Thursday, January 31, 2013

{Recipe} Points of Pinterest: Paula Deen's Crock Pot Potato Soup

Since the return of normality after the holidays, the return of S.C.S. has followed.

Oh, you don't know about S.C.S? 
It stands for Slow Cooker Sundays. And boyfriend lives for them.

Sunday is the best day for Crock Pot meals. It's the day where everyone collectively decides they're going to do nothing... in anticipation and dread of the week to come. Therefore, the Crock Pot produces the perfect meal for said day. Toss in ingredients, shut the lid, and open it again when dinner is ready.


I turned to Pinterest (aka my modern recipe book) for a new recipe to try. It was a little chilly and rainy again this past weekend, so I knew a hearty soup should be in the works. I had seen this recipe floating around and knew my girl Paula Deen wouldn't steer us wrong. Don't worry, she didn't.

Seeing as how this is from the recipe books of the Queen of Southern Cuisine, I did my best to lighten it up as much as I could... until I spotted the sourdough bread bowls at Panera Bread. Game. Over. Also not being able to leave well enough alone, I modified the recipe to add a packet of ranch dressing to the soup base. We love ranch dressing (seriously, who doesn't!?) and always have a box of the packets on hand. I quickly tossed in the packet before I could think twice and it was the second best decision of the day (bread bowl took precedence). It added another wonderful flavor to an already delicious soup. De-lish!
my apologies for the horrible photo quality...
I only had my phone and obviously couldn't wait!
We gave this recipe four stars! It was simple, fast, and really wonderful. It was also unanimously agreed that it tasted even better second day... once all those flavors got together (oh, how you doin'?).

The weekend is coming up! Add this to your "to eat" list :)

Paula Deen's Crock Pot Potato Soup {Lightened}
Original Recipe from TWIRL

1 (30 oz.) bag frozen southern style potatoes
2 (14 oz.) cans fat-free chicken broth
1 (10.75) can light cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 small packet ranch dressing mix
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 (8 oz.) package 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
optional adds: 
fat-free cheddar cheese
light sour cream
center cut bacon or turkey bacon
minced green onion
sourdough bread bowl (...sorry, I couldn't resist)

In a slow cooker, combine potatoes, chicken broth, cream of chicken, onion, ranch packet, and pepper.
Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
Stir in cream cheese, cover and cook an additional 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, until combined.
Ladle into bowls, garnish, and enjoy!

To prepare bread bowl: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the inside with olive oil and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown on the inside.

*this recipe filed on recipe page!

post signature

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

[Inspired] by Design: Prepkitchen, Del Mar

Restaurants are some of the most design-inspiring places to visit.

One of boyfriend's new favorite restaurants to visit is Prepkitchen. There are three locations: one in downtown San Diego, La Jolla, and one in Del Mar. The Del Mar location is practically in our backyard (figuratively speaking...but that would be pretty sweet!) so we get to visit often.

The style of all three restaurants are very similar. They have an earthy, slightly contemporary, home-like feeling which makes it a fun place to dine (not to mention the green chile carnitas topped omelet...).
It's like being in your friend's (very well-decorated!) old home with lots of charm! I adore the warm color scheme they used, the pressed tin ceilings (if you look really closely and squint your eyes, you can see it at the dropped ceiling above the bar), the industrial looking wine rack, and the beautiful old, "reclaimed wood-look" floors (which I was a dope and didn't get a good picture of!--I also can't say for certain that they're reclaimed, but they certainly give that appearance).

We went for brunch this past Saturday, and being that we were the first two people in the restaurant (hello, anxious diners!) I snapped a few pictures to share.

oogling over that wine bar!

love, love, love that beautiful ceiling!

adoring the mis-matched banisters, succulents, and built-ins. 

books by color coordination?
count me in!

oh, and the food ain't half bad, either... ;) 

PS--I know what you're thinking... that place is tiny! And well, it sort of is. Most restaurants in San Diego offer a ginormous outdoor patio area and a much smaller inside dining area, because the majority of the time the weather here is nothing short of perfect (wah, wah). It happened to be cold(er) and a little rainy this particular day so we got to enjoy eating inside for a change. :)

post signature

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Etsy Inventory & a Twist of Lime

I took major advantage of some downtime this weekend and got the knitting needles busy. With temps in the 50's all weekend long, rain, and a DVR full of trash TV... it was the perfect excuse for a sofa-parked weekend.

I opened an Etsy shop in the Spring of 2010 to sell hand knits and knitting accessories, and had the good fortune to list a few items which sold in a matter of a few weeks. I was in the midst of thesis-writing at the time, working 40 hours / week, and trying very, very hard to not have an emotional breakdown, so I never had the opportunity to re-stock the inventory and try again. After graduation, I moved to Austin, began working long-hours, and before I knew it had landed in California to start the process over again. Needless to say, my shop sat sad and empty for a long, long time.

However, this past weekend I had a surge of energy and actually accomplished knitting a few little pieces to put in the shop.

cozies for babies and adults!
My intent was to list them in the shop this afternoon soon after photographing them, but I like to draft something cute and clever to go along with each item and my creativity was waning. I feared I would end up saying something ridiculous, so I skipped that part for now to re-visit again later.

$8 [+$2 shipping] pink and grey coffee cozy for the tea drinker or latte lover!
$8 [+$2 shipping] pale pink & seafoam green striped coffee cozy for the caffeine-enthusiast.
$20 [+$5 shipping] bubblegum pink baby booties.

I have also nearly finished a bulky weight, geometric baby blanket today (thanks to the Celebrity Ghost Stories marathon!) that will also be listed with these new shop items. I am anxious to get these creations into the shop and see how they do!

All that being said, I didn't just sit on my toosh and knit all weekend (much as I would have liked)--but also got out on the patio and did some planting! Spencer and I set out in the rain on Saturday morning to purchase a lime tree. Why a lime tree? of us wants to make desserts and one of us wants to make cocktails with the fruit it will bear... and we each want to reap the benefits of both! Hopefully the hornworms stay at bay and my thumbs stay green enough to keep it alive... only time will tell!

what a cute little guy!
We wrapped up Saturday with a fantastic dinner with friends, and a slow ease into a lazy Sunday. My favorite kind :)

Here's to a fast work week!

post signature

Saturday, January 26, 2013

{Sew Cute!} A Book Review: Stitch Savvy

As my new found love of sewing increases (yes, I'm about 200 years late to that game!), I find myself spending more and more time on sewing blogs. As a total novice, I scroll through page after colorful page of beautiful projects from wonderfully talented total awe.

I want to sew like that!
I do, I really, really do!

Since I don't have a sewing tutor skilled in the highest patience level known to mankind in my very own home, I've turned to Deborah Moebes to teach me the ropes. Her first book, Stitch by Stitch, literally catapulted me into sewing machine nirvana and I have not wanted to stop ever since.

I may or may not have immediately taken two days off work after my book arrived to play... it could have happened... or not. The jury is still out. 

Anyway, Deborah has recently published her second book, Stitch Savvy, which is chock-full of delicious finds! I was laying in bed one evening, flipping through my blogs, when I came across a tiny little blurb about this book. I immediately flipped over to my app and purchased it...on the questions asked. Then, after an agonizing 5 days it finally arrived. And, just in time I might add because I now have the whole weekend ahead of me. Lucky girl.

As with any new craft book, I had to feverishly rip the book from it's cardboard packing and hurriedly find the nearest available seat in the house. After barking at everyone to "hush!" because "I'm reading something important!", I do a preliminary scan of the entire book. This means flipping page to page rapidly, pausing repeatedly to ponder / stare in amazement / become emotional / mentally design my own creation / become enraged that I have not discovered said craft any sooner, before exasperatedly slamming the book shut (once I've reached the end). Some grandeur statement such as "WELL... I know what I'LL be doing this weekend!" will be made. From there, the book will go untouched. It was too much, too soon. The ideas are swarming. Panic is set in... there's not enough time, enough time I tell you!

I need to make it.    I need to make it all.    And I need to make it all right now

A Diet Coke and a good night's sleep will do the trick. We'll re-visit the book again in the morning.

And we did.

PS--who is "we"? I don't know... I'm crazy. 

I must say, as much as I loved the first book... this one is just... inspiring. In a word, truly inspiring. I mean, just look at some of the lovely pieces of work in this book.
Disclaimer: Please don't be distracted by the photo quality in these images. It has rained here all weekend, and I just couldn't wait until sunnier weather to share this post with you!

starting off right--quilting!
i absolutely cannot wait to learn.
this little patchwork baby blanket looks like the perfect starter project.
three words: quilted. tea. cozy.

ps--i want to be at that darling little brunch setting. 

oh, just everything in this chapter is too cute for words.
look at that precious leather (yes--leather!) purse in the top right picture.

all the way to the fun picnic basket!
makes me want to find some paper plates and cups, a grassy knoll,
some cheese and crackers and a bottle of wine.

look at those pants!
she says it is very difficult to find the perfect fitting pant.

so, she designed her own.

i love her.
this chapter has the most darling children's accessories from a
travel matching game to a sweet little girl's dress to a pea coat for a little man.

tah-dah! the grand finale... a fitted woman's jacket.


could you just die? that color, with those wellies, her hair!
i must make this one.

This handful of projects are just a taste of the beautiful things found in this book. There is even a section on home goods (ottoman covers, duvets, and drapery...oh my!) Every single item is truly a unique, one-of-a-kind piece.

After having written this review, despite sounding slightly short of a schizophrenic, it has made me want to crack open the original book, Stitch by Stitch, and give a review on it because I just can't do do justice to Deborah's talent as a master seamstress and a instructor. I didn't know the first thing about sewing, and thanks to her beautifully illustrated step-by-step tutorials, I have the utmost confidence in in it. A truly remarkable feat! Also, as with each of her books, she includes a CD in the back pocket with the patterns to all of the pieces she outlines in the book. Some of the "mini projects" don't need patterns, but the lofty ambitious ones do :)

Do yourself the biggest favor of all and purchase this book. So, you may never get around to sewing that simply stunning, perfectly fitting corduroy coat, but by golly you can rock that patchwork coaster like nobody's business!

*{Sew Cute!} is a new series of blog topics focusing on specific, sewing-related projects. 

**This book review is filed under Pages > Crafty > {Sew Cute!} Book Reviews on the homepage. 

post signature

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

a birthday wish for my handsome dish.

So, today is a special day. It’s my sweet boy’s 28th birthday!
(Woooo… old man!) ;)

He and I like to keep it low-key. That’s our style.
We don’t feel the need to be attached at the hip, or disrupt the whole PDA system with a death-grip style hand hold, or takeover your Facebook mini-feed with obnoxious sweet nothings back and forth.
“I love you! … No, I love YOU!... No really, I LOVE YOU!”

All that being said, I will take full license to be that girl today and say
You make me laugh like no one can, force me to get over myself, and always keep my on my toes :)

Hope this year is the best yet, and your day full of love and apple pie.


post signature

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Southerners Say Thanks

There are any number of charming sayings you may hear a southerner say.

"Bless your heart"
"Hey y'all"
"I was just fixin' to..."
"How's your momma?"


However, there is one thing a true southerner always always says that transcends gender and age for praises big and small... we say thank you.

It is for this very inherent reason why my drawers stay fully stocked at all times with thank you cards... large ones with quotations of gratitude inside, smaller blank cards, monogrammed cards, blank holiday themed cards... you name it, I've probably got it. But that's a whole other story :)

It wasn't until recently that I realized... I'm not in Kansas Texas anymore. 

Since this discovery was made, I have begun a count. I am up to an obscene number of ungrateful individuals... or at the very least, unexpressed grateful individuals. I first noticed it at the workplace. I would drop everything I was doing to assist a client. I would deliver (on time) and with the greatest efficiency. Not a word. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Not even a "this sucks". Nothing... until they needed something again. Then the demands requests would start pouring in. "Ok", I thought, "fine. It's my job".

But then I started paying closer attention. My coworkers and bosses started doing the same thing. And the pattern continued.

I started to grow very annoyed.
I started playing them at their own games.

I began listing the number of things I had done that day... the number of things I worked through lunch to complete, the number of things I came in early for, the number of things I stayed late to finish. All of the things I accomplished while they were at home. Or still asleep. Or chatting it up in the breakroom. Or skipping out to coffee on a whim. It was all ignored. Dismissed.

I was getting pretty outraged.

But then I just had to step back and say... bless their hearts. 

You see, they didn't have the fortunate, thank your lucky stars, southern upbringing that I've had. It's always been something I've taken for granted because where I'm from... we say thank you. We hold open doors for the elderly, we have Sunday dinner at home, and dammit when we ask "how are you?" we really want to know.

It has been incredibly difficult at times (much like these) to remember to stay grounded. It would be much easier at times to give in and give attitude. But I can't... I just can't abandon what has been instilled in me since birth.

So until the day I get ballsy enough to tell some of these ridiculous, self-absorbed, crappy a-hole Southern Californians where to stick their very expensive noses, I will put my mantra on repeat...


XOXO from my view atop the soapbox, 
post signature

Saturday, January 12, 2013

This Weekend.

It's another chilly weekend here in SD. A whopping 34 degrees for the low tonight.
I know... some of you are rolling your eyes. 

However, I am fully and completely taking advantage of the down time the cooler weather has brought with it. So far this weekend, I've...

  1. Finished knitting a super secret surprise for Spencer's birthday...then wrapped and hid it from myself to keep from giving it to him early. 
  2. Caught up on the last four weeks of  Glee, American Horror Story, and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Don't judge me. 
  3. Seen Zero Dark Thirty. Four stars! 
  4. Schemed and plotted the next year of hand knits... 
  5. And some fresh new blog posts :)
  6. Finished reading the second book in the 'Fifty Shades' series. Oh, Christian Grey. You are really just a sexier version of a mortal Edward Cullen. And I'm OK with it.
  7. Received a lovely belated Christmas gift (thanks, mom & dad!)--a Jon Hart case to keep my iPad in ship-shape! I have a hopeless addiction to Kelly Green, thanks to my high school. 
  8. Consumed well over my weekly Starbucks allowance in the last 48-hours. There are bonus stars at stake here, people. And I'm now 2 stars away from gold status. Let the games begin. 
  9. Took sweet London on a long walk. Long considering she must have been gifted a new nose for Christmas, as we stopped every 5 seconds to sniff every blade of grass along the way. Twenty minutes later, we had never made it off the lawn. 
  10. Managed to be in my pajamas the last two nights before 6 PM. Now, that's what I call success! 
...and it's only Saturday :)

What's the weather like where you are this weekend? 

post signature

Friday, January 11, 2013

Adventures of a Shameless Tourist: The USS Midway

One of the other really neat attractions we got to see while Spencer's parents were visiting us was the USS Midway. I know what you're thinking... snooze alert... but really, it was one of the better museums I've been to! I really didn't know jack much about it, so if you share my lack of knowledge here's a few facts to get you caught up.

1.) The Midway served as an aircraft carrier for the United States Navy for 47 years, beginning in 1945 and ending in 1992. Today, the Midway serves as a floating museum on San Diego's waterfront and is the most-visited floating ship museum in the world.

2.) In 1945, it was considered the largest ship in the world and held that title for the next ten years. She was the longest-serving U.S.Navy carrier of the 20th century.

3.) She served the Navy in the Vietnam War & Operation Desert Storm until retirement. Additionally, she holds 25 fully-restored aircraft from World War II until Desert Storm.

4.) The ship could launch a massive aircraft from it's 4-acre flight deck every 60 seconds.

5.) People often refer to the Midway as "the city at sea" because essentially it had everything that a small community would have: an "airport", a chapel, a market (where you could buy everything from a pack of cigarettes to a Rolex), several cafeterias (10 TONS of food were served PER DAY), barber shops, doctor and dental offices (the equipment in both of these places looked a little scary...) a "laundromat" (where one washing machine could hold 198 pounds of laundry!), and even a jail (which we didn't get to see--unfortunately!). Not bad for a ship that was constructed in just 17 months! 
Yeah... wrap your brain around that. I have worked on single-story projects that have taken more time than that.

The admission includes a self-guided audio tour, which is nice considering you can go about the exhibits at your own pace. My favorite part about the audio tours were the interviews following each exhibit with a Midway sailor, pilot, or captain briefly describing the day-to-day on the ship or the landing tactics used to park the aircraft on the ship's very, very, very small flight deck.

Incredibly interesting and not at all hard to believe how we easily spent 4-5 hours on board and still did not get to see all of the exhibits! We look forward taking more visitors to our beautiful city on board this  amazing historic landmark.

inside the hangar deck.

one of the planes inside the hangar deck.
oh you know, your typical cheesy tourist picture.
complete with audio headset, thank you very much.

another plane inside the hangar. 
on the flight deck.
on the flight deck.
the bridge to coronado island from the flight deck.
view from the flight deck. 
tiny, tiny little runway.
huge props to pilots!
the reynolds family
post signature

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

52-Week Money Challenge & Paying it Forward in 2013

This year is well underway, with or without me!
It's hard to believe we are already in the second week of January, much less the year 2013.
Talk about how time flies...

The first few days of the new year have been pretty promising. I've already tackled 95% of one of my New Years Resolutions Goals (more on that later), and it's not even Valentine's Day! How'd ya like them apples?!

Today, I wanted to share with you a couple of fantastic good karma exercises that benefits both you and someone else. I'll be participating in both of these activities this year and am ecstatic to see the effects of both! The first...


Has anyone heard of the 52-Week Money Challenge?
I hadn't either... 

Boyfriend brought this one to my attention, and I must say I am thrilled that he did. You can get the full play-by-play here (including a fantastic chart for keeping up with your deposits & account balance), but the gist is this: for every week of the year (52) you save that dollar amount per week. For instance, after the first week you should deposit $1 into your checking or savings account (or piggybank or shoebox or under the mattress), $2 for the second week, $3 for the third week...and so on.
By January 1, 2014 you will have collected $1,378.00, if followed correctly. Holy smokes!
That's some major savings, and for only a little money per week (or month, if you chose to make one monthly deposit). It might get tougher there at the end of the year, but the savings that will have accumulated should make for a nice little holiday bonus for yourself. What a fun idea!


The second exercise of 2013 is Paying it Forward.

If you have Facebook, you might have seen a similar status to this floating around:

I'm participating in the 2013 creative pay it forward: the first five people to COMMENT on this status will receive from me, something in the next calendar year, a gift-perhaps something I've made, baked, purchased, or just thought you would enjoy! There will likely be no warning and it will happen whenever the mood strikes me. The catch? Those five people must make the same offer in their fb status! Love this idea--enjoy Facebook friends! :)

[That was my status, by the way--if you couldn't tell from the exclamation points (!!) and smileys :)]

The concept of this one is simple: allow the first (5) five people to comment on this status (however well you may know them, what your relationship status is, etc.) and those folks will receive a small gift from you at some point during the next 12 months. What you choose to send can be totally up to you, as is when you send it. The best part about a surprise is that it is a SURPRISE--what fun to open your mailbox one day to a container of homemade chocolate chip cookies, or a lovely hand crafted item, or some uplifting letters of encouragement when you're going through a rough time. This just makes my heart smile and I am already secretly pinning a whole mess of ideas :)

This could not have worked any better if I'd planned it. The first five people to comment on my status could not be from any more bizarrely faceted areas of my life and I LOVE IT. I have friends that I have known for years, some I have just met, some I haven't spoken to in ages, and some live across the map. All have completely different interests and personalities and I love that I will get to surprise these folks throughout the year.

Facebook or no Facebook, I love this concept and am thrilled to get baking, crafting, shopping--who knows!--for my five peeps. I've decided on the general dates for which my packages should be delivered, and the calendar is set with reminders... of course.


There are several ideas for betterment buzzing around the blogosphere this year. Another one that caught my eye was journaling. The subjects you choose are completely and totally up to you. I toyed with the idea of starting a 'what I've learned this year' journal to document all of the things I've learned  this year (from changing my own oil to how to give myself a better manicure--one of which I've done, but I'll let you guess which). There are so many good ideas out there!

What other neat ideas have you seen to get this new year off to a fantastic start? 
I'd love to hear 'em! 

post signature