Recipes Gone Wrong

Sometimes a picture is only telling you a half truth. For fun, here are two recent meals/recipes I made for the blog, that didn’t quite make the cut. I like you guys too much to have you eat the first one.

I made this pasta about a week ago. It was a mix of whole wheat pasta with a Greek yogurt based avocado and cilantro lime dressing/sauce.

Avocado Cilantro Pasta_2

Looks delicious and I had high hopes since it seemed the perfect cool pasta salad on a hot day. Unfortunately, it was pretty bad. Bland, blah, and I ended up only eating a few bites.

The delicious looking picture is mighty deceiving. I don’t know how the ‘healthy living’ bloggers do it, posting their food each day. It took a ridiculous amount of time to make this pasta and take pretty pictures. I’d eat my own arm before being able to post every meal. Kudos to those blogger for making it look easy.

Avocado Cilantro Pasta_1

More recently I’ve been playing around with various ways to use fruit butters. My favorite so far has delivered a really good cookie, but it didn’t look so hot. I wish I would taken a picture of what it looked like straight from the oven, but instead I was playing with my camera and the picture itself doesn’t look too bad. Friendly blogger tip: when faced with a bad cookie, tilt it and find decent lighting.

Caramel Apple Butter Cookie_1

I basically wrapped sugar cookie dough around a bit of apple butter and half a caramel. Concept was to create a caramel apple butter stuffed sugar cookie. It worked, but the center of the cookie fell a lot after removing from the oven due to the melted caramel and apple butter.The finished cookie was delicious, just not very pretty.

Caramel Apple Butter Cookie_3

I also tried making a sugar cookie ‘cup’ to fill with the apple butter and caramel, but I…umm…burned the cookie dough while trying to make the cup form so that recipe will have to wait for another day.

In the end…why mess with perfection, just a dollop of apple butter on a plain sugar cookie is the way to go. It’s a match made in heaven…trust me. I ate WAY too many, ya know, making sure they were good enough for the blog. Yeah, that’s why.

 Caramel Apple Butter Cookie_4

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Life Lesson: Pain Of Risk and The Path Ahead

I thought it might be a good time to share a favorite quote I recently found. I found this in a writing book that I read a while back, and it struck a cord with me. I’ve been struggling with my day job lately (more than usual), and have been very unhappy. However, at the end of the day it was a comfortable paycheck, so even though I’ve been taking small actions in the past year to move toward a happier life, I wasn’t making much effort to change my day job. Honestly, I’ve felt unhappy in life, and I was blaming it all on work. In reality, it’s my fault I haven’t left my job. I do feel stuck for various valid reasons, but I’m the one who continues to show up each day. I kept wondering why…

 

Risking-Change_Jeff-Gerke

A-ha moment!

I finally reached the breaking point about a month ago, but I thought taking a week off would help refresh me. So I took my first vacation in 9 months; however, in the 5 days I had off, I had to take work calls on 4 of the days. It didn’t end up feeling like much of a vacation at all. Even thought the conversations weren’t long each day, it was ridiculously hard to shut down my brain when each day I had to talk about work. In most cases I had to start up my computer and look up data in order to answer their questions, so shutting down mentally was nearly impossible.

I’ve finally reached that point where the current state of life is more painful that the fear of taking a huge leap into the unknown. I strongly believe that I’m meant to be doing something else; something creative surrounding art, writing, and design. I feel like I’m wasting what could be an amazing life sitting at my desk processing paperwork day in and out, just so I can build up a retirement fund, and someday *hopefully* be happy.

So lately I’ve been working long nights doing things I actually love, like creating new string art pieces.

I’ve also been writing again and am currently writing a recipe eBook which we be ready in early October. I’m starting my own business, EvoLovely Designs, and opening an Etsy store within the next month which will contain some of the string art pieces, jewelry, and other fun handmade items. The blog is going to undergo a design change, probably around the start of the year, as I need to officially swap the WordPress hosted blog over to self hosted so I’ve been teaching myself a bit of web design.

Even though all these new ventures have been challenging, especially since I can only work on them at night, I have loved it so far. During the tough times when I can’t for the life of me figure something out, I’m still enjoying the process of building something for me. Whether it helps me escape the ‘cubicle life’, I don’t know yet, but at least I’m starting to find more joy in the journey.

I also want to say THANK YOU to all the readers that stop by this little blog as I continue to figure out my own life and decorate my first home. You have been a great source of community and inspiration to me over the past year and I can’t wait to see what we all have in store for the future.

 

*some links contained with my posts are affiliate. My opinions of products cannot be bought, I will only recommend products that I strongly believe in or have used myself.

DIY Tiered Shade Bedroom Lighting

It’s finally Friday! Yay! I hope everyone has been having a great week. I’m honestly glad this one is over, between me being sick and one of the puppies  being sick…it’s been a rough week. Luckily both of us appear to be doing better so I hope to finally get that grass redone in the yard this weekend if the weather cooperates. I’ve also been working on some new art pieces lately that turned out better than expected so I’ll share more soon. Since I couldn’t get the grass done last weekend (it was raining), I worked on a light project for the Spare Bedroom.

I have been coveting this tiered pendant light for quite some time. Unfortunately it runs almost $400 and that’s not in the budget for a spare bedroom that will be rarely used. Honestly, it’s also too big for such a little room, but I love the tiered look.

Lights Up! Kimono Deco 21" Wide Pendant Light

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So I decided to create my own smaller, far cheaper version (mine cost less than $30) out of the existing light fixture that came with the house. Yes, that is the dreaded boob light fixture; although, I already removed the ‘boob’ before taking the pictures so just use your imagination…unless you find that weird. In that case, whatever you do, don’t think of boobs…

…and now this post has just taken an awkward turn.  I wish I could say it will get better, but these lamp manufacturers have a serious sense of humor when naming these things.

Bedroom Light DIY_1

Step 1: (Unpictured)

Unscrew the finial at the bottom of the light and remove the glass fixture. Remove the light bulbs so you don’t risk breaking them later when you install the shades.

Bedroom Light DIY_2

Step 2:

Remove the threaded nipple.

Bedroom Light DIY_3

No, I didn’t make that up just to include more boob references for you. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried, and for the record I’m not looking forward to the pervy Google search spambots finding this post.

You can buy extended sizes for a few dollars in the lighting section at your local hardware store. If you are just adding one lamp shade, then the existing piece will probably be sufficient; however, I wanted to add two shades to create a tiered look so I needed something longer.

Bedroom Light DIY_4

Step 3: Pick out your shades.

I picked up a pretty gray shade at Target for about $24. The color was perfect for the neutral design I was going for, and it was wide enough to accommodate a second shade underneath it.

Bedroom Light DIY_5

Bedroom Light DIY_6

If you wanted to use just one shade to replace the existing light fixture, you want a shade with a spider fitting. You can fit this on the existing fixture, screw on the finial and you’re done! I had it set up like this for a while, but you could still see the light fixture from the top. I preferred to have a shade that reached the ceiling and covered the existing fixture.

For the tiered look, I needed two different types of shades. The Target shade had a Uno fitting which would not fit onto the existing fixture since the ring was too big, the finial would have passed right through the fitting.

Bedroom Light DIY_7

However, when I stacked a shade with a Uno fitting over a shade with a spider fitting, it was perfect. The white shade is something I had on hand, but I’d like to eventually swap it out for something with a pretty pattern.

Bedroom Light DIY_8

From that point, installation was incredibly easy. I fit the shades over the threaded nipple and the finial held everything together. 

Bedroom Light DIY_9

Step 4:

Add the light bulbs back in, and you’re all DONE!

In addition to the light, I also put up some art to finish off the room for now. I’d eventually like to repaint the walls, change out the art, add some storage, and hang new curtains.

All in good time.

Bedroom Light DIY_11

Guess Who?

They’re baaaccckkk!

…and making themselves right at home. Poor Jake, if it wasn’t for that 90lb lab bouncing around, he’d own this house. Instead he hides on the top of the couch while the lab tries to figure out how he got up there.

The beagles are visiting for a few weeks so it’s a full house over here. Baxter is being a very kind host…so far.

It seems fitting that this weekend will be dedicated to working outside since the puppies will be around. With the the 100+ degree heat lately, the grass in my yard hasn’t done well. Even with watering twice a day, it burned. After a few weeks of trying to keep everything alive, I decided to let it go and find another option.

Lowes carries an impressive artificial grass by SynLawn and they recently started carrying pre-cut rolls that you can install yourself. This is perfect as I don’t want to pay for installation since my grass set up is a little different. If you remember, I have a yard covered with concrete so I’m working with DIY grass planters. I’ve done some research and it should be fairly easy to replace the real (dead) grass with the artificial grass over the weekend. It is a little expensive, but it doesn’t have to be replaced every couple months and doesn’t require water. It should end up saving me money in the long run and look nice year round. I’ll share more next week once it’s done.

[the small grass planter when it was first built]

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I’ve also recently purchased a new toy, a Cuisinart Immersion Hand Blender in Raspberry for a secret little project I’ve been working on lately. I launched the interest list a few days ago, so I guess the secret’s out. I’m currently writing a recipe eBook that will be available in October, I’ll do a separate post to share more. For now, I’ll just say, if you like this apple butter, then you’re going to LOVE what I’m working on.

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Oh, and this happened…

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They are just too cute (and on sale/clearance).

 

What are your weekend plans? Anything fun?

 

*some links contained within this post are affiliate.

Life Lesson – The Best Job Interview Advice

Technically I haven’t job hunted since 2005, but I’ve still gone through several ‘interviews’ in that time. That includes the time my Director set up a call to introduce himself (since he was new to the team) and ended up putting me through an ‘informal’ interview, which felt very much like a ridiculously formal interview on the fly. Not a fun moment.

 

Since graduating college, I would say I’ve probably been on dozens of interviews. It took me a year to snag the job I have at my current company, and that year was rough. I freaked out before every single interview, and let the nerves eat away at me.

Before one particular grueling interview (panel style with several people from their company asking me questions), I couldn’t eat and was pacing in my room. There’s a good chance I was talking to myself and looking generally off my rocker when someone stopped by and offered me with the best job interview advice I’ve ever heard.

I told them how nervous I was even though I was prepared. I just wanted the company to like me and didn’t want to screw it up.

Her response…

 

The Best Job Interview Advice

 

That advice changed my life for so many reasons and I went into that interview calm and relaxed. I honestly can’t recall what job it was for, but it didn’t matter. Every time I have an interview, I go into the conversation looking for them to impress me. It isn’t just about them hiring an employee. I’m a good catch for an employer, and while I might just be another name on their list, I deserve to be impressed. Do your research before each interview, see if it’s the type of place where you want to spend your time and energy. By doing your research (which you are doing, right?), you’ll end up feeling more confident and ready to ask intelligent questions that will help you identify if the company is a good fit for you.

So next time you go into an interview, don’t waste your precious energy being nervous. It’s just a conversation about whether this company/job is a good fit for both of you. If they don’t impress you…you can just tell them ‘no’.

 

That stroke of genius came from my brilliant mother.

Thank you mom!

 

What’s the best advice you ever received?

DIY Foyer Bookcase Toppers

If you happen to have today off for the holiday, I hope you are having a great long weekend. My twitter feed is filled with pictures of BBQ food and beach days, you’re all making me jealous.Tomorrow is my first day back to work after a glorious week off and I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. So I figured I should catch you up on another project that has been crossed of the list.

If you remember back to this post, I recently built the bookcases for the foyer library. It was economical to use IKEA Billy bookcases since I already had a few at home, but they look like IKEA bookcases. Not bad, just unfinished in a way which was not the look I wanted. I could actually get past classic IKEA look, but I couldn’t get past the the view as I was going upstairs.

Bookcase Moulding_Top_1

Awful…and that has nothing to do with the amazing amount of dust on top. My original hope was to have the bookcases look like built-ins and the unfinished bookcase tops made them look horrible. I considered painting the dark brown bookcases white (and I still might in the future), but that would not fix the look of the tops.

Instead I decide to build a simple topper to not only give the bookcase a finish look, but also add some ‘built-in’ moulding.

Bookcase Moulding_Top_2

Construction was very simple. I took a piece of pressed MDF from Lowes and cut it down to the size of the bookcases. I then added a simple moulding to the side and part of the front. I couldn’t add the moulding to the entire front of the board because it wouldn’t accommodate the door. Above the door I added a piece of 1/2 round to give the board a finished edge.

Bookcase Moulding_Top_3

A little wood filler, primer, and paint finished off the look. The greatest part was that they fit right on top and don’t need to be adhered to the wall or the bookcase. Easy.

Since I had the moulding and 1/2 round already on hand from another project, I only had to purchase the pressed board. I chose the pressed board because it was cheapest option. The boards are precut 2’ x 4’, so I was able to cut it in half and fit both bookcases. Overall this project cost me less than $10 for the pressed board.

Bookcase Moulding_Top_4

I also did a little organizing (and cleaning) so it’s looking better all around. I can’t wait to see how much better it looks once I’ve refinished the hope chest and added some art.

Bookcase Moulding_Top_6

Just one last look…

Before.

Bookcase Moulding_Top_1

After.

Bookcase Moulding_Top_5

I’m Feeling Inspired: Surfin’ Summer

While the weather might not be cooperating yet, it’s finally time to bid this summer adieu. While I’m not a surfer (yet), I did grow up near the beach. Sand and water equals home to me no matter where I live. So here’s a a little inspiration of a fading summer.

 

What was the best part of your summer?

 

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Ok, who’s ready for the change of leaves and a pumpkin latte…

…perhaps a good book and a cozy sweater?

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