and she made pasta

i’m sure many of us are trying to occupy our suddenly copious amounts of free time, and i am no exception, especially since i have a week of pto coming up.  i’ve already done a little tidying and organizing, but the other night i got a flash of inspiration to make my own pasta dough.  sure, why not!

with flour in the pantry and eggs in the fridge, i set off to follow this recipe by gemma stafford.  i’d perused a few sites before settling on her approach, and i’d be lying if i said her charming smile and accent weren’t a couple of the deciding factors.

i grabbed my ingredients and cleared off the counter and got to work at about 10:30 on friday night.  i’m not in charge of when inspiration strikes!  i just answer when it calls.  🙂

the kneading itself wasn’t particularly difficult, but it did take some patience and those few splashes of water like gemma recommends.  i also should have probably let the eggs come to room temperature, but i was flying by the seat of my pants here and couldn’t wait.

the dough did come together nicely, don’t you think?  once all wrapped up, it sat overnight in the fridge.

now, when it came to rolling out the dough and getting it prepped for cooking, i definitely should have let the dough rest out of the fridge for a bit.  the first half that i rolled out was a bit tough and had me breaking a sweat!  the second half was more pliable and, i think, ended up thinner than the first.  this is called the “living and learning” process.  i lived it and i learned for next time.

i will say it was extremely satisfying to cut up the dough into noodles once it was ready.  look at that happy little pile!

i boiled up a big ‘ole pot of salted water and cooked the noodles for only about two minutes.  remember, because it’s fresh pasta, it doesn’t need too long.  per gemma’s recommendation, i topped our bowls with butter, pepper, and a healthy showering of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  my review?  it was a delicious saturday afternoon snack.  the pasta really was divine, and i can imagine with a homemade sauce on top it would be that much more enjoyable.  sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that bring a smile to your face.

bon appetit!

pumpkin pie candles

earlier this week i had the strong urge to craft something.  nothing too involved, but something that would make me feel accomplished at the end of my efforts.  so, i browsed facebook and pinterest in search of something fall-ish, seeing as how the new season is just around the corner.  come on, september 22nd!

i’d say after about a half hour of hardcore scrolling, i finally came upon the craft that i would attempt to satisfy my creative needs:  a homemade pumpkin pie candle!  i mean, how much more autumn can you get?  the financial and time effort seemed relatively beginner-level, so i made a list, grabbed my reusable bags, and headed out the door to gather my supplies.  i optimistically walked into the local binders art supply store, assured they would have everything i needed.  well, what do you know.  binders doesn’t offer candle-making supplies; the cashier told me i’d need to go to hobby lobby or michael’s to get that sort of stuff.  ah!  well, good thing there’s one right down the road from me.  discouraged not a bit, i drove right on down to michael’s and got everything i needed.  then, because i didn’t like the jars they had at michael’s, i moseyed into world market to find something cuter.  well, wouldn’t you know that they had just what i wanted!  i swear, world market is my soulmate store.  so, after finding a couple other things that looked like they would make me happy, i returned home with my purchases.

the first thing to do in this craft is prepare your oil so that it will be all pumpkin-infused.  this step was rather straightforward.  however, i highly recommend you follow davida’s instructions, which clearly state to not bring the oil to a boil, just a light simmer.  however, my patience was wearing thin when i saw no bubbles after about ten minutes, so i cranked up my stove to heat things up.  well, wouldn’t you know that the oil bubbled up (and nearly over) tremendously when i added the pumpkin pie spice.  oh, and i ruined a perfectly good spatula because the temperature was too high.  well, lesson learned…eventually i at last got the oil cooled off and put in a little jar to infuse for five days.

once the oil was infused, i was ready for the rest of the project.  i got the wicks all semi-attached to their jars, cute little raffia ribbons tied around them, and then got to work on melting that wax.  what i am going to advise here about the wax melting is this:  i highly recommend you use some older pots and spoons and ladles.  not that any of my kitchen supplies got ruined, but i had to soak the pot for a good two days just to try and loosen the wax so that i could actually wash the thing.

anyway, once the wax starts to melt (it won’t take long) go ahead and scoop out the liquid wax into your little jars.  i thought about pouring the wax directly from the pot to the jars but quickly reconsidered when i realized i only have two hands and probably needed four to truly do the job right.  besides, the ladle i have has little side spouts, so that made for easy pouring.

the only thing i will say that was difficult at this point was that i couldn’t really stir the infused oil with the wax.  the wax started clumping so quickly that the “ingredients” never really got mixed.  the result?  a funky looking candle, as you can see below.  now, am i proud of my craft?  well, of course!  i just hope that the lucky recipients of these cute little jars appreciate the homemade-ness of them.

regardless of my few mishaps, this craft was simple and fun and did awaken some fall sensations inside me.  once it’s officially autumn, i plan to bust out the scarves, soft boots, and psl’s immediately.  🙂

vegan week day 1 – chickpea night!

well, everyone, phillip and i survived day one of #veganweek – woohoo!  it’s good to start the week off on a high note, and i think we are both optimistic for the next four days.

this morning’s breakfast was cereal and fruit, pretty safe bets (i’d guess) for a quick vegan breakfast.  well, maybe any breakfast for that matter.  anyway!  since we’d been out of town this past weekend, the refrigerator was a bit empty, which meant that we were both on our own for lunch today.  phillip’s office had lunch catered in, and he had a caprese salad sandwich – tasty!  the cheese might have categorized this meal as vegetarian rather than vegan, but still an honorable effort.

i ventured down the street to a fabulous spot called cafe sunflower.  this restaurant just might change your life, no joke!  their pad thai is unbelievable with coconut-peanut sauce, baby corn, and tofu.  oh, and their avocados this time of year are perfectly green and creamy and flavorful; seriously, to die for!  although i probably ate more than i needed to in one sitting, it was worth every bite.  🙂

now, after the work day was done and the laptops were closed, i headed to the local kroger to pick up dinner.  i figured if we were doing this whole vegan thing, we might as well go all the way, so i found a couple mediterranean-inspired dishes in a vegetarian/vegan cookbook hiding in my cupboard.  and, while we’re talking about this cookbook, i honestly have not the slightest clue as to how it came into my possession.  i can nearly guarantee i didn’t purchase it myself, but don’t we all buy things with the best of intentions that sometimes end up otherwise…?  oh good, it’s not just me.

as i was placing my items on the checkout belt, i couldn’t help but realize this trip to the store was probably the healthiest i’d ever made and, by no coincidence, one of the more expensive ones.  it’s an interesting phenomenon that the cheaper food can tend to be bad for you while you must pay more for something better.  now, i will say that a few of the items i had to buy to make dinner are infrequent purchases that once they’re in the cupboard, i’m set for a while.  i guess i’ll just look at it from that perspective…!


i hustled home, threw down the groceries, changed into something comfortable, and got to work!  on the menu was homemade red pepper hummus followed by quinoa and pistachio salad with moroccan pesto.  noms!  i very much enjoyed making the hummus because i got to do something i’ve never done in the kitchen:  roast and peel peppers!  for some reason, it was actually quite fun.  please don’t ask why.  there’s just something satisfying about blistering the skin of a pepper, peeling it off, and then crushing it in a blender to make something tasty.  now, i’ve never made my own hummus, but i will easily say that this recipe needed more liquid.  my pint-sized food processor had a hard time blending the chickpeas and peppers all together, so the bottle of olive oil i keep on the top shelf came in very handy.  although it probably could have used a heavy swig more, the hummus still was very tasty.  the coarse texture made us smile because we knew it was homemade.  only critique?  more garlic!

as for the main course, the quinoa salad was a hit!  despite the fact that i accidentally put the roasted peppers in the cilantro sauce instead of chopping them up, the flavor was still impeccable.  the chickpeas gave the dish a nice little “crunch” along with the pistachios.  and the best part?  we didn’t even have to eat a whole bowl of it to be full!  guess that’s what happens when you eat the right stuff.  😉


with plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow, i’d say we’re on the right track.  and with blog recommendations from you all that will more than likely turn into another meal one night this week, i’m excited!

on a somewhat related note, here are pictures of the amazing food phillip and i had at the lindley park filling station when we visited our friends mary and mike last week in greensboro.  those fried green tomatoes, sweet potato chips, and hot dogs were a great binge before this cleansing week!

and, because i like you guys so much, here’s a few more fun ones from our little weekend getaway.  love it!

gimme them grits!

tonight i was in a southern food kind of mood, so i whipped up some classic shrimp and grits with okra for phillip and me.  this recipe by bobby flay of the food network is simple and tastes like something you might get at your favorite local restaurant.  i didn’t have stone-ground grits, so i cooked up instant grits, timing it just right with the shrimp and okra.  and if i’m going to tell you one thing about this recipe, it’s that it wouldn’t be anything without the six chopped up pieces of bacon.  their salty nature is perfectly with the creamy, cheesy grits.  this one’s a keeper, for sure!

you get a jewelry dish & you get a jewelry dish!

like many of you fellow creative minds out there, i have been racking my brain the past couple of weeks to try and decide what to get some of the special ladies in my life.  i didn’t really have much of an idea until i came across a post from a pinterest link that just seemed too good to be true.  it looked straightforward, it looked darling, and it looked like something i could actually do myself!  with that confidence, i was off to the local binders art store to stock up on the goods and see what kind of magic i could make.

ready to go, i cleared the dining room table to create some work space, pulled up the instructions, and tore into the supplies.  what would i be attempting to make?  these precious little jewelry dishes!

now, i’m not going to repeat the steps here, for i want the original geniuses elsie and emma to get all the credit.  their instructions are so easy to follow and so accurate that the whole thing is just about stupid-proof.

i will say, though, that i do have some tips from my personal, novice clay knowledge, and they are as follows:

  • make sure you’re not working on a precious surface.  i would never have done this craft on the beautiful wood surface of my table, so i used a flat board (basically tough cardboard) that i have lying around the house for an occasion such as this one.
  • be sure to use a good amount of white clay so that you have enough material to create a whole, sturdy dish.
  • don’t be shy with the colors!  one of the dishes had, i think, six different colors in it, some more than the others.  it all depends on the desired effect.
  • if you want more mixing of the colors to come through in the final product, then yes, as suggested in the original post, pull the ball of clay apart and smoosh it together a few times to get them all intermingled before you roll it out.
  • unless you absolutely want to be like a real artist, there’s no need to buy a little clay-cutting knife like the wooden one you’ll see in my pictures.  any ‘ole knife will do ya just fine.
  • the gold gilding, in my opinion, is a must!  it helps finish the sides nicely and bring a little pizzazz to the dishes.
  • also necessary is the glaze.  i did two coats on mine and i loved the dishes even more after coating them and making them shiny.

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this craft is simple, inexpensive, and quick.  with so many color combinations it was fun to decide which to pick for each girl so that the dish would match their personality perfectly.  a great Christmas gift, birthday gift, or even bridal party gift, this craft is sure to please.  amusez-vous!