Sunday, August 28, 2011

AroundTown + Music Monday:: Billy Childs

Billy Childs at Levitt Pavilion

I totally owe you all a great Music Monday post so this one includes some live music we recorded from the last concert we went to see last Sunday at the Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena. They host free concerts all summer long. I was super excited for Billy Childs to perform since we saw him live last year when he played piano with Chris Botti - the jazz trumpeter our little Botti man is named after. :)

Enjoy this vid from our show called

Friday, August 26, 2011

Project + Green Style:: Rocking a T-Shirt Bag

This little t-shirt bag was so fun to make and only required some basic sewing skills. I've loved this t-shirt for a very, very long time...looooong like 10 years long. It's a Dead 50s shirt - a Rockabilly band from my home town. I used to go see their shows with a close friend of mine. A great way to remember those fun times and still rock the punk band style without looking like I'm trying to salvage my youth was to *upcycle* (turning old products into new, updated items) this tee into a handy bag. I've been using mine to tote my craft projects around but I also sport it as a casual purse to live shows. It's an awesome accessory with a bit of attitude for your basic tee, jeans and cute pair of flips!

Rocking DIY T-shirt Bag

Here's how I made it::
1. I trimmed off the sleeves removing the seam leaving two raw curved edges. Then I used a plate to measure the curve to cut out the neck area by using a standard dinner plate as a guide. This left me with two 3 inch wide handles on my bag.
2. Next I measured up the bottom of the shirt where I wanted the bottom of the bag to be and made a French seam. I trimmed quite a bit off the bottom of the shirt (about 8 inches) and these pieces I set aside to turn into smaller pouch bags (see instructions for pouches below). If you need help with a French seam check out these instructions here.
Rocking DIY T-shirt Bag
3. After you have your bottom seam finished, it's a nice touch to box the corners. This adds dimension to your bag and your stuff sits in it much nicer with a semi-flat bottom when it hangs. I learned how to box corners here...but don't be intimidated, it's way easier than it looks - I didn't use the fancy ruler beacuse I don't have one and they still came out even!
Rocking DIY T-shirt Bag
4. For some extra detail and a less "made it myself" look, I added white contrast stitching around the very edge of each arm opening. Fold the edge of the raw arm opening under less than 1/2 an inch and iron on high steam to flatten. Stitch along edge in a tight zigzag stitch.
Rocking DIY T-shirt Bag
5. To add a custom touch to my bag, I wanted to do something fun with the handles. I cut each handle at the seam, crisscrossed them and stitched them together hiding the seam underneath. Then I folded the raw edges under, pinned them in place, and stitched a short straight stitch on either side of the original seam. This hid some of the zigzag detail but that's okay because it helped hide the seams and gives the handles a finished look.
Rocking DIY T-shirt Bag

Here's how I made the pouches::
1. Cut the remnants of the bottom of the shirt in two. Working inside out, add a seam to the side and then add a French and small box seams to the top cut edge. Leave the original hemmed bottom of the shirt as the opening for the bags. 
2. Cut a small slit in the original hem making an opening that creates a tube. Fish a ribbon through the tube with a safety pin.

3. Pull both ends of the ribbon through a button with an eye hole backing. Add beads to each strand and tie a knot in each end of the ribbon. Trim excess ribbon. Follow these steps to turn the sleeves into pouches as well.

I use these little bags for my yarn. I can keep the draw string pulled and pull my thread as needed with no tangles. I have four pouches for four different balls of yarn that all fit in my t-shirt bag with my needles and other items to make a Rocking Craft Bag!

If you don't want to sew a t-shirt bag, check out this great t-shirt market bag that helped inspire this project by Honestly...WTF.  And in my search, I also found this more modern t-shirt grocery bag I want to try making soon as well by // Between The Lines //.  This project also inspired my little pouches. :)

If you make your own beautiful market/t-shirt bags share your links in the comments. Thanks and happy t-shirt upcycling!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What's Stewing?:: Spinach & Sweet Red Pepper Lasagna

Spinach Lasagna

Oh my goodness this was the best veggie lasagna I've ever eaten! My husband loved it so much he said he wanted to eat it again the next night for dinner. This picture does not do it justice since it just looks like a gooey mess of cheese and sauce but it's really all about the taste, right? And it is soooo good! It's so good I'm even eating it for lunch while I'm writing this post. Ok enough raving and onto the recipe...

100% whole wheat lasagna noodles
1/2 bag frozen spinach
1 14 oz. container of ricotta
1 egg
2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP minced garlic
1/2 medium brown onion
1 red pepper
1/2 jar of pasta sauce
1 can tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 TBSP parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Here's how I made it::
1. Cook and drain 9-12 lasagna noodles. Lay out to dry.
2. Prepare filling. Defrost and squeeze out as much water as you can from frozen spinach. Then, lightly scramble egg in bottom of large mixing bowl. Add ricotta and stir with fork so the ricotta breaks up and gets creamy. Incorporate spinach making sure it breaks apart and combines evenly in mixture.
3. Cook sauce. Heat olive oil and garlic in sauce pan on medium heat. Add diced onion and peppers. Saute until lightly cooked. Add pasta sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes with juice, red wine vinegar and the rest of the seasonings. Simmer covered for 20 minutes on low heat. Remove bay leaf.
4. Layer your lasagna. Lightly oil 13 x 9 inch baking dish or similar size baking dish. Lay three noodles on the bottom of oiled pan. Smooth 1/3 of ricotta filling over noodles - about half an inch thick. Spoon 1/3 of sauce over filling. Add next layer of 3 noodles, layer of filling and layer of sauce. Add top layer of noodles (or another layer of noodles, filling and sauce if your dish is deep enough). Spoon remaining sauce on top.
5. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes covered with aluminum foil. Sprinkle top with mozzarella and back uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Going Green:: A New Way to Travel

We did it! We sold my old car and bought a scooter. My husband did all the research and decided on a BMS Kerrigan T-150 in green like the one pictured. It's highway legal in California, holds two people and can go up to 65 mph. But he'll mostly be using it on surface streets to get to work and to get us Around Town so we can share our local travels with you. Oh and I must mention the most important gets up to 100 mpg. Take that $4 gas prices!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Good Eats:: Panko Shrimp and Broccoli Pilaf

Panko Shrimp and Broccoli Pilaf

We love to eat brown rice since it's healthy and very versatile but rice gets boring after a while even if you pair it with yummy foods. So, I finally learned how to make a simple pilaf and with the right yummy (not quite as healthy) foods like breaded shrimp, it was a delicious dish!

Panko Shrimp
Shrimp Breading Station

Panko Shrimp
Any size uncooked shrimp
Almond Milk

Panko Bread Crumbs
Extra virgin olive oil
*amounts are based on how many shrimp you make

How I made them::
1. Soak your uncooked shrimp in lemon juice, salt and pepper.
2. Dredge in flour.
3. Dip in a 1 to 1 mixture of egg and almond milk beat together.
4. Cover in panko crumbs.
5. Fry in a few table spoons of olive oil on medium-low heat. You want the pan warm enough to cook the shrimp as the breading fries but not so hot that the oil is spitting out at you. Keep it safe, they will cook best on a lower temp so they don't burn on the outside without the shrimp cooking on the inside.

Broccoli Rice Pilaf
2 cups Brown Rice
3 TBSP butter
4 cups of water (or 2 cups water and 2 cups chicken broth)
1/2 cup toasted almond pieces
2 cups cooked chopped broccoli

How I made it::
1. Melt 2 TBSP butter to coat a saute pan. Add rice and brown for 3 minutes.
2. Slowly add your liquid and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Rice should be moist and sticky.
4. While rice is cooking, saute almond slices or chopped almonds in a pan in 1 TBSP of butter. If you use sliced almonds you may want to chop them up before or after cooking before adding to your rice.
5. Cook broccoli. You can buy a frozen bag of chopped broccoli or cook a head in boiling water, cool and chop yourself.
6. When the rice is done cooking, add your almonds and broccoli and any salt/pepper to taste.

Serve the Broccoli Rice Pilaf with Panko Shrimp on top. I drizzled it with a mixture of a light greek dressing and light soy sauce. These shrimp would also be fantastic with a mango chili sauce - something sweet to compliment their slightly salty taste. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Guest // Spray Paint Transformation:: Jennie's Entry Way Display

Before and After

Jennie's entry way is painted and complete! What was once a plain wall niche is now a colorful bookshelf nook with lots of personality. And she did it all for less than $60! Wow. Here is what she had to say about how she made this thrifty and beautiful project happen...

This total look cost me $59.50 ($9.00 of it from a few years back). So it cost me about $50.50 now to do this. Below are my supplies and steps I took to achieve this great new look!

Bookshelf - As you may recall from my sneak peak post into what I'd be repurposing and sharing on ahomebeautiful, I scored this solid wood bookshelf from a local thrift store. I gave it an easy spray paint transformation by painting it black using two cans of $1 generic spray paint from Lowe's. Total cost:: $21

Artwork - I found this floral artwork for only $4.50 at my local thrift store as well. I purchased a new 50% off frame at Michael's for $20. Super easy makeover. Total cost:: $24.50

Candleholders - Another great thrift store find from a couple years ago for $1 each. I added new vanilla pillar candles from Dollar Tree for $1 each. Total cost:: $4

Birdcage  - this is actually leftover from our wedding decor so it is now repurposed as decor in our home and is a treasured memory. Total cost:: Free

White Ceramic Jug - I found this great vase/jug on Marshall's clearance rack a few years ago. Total cost:: $5

Wall Paint - Home Depot has a lovely little selection of paint called "Oops paint" that they sell for super cheap. Had I bought a new can of paint, even for this tiny space, it would have cost $30! This "oops" was a bold blue that complements our artwork. Total cost:: $5

Books - These are leftover from college and graduate school, books I want to hang onto but won't read regularly so they work great to store here and be on display. I'm not even going to think about the cost of some of these, so we'll say these are repurposed. :) Total cost (for this project):: Free

I love my new entry way nook! I have another great piece I'll be working on for this area and will be sharing once it's complete.

If you would like to be a guest DIY blogger, please contact me at: ahomebeautiful at gmail dot com.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Music Monday:: Feed From the Bottom

It's only fitting that on this particular Music Monday I dedicate this post to my husband's music blog. He is finally getting me to go to my very first Phish show today. No he's not a hippie! (Not that there's anything wrong with hippies...if you know me, you'd know it just wouldn't mesh.) He is simply a huge fan of really good music and Phish's infamous jam band vibes lured him in long ago and the rest is history.

Overall, I really love his taste in music and one of our favorite things we enjoy together is seeing live music. He is always on top of what's new and what's good whether it's in the jam, indie, or other obscure music scenes he's probably heard of it. I love the days when I can share a new song with him that he enjoys and hasn't already heard. If you like getting your music before anyone else and like good jams, follow his blog, appropriately named for one his favorite band's tunes. Visit FEED FROM THE BOTTOM, follow and enjoy!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Five of my Faves:: Laundry that's Fast, Fresh & Going Green

My five favorite laundry items to make the laborious laundry process fast while keeping your important wardrobe staples fresh. Not only do these items clean and steam keeping your clothes in top shape they can save you lots of money, electricity and even gas in your car, and they protect the environment. Now that's a lot of green savings!

Home Touch PS-200 Perfect Steam Commercial Garment Steamer

I LOVE my new Home Touch Commercial Garment Steamer from Macy's. It completely eliminates the need to dry clean our business clothes or delicate materials with very little time investment. I just used it to freshen up and dewrinkle some clothes I had in storage. Two weeks worth of clothes were sanitised and wrinkle free in 10 minutes! I picked it up on sale but it is worth every penny full price.

Dryel At-Home Dry Cleaning Starter Kit, Clean Breeze Scent 1 kit
A Dryel starter kit is a must to eliminate your laundry bill completely! If you don't have a steamer or even a good iron you should still use dryel sheets in your dryer. They are safer to your clothes and the environment than dry cleaning and they get the job done. I use them for all of my sweaters and other dry clean items. Just put a few items in the bag with a dryel sheet and heat for half an hour. Bam! No driving to the dry cleaner and no big bills. I pick refills up at Big Lots for $5 and you get 6 sheets which will freshen up to 25-30 items. The starter kit comes with a cleaning pen that works well on sensitive fabrics but you can always spot clean harsher stains on your own with other cleaning items. Then the dryel sheets do the rest.

Shark Rapido Electronic Iron, GI468

Of all the irons out there I chose the Shark Rapid Pro Lightweight Iron (model G1468) I picked up at Target. It had a great price point but it also had all the features important to me. It has vertical and horizontal steam (a great substitute if you don't need the power of a full steamer to do lots of clothes and just need to hit up some items that are hard to flat iron from time to time). There are many temperature and steam controls that are very accurate. It has auto shutoff in any position - very safe! It's self-cleaning and anti-calcium buildup features make it an iron that will stick with you and never ruin your clothes. The disappointment of ruining your favorite top when you don't realize there is calcium or rust buildup in your iron is worth the extra $10 you might spend on this iron over a more basic option.

Dryer Balls! If you don't have these little guys, go get them. In fact, get several. I use four in my standard size dryer. They are about $5 at any home store like Target or online and are priceless when you see how much energy you save drying towels and other bulky items. I even use them with my regular clothes (not delicates - because I hang dry all of my delicates). They really help decrease your dry time and help makes towels and sheets super fluffy. Plus, you can eliminate your dryer sheets which are harmful to the environment, saving you money forever because these little guys don't wear out. Unless of course your lovely Boston Terrior gets ahold of them (Botti...) and chews holes in them. 

Simple Green Pre-Wash formula is the perfect green savings product. It's biodegradable and non-toxic so it's safe for the environment, it's super cheep (I found a 32 oz. bottle as cheep as $1.50) and a little goes a long way on stains. Simple Green's other products can be used as laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaners around the home and all of them are environmentally safe...but that's for another post another day. :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Guest // Project:: Sharon's Easy Peezy Magnetic Makeup Board

Magnet Makeup Board

Today we have another new guest blogger to introduce, Sharon. I met Sharon while working in PR. She’s a great writer and savvy creative so naturally we hit it off! Here’s Sharon’s fun and *easy peezy* DIY post to share with us::

When I moved into my apartment, I was excited that they allowed pets and there was a nice-sized kitchen. I was not excited about the tiny bedroom. I have very little wall space, too. Unfortunately, I have a lot of makeup and I prefer not to keep it in the bathroom because of the moisture. I stumbled upon a magnetic eye shadow board on Pinterest and thought this would be great to use for all of my makeup. It was the perfect way to go vertical! The original Pinterest item was a photo frame with a metal board cut to size. While I liked this idea, it didn’t work for two reasons:  a) it was too small for all of my makeup and b) I’m lazy and didn’t want to deal with the cutting of the metal and figuring out the assembly of the frame part. So I found a larger magnetic board from IKEA complete with holes and ready to hang!

Magnetic board from IKEA
Fabric to cover board (I just bought a full yard… this was more than enough. But remember, you need to be able to cover the sides.)
Spray adhesive
Scissors or razor
Hot glue and glue gun
Strip and circle magnets (Make sure they are strong and can stick to something through the packaging. This is VERY important. When you cover the board with fabric it will make it harder for the magnets to stick.)
Toilet paper rolls

Here’s how I did it:

Magnet Makeup Board
1. Assemble the board:: Do a rough cut of the board on top of the fabric (if there is a lot of excess fabric it will be annoying to deal with). Lay the fabric on a flat surface that is covered so the adhesive doesn’t get on it. Spray with adhesive and let it get a tacky. Put the magnetic board on top of it and stretch it all the way to the back. Move quickly to get rid of bubbles. On the back trim the excess fabric and use a razor or sharp scissors to poke out the holes for hanging.

Magnet Makeup BoardMagnet Makeup Board
2. Magnetize the makeup:: Hot glue magnets to the back of your makeup. You will probably have to glue several magnets to heavier pieces. For flat, larger surfaces like compacts, I found that the strips worked best. I also would try to cover as much of the back as possible with the strips. You don’t want your makeup falling off all the time or easily getting knocked off. I also found that the adhesive backing on the strips seemed strong enough to stay on and you don’t need to hot glue it.

Magnet Makeup Board
3. Make brush holders:: As I was in the middle of the craft I realized it would be silly to attach magnets to every tiny brush I had. I cut toilet paper rolls to size and then covered with fabric using spray adhesive. To close the bottoms I just folded the fabric on top of itself and hot glued it shut. Just don’t stick anything too heavy in there. You will need four round magnets to secure these.

Tips: Now that I’ve been using the board for a week or so, I’ve found that you don’t want to crowd your makeup. Otherwise when you go to put something back on the board you will easily knock something else off.  I also wouldn’t put anything that’s glass or very precious up there as things can get knocked off.

About Sharon: Sharon Fain is a freelance communications consultant (visit her professional site for more info) and professor of public relations and journalism. She does not consider herself particularly crafty—more practical, cheap and inventive.  Her proudest DIY creation is her $49 IKEA bed that she stained, made her own headboard for, and got a free box spring for it. You can see her style on Pinterest.

If you would like to be a guest DIY blogger, please contact me at: ahomebeautiful at gmail dot com.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Music Monday:: Cults

This new indie duo from out of no where has made a great start for themselves and is sure to appear again since they were recently signed to Columbia. I love the lofty but powerful voice of the lead singer on this track and the lovelorn 50s high school dance vibe paired with the rebellious chorus. Rather than the slow tempo and sad lyrics bringing you down the finger snapping sweetness about it makes it stick in your brain and I find myself humming the verses while swaying around my kitchen whenever it pops in my head. :)