Happy girls are the prettiest girls

3.28.2014

project Ugly Duckling: nightstand redo

When it comes to my home, I am always on the hunt for cute furniture and home goods for cheap. I don't want my home to look cheap, but I also don't want to pay an arm and a leg to outfit it with cool things. Conundrum? Nope. You just have to keep an eye open for a hot deal and be willing to put a little work in to make it perfect. Like my spray painted mirror.

I was recently hunting through Craigslist, which seems to be a daily occurrence, when I found a set of vintage nightstands that I just knew would be perfect for my bedroom. They were the wrong color and needed some TLC, but I had to grab them, especially at $35 a pop.
I managed to barter a tiny bit and got both for $60.
Gloss white spray paint is my favorite thing. Especially when it's primer and paint in one. I took the hardware off the one nightstand that still had the drawer pulls, and then used a fine sanding block to smooth out some of the surface bubbles and chips. I'm too impatient to do the entire surface, so it was a spot job at best. I took the tables to the garage to avoid that day's crazy wind and keep the spray paint where I needed it rather than into the air. I ended up doing a few coats over two days because it was hard to get good coverage with just one coat. 
I found a little silver drawer pulls at Lowe's for less than a dollar each. They were delicate enough to work with the tiny drawers, and gave the nightstands a more modern look.
And next to the bed against my gray-blue wall color! I really love these little guys.
Cost breakdown:
2 nightstands = $60
2 cans of spray paint = $11
4 drawer pulls = $4
total: $75!

That's a whole lot less than one new nightstand, and less than a lot of the used nightstands I've seen, too. These look so different, and pretty much brand new now. All thanks to spray paint and an eye for a deal.

3.25.2014

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet and spicy roasted lemon chicken

This is a special edition of Tasty Tuesday, in which I give you some recipes from a seasonal dinner party I hosted. Stop by Cassie's blog to see if she is sharing a recipe, too!
A few weeks back, I had Stephanie, Casey, their husbands, and Casey's adorable son Wilder over for dinner. We had come up with the idea to have seasonal dinner parties weeks before in a group text, and I was so excited to host the first one. We started with a Winter menu, trying to get ingredients that are readily available during this season. With imported produce, it's not like you can only find certain ingredients in their natural season, but we were trying. This was my first dinner party in my new home, so I was super excited to set my cool table and have people over. I bought flowers for the table, even though I'm allergic. I just made sure to find ones without super pollen-filled stamens.

As the host, I was in charge of the entree, and a salad, but I also roasted some veggies and heated up a garlic herb flatbread from Costco just because. Stephanie brought brie with blackberry jam wrapped in pastry, and Casey brought apple and blackberry cobblers for dessert and a creamy veggie casserole.

Right away, I knew I wanted to roast a whole chicken with a citrus twist, since citrus is mainly a winter fruit. Thanks to Pinterest, I found a few recipes and settled on one with a fiery glaze, thinking a tangy, sweet and spicy chicken would hit the spot.

Citrus Chicken with a honey glaze
Not the prettiest photo, but it was delicious.
Ingredients:
  • a 4-5lb whole roasting chicken, giblets and weird innards removed
  • 5 small lemons
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 lemons, halved or quartered if desired
Directions:
  1. Remove giblets from chicken if present. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Place chicken into a gallon size ziploc bag set in a shallow dish. 
  2. Slice two of the lemons and add to the bag. Zest a lemon to get about 2 tsps of peel, set aside. Squeeze remaining lemons to get 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps of juice for the glaze. 
  3. For the marinade: in a bowl combine 1/2 cup lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, garlic 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Whisk to mix, then pour into the bag over chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat chicken, then pop in the fridge for at least 4 hours. My recipe had called for 8-12 hours, so this would be a good step to do the night before or morning of. Turn the bag whenever you happen to peak in the fridge.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F. Put oven racks to lowest position. Place a small rack, or do what I do and ball up foil, in the bottom of a shallow roasting pan. 
  5. Let chicken stand for 15 minutes at room temperature. Drain chicken and set aside lemon slices, throw out the marinade. 
  6. Place the chicken, breast side up{I think I flipped this when I did it!}, on the rack or foil in the shallow roasting pan. Cover with the lemon slices. If you want, you can place lemon halves or quarters inside chicken cavity, or around the roasting pan. Roast uncovered for 1 hour.
  7. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine honey, 2 tsps lemon zest, 2 tbsps lemon juice, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
  8. At the hour mark, pull chicken out of oven, remove the lemons, and brush with honey sauce. return to oven and continue cooking another 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until a thermometer reads 175F and drumsticks move freely in their sockets. Brush with the honey mixture during cooking, and coat with the remaining when the cooking time is done. Let chicken rest 15 minutes before carving. Enjoy!
The table full of delicious foods
I can't wait for our Spring seasonal dinner! I get to make the appetizer for that one, so now I have to come up with some tasty recipe ideas that incorporate spring ingredients. Feel free to follow our Seasonal Dinner board on Pinterest to see what recipes we are considering!

Have you ever hosted a seasonal dinner party? I highly recommend it. Also, I wish I could fit a huge amount of people at my table and had more friends in the area, this would be so much fun with a big group. 

3.20.2014

Spray paint is your friend

I believe I have mentioned a time or four hundred that I am a terrible DIY-er. Pinterest gets me all excited thinking I can easily accomplish any craft, and then my lack of necessary skills makes the task extremely difficult to finish to the pinned photo results. Thankfully, there are a few DIY tricks that even I have mastered, and can execute relatively easily. 

Lesson one: Spray paint is your best friend. I was put on a spending freeze for house stuff back in December {thanks B, for the huge buzz kill}. I have slowed my buying frenzy way down, but still like finding random little treasures to make this house our own. In my town, there are three kinds of stores that outnumber everything else: Pawn shops, Goodwill stores, and dentist offices. I have no desire to go into pawn shops, and I have a dentist back home I can still see when I need to, but those Goodwill stores have come in quite handy when I am searching for random home goods. When you find something ugly that could be really cool in a different color, try spray painting it. 

Back in January, I found the coolest peach velour wing back chair for my office at a consignment store. That same visit, I found an amazing wood mirror with intricate carving details in the frame. It was beautiful, and I wanted it, but not for $70 when that was what I was already paying for my chair. With Billy's voice in my head telling me to stop buying stuff, I passed on the mirror, but not without a heavy heart. I went back a few weeks later to see if the mirror was still available, but it had been sold.

Cut to the other day when I was picking up paint for the master bedroom. I stopped in a few Goodwill stores looking for matching nightstands. Instead, I found this big old mirror with a molded plastic frame that was so close to being pretty I just had to take it home. It was a far cry from the gorgeous carved wood mirror I loved, but for 40 bucks it seemed like a steal. I also grabbed a can of gloss white spray paint knowing I would need to do something about the ugly gold frame before it went with my home's decor. 
I covered the mirror with paper and tape, and did a light dusting to get it ready for paint. I should have been better about removing all the accumulated dust from the many crevices, but I'm lazy and impatient. Notice how fake gold and plastic-y the mirror looks? Wait till you see it later.
 I laid the mirror on a big box in the backyard. My grass is dead, so I didn't mind a big white rectangle on the grass when this was done. I sprayed a thick first coat and watched as bubbles formed and left spots uncovered. Now, I had picked a spray paint by Rust-o-leum that said it bonded to paint, so this bubbling bothered me. I figured I would give it a chance to dry, then attack again.
 I came back an hour later and gave the mirror another thick coat, making sure those bubble spots were covered and there was no longer any hint of fake gold. I moved the mirror to the patio to dry overnight, and hoped for the best.
The next day, I was pleased to find my mirror looking pretty awesome. It had dried overnight and didn't have any bubble spots to be covered. I brought it inside and pulled off the paper and tape, setting it in the newly painted master to see how it would look.
Of course the glossy white pops and looks great against my gray-blue walls. I think the mirror looks way classier as a glossy white than it did fake gold. Dare I say it might not even look like plastic anymore? I won't go that far, but I like it. I can't wait to put this behemoth up. Now I just have to figure out what wall to put it on, and have B help me hang it. Even plastic, it's pretty heavy. 
Slowly but surely I am decorating my house. That furniture-less master is my main project, but I have an open mind for the entire house and like to snap up pieces as I find them. 

So, the moral of the story is, don't be afraid to spray paint something that isn't quite perfect if you think it has a great look and could be better. 

3.19.2014

Project ugly duckling: master bedroom paint

My master bedroom is a large, bland, blank space without any real furniture. It was the one room in the house without a speck of yellow paint, so it immediately got relegated to the bottom of my Project Ugly Duckling list. Once the rest of the house was painted, and I started to slowly decorate and figure out what my home style was, the bedroom kept poking at me. It's was a calm mix of sage green and the slightest green tinted cream in both the bedroom and bathroom. 

I like green, it doesn't particularly bother me, but it wasn't my first choice for the master. When my mother-in-law visited a few weeks back, she surprised us by purchasing a Martha Stewart bedding set we had eyed while in Macy's. Thank goodness it was on sale, but still, it was an extremely generous gift, and I absolutely love it. Once the bedding was picked, my brain was churning for the perfect complimentary paint color. Because that's what I do.

Please forgive my non-finished bedroom. Our mattress and box spring has been on the floor since we moved in. Knowing we would eventually be upgrading to a larger bed, we just put the queen frame in the guest room. My nightstands were a street corner find one dark night when B and I had first gotten married. They're simple black framed pieces that hold our numerous fans. The box fan is the perfect white noise for sleeping, and it helps circulate our often stuffy room. Also, Sadie really loves cuddling under the big fluffy duvet. And yes, she sleeps in the bed with us, and we don't mind at all.
Two trips to Lowe's and a few paint chips and samples later, and I was ready to paint. I left the paint samples taped to the wall for a week, examining them in different spots and in different light. I finally decided on Valspar Ultra Sharkfin in eggshell. It was the lighter gray swatch, and got a lot of positive feedback from Instagram and Facebook. 
I moved everything into the center of the room and snapped a few "before" photos for comparison. Since our room is really large, and our dressers are in the walk-in closet, we don't have any other furniture in the bedroom to fill the space. I have turned one corner into a "workout section". Quotations because I have yet to actually workout in that section. I have the best intentions, really...
 Taping and putting down a plastic drop cloth happened. I think taping is my least favorite part of the painting process. I know from experience that I am too messy of a painter to not take these steps. Just check out my hallway for proof, it's all over the baseboards and ceiling.
What? You don't sign your artwork?
I really like the gray-blue we picked! Sharkfin was a good choice because it's still dark, while not making the room into a cave, and it has enough blue in it to compliment the bedding. I also really like how darker grays make any white accents pop!
Now, this is just a before and after with a simple paint fix. Eventually, someday, I will have real furniture and can do a fully finished post. Maybe even a few DIY sort of things for the headboard I have planned? We shall see. Remember, I am the girl with good intentions, but lack follow through!

3.11.2014

Tasty Tuesday: French dip sandwiches

Well, howdy! It's my favorite blogging day, Tasty Tuesday! It's my favorite because I get to share with you a yummy new recipe that is making me quite happy. As usual, head on over and say hello to my girl Cassie, who I constantly encourage to keep posting her own recipes on the day she created.
I wasn't going to post this recipe until next week, because I have a bunch of delicious recipes to share from the Seasonal Dinner Party I hosted this past Saturday. However, one delicious Instagram photo and many requests for the recipe later, and here I am, writing it out. 

Like most of my recipes, this one comes with a little story. I, Adrian the happy girl, think that grocery shopping should come with a mandatory free snack before you begin. Raise your hand if you have gone to the store "just for yogurt" and walked out with a cart full of random stuff you have no idea what to do with? And heaven forbid you go to Target, where absolutely everything on the shelves calls your name and wants to just hop in your cart to do a little snuggling with you on the way home. 
Happens to me All. the. time. 
And that's what happened yesterday. I went to Target while I was hungry to "pick up cat food" and walked out with a cart load. I was even so determined to just get what I needed that I didn't grab a cart. Once my hands were full, I opted for a hand basket. Once that got heavy and I gave up all hope, I got a cart and loaded up. My local Target is a Super Target, so they have a whole grocery store complete with meat counter and bakery inside, so I like to do a lot of my grocery shopping there. I happened to get the bright idea that I wanted French dip sandwiches for dinner, so of course I made 400 passes of all the food aisles as I remembered what I would need. And this recipe was born.
Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
Ingredients:
3lb beef roast, I used Top Round
12oz dark beer, I used Guinness, but realized later that Shiner Bock is dark and I had it in my fridge already. I'm not a beer drinker so I went for what I knew was dark.
2 cups water
1 tbsp beef flavored Better than Bullion {I had never heard of this until I researched recipes to model this on, you can use bullion cubes, or beef broth and skip the 2 cups water}
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
ground black pepper to taste, I used 1 tsp
crusty bread rolls, such as Hoagie rolls
sliced cheese such as provolone or Swiss

Directions:
  1. Trim any visible fat from your roast. Place in the crock pot.
  2. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the pot. Cook on low for 8 hours, turning halfway through if you are home. I cooked mine on high for 4.5 hours and it was totally fine.
  3. Split your bread rolls open, spread with butter {or spray with I can't believe it's not butter spray, like I did} and toast in the oven at 350F for 5-10 minutes depending on how toasty you want it. 
  4. Slice meat and pile onto your bread. Top with cheese and pop back in the oven under the broiler to melt everything.
  5. Serve hot, with a side of the cooking juices in a small bowl. That would be the jus and it's fantastic for dipping, thus, French DIP sandwiches.

And voila, you have a delicious meal that was hardly any work at all. This would be a great recipe for St. Patrick's day, since I used Guinness! 
A few more tasty photos for you :)

3.06.2014

before and after: My makeup routine

I have thought long and hard about talking about my professional work on the blog. I created this space three years ago so I could separate my work from my life, but I am seeing how fun it could be to share a little bit here and there. Every time I have thought about showing how-to's, or doing product reviews, I have found another blogger who was doing it better, at a higher caliber than I was thinking, so I tucked my tail between my legs and gave it up. 

This morning, a co-worker of Billy's wanted to use me as a model for a photo project for school. She has been collecting shots of people in their work environment. She even convinced Billy, who hates photos, to give her a few minutes to snap his photo earlier this week. She wanted to come over to my house and take photos of me with my makeup and hair supplies, so I obliged. 

I saw my chance to take a few pics of my daily hair and makeup routine as I was getting ready. To be perfectly honest, I edited out my under eye bags, because I hate them, but left the rest of my face alone. Since the bags are gone from all of the photos, you can still see a difference between the before hair and makeup, and the after photos, but I wanted to be completely upfront with you so as not to sell a complete lie. If you read through this long post, you can see the untouched before and after with bags present. Try not to hold my insecurities against me.

Also, I have never before posted a photo of me without mascara. I know! Even in all of my exercise selfies I am wearing mascara. So I am baring all for you! My eyelashes are blonde, so without mascara I look sick. Also, my lips are naturally extremely pale; I look like I've been pulled out of ice or something if I don't have lip color on.
I start out by using Epicuren Eye Cream and a benzoil peroxide zit cream on any blemishes, then moisturize and prime with Urban Decay beauty balm. I love multi-purpose products. If I can combine moisturizing, SPF, color correcting and priming into one step, I'm a happy girl.

I always do my eye makeup before my foundation because I make a mess and like to clean it up without having to reapply my foundation. I use Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner in black and 
CoverGirl LashBlast Mascara in very black. I put on two coats, let it dry, and separate with a clean LashBlast brush before cleaning up the mess with a Q-tip. Insider tip: I was taught how to put my mascara on by my mother, who has some unconventional methods. She taught me to lick a Q-tip and use that to clear up mascara that got on my lid. When I wear waterproof mascara and don't want to use eye makeup remover, I will put chapstick on my eyelids to provide a barrier that allows the waterproof formula to be removed in the same way as regular mascara!
Next up is eyeshadow. I use Covergirl Intense Shadowblast Eye Shadow in Beige Blaze  all over my lid and brow bone as a primer and to highlight, then use the middle shade of the Victoria's Secret Ultimate Look Shadow trio {I use Most Wanted, but that link is to a similar color set} on my lid, and the dark color on the outer corner and crease. I throw on another coat of mascara, focusing on the lash tips at this point.
Next, I mix a tiny dab of Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer in medium with a tiny dab of Fresh Twilight Freshface Glow that I mix together on my ring fingers and pat on under my eyes, then smooth across my cheekbones and to my temples. I also dab a bit on any blemishes that I see. I like to mix the concealer like this because it is super thick, and the twilight acts as a highlighter where you need it most, also, a little goes a long way with both products. BTW, I am not trying to do The Rock's eyebrow raise in the picture below. My right brow is droopier than my left. Thank goodness my bangs cover that side so you can't usually tell as much as you can here. Oh great. Now you are going to see it in all of these photos hahaha faces are hardly ever symmetrical, and eyebrows are sisters, not twins!
On to the rest of the face! I use a Sonia Kashuk duo fibre brush like this one to apply my Benefit Cosmetics Hello Flawless! powder foundation in I'm cute as a bunny honey. I use the Urban Decay Naked Flushed palette bronzer to contour my jawline, all around the outside of my face and hairline, under my cheekbones and the sides of my nose. I use the highlighter between my cheekbones and jawline. I use my Amazonian Clay Blush in Blissful on my cheekbones. I love this color. It's a bright apricot that doesn't have sparkle, and it's perfect for a medium yellow-toned complexion like mine.
Almost finished, I promise! Because my lips are so stinking pale, I always, and I do mean always, complete my face with a colored lip. I am partial to lipstick because I need more pigment that is easy to apply frequently. Lipgloss tends to be too sheer and sticky for me. My favorite lipstick right now is Maybelline Colorsensational Lipcolor Warm Me Up, but that was in my purse, and I was in the bathroom, so I used Victorias Secret Glossy Tint Lip Sheen that is similar the one in the link. VS tends to change up their beauty products faster than I can find them listed online, so that's what you get. With that, my face was done. I was lucky that my hair had held up pretty well from the day before, so I used a 1 inch curling iron to recurl a bit of my hair that had gone whacky overnight. I combed my bangs into place and spritzed with Ag Smooth Frizzproof Anti Humidity Hair Spray. And there you have it, my daily hair and makeup look that works for a photo shoot!

Oh yeah, here are the untouched before and after pics with my bags :(

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