, but we’ll touch on that in a few weeks.

Both planters were built using 2 x 6 boards, it was a simple construction and only cost about $50. Since it was so large, it was built-in two pieces which you can see in the picture. They meet in the middle and the grass was planted over those center boards so it will look like one large planter.

It took 8 bags of potting soil to fill the 4 foot by 14 foot planter.

First step was to fill the planter with potting soil. We left the back empty because we will be installing sprinklers and we need it accessible for now. Some may spill out of the bottom, you can easily sweep this away.

We packed the potting soil then topped it with a dirt made specifically for sod to give it the best chance of surviving.

We took extra time to break up the chunks and pack it down so that the dirt is even when laying the sod. I’m not going to lie, this was a lot of work. It would have been easier with the special sod tools, but I like to save a buck so we used a rubber mallet and some cardboard. It worked pretty well.

So before you look at the picture below, I will tell you that I didn’t buy enough sod. I know…stupid, right? So it looks a little off, and it’s clear to all that I can’t add.

If you can get past the missing grass section, it turned out really well. To give it time to root, I roped off the planter with the twine so that the dog couldn’t kill it right away.

Then I planted some seed in the middle since I didn’t have any more sod. This was after about a week. It’s there, I swear…just look really close.

…and set up a temporary sprinkler to keep everything wet since the temps were about 100 degrees.

It’s been almost a month since planting the grass and I have to say it looks great. Baby grass is still growing in the center section, and it looks like I may need to mow soon. For now, Baxter loves laying in the long grass and rolling around.

Next Grass Planter Projects (planned over the next few weeks):

  • Planting sod in the second, smaller planter
  • Installing a sprinkler system in both planters
  • Planting flowers along the back of both planters.

Here’s a hint of the flowers.

Oh, and because I’m so proud of my veggie-licious garden…here is an updated picture of the corn. You can see the other post about the corn, here!

I have 5 ears growing!!!


Linking To: Between Naps on the Porch, Not JUST a Housewife, The Girl Creative, Making the World Cuter, Savvy Southern Style, We Are THAT Family, Ginger Snap Crafts, Blue Cricket Design, Very Merry Vintage Style, Shabby Creek Cottage, Beyond The Picket FenceRemodelaholic, Addicted 2 DecoratingThe Crafty NestOhh Baby DesignsThe Shabby Nest, French Country Cottage, Funky Junk Interiors, Thrifty Decor Chick

Apple Picking In Julian, CA

There aren’t enough words to properly explain how much I love fall. It’s by far my favorite season. The heat is disappearing, the leaves are starting to change, and there’s a feel of holiday spirit in the air.

For the past few years I’ve wanted to visit a local apple orchard to pick apples. I always seem to miss the apple season by planning a visit in November, only to find out that the apple season is Sept – Oct.

This was the year to change all that and it was a fun local adventure, I’m sure I’ll be back next year.


Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

After a bit of research I found Raven Hill Orchard in Julian, CA seemed to be the best around. It’s also incredibly popular so you want to make sure you get there early.

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

When you enter you’ll meet the owners (Very cool dudes) and pay for a bag. It was $10 for all you could fit in the bag. Expensive for apples, yes. But you’re not just paying of the apples, it the whole experience. I would do it again in a heart beat.

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

There were dozen and dozens of rows to wander through and several different types of apples; including, Golden Delicious, Empire, Fuji, and one other I can’t recall.

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

I went with my parents and this was my Mom’s bag. She’s already used some to bake an Apple Pie today and hardly made a dent. There’s a lot of apples in them bags.

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

…and my bag. I have so many fun recipes planned for these apples. Apples Chips, Apple Butter, Apple Crisp, Grilled Cheese with Apples, Parmesan Crisps w/ Apples, etc…

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

Outside the orchard there was a little fair going on with a live country band. We were only about an hour from San Diego and it had such a small town, country feel. Beautiful, but we just ‘weren’t in Kansas anymore’ if you catch my drift.

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

We were there for about an hour wandering the aisles and just having a blast. Even my dad enjoyed the trip. I may be able to get him out there again next year. He’s also tall, so he was good to have around for the perfect apples up top…hehe.

Raven Hill Apple Orchard, Julian, CA

We couldn’t stay much longer because my Brother and Sister-In-Law were coming to visit from Virginia. I hadn’t seem them almost a year and it was great to catch up. I miss them.

We also made a trip to Home Depot to pick up some lumber for a little project for the front door. There is so many fun projects planned for the next few weeks I can hardly stand it.

Welcome Sign Progress


Have you ever been Apple Picking? Or any kind of Fruit/Veggie picking?

I’m Feeling Inspired…Goodbye Summer


…to refreshing summer drinks in the backyard by the kiddie pool, under an umbrella…

Gin, Tonic with Cucumber

Source: via Addison on Pinterest




…to secret passages leading to secret, stunning beaches…

Secret Pathway to Beach Water



…to the need for Aloe Vera Ice Cubes melting on scorched skin…

Aloe Vera Ice Cubes



…to backyard BBQs and laughing with friends by candlelight in the warm summer evenings…

Wine Bottle Oil Lamps

Source: via Addison on Pinterest



…Summer Love (and any leftover Spring Flings)…

Summer LOVE

Source: via Addison on Pinterest



…to relaxing in a hammock or chaise with a good book…

Oval Outdoor Lounge



…to weather so hot that I sometimes wished I lived here…(I won’t miss your 100 degree temperatures all that much)



Goodbye Summer…

…It’s been fun, but I’m looking forward to Autumn.

Jumping off a dock in sunset


What was your favorite thing you did this past summer?