Thursday, August 30, 2012

Roasted Tomato Spread

When we were given the Roma tomatoes I froze for later, we were also given a gallon bag of cherry tomatoes.  Secret:  we're not huge fans of raw tomatoes at my house.  We love all sorts of tomato-based foods, but the texture weirds us out.  To deal with the second gallon of tomatoes, I followed the advice over here and roasted the bag of cherries.  I halved and deseeded (the texture thing) the tomatoes, added several cloves of garlic that hadn't been peeled, and tossed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  I then roasted them at 325 for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes I put everything into my mortar and pestle, removing the papers from garlic first.  I smashed everything up and stored in a jar.  We've been eating it with tiny mozzarella pearls spread on fresh bread. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why | What | Wear Back to School

You may have noticed our absence this week and as Liz shared last week we've gone back to school!  The first week of teaching is always a little crazy and we are working on finding that balance between work and play, but we've got some more fun stuff to share with you this week- so stay tuned.  In the meantime, here are some things I'd love to have and wear as I head back to school for the fall.

bag// chair// necklace// top// pants// clips// shoes// dress// glasses// 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lately. Week 5.

Hello!  Kat and I both went back to our fall-through-spring jobs of being high school teachers, but we've missed you this week.  We'll be back next week with new projects and posts, but until then check out what we did to celebrate the end of our summer and get back to work.

1/Marlowe was lovely enough to have us to her lake house. 2/Short pants on stone beaches 3/Making garden-fresh salsa.

4/Allison had us over for a ladies' craft night. 5&6/Skiis and sing-along at the lake house.

7/Making fresh spaces. 8/Welcoming great new friends to the world.

We're so excited to be celebrating our friends (new and old) and looking forward to what this fall is going to bring.  Say hello in the comments and let us know what you're looking forward to in this season change.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What To Give: Birthday Brother

Today our little brother is turning 22!  I can't really say little anymore since in the last few years he has far out-grown all of us girls and moved to the big city.  He's coming to town tonight for a birthday dinner and I can't wait to celebrate with him!

We wanted to start a new series on gift-giving for the special people in your lives so I thought today would be the perfect time to start.  Today's What To Give edition is for the quirky, younger brother in your life who has the best taste in movies, used to want a pet penguin, and makes it hard for you to pick grown-up gifts for. 

We'd love to shower our brother with all of these gifts!  Solid cologne by Aromi/ Faux Bison Skull Taxidermy/ The Stargazers Painter Pocket Tshirt/ Wes Anderson Movie Posters by Ibraheem Youseef/ Dinosaur Planter and Air Plant

Happy Birthday Andrew!! xoxo

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Photos from Richmond

We had a great girls weekend in Richmond with our mom and younger sister.  Besides eating at almost every restaurant in town, we also went with Sarah as she tried on some wedding dresses (I can't believe she's getting married!), did some shopping in Carytown, went to the VMFA to see the Ryan McGinness installation, walked the museum grounds, and did some lounging around her cute loft apartment.  Here are some snapshots of our time there:

See a few more photos from our trip here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

DIY: Preserving Tomatoes

We're in the middle of high summer here, and while my tomatoes' performance has been less than stunning, I received two gallon bags from a neighbor.  I decided to preserve the romas to make sauce when the fresh tomatoes are less abundant.  I have yet to try my hand at canning, so I only prepped these for the freezer.  They can be used in anything that calls for canned tomatoes later in the year.  Here's what I did to save up my tomatoes.

1/Set up an ice bath (bowl of ice water) next to a pot of boiling water.  2/While you wait for your water to boil, wash your tomatoes and cut an X into the bottom of each one.  It will make peeling them easier later.  3/Drop your tomatoes a few at a time into the pot of boiling water.  Let them sit for 30-60 seconds until the skin starts to split or peel back.  4/Using a slotted spoon to remove them and drop them into the ice bath.

5/When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel of the skins.  6/Cut off the stem end.  7/Use your knife to core the tomato.  8/Remove excess seeds with your thumb.

9/9&10/Once you've peeled all your tomatoes, lightly salt them and pack them up into jars or freezer bags.  Put them in the freezer and save this fresh summer taste for the cool weather to come.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lately. Week 4.

Liz and I have been back from the beach for two weeks now and have been busy cooking, making, and enjoying the last weeks of summer.  This weekend we are heading up to Richmond with our Mom to visit our little sister, Sarah.  I love weekend getaways and I love seeing my little sister so I am looking forward to it!

While we're away we'll be sure to take lots of photos, but until then, here's what we've been up to lately.  

So as you can see, lots of hanging out with dogs, making breakfasts, collecting leaves, eating salsa, sitting on retro couches, and moving bedrooms.  You know, the usual.

Be sure to click on those nifty camera buttons I added to the right to follow us on instagram!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Where to Find Us

Hello friends!  I wanted to drop in and let you know where else you can find Liz and I working, playing, writing, and making when we aren't posting here.  If you're in our lovely city of Greensboro, NC you find the things we sell at our favorite shop in town- Design Archives Handmade Emporium.  Lot's of our talented friends sell their art, vintage goods and handmade items there as well.  I also sell my work here in my etsy shop, Heart & Craft and I write about that work, my inspiration, and some of the little details of our life here on my blog by the same name. 

So while you're here be sure to stop by our other spots and follow us on facebook, pinterest, and Liz and I on instagram.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Way to Go GSO: Green Bean Trivia

We're starting a new feature today called Way to Go GSO.  We'll be sharing things that we love about our hometown, Greensboro, with you.  Today we'd like to share a Monday night ritual for us, Green Bean Trivia.

What:  Two rounds, each 15 questions, of general trivia questions.  Questions can be read out loud, or audio or visual.  You can count on some regular categories, like celebrity yearbook photos, album cover id, and TV theme song ID.  There are also more general categories like sports, literature, geography, and art.  Half of the money collected goes to support Greensboro Roller Derby, who donates their money to charity.  First and second place teams win cash prizes and bragging rights.

Who:  You form your own team of 1-6 people.  Each player pays $3.00 to participate.  Our regular host is Rob, but you can sometimes find him on a team when there is a guest host.

When and Where:  Monday nights, 7:30, at the Green Bean Coffee Shop.

Thanks to Rob and the Green Bean for making Monday one of our favorite nights of the week.  Get some friends together, make a team, and we'll see you next Monday at Trivia!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Free-form Pesto

Kat and I are both free-form pesto makers.  Pesto is a great way to use what you have at home, especially in the summer when your basil is getting out of control.  We both use it as a way to spice up our cooking and mix in a healthy dose of greens.

Pesto traditionally has five ingredients:  basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan cheese.  Most recipes I run into also include lemon juice.  The ingredients are smashed together with a mortar and pestal to create a paste.

I call this free-form pesto because I rarely have every single ingredient on-hand, but it's really simple to use what you have.  I also use my food-processor which takes a lot less time than grinding every thing up with a mortar and pestal (though I did use it recently for an upcoming post!).

For this pesto, I used a few large handfuls of basil from my garden and a couple large handfuls of spinach.  I threw it into my food processor with a couple big shakes of parmesan, and handful of sunflower seeds, the juice of half a lemon, a pinch of salt, and a couple of cloves of garlic.  I turned on the processor and drizzled in olive oil as it runs.  I have used other herbs and greens: parsley, kale, and mustard have all disappeared into pestos here.  I've used other hard cheeses when I had them on hand.  I've thrown in walnuts, pecans, almonds, and once even some salt and pepper cashews that were in the cabinet.  White-wine vinegar has replaced lemon juice in a pinch.  Just keep tasting as you make your pestos, you'll know when the ingredients are right.

Right now, pesto is abundant.  If you're not growing any, some one near you probably has more than they need.  While some of this pesto went into an immediate dinner of raviolis and shrimp, I saved the rest of it for later in the year when all of my basil plants have died.  My favorite way to save pesto is to scoop it into an ice cube tray and freeze it over night.  Loosen the cubes with knife and store in your freezer.  I normally use one cube for every 2-3 servings of pasta, if that's what they're going in.  Be creative!

Have you ever mixed weird stuff into your pesto?  What's your favorite way to serve it?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Watercolor Techniques

Watercolors are some of my favorite tools to work with and some of the most fun to teach to my students because of all of the different ways they can be used.  I have been loving all of the watercolor embellished paper goods in the blog world lately, everything from business cards to confetti to wedding inspiration, so I wanted to show you a few techniques to creating depth and texture with a simple set of watercolors.  I used an inexpensive set of watercolor paints, some brushes, and some foam brushes.  Everything else I used were everyday household items. 

1// While your paint is still wet, sprinkle some table salt over everything and let it dry.  Once the page is dry, scrape off the salt to reveal the pretty texture.
2 & 5// Paint your page with color, while it is still wet drip a little bit of rubbing alcohol over the paint and watch it disperse the color.
3// Splatter paint!  Paint your page a base color (I used red) then load a wet brush with matching colors (yellow and orange for me) and drip those over the wet paint.  It also helps to tap the brush to get a little more spray.  Add more drips of clean water on top of wet paint to get more marbling of color.
4// Paint your page and while the color is still wet, place a crumpled piece of saran wrap over the page.  Press the wrap down so it sticks to the wet paint, then leave it alone and let it dry.  Once dry, peel off the wrap to see the linear patterns.

Some more great watercolor projects and tips:gifts tags and garland place cards, diy wall art, cake banner.

I know there are lots of other great techniques for using watercolors so please share some of your favorites with us in the comments below!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Why|What|Wear Housewarming Party

In the past few months we've had several friends move apartments and purchase new homes in our town so I thought it would be appropriate to give this round of Why|What|Wear a Housewarming Party theme.  Here's what I'd love to wear and bring to greet the new hosts.  

Why| Checking out a friends new space, whether they're hosting an open house or an intimate dinner party.

What| Bring a unique gift to the hosts, like this cutting board paddle or large ceramic dish from Heath Ceramics.  A bottle of wine is nice, but how cool would it be to show up with one of these antlers, custom painted to match their new decor?

Wear| This pretty blouse, with these colorful jeans, these dotted sandals that work all Summer, accessorized with this cute gold fox ring.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fun with Thrifting

One of my absolute favorite past times, especially in the summer, is treasure-hunting at thrift stores.  I have a passion for digging through racks of clothes, shelves of shoes, and cases of home goods. Finding an item that is the just the right fit, is perfectly worn-in or is just the thing that you didn't realize you were looking for is just too much fun.  While I am no pro on vintage goods or finding really valuable pieces, I do know it is a great, affordable past time that always leaves me wanting more.  With that said, here are a few of my tricks for finding fun pieces on your next thrifting adventure.

Where to go
There are tons of options out there for people wanting to do some searching.  Local Goodwill or Salvation Army stores are a good start, but can be intimidating because of their size and the sheer mass of goods.
PROS: Lots of goods to search through, sale days on lots of merchandise, ever-changing inventory, you can browse without being bothered by sales people.
CONS: Lots of goods to search through :), lots of inventory might mean that employees are less familiar with what is available at the moment, busy and prices are usually set without any room for negotiating.

If you want to start out smaller search out some local shops, chances are there is a store in or near your neighborhood.  I have a few local shops that I like to visit, including ones that specialize in clothing, ones that have great antique collectibles, and ones that specialize in vintage and mid-century wares.
PROS: Friendly staff that usually knows the inventory well and will be willing to help you find that special gem you've been searching for- even if they don't have it at the moment, less to browse can be less overwhelming, specialized merchandise that may fit your style or decor better, prices are much more likely to be negotiable.
CONS: Not as much to choose from, sometimes higher in price, chances are items sit longer and inventory doesn't change as fast.

When to go
One of the biggest perks of being off of teaching in the summer is that I have the chance to run errands and do fun things like thrifting during the middle of the day any day of the week.  Every store restocks their inventory on different days but I've found that the worst times to go are usually Fridays and the weekends because stock is more likely to be depleted.  Ask around at your local stores to find out when new merchandise is put out and be sure to find out what their sale days are if they have them.

What to look for
I think the best advice I can give here is- take your time and really look.  You are pretty much searching for a needle in a haystack  and that no doubtedly will take some time. A few tips:
  • Look for clothing made out of quality materials, like cotton or silk.  Avoid polyester, which you will find plenty of in these stores.
  • Try on sizes outside of your comfort zone.  A size 6 today is very different from a size 6 twenty, thirty, or forty years ago.  Go more by the size if you hold it up against your body than the size on a tag.  Then try it on to be sure.
  • Make alterations.  A piece doesn't have to be the exact right shape to begin with, some easy changes you can do on a sewing machine are taking in the sides of a shirt, shortening the hem of a dress or skirt, and even taking off the sleeves of a top or dress.  Look at the pieces in the store with a creative eye.
  • Look for fun patterns, colors, and shapes that you wouldn't be able to find in most stores today- this will ensure you are adding something unique to your wardrobe.  While I gravitate more towards items from the late 50s through the 60s, Liz is drawn more to styles from the 70s and 80s- so try on a variety of styles and cuts to see what is most flattering on you.
  • When looking for kitchen wares and home decor items, these may be a little more specific.  Look for items that are not made in China, not made of plastic, and aren't a knockoff that you can probably find at Big Lots.
  • I love mid-century items like wooden trays, brass figurines, unique glassware, dishes, and clean-lined furniture.  These are the first items I look for in the home section of thrift stores, I look for the place of origin, see if a designer's name is anywhere to be found, and then check for wear and tear.  Some pieces just need a little bit of elbow grease to clean them up, but you don't want to take home broken appliances or something that is beyond repair- so be sure to do a thorough look and know your store's return policy (typically sales are final).

All the photos are items I've thrifted just in the past few months.  There are lots of treasures out the to be found so I hope these tips help- and happy hunting!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Honey Vanilla Peach Basil Popsicles

Sounds like a lot, right?  Last year my sister made us this dessert and the flavor was amazing.  I think about it every so often, and have been toying with other ways to use it.  With the weather being as hot as it is, popsicles seemed like the way to go.

You'll need basil, peaches, vanilla beans, honey, sugar, and a popsicle mold.  If you notice your basil doesn't look quite like mine, it's because I'm using thai basil.  While it does taste a little different than sweet basil, I just grabbed it because it happened to be my biggest plant today.  Any kind of basil will do here.

 1/Make your honey vanilla simple syrup.  In a medium sauce pan mix 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup honey. Split two vanilla beans and add them with 1 1/2 cups water.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let steep while you complete step two.  This will make more syrup than you need for this recipe.  Keep the rest of it in your refrigerator for up to a month and use it on ice cream, or mix it with soda water for a great drink.  2/Peel and chop 4 cups of fresh peaches (I used four peaches for this).  I have to talk about how much I love this set of peelers.  The red peeler is made for soft fruit like peaches or tomatoes, but I use all three of them all the time.  3/Mix your chopped peaches with a cup of chopped basil and a cup of your simple syrup.  Let this sit for an hour or two.  The sugar and honey will bring the juices out of the basil and peaches and make your kitchen smell like heaven.  4/Place 3/4 of the mix into a fruit processor and puree.  Add the remaining mix and pulse a couple times.  This adds chunks of fruit and strips of basil to your popsicle.  Pour or scoop the mixture into your popsicle mold and freeze for several hours.

To remove your popsicles from their molds, run under hot water and wiggle out of the mold.  Enjoy in the hot summer time!