easy DIY wall art

It’s moving day!!

Naturally I’ve been awake since 6:30 and have already had my coffee, and I’m just waiting for the GS to wake up and help me.

To be fair, we can’t pick up the U-Haul until 9, so my impatience is completely unwarranted.

To keep myself busy for the next hour I figured I would fill you in on my latest DIY project, a little wall art for my new apartment. I recently read an article titled “No One Wants Your Donated Clothes” which basically said that there are enough textiles to wrap around the earth a few times and that they aren’t being recycled the way they should.

There was no solution or suggestion for what to do with said clothing, but rather it was a commentary about how people probably shouldn’t be donated their pit-stained t-shirts from 2005 JV Soccer to the Rescue Mission. Point taken.

Obviously I’ve made my fair share of quilts to preserve some clothing memories, but in an effort to get rid of a bunch of my old stuff before the move, this seemed like a worthy project.

I saw this photo on Pinterest and figured it would be pretty easy to re-create. So I cut up a bunch of old clothes, as well as some fabric scraps I had from other projects.

I bought a 24″ x 36″ canvas at Michael’s (70% off, I might add), some paint, and some Mod Podge. I bought the stuff specifically for fabric, but it wouldn’t shock me if all Mod Podge is the same and they sell it in different varieties just for the hell of it.

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I painted the canvas black, and while it was drying I laid out my “petals” to get a general idea of the design.

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Then you just stick them on with the ‘podge.

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I ended up going over the whole thing with another coat of Mod-Podge once it was dry, because otherwise you end up with that shiny outline around the petals and not in your free space. If you use a glossy paint you might not have this issue.

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And there it is! I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s obviously a lot crazier than the Pinterest one, but you could use neutral clothing or just buy fabrics that are all in the same general color scheme. At Jo-Ann they sell little packages of fabric remnants that all kind of match.

But I guess that defeats the purpose of saving the world by re-purposing/recycling clothing.

If you want to be a REAL humanitarian, you could absolutely do this on any old piece of fabric or wood or any other flat surface. You don’t even need the canvas! Hell, you could attach the fabric straight to the wall. If you do it that way, Marilyn recommends you use liquid starch rather than Mod Podge. Listen to the expert.

I’ll get on that once I’m a homeowner.

copycat live med salad

Yesterday was Kelly and Aaron’s 1 year wedding anniversary!

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After much careful observation while living with them over the past year, I’ve concluded that they are ready to live alone. Just the two of them, with no tenant.

So I’m moving out! It will be a big step for their marriage to lose me, but I’m confident that they’ll pull through.

I’m moving on Sunday to an apartment in Mount Vernon and I’m pretty excited about it. I have some fun DIY things planned that I’ll probably post about. If you’re interested.

THIS SALAD.

I had a work lunch last week at Zoe’s Kitchen, which is like Panera Bread but with Mediterranean food. I’m a fast eater in general but I really try to keep myself in check when I have work meals because I don’t want them to think I’m disgusting.

This salad really challenged me. It was so good. And didn’t even have meat on it! I actually made my version vegan, but you could easily add chicken or fish to it.

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Live Med Salad

(for 4 salads)

5 cups spinach

1 zucchini

1 yellow summer squash

1 cup farro

1 cup lima beans

1 box vegetable stock

1/4 red onion

1 pint grape tomatoes

for the dressing

1/4 cup hot red jalapeno peppers

1 clove garlic

2-3 tbs canola oil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried parsley

salt & pepper

Rinse the farro and the lima beans. The salad at Zoe’s actually had lupini beans in it but I couldn’t find those so I subbed lima beans. Close enough.

Cook them both according to package directions in the vegetable stock. You can use water, but this way they have a little more flavor. If you’re not interested in it being vegan, you can use chicken stock.

While these are cooking, spiralize or thinly slice the zucchini and the summer squash.

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The restaurant advertised the salad as having a “calabrian pepper dressing.” I’m not sure that calabrian peppers are actually a thing, I think it’s more a method of flavoring. So I just made it up. The hot red jalapenos in the jar were just spicy enough. I put them through my garlic press, and then added a couple tablespoons of the liquid. Also garlic and seasonings. You could throw all of it in a blender to speed up the process, too.

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The salad at Zoe’s also had Parmesan cheese on it, but obviously that makes it no longer vegan. So that’s your call. I think it has enough flavor that it doesn’t need the cheese.

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But when have I ever said no to cheese?

 

heirloom tomato salad

This is the weekend we say goodbye to summer, isn’t it?

Dislike.

Rather than having a relaxing LDW at the lake, we’re making a quick trip up to Long Island tomorrow for a wedding, driving back after the reception, and flying to Louisville on Sunday morning for an engagement party.

I know what you’re thinking. My capacity to celebrate other people’s happiness is much greater than you would have expected. Snaps for Erin.

We actually only had 4 weddings this year compared to last year’s 8, so it seemed pretty tame. We went to my cousin Kristin’s a few weeks ago and it was amazing.

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I know, Kevin is taller than me even when I have heels on. I don’t want to talk about it.

I do want to talk about this kickass heirloom tomato salad served at the reception. Now, weddings can be notorious for having really bad food. Last year I went to one where the chicken was so bland that all the wedding guests were cracking open their favors of Old Bay seasoning and dumping it all over the plate. Yikes.

But this heirloom and burrata salad they served at Kristin and Branden’s wedding was not just the best salad I’ve had at a wedding, but one of the best versions of caprese EVER. So I decided to recreate it as the first course of my birthday dinner on Sunday.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

3 heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced

3 balls of fresh mozzarella or burrata*

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 pinch crushed red pepper

sea salt and pepper

I trolled all over Baltimore for good looking heirlooms and was coming up empty, so we ultimately bit the bullet and went to Whole Foods. They had them, of course. A quick $14 for tomatoes, but it was my birthday so who cares.

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In keeping with Whole Foods theme of astronomical prices, they wanted $9.99 for one ball of burrata. JUST ONE. So that’s why I went with fresh mozz instead. Now, this week I hit up Trader Joes in DC and got two balls of burrata for $4.99, so just shop wisely.

(If you’re wondering what the difference is, burrata is basically mozzarella but with fresh cream on the inside. Almost like a mozzarella ball stuffed with ricotta. It’s heavenly, but you would serve it on top of the tomatoes rather than slicing it like I did here.)

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On the wedding menu, the salad was described as being drizzled with a “basil coulis.” I’m not actually positive what “coulis” is intended to be, but to me it tasted like pesto without the nuts and cheese. I threw a bunch of basil into the blender with a clove of garlic, pinch of CRP, and drizzled in the oil while it blended. It worked.

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The main course was tilapia with mango salsa, similar to this recipe.

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Here’s hoping this weekend’s happy couples ply me with high quality cheese.

 

brownie-crusted banana ice cream pie

Note to self: never go grocery shopping on the day you’re recovering from a red-eye.

These are some of the things I purchased during my so-tired-I’m-basically-drunk excursion:

2 mangoes

10 lemons

organic turkey burgers

collard greens

store brand tomato sauce

a loaf of white bread

The majority of the stuff I bought was organic, which is nice but not something I typically splurge on. I’m not sure if I was thinking “Oh, I just got back from a west coast business trip so I’m a huge baller and should buy top of the line everything.”

That doesn’t explain the tomato sauce, though. Or really the collard greens, which I’ve never eaten in my life.

I also stood in front of the Ben & Jerry’s case for at least 10 minutes. Just staring. I ultimately purchased a pint of Chunky Monkey which is my all time favorite. And it became the inspiration for this year’s birthday dessert! The 6th one I’ve made for the blog. That makes me feel reallyyyyy old.

That, and the fact that Timehop reminded me that 5 years ago we went out in a literal hurricane to celebrate my 22nd birthday, but this year we were more than content to stay in and play cards. This is 27.

Brownie-Crusted Banana Ice Cream Pie

for the brownie crust

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups white sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweeted cocoa powder

1 tablespoon espresso powder

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

for the ice cream

3 frozen bananas

3 tbs cocoa powder

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1/4 – 1/2 cup milk (I used vanilla almond milk)

for the whipped cream

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Add the cocoa powder, espresso powder, flour and salt. You’ll have a really thick batter.

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Spread into a greased and floured pan and bake at 325 for 20 minutes.

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While the brownie layer is cooling, make your banana ice cream. You can certainly use actual Chunky Monkey, but I went with the frozen banana recipe. I did it in the Ninja this time and it definitely works better in a food processor, so I wouldn’t recommend a blender.

Spread the ice cream over the brownie layer and freeze.

When you’re ready to serve, top with whipped cream. I made it fresh because it was my birthday cake, but you could use Cool Whip or the canned stuff.

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Top with sliced bananas, chopped dark chocolate, and chopped walnuts. I put those on the side so everyone could customize, but it’s probably prettier to dump it all over the whipped cream.

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The GS says I shouldn’t call the crust “brownie” because it’s so thick and fudgy that it doesn’t resemble a brownie.

I say he’s been eating the wrong brownies.

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We still have 4 more slices so I’ll be celebrating all week.

 

what’s on my kindle, part 11

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. This was absolutely fascinating. It’s the story of 3 women during WWII- a 16 year old Polish girl who gets put in an all-women’s concentration camp for her participation in underground resistance, a young German doctor, and an American debutante who has devoted her time to placing French children orphaned by the war. The last two women are real people, and the story is based very much on fact. The Polish girl is also based on a real prisoner of Ravensbruck. The audiobook was crazy long but worth it for the accents.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling. Except not really. You guys. I hated this. I knew it was going to be written in a play format so I set my expectations relatively low, but it was BAD. I had the same feeling after reading this that I did after the second Sex and the City movie. That was a waste of my time, and it didn’t advance the plot at all. I lost a little respect for Lady Jo here, if I’m being honest. The dialogue was campy, and the story itself read more like amateur fan fiction than something from her genius brain. This Harry Potter fanatic is unimpressed.

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Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca, NY

Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult. Vintage Jodi! She must have written this sometime between her terrible books (i.e. Tenth Circle) and her amazing books (i.e. Nineteen Minutes). Yes, that’s my favorite Jodi book. Closely followed by House Rules. This was decent- it’s about a little girl who starts communicating with God and performing miracles in the midst of her parents’ messy divorce. Took me a while to get into it but I ended up enjoying it.

The Girls by Emma Cline. This has been so buzzed about because it was written by a 27 year old who got a 2 million dollar advance for it. (Does anyone want to give ME money for writing this blog?) It’s about a girl who gets sucked into a Charles Manson-esq cult when she’s 14, and flashes between that and her life in middle-age. It is incredibly disturbing. I was uncomfortable for about 85% of it, but I will say she’s a damn good writer. I mean, almost as good as me.

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Pizza date with my friend Kate (new DC resident!!) at All Purpose.

Meternity by Meghann Foye. This was horrifying. I should have guessed that based on the title, but Emily Giffin is quoted on the cover saying she loved it! Duped. It reminded me of that show Younger where the 40 something woman pretends to be in her early 20s and gets an internship at a fashion magazine or something. Hillary Duff is in a supporting role if that gives you an idea of the show’s caliber. Anyway, this book is about a woman who works at a maternity magazine and fakes a pregnancy. I guess I understand where people would think it was cute and lighthearted except that the main character is a terrible human AND she gets away with it in the end. Sorry to spoil it, but this is a no-go.

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin. You know her from Something Borrowed (still upset that they butchered that movie). I really didn’t like her most recent book The One and Only, but this one was good! It’s written from the perspective of two sisters who have kind of a rocky relationship and are each dealing with their own issues. I also love that all of her books are loosely connected- in this one Meredith’s best friend is Ellen, of Love the One You’re With.

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Reading Emily Giffin in my happy place.

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close. I was dying to read this because I loved Girls in White Dresses so much. This book didn’t make me laugh out loud the way her first did, but I really liked it. It’s about a young married couple who moves to DC and the husband gets involved in a political campaign. I think I appreciated it more because of all the DC/Maryland references, but it was a decent story. I’m still on hold for The Smart One.

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New Baltimore brewery! Not as good as Union, but the GS loved their oyster stout.

Monsters: A Love Story by Liz Kay. I couldn’t even finish this. It had 4 stars on Goodreads but I don’t understand why. It’s about an author who recently lost her husband and one of her books is getting turned into a movie. But, like Meternity, I can’t stand it when the protagonist is really not likable but you can tell the author thinks they are. If that makes sense.

Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty. Oh Liane how I’ve been dying to read your latest book. But… meh. The whole premise is that these three couples have a barbecue together and something terrible happens that ruined all of their lives, but you don’t find out what the something-terrible is until about 60% of the way through. And it was mostly just depressing rather than a major plot twist. I really enjoy the way she writes but this is my least favorite book of hers.

(On a side note, one of the characters in this one has a mother who is a hoarder, and you should DEFINITELY read Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller, which is a memoir of a girl who grew up with hoarder parents.)

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The GS works at a WeWork in DC and I’m obsessed with the funky decor.

The Assistants by Camille Perri. This, I LOVED. It’s about a couple of young female assistants at a large media company who fudge their expense reports in order to pay off their student loans. Naturally, it gets a little out of control. The narrator is really funny and obviously I identified with the stress of living in debt. Highly recommend.

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen. Just like it sounds, the stories of 9 different women who come into contact with one famous dress in New York City. It was just okay. It kind of reminded me of Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan- I liked that one better. I will say that I listened to the audiobook and appreciated the fact that they had like 13 different narrators for all the different characters.

orzo with deconstructed pesto

Does anything make you sound like more of a pretentious jerk than describing something as “deconstructed?”

I don’t think so.

In fairness, my intention for this dish was to just make regular old pesto. But a certain married couple that I live with is a liiiiiittle bit possessive over their Ninja blender and took it up to the lake with them for the week. I guess I can’t be mad because wine slushies.

It wasn’t that much more time consuming to just chop everything up and throw it in, and you still get the pesto flavor for sure. But if you own the rights to your blender, feel free to use it. You can also feel free to do pine nuts or any other nut in place of the pistachios, but especially when they’re chopped up like this they look pretty pretty!

Orzo with Deconstructed Pesto

1 lb orzo pasta

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

1/2 cup pistachios, chopped

3 oz Parmesan cheese, chopped/grated

6-7 slices Serrano ham, chopped (you could easily sub prosciutto)

3-4 cups arugula

juice of one lemon

2-3 tbs olive oil

1 garlic clove

salt, pepper

Start by cooking the orzo. I threw a garlic clove in the pot while the pasta was cooking (I also do this for mashed potatoes, too). I cooked it a couple of minutes under package directions so that it would still have some bite to it.

While the pasta is cooking, chop up the basil, pistachios, and ham. I chopped up some of the Parmesan and grated some- I like to have chunks of it in the pasta.

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Put all of this at the bottom of a large bowl, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss with the arugula.

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Pour in the hot pasta and toss everything together. The arugula should wilt a lot with the heat of the pasta, and you may want to add more depending on how green you want the dish to look. I took the cooked garlic clove and ran it through my garlic press, and added that too.

Check the seasoning- you may need to add more salt/pepper/CHEESE. Hence the chopping and the grating technique.

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We ended up eating this at room temperature and I was obsessed with it. I ate it really fast and gave myself a terrible stomachache. Literally my bowl was empty before the GS had even made a dent in his. It was pretty horrifying.

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Apparently a little pretension does not equal being ladylike.

wine slushies

Just got back from the greatest four days at the lake!

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The weather was perfect and we did some cool stuff like hiking Buttermilk Falls (see above!)

The only unfortunate incident happened on the golf course. My mom, my grandma, Aaron, Kevin and I went out to play 9 holes at the local course. It was all going relatively smoothly until the 9th hole.

I haven’t been playing that often so my skills have been inconsistent at best. My second shot went left, left, left. Into the parking lot. My mom really shouldn’t have parked where she did.

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I still don’t quite understand the physics behind a golf ball striking a window hard enough to break it, but then bouncing 50 feet back. And into play.

No penalty strokes.

Needless to say after 2 hours in the 90+ degree heat and one broken window later, I was ready for a wine slushie.

One of our favorite camp delicacies comes from Buttonwood Winery.

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We’ve done the tastings at all the wineries out there a million times, but these wine slushies never get old. Worth all $7.

Buttonwood is nice enough to give away the recipe- equal parts Blackberry Briar wine and Sprite, stick it in the freezer and let it slush.

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Now, not everyone has time for the freezing part. Sometimes you need a slushie rightthisminute.

Luckily, my mom had a stroke of genius as to how to make this happen.

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Take the popsicles off the stick and throw them in a blender with the wine. So refreshing and not overly sweet.

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If you’re not going to be in Romulus, NY any time soon, you can probably substitute the blackberry wine for any sweet red wine.

One box of popsicles made about 3 generous slushies. But you can easily multiply this. And you should.

My mom is going to need one since she’s driving around Camillus with a tarp taped over her back window. Whoops.