Sunday, September 15, 2013

Converting An Old Door into A Picture Frame

Nic and I just finished a fun DIY project to spruce up our hallway wall that I'm pretty excited to share.   Like many San Francisco apartments ours has a long narrow hallway from the entrance and we've decorated the wall with an eclectic mix of framed pictures. Lately I've been eager to upgrade our frames.  I've been eyeing old barn window frames on Etsy to try to do something crafty  but the ones that are the right size don't have glass and the ones that have glass are the wrong size and overall I'm nervous to order something like that in the mail.  Finally last weekend Nic and I were window shopping on Valencia street and went into this very hipster antique shop that mostly sold vintage typewriters and had a pianist playing live music (I know, I know, San francisco!)  Just before walking out I saw the above pictured old barn door and pictured it hanging sideways in our hallway.  We managed to bargain down the owner slightly on the price and brought it home. He claimed they had flown it from an old house in France which we thought was a very romantic lie but the door was perfect.

This weekend I cleaned it, picked pictures to put in it and attached paper board to the back of it with metal thumbtacks to create the backers.  Nic broke out the tool belt and measuring tape and handscrewed 3 metal  hooks into the top of it so we could mount it on the wall. It turned out great and our hallway is now ten times more interesting!  I also love how long it is since we were able to fit so many photos on the wall in an organized way.  Check it out...

Here are some step by step pictures and tips in case you ever want to try this out yourself!

1. Pick out your pictures and measure them out so they will fit within the panes (I was impatient and mostly eyeballed it but measuring would be a good idea.) Cut the poster board so that it will fit the space (I had to use three sheets) then secure the backs of the pictures to the poster board with masking tape (it's easy to remove.)

2.  Attach evenly spaced hooks to the back of the frame and then attach the poster board with metal thumb tacks. I only tacked in the top so that it would be easy to adjust or change out pictures in the future.  Nic hand screwed in the hooks since the wood is soft and I just pushed in the thumbtacks by hand.  Once I had the poster board lined up with one tack I cut out a notch to fit around the hooks.

3.  Nic measured out the hooks to put on the wall to match the ones he put on the back of the frame. He used a level and a measuring tape to line it up correctly.

4.  Finally we just carefully lifted up the door and hung it up and now I get excited every time I walk down the hall!

Have a great week and happy crafting!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Easy End of Summer Dinner

We've had a sunny week to mark the start of fall out here and luckily it only got better this weekend with totally clear skies and toasty 80+ degree highs.

On saturday we headed about 40 minutes north of the city to Sonoma for a friend's amazing birthday party and pig roast at her family's beautiful home. We spent the day swimming, drinking cocktails and feasting on roast pig and a big spread of seasonal salads. People played lawn games, I got to jump in the pool off a diving board and we ate amazing strawberry shortcake. It was a perfect afternoon.

Impressed by succulents

When we got home on Saturday night I was a little tired and over fed from the sun, drinking and feasting and wanted to make something yummy but healthy for dinner. I went to my go-to favorite, spaghetti squash with sauce and a little chicken sausage. I added a little cottage cheese into the sauce to give it some creamy flavor and used some leftover corn on the cob to make a summery side salad... it turned out great. Here's the deal in case you too want a light and yummy end of summer dinner!

Spaghetti Squash with Marinara/Cheese sauce and Chicken Sausage
Ingredients: Makes 2 big servings 
For the sauce:
1 cup Marinara sauce (I like Trader Joe's Rustico)
2 tsps italian seasoning
1 tablespoon capers
A little sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup light organic cottage cheese
1 italian style chicken sausage chopped up ( precooked kind like applegate or trader joe's)
Grated parmesan cheese (optional topping)

1 spaghetti squash - cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the middle

-Preheat oven to 460 degrees.
-pour a few cups of really hot or boiling water into a pyrex baking dish or pan and place the two halves of the squash in it, the cut sides facing down.
-Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the inside (that was facing down) is soft enough that you can easily scrape it out with a fork.
-While it's baking warm up all the sauce ingredients above on the stove in a little pot or pan so they are  all warm.
-When Squash is done baking scrape out the middle and toss it in your sauce, add salt and pepper and a little parmesan cheese to taste.  Enjoy!

Arugula End of Summer Salad - Toss the below ingredients and enjoy!
-Heirloom tomatoes (I used mini ones chopped in half)
-Leftover (cooked) corn on the cob - cut it off on the sides with a knife
-Annie's Light Honey Mustard Dressing (you can find this brand in whole foods and many other super markets)
-A little salt and pepper

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wedding Style From The East Coast

While the San Francisco fog makes it easy to forget it's the middle of July, the month has flown by and over the course of the last five weeks we've made two trips east, celebrated three weddings, one grandmother's 90th birthday and our third anniversary of marriage.   It's been a fun blur of cake and toasts and I wanted to share a few photos, starting with the pretty wedding ones!  Here are some fun things I noticed  and pictures I took from the three beautiful weddings we attended in New York, Connecticut and Maryland.

Renting the Runway
Have you Rented the Runway yet? A bunch of my girlfriends from home rented dresses for the first two weddings we went to and they looked so fabulous  I followed their lead and rented a red strapless dress for the second wedding.  It turned out great and I love how the company sends you two sizes to choose from.

At least two of these lovely ladies rented their party dresses. 

Here's my friend Lizzy in her gorgeous Rent The Runway dress showing off her Gretchen Scott bag.

Four out of the five of us below Rented the Runway for our friend's swanky Greenwich wedding!

And while not rented, how great does my mom look in this pink Monique L'huillier dress? Pretty amazing :)

Bridal Style
Each of my three friends looked absolutely gorgeous on their wedding days but what I loved most was that they looked like themselves.

My friend Alison was a perfect princess in this beautiful ball gown.  I loved her simple tiara.

I love this side view of my friend Jenny's classic ball gown. She slipped into a more casual dress mid reception with a small opening at the back that I absolutely loved... 

And finally my friend Kristen wore a beautiful lace dress that looked like it was designed just for her. So lovely...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Semi-Homemade Donut Hole Recipe and Camping at Salt Point State Park

                                                                                   oh heyyyy donut hole :)

Since Nic and I are both enjoying some time off from work and school (I start a new job in 10 days!) we've been planning some fun California things we haven't had much time for lately. This week we kicked off my short term funemployment with a low key camping trip about 2 1/2 hours north at Salt Point State Park on the Sonoma coast.  Salt Point is about 40 miles north of Bodega Bay and has two quiet and well maintained camp ground loops. We reserved a spot on the Gerstle loop which is on the ocean side of the highway. From our campsite we could take a 0.3 mile trail through some very funkly looking trees down to the water.  The drive, the cove itself and surrounding area all feature a dramatically rocky coastline with the occasional roaming cow, it's really pretty.

As with many things in life, the best part of camping in a campsite is campfire cooking! For dinner I made my ground turkey nacho style mix for dinner adopted from this recipe on the awesome camping recipe website, the Dirty Gourmet and it was really yummy.  It would be good for a normal meal at home and tasted amazing for a camping meal.  I just swapped in some lean ground turkey for the beef in the recipe and added salsa to top it all off.  With a little beer and some Trivial Pursuit it felt really good to not have wifi or cell service.

For breakfast I tried out Dirty Gourmet's easy donut hole recipe and I'm pretty sure Nic has never loved me more.  You should try them out whenever you have a donut lover in the house/tent. They are so easy, totally delicious and definitely added a whole lot of little pizzazz to the morning of our camping trip.

Simple Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes
Adopted very slightly from this recipe at Dirty Gourmet

1 tube of ready-to-bake biscuit dough (you know, the kind that pops open!)
1 paper bag
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sugar (roughly) and a teaspoon or two of cinnamon
Jam or Jelly (optional)

-Open the dough and break it into pieces to roll into small balls. (if they get too big it takes longer and you have to be diligent to make sure they cook through!)
-Put the skillet or frying pan over the campfire or stove top and pour in the oil till it is very lightly starting to crackle or bubble.
-Drop in a ball of dough to test out, it should slowly turn golden (if it gets dark golden right away your heat is too high so turn it down or move the pan further from the flame.)
-Let the dough get a little golden on one side before turning it in the oil until all sides are golden brown.
- Put the cooked dough ball on a paper towel so it cools.
-Put the sugar and cinnamon in the paper bag and drop the cooled off dough balls in and shake them around so they are cooked with cinnamon and sugar.
-You could serve with a little jam or jelly :)

-Click here  to reserve a camp site at Salt Point State Park (I recommend the Gerstle Loop,) and click here for yelp info on the park.
-Stop for coffee here on your way to or from the campground for a real Norcal hippy dippy spot and a great cup of coffee.
-Here is a picture from the drive west. We passed a lot of cow farms -- a few even had signs for the organic milk brand we buy!  I like cows.