May 27, 2013

DIY: Teardrop Bead Statement Necklace

You know when you see something on TV or online or in a magazine and you determine in your most super villainess-style voice that "It WILL be mine"? Well, I tend to do this kind of a lot because I can't stop being inspired by shapes and colors and pretty things for even one second. I'm starting to think I have a problem, but it's hard to worry too much when your "problem" results in ridiculous symptoms like having too many fun necklaces and floral headscarves. 

I tend to obsess over the things I like for an unreasonable amount of time, and if something else has not pushed an obsessed over item out of my mind for a length of time, I decide to act upon the obsession by either buying or DIYing the object of obsession. If something else makes me obsess harder and the original item is forgotten, it was never meant to be. There's some kind of ye olde proverb in there, right?

Also, it is EXHAUSTING in this head of mine; there are just SO MANY ideas. Sometimes, though, the result is a fun new accessory. I saw a necklace similar to this one about two years ago (I said I was OBSESSIVE) on Project Runway - they were obviously using the Piperlime Accessory Wall™ wisely, as per Tim Gunn's instructions. That one was multi-colored and fabulous, but after some careful internet sleuthing I learned that it was also $100. Not exactly my style. I'm all about getting the cutest for the cheapest and that often means going the DIY route. For a detail freak like myself, this is ideal because I can make things to my exact taste. Want one too? I thought you might!

What You Need
12 Teardrop Beads with Holes (I got mine here)  //  28 Silver Spacer Beads  //  2 Clamshell Knot Cover Beads  //  Two 9" Pieces of Metal Chain  //  Stretch Magic Jewelry Cord  //  16 Jump Rings  //  Clasp  //  Jewelry Pliers  //  Wire Cutters  //  Acrylic Paint (optional - not pictured)  //  Mod Podge (optional - not pictured)

How To Make It
To start, I painted my teardrop beads mint green with acrylic paint and coated them in Mod Podge to seal the paint. This step is optional. I couldn't find any teardrop beads in a color I liked so I took the initiative to paint these clear ones because I'm a go-getter (and because I couldn't get the image of a mint green necklace out of my mind).

When all that business is dry and ready, use the jewelry pliers to twist open the jump rings and thread them through the holes in the teardrop beads. Twist the jump rings closed.

Cut 2 lengths of Stretch Magic, one about 8" and one about 9" in length. Thread 2 spacer beads on the 8" stretch cord, followed by 1 teardrop bead. Repeat 4X and then add 2 more spacer beads to finish. When done, you'll have 5 teardrop beads and 12 spacer beads. For the 9" cord, repeat this whole process, but this one is longer so you'll have a total of 7 teardrop beads and 16 spacer beads.

Cool, let's get into it! Take one end of each stretch cord and slide them both through one clamshell bead. Knot the 2 ends together securely. I like to do a million little knots right on top of each other to make a large knot. Trim the cord excess close to the knot. Use the pliers to close the clamshell part of the bead over the knot to hide it.

To finish, attach a jump ring to each end of the metal chains. Bend each "arm" of the clamshell beads around a jump ring. Attach each half of the clasp to the jump rings on the other end of the chains. You did it! Wow, what can't you do? 

I bought a ton of these beads - I actually bought them TWICE because I was sure my boyfriend had accidentally thrown them away during a major apartment cleaning. It seemed to be the only explanation. We couldn't find the beads and he was so very apologetic and tried to look through our building's dumpster (which I did not let him do - I'm not a jerk). So I bought a TON more and then I found the original beads exactly where I had left them. Oops. I'm still working on the assumption that the mischievous spirit of a bead enthusiast was playing a cute joke on us because I know that I didn't have a hand in this. Nope. Not possible.

As a result, I have what you might call a "ridiculous" number of beads (for the record I call it "comforting") so I'll be able to make a few more of these neck decorations. I guess I'm calling necklaces "neck decorations" now? It just seems more appropriate when the jewelry you're wearing is more like a Christmas tree ornament than a simple gold pendant or whatever normal people are wearing these days. I might also make a HUGE one with even more teardrop beads because I like to jingle at all times.


May 19, 2013

COOKING: Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Every now and again a girl needs a nice home cooked meal. I've never been one to 'ooh' and 'ahh' over stuffed peppers...actually, who does? I guess, like, the mothers of baby stuffed peppers, perhaps? Wait, what? Now I'm making you picture a stuffed pepper in a diaper right before I tell you to eat them. Food writing: I'm doing it wrong. Rule #1: Don't talk about diapers. 

Okay, moving on to stuffed peppers of the inanimate variety. I generally find them blah and kind of depressing, but I do have a killer recipe from my late Grammy for really, really good stuffed peppers (this isn't it, sorry suckers!) that still elicits mouthwatering reactions from family members just thinking about them. 

Side note: I want someone to mourn my food decades in the future! Wouldn't it feel great to know that people are remembering your cooking after you're gone? I'll need to look into this, but in my experience being a sweet little Italian grandmother is a prerequisite. 

Her recipe calls for SIX HOURS of slow pan frying, which isn't the kind of thing for which I have the time/patience/sanity. No wonder hers were so good. For a quicker fix, I've developed this yummy alternative.

What You Need
+ About 1.5 Cups of Brown Rice, Prepared (Insider tip: you can buy pouches of cooked brown rice at Trader Joe's for like $1.50 if you feel like treating yourself to a shortcut. I sure did.)
+ Handful of Panko Breadcrumbs (or regular if you prefer)
+ Garlic (A clove or so. I add more depending on how Italian I'm feeling in the kitchen that day)
+ Onion
+ Bell Peppers
+ Veggie Sausage (I used Gimme Lean, which I think is just okay)
+Grated Parmesan and/or Romano
+ Olive Oil (I used the garlic infused one from Trader Joe's which is SO GOOD, you guys)
+ About 1 Cup of Water

How To Make It
Wash the peppers and cut them in half lengthwise. Most people cut off the tops, which you can do instead, but I find this shape easier to eat.

Chop the onion and mince the garlic. 
I like to use a lot of garlic, but then again I did once eat so much garlic for dinner that I had to go home sick from work the next day, so maybe I'm not the best judge here. Learn from me: a whole bulb is not okay. It will HURT your stomach. Ugh, here I go again. Food Writing Rule #2: Do not talk about stomach pain.

Brown the veggie sausage in the olive oil for 5 minutes, breaking it up into smaller pieces as you cook. This stuff is like paste, but I found a potato masher helpful for this task.

Add the onions and garlic and cook until those are soft, about 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the cooked brown rice and cook for another minute.

Season the bell peppers liberally with salt and pepper.

Spoon the stuffing mixture into the bell peppers. I had enough left over for another pepper or two, so either make more peppers or eat that plain. Or I hear dogs will help with this.

Mix the panko breadcrumbs and grated cheese and sprinkle over the tops of the peppers. I also sprayed mine with a little cooking oil to make sure they got brown. Alternately, you can add a TON of shredded cheese here, which is what most people seem to do. Both are acceptable and delicious, no judgies.

You're going to want to cook these in a casserole dish or something similar. Pour the water into the dish through the empty space between the peppers. I used a shot glass. It also works to do this before you put the peppers in the dish, but I totally forgot so I had to get creative. The peppers will sit on the shallow water (should be enough to cover the pan) and the heat of the oven will "steam" them cooked.

Bake in a 350 degree (F) oven for about 30 minutes.

This is a simple (even simpler when you're not taking pictures and getting your camera lens all steamy over a hot pan) dish that gives you plenty of leftovers for the week and reheats well. Try them out if you want a yummy, customizable dinner that looks great in a diaper. Nooo! I've done it again! 


May 15, 2013

BEAUTY: Natural Instincts Malaysian Cherry

After (sorta) recently jumping back on the hair dye wagon, I've done some semi-permanent experimenting with Natural Instincts hair dye. I'm not totally ready to go back to the permanent dye game just yet, so I'm sticking with what appears to be the only drugstore options for those, like me, that are afraid of hair color commitment. I'm trying to avoid the long term grow-out phase that is inherent with permanent dyes, but the dismal selection of semi-permanent options is making the case for permanent color a pretty strong one. 

I'm all about red hair, high maintenance as it may be, and while there are a handful of red and reddish shades in the Natural Instincts family, very few (sometimes NONE) are sold in most of my local stores. What's up, Natural Instincts? Got a beef with (outrageously fake) redheads? It sure seems that way, but luckily these wilder shades can be found online. I purchased Malaysian Cherry (shade 20R) from after first letting my Raspberry Creme (which I loved!) fade out. You can see that color here, here and here if you want. 

Malaysian Cherry is much darker than Raspberry Creme, but I had a hard time finding reliable pictures of either color online when choosing dyes, so I'm making this post for others who are struggling the way I've struggled: being slightly unsure about the exact hue of a hair dye shade. This one's for us, guys.

Natural Instincts Malaysian Cherry in the Box:
Kinda brown, right? But it has CHERRY in the name so I persevered, knowing they would not call something brown "cherry". For example, if someone gave you a BROWN pie and called it a cherry pie would you eat it? NO! Okay, I might because I am so awkward with confrontation and they went to all that trouble just to make me a pie. Have a heart! 
Malaysian Cherry on My Hair:
Right after I dyed it and dried it. That phrase makes it sound like I did something really demeaning to my hair or, like, slept with it and never called it again. Dyed it and dried it, guys!

After two washings. So, like, a solid week. :)

So, it's a bit more red than the box but generally the same shade. I'd call it "Cherry Cola" if I was the kind of person who was paid to name beauty products after familiar food items.

Also, I always feel like somewhat of a geek/creep/neighborhood weirdo when I take large closeups of my hair or face to put on the internet. That's, like, a totally weird thing to do, right? I was SO close to wearing a pair of fake joke teeth just to break the tension while snapping these pictures, but couldn't find any of my fake teeth thought better of that because I'm not insane. So, to make us all a little more comfortable, please retroactively imagine these on my face while you scroll through. 
Ahhh, much better.


May 12, 2013

BEAUTY: Gold Eye Makeup Tutorial

Lately I've really been fixating on gold eye makeup! I just recently purchased my first NYX products, which included a gold eyeliner, so I thought it was a good time to try out a super gold eye look. I took some inspiration from the good ol' internet and went to town with my most golden shades. Here's a peek at how to recreate my gold eye makeup look:


sources: 1  //  2  //  3

Gold Eye Makeup Tutorial
First, do all of your makeup except your eyes. I used this stuff:
Boots No. 7 Shine Free Primer  //  NYX Concealer in a Jar  //  Benefit Watts Up Highlighter  //  Lancome Lip Gloss  //  Maybelline BB Cream  //  Airspun Face Powder  //  Wet n Wild Blush  //  ELF Makeup Brushes  //  Wet n Wild Bronzer 
That was a lot of products just to create a blank slate! Eh. I would NOT be doing this if I weren't sharing this tutorial. I can live with my under eye circles, but the internet may not be able to and I'm considerate like that.

For the gold eyes themselves, I used these products:
Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Half Baked & Sellout  //  Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion  //  Wet n Wild Liquid Eyeliner in Black  //  Benefit They're Real! Mascara  //  Sephora Eyeshadow Brush  //  Target Crease Brush  //  Sephora Smudge Brush  //  Rimmel Exaggerate Waterproof Eyeliner in Black  //  NYX Eyeliner in 24 Karat  // Japonesque Eyelash Curler

Start by covering the entire eyelid in the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

Next, use the eyeshadow brush to pat Half Baked all over the eyelid up to the crease.

Then use the crease brush to apply Sellout in and above the crease, blending out and up.

This gives us a golden glow all over the eyes:

Next, take the NYX eyeliner and line along your bottom lashes.

Then apply Half Baked over the NYX eyeliner with the smudge brush.

Top off the look with a cat eye, using the Wet n Wild liquid eyeliner.

And use the Rimmel eyeliner to line your waterline (bottom inner lid).

Curl your lashes and apply mascara to top and bottom lashes.

The Finished Look:

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