Monday, December 31, 2012

Q & A Monday: 2013

Hello, everyone!
I hope you all had a happy holiday and are now enjoying a safe and festive New Year's Eve celebration.  We are staying in the warmth and safety of home, playing video games and being mildly productive with household chores.  Nothing too exciting, which is just fine by me.

We had a lovely holiday celebrating with family and friends.  It was a nice distraction from all the sadness lately.  My husband's birthday was the 25th, so we went out to dinner at a sushi/Japanese buffet place this year.  It is the first time in 34 years that he's gotten a free meal on his birthday.  He was pretty excited. :-)

Now on to the questions!

It is time again for Friend Makin' Monday.  If you have a blog, I would like to invite you to answer the questions as well.  Leave me a comment here, so I know you are playing.  Then you can also leave a comment over at All The Weigh, so other folks can check out your answers as well.  It is a fun way to connect to other bloggers.


1. Share one thing that you plan to do for yourself in 2013.  
Make a better daily schedule for myself to help curb my anxiety and encourage productivity.

2. Share a good habit that you will continue doing into the new year.
I don't drink cokes and will continue not to.  I will continue my mostly pescatarian lifestyle.  I will also continue working on my head space to work on issues and make myself a better person.

3. Do you make new year’s resolutions? If so, do you typically stick to them?
I don't really make resolutions anymore because I think it often becomes this big thing you can look at as an obstacle or a failure.  Instead, I choose a few things I want to work on and I try to work up to doing those things I want to do.  I don't make it into a big black and white issue, but more about suggestions on things I would like to do to work on me as a person.

4. Do you have any health goals for the new year? 
In making a better daily schedule for myself, I would like to have allotted time for various exercising and activity as well as reading.  I should lose some weight in order to be healthier for me.  Mental health is important also, so I would like to start seeing a counselor, keep my mind active, and meditate regularly.

5. Share one thing that you plan to do in January.
We are involved in a monthly Bunco group now and are getting started with it at the end of January. It will be a lot of fun because we get to see some really great people at least once a month and have some laughs.

6. Do you have any travel plans for the coming year? If so, where are you most excited to go?
As of right now, I don't think we have any plans.  We've talked about visiting our grandparents in Wisconsin and Mississippi.  While I don't look forward to visiting those states, I do think it would be fun to spend time with our grandmas.  Otherwise, maybe we can work in a visit to Victoria, B.C in the summer.  It is so beautiful there.  But then, if New Kids and/or Backstreet Boys are touring this summer, I will be doing some PNW traveling for that.

7. What are your plans for New Year’s Eve?
We are staying home, playing Skyrim, cuddling with our chihuahua boys, and just hanging out at home.

8. What are your resolutions for 2013?
Make a daily schedule.  Incorporate reading and exercise into the regular itinerary.  Start seeing a counselor/therapist.  Make a cleaning schedule for the house and a posting schedule for the blog.  Do more outfit posts for the blog....there's probably a few more, but I can't think of them right now.

9. What are you looking forward to most over the next 12 months?
I don't know.  2012 was so crappy and we've mostly been living day to day to stay sane.  I haven't thought much about things too far into the future.  I guess I look forward to 2013 being no where near as shitty as 2012 was.  I look forward to Bunco nights, hanging out with friends, spending time with my husband and furkids, and no one I know and love dying this coming year.

10. Share something unique that you hope to do in 2013.
Maybe I will start working on the children's book I want to write.  Maybe I will get some more tattoos (or at least one to honor my beloved Miss P who passed away a week ago).  Maybe we can have regular game nights with friends, take up a new hobby, paint, get all my craft projects done.....I have hope for 2013.

Now it is your turn! You know the drill - answer the questions on your blog or here in the comments if you like.  Link up with Kenlie and let me know you are participating.  I look forward to reading your answers.  Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Q & A Monday: Fill In The Blanks

It is Christmas Eve already!  Where does the time go??

I wasn't able to get a few craft projects made for gifts (still going to work on those though).  I am getting anxiety just thinking about how busy the next couple of days will be.  I know everything will be fun and wonderful, but I get all freaked out nonetheless.

The crematorium called on Saturday to let us know we could pick up Miss P's ashes.  I hadn't expected it to be so soon.  It was jarring to have to tell the employee that I was there to pick her up...knowing it wouldn't really be her wagging her tail all excited to see me.  She came back to me in this tiny tin.  They also made a clay paw print as well.  We plan on getting her a nice urn soon.  I'm just trying to find the perfect thing.

I know healing from this will take some time.  She was a big part of my life for fourteen years.  I really wish I could stay home, do nothing, talk to no one....but I'm going to push through and try to have a happy holiday.  My husband's birthday is Christmas Day, so there is that to look forward to.  I'm going to try.

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday, or just a wonderful week if you don't celebrate such things.  I will try to be less downtrodden in today's Q&A and the weeks to come.

It is time again for Friend Makin' Monday.  If you have a blog, I would like to invite you to answer the questions as well.  Leave me a comment here, so I know you are playing.  Then you can also leave a comment over at All The Weigh, so other folks can check out your answers as well.  It is a fun way to connect to other bloggers.

 Fill In The Blanks

1. I want to...make my furkids vampires so I never have to be without them.

2.  I’ve never…been to Europe.  I dream of visiting Ireland the most.

3. I believe…nerd husbands are the best!

4. My mind often wonders…to places it shouldn't.  I bring my iPod around with me to listen to podcasts so I don't stew on things that cause me sadness.

5. Last night I dreamed that…at this point I don't remember what it was.  I know it was something crazy though.

6. This morning for breakfast I ate…um, I didn't get up in time for breakfast.  Instead, I made a baked potato with sauteed onions and mushrooms for lunch.

7. My love life is…pretty darn fantastic.

8. I enjoy…spending time with my little family watching television, playing video games, and laughing.

9. When I was a child I used to…jump around on the trampoline and pretend I was a unicorn.

10. When I’m in the kitchen I…always wear my cute apron.

11. My favorite exercise is...dancing or Pilates.

12. When I travel I…pack too much and get very cranky.

13. My friends would tell you that I am…creative, kind-hearted, stylish, and sensitive....

14.  If I had to eat at a fast food restaurant today I would choose…Burgerville, I suppose.  They have fantastic veggie burgers.

15. My favorite…thing about the holidays is spending time with people I love, giving gifts, and celebrating my husband's birth.

16. My home is…a bit cluttered, but mostly organized.  After the holiday, I plan on reorganizing my pantry shelves.

17. I read…very little lately.  I finished the first 96 issues of The Walking Dead comic.  I have a stack of books I have yet to read and more I want to check out from the library.  Hopefully, 2013 is a reading year.

18. The last movie I saw was…The Campaign.  It wasn't quite as laugh-out-loud funny as I wanted it to be.  I had high hopes though because I was crying all day and was hoping for some comic relief.

19. Music makes me feel…emotional (I second Kenlie's answer).  Whether it is happy, sad, hopeful, strong, or anything in between, music can give sound/words to my emotions and help me through anything.

20. All I want for Christmas is…my sweet baby alive and well.  And if I can't have that, I just want to spend time with the people I love and whom love me, relaxing and having fun.

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions!  Link up here, on Kenlie's blog, or just answer the questions in the comments if you like.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What I Wore: Holiday Card Ensemble

As I mentioned in my holiday card post today, we decided on our card theme late in the game.  I had no idea what to wear!  Knowing the husband had a red polo, I opted for this green Kiyonna top that I bought earlier in the year.  I love the Trina Top and have it in three colors.  This green is just gorgeous!

I accessorized with this great jeweled necklace from Forever 21 that I bought in November but had yet to wear.  It goes so well with the top; I love the combo of teals and greens.  For the card picture, it didn't matter what I wore on my bottom, but I chose to be comfortable in my jeans.  I think the combination of the necklace and top give a slightly dressier feel to an otherwise casual ensemble.

Trina Top - Kiyonna
Necklace - Forever 21
Genius Fit jeans - Lane Bryant

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays

It has been quite a tough few weeks here at Diva Manor.  I can't say I'm really in the mood for all the holiday festivities coming up.  At the same time, I kind of welcome the next few busy days to keep my mind focused on happier things.  I guess I want the distraction, I just don't want to get out of my PJs and leave the house to be distracted.

We didn't have a lot of time to think of a crazy/silly holiday card picture like we normally do.  Instead we opted to make a sparkly garland curtain and take a nice family photo.  I'm glad we did.  At the time, we didn't know it would be our last Christmas with Miss P.  She was feeling a bit under the weather, but we didn't think it was as bad as it ended up being.

I wish you all a happy holiday season filled with love, laughter, and wonderful memories.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: Gold Toe G Collection Men's Socks and Boxers

I was pretty darn excited when BzzAgent sent me some great socks and underwear for my husband to try.  He doesn't often benefit from such things, so he was pleasantly surprised when I gave him the package to open.  As a BzzAgent, I receive free products and coupons to try out and give my opinion on.  If you haven't heard of BzzAgent before, they work with many brands in providing products to real consumers for reviews.  It is a great way to try various products and provide your friends and family with savings on these products.

The products included in the Gold Toe G Collection package were:

- Woven Boxer 3-pack
- Cushioned Rayon/Acrylic Socks
- Combed Cotton Socks
- Combed Cotton Argyle Socks
- Ultra Soft Rib Socks

My husband tried on the boxers, but they were a bit tight. (I was only able to request up to a size Large, but I think the Extra Large would have been perfect.)  The boxers are made with 100% cotton, but it isn't a stretchy knit.  It has no give at all and can be rather uncomfortable.  My husband prefers a soft, stretchy cotton for his underwear.

The socks have been a hit though!  He has a size 12 wide foot and has problems finding socks that fit well and aren't too restricting.  Most socks say they are for a foot between a size 6 and 12, which is pretty dumb in my opinion.  That is way too much of a size gap.

The Gold Toe socks are for size 10-13 and fit him really great.  They are so soft and comfortable, stretchy in the right places and clingy in the right places too.  They all have a nice look to them in colors and patterns that we both enjoy.  His favorites are the cushioned socks by far.  He says they feel good on and are comfortable all day.  The socks don't move around or get twisted.  They also wash very well.  We've washed them a handful of times so far and they continue to be soft and comfortable when he wears them. 

We will definitely be purchasing more of the socks, specifically the cushioned version.

Disclaimer: I received the socks and boxers free via BzzAgent.  The opinions expressed in this post are my own (mostly my husband's) and are not influenced by anyone else.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Q & A Monday: Twelve in 2012

I am finally writing this post on Friday, instead of Monday. I am going to change the publish date to Monday because I like it organized that way.  I have had a terrible, awful, no good, very bad week.  On Wednesday, my precious Miss P passed away and it just hurts my heart.  I am so devastated I can barely think straight.

I had grand plans of craft tutorials and Christmas decor posts and outfit posts that I wanted to do the last three weeks.  Obviously, that didn't happen.  Miss P started feeling bad before December even started, so it has been weeks of worrying and crying and vet visits and spending as much time with her as I can.

I still plan on doing all those posts a little late...and can hopefully catch up soon.

It is time again for Friend Makin' Monday.  If you have a blog, I would like to invite you to answer the questions as well.  Leave me a comment here, so I know you are playing.  Then you can also leave a comment over at All The Weigh, so other folks can check out your answers as well.  It is a fun way to connect to other bloggers.

 Twelve in 2012

1. What was your greatest personal accomplishment in 2012?  
When my father-in-law passed away, I was able to stay strong for my mother-in-law and husband.  I put together a big photo collage for the memorial and made a photobook for everyone to sign as well.  It incorporated photos from his life and his artwork.  Everyone really loved it, so I am glad I could do something to honor my father-in-law and help out during that time.

2. What’s the best thing your did for your health?  
I started a pescatarian lifestyle at the start of the year.  I still cheat now and then, but I think we've done really well thus far.  We cut out cokes a few years ago, and still very rarely have any carbonated beverages.  And I also was able to start to let go of some negative people in my life, so I feel that influences my health for the better as well.

3. Share one thing that caused a significant change in your life this year.  
My father-in-law passed away in July, my mom continued not speaking to me, my brother chose to cut me out of his life, and my sweet baby girl passed away a couple days ago.  That was more than one, but it has been a shitty year.

4. List a few things that you experienced for the first time at some point over the last twelve months. 
- Spent my birthday at a karaoke place that had private rooms. That was a lot of fun.
- Lost someone I was close to to cancer
- Read a poem at a memorial service
- Made a YouTube video

5. What was the coolest place you visited? 
Well, with everything going on I think the only place we went was the coast and Hood River.  Those are nice places in their own right, but we have been there before and didn't stay long during the times we went this year.

6. If you could change one thing about the last year what would it be? 
I would make it so nobody died....or maybe that they found a cure for leukemia......

7. What is the best meal you ate this year? 
Hmmm, I think it was probably a dinner at The Black Rabbit restaurant at Edgefield.  We LOVE that place.

8. Tell us about a new friend you made.
I made a few new blogger friends.  I made some new friends in my personal life as well.  It is hard as an adult to meet new friends, so I am very happy to have the opportunity.

9. What did you hope to accomplish this year that you did not?
I hoped to have more going on with the blog and to have a set schedule for blogging, working out, etc.

10. Share something you learned in 2012. 
No matter how much you try, you can't make people be who you want them to be.  And you can't make them act right or be intelligent.

11. Share an odd and unexpected thing that you experienced this year.  
I can't think of anything odd, though there have been many unexpected things this year.

12. How do you think 2013 will differ from 2012?
I am putting the positive out there: No one will die.  I will get craft projects done.  I will get healthier.  I will get organized and on task.

You are welcome to answer these questions on your blog, or in the comments here.  Link up with Kenlie so people can stop by your blog and say hello.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Diva In The Kitchen: Peanut Butter Bon Bons

With everything going on lately, Christmas is sneaking up on me fast!  I still have some presents to buy, presents to wrap, presents to send to family across the country, etc.  I even have to make some presents this week.  I feel frazzled when I think about my To Do List.

What I would really love to do is sleep set a day aside for baking and making sweet treats.  Do you have a day of baking holiday goodies as part of your traditions?  I really wanted to post about a go-to holiday treat I love to make every year.  I found this recipe in a newspaper quite a few years ago.  It won some contest the paper was having and sounded easy, so I clipped the recipe out for future reference.

When I started making these yummy peanut butter balls, my husband gave his seal of approval.  Peanut butter and chocolate together is his favorite flavor combo.  I have made them for various holidays throughout the year.  For Halloween, I cover them in milk/semi sweet and white chocolate so they look like eyeballs.  For Christmas, I do some in semi sweet chocolate and some in white chocolate dyed red with food coloring and call them Reindeer Noses.  Obviously, the red ones are Rudolph Noses.  lol

I made these no-bake treats with my nephew one year and he loved getting into it.  He helped me roll the balls and sprinkled them with sugar crystals.  This is definitely a great recipe for kids to help with.

Peanut Butter Bon Bons

- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon shortening
- 1/2 cup butter
- 6 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix powdered sugar and graham cracker crumbs together.  In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter and peanut butter together; add peanut butter mixture into graham cracker mixture.  Blend well.

Shape into 1/2 inch balls. (About an inch or so for Reindeer noses). In a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips with shortening.  Dip peanut butter balls into chocolate and place them on a piece of wax paper.  Let set up overnight.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Q & A Monday: Christmas Questions

I don't even know where to start right now.  I'll probably write a longer post about this later in the week, but just wanted to touch base with everyone quickly.  A week ago, we noticed that our middle furchild, Miss P, was not feeling well.  She wasn't being herself, was very lethargic, and wasn't eating.

We got her into the doctor last Tuesday.  Her heart murmur has worsened, her heart has grown larger, and she isn't doing very well.  We had to take her in two separate times for blood work that indicated she only had mild changes in her liver and kidneys and had too much potassium in her system.

The doctor changed up her meds a little bit and added a new one in hopes of keeping her comfortable.  We've been administering four medications twice a day and two other medications once a day.  She's 14-years-old though and with very bad health issues, I know she will have to leave us soon.  The doctor said it could be hours or weeks, possibly before Christmas.

Needless to say, I've been very sad and preoccupied the past week and a half.  To me, she's my child and I am just devastated that she has to leave me.  I don't want her to suffer and am not looking forward to having to make a decision I never thought I would have to make.

If you can spare a happy thought for her, please do.

It is time again for Friend Makin' Monday.  If you have a blog, I would like to invite you to answer the questions as well.  Leave me a comment here, so I know you are playing.  Then you can also leave a comment over at All The Weigh, so other folks can check out your answers as well.  It is a fun way to connect to other bloggers.

 Christmas Questions

1. How will you celebrate the holidays this year?  
I'm not sure.  I don't know that we have things nailed down yet.  I'd like to visit with my stepdad's family, so hopefully I can find out more of what they plan to do.  I'd also like to spend time with my sister-in-law, niece, and nephew.  Since this is the first holiday since my brother and sister-in-law got divorced (and my brother no longer speaks to me), I don't know what days they are doing all their family stuff.
Also, I don't know my mother-in-law's expectations because this is the first holiday season since my father-in-law passed away in July.  Plus, Christmas Day is my husband's birthday.  I feel very scattered right now.

2. What’s the weather currently like where you live? 
It is apparently 48 degrees outside.  It is suppose to have highs in the 40s the rest of this week.

3. Do you decorate your home for the holidays? If so, share a picture please!
Yes, I do.  I went a lot simpler this year because I just don't feel like dealing with all the put up and tear down stuff.  We put up our new 7-foot tree and decorated it with our favorite ornaments.  I also put out my bottle brush tree collection, some various glittery and sequined elements to the decor, a wreath I made a couple years ago, and a giant light-up Yoda that my husband brought home a couple months ago.

Miss P had the honor of putting the star on the tree this year.

4. What is your favorite Christmas movie? 
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  I can recite all the lines, but try to just do it under my breath when I watch it with other people. lol

5. What is your favorite Christmas songs?  
Hmmm, I have boycotted listening to Christmas music so far this year, so I am not up on the tunes.  Off the top of my head, I could say "Baby, It’s Cold Outside", "Last Christmas", "Step Into Christmas", "Jingle Bell Rock", the instrumental with the whipping sounds,  "Feliz Navidad", "What Christmas Means To Me"....maybe a few more....Plus, of course, my NKOTB Christmas CD.

6. Do you have an advent calendar?  
I have one where you move a little mouse over each day to count down, but I didn't put it out this year.  I've never had one of those candy ones.

7. Do you prefer color lights or white lights?  
I usually prefer the neutral white ones because sometimes the colored ones can seem like too much going on for me.  If I put lights on my house, I would opt for colored ones though.

8. What is your favorite food to eat over the holidays?
I like warm, comforting foods.  Plus, I enjoy the occasional cookies, breads, and sweet treats.  I don't know if I will have time to do much baking before Christmas though.

9. Do you display a live tree, or do you prefer fake trees?  
I prefer fake trees.  Live trees are too messy and stinky.  It just isn't my thing.

10. What would you need to make your holiday perfect this year?  
For my baby girl to not be in pain.  I'd prefer she make a miraculous recovery and get to stay with us and spend the holidays with us, but I know that is unrealistic.  I understand that she has to leave me, so I hope she knows how loved she is. 

Now it is your turn to answer the questions and link up.  I hope you all have a Happy Monday. (Sorry this was not my usual perky post. I hope you understand.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Diva In The Kitchen: Slow Cooker Scallop Potatoes

Another recipe I pinned on Pinterest in an effort to make it sometime was this cheesy potato recipe.  I was so excited to have something warm and freshly cooked for lunch that I didn't have to fuss over or spend a lot of time on.

These scalloped potatoes were definitely cheesy and yummy, but I do have a few tips for future reference:
- Invest in some Slow Cooker liners.  They aren't very expensive and you can find them at the grocery store where the ziploc bags are located.  I did this recipe on high for the 4 hours it calls for and the liner saved me from having to soak and scrub baked on potato from my pot.

- If you have the time to cook this recipe on LOW, do it.  I did it on high and it was just too hot and dried out some of the potatoes.  Therefore I didn't feel this recipe was as creamy as it should have been.

- Which brings me to my next tip.  I would probably add a half a can of Cream of Mushroom soup to it next time.  I just really wanted it to be creamier.

- And lastly, add more paprika, fresh cracked black pepper, minced garlic, and a thinly sliced onion. It was great that way! Plus, the green onions give it a little pizzazz! 

Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes recipe

Slow Cooker Scallop Potatoes
(I found it posted over at Family Fresh Meals)

- 1 cup Sour Cream
- 1 can Condensed Cream of Potato soup
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 lbs small red potatoes
- 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese or cheese blend (can double cheese to make it cheesier)
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh chives for topping

Thinly slice potatoes and set aside. (I was able to bust out my mandolin and slice them really thin. Don't forget to use your gadgets if you have them.)

Mix sour cream, can of soup, and Worcestershire sauce together in a large bowl.  Add thinly sliced potatoes to the mixture and mix until all potatoes are well coated.

Spoon 1/2 of the potato mixture into a Crock pot sprayed with cooking spray.  Top with 3/4 cup of the shredded cheese.  Repeat layer with remaining potatoes and cheese.

Cook on HIGH for 3.5 to 4.5 hours or on LOW for 7 to 8 hours.  Serve topped with a sprinkle of paprika and chives. 

Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes recipe

Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes recipe

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What I Wore: On the (Casual) Prowl

On the prowl for groceries, that is! lol   I wore this outfit for a day of running errands, grocery shopping, and the like.  We went to brunch with my mother-in-law to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday.  He would have been 63 this month.

I wanted to be comfortable, casual, but colorful.  These jeans are new.  I picked them up at Lane Bryant's "Buy One Get One Free" sale, on a shopping trip with my mom-in-law.  They are a great length (not too long, not too short), a good wash, fit well, and have a bit of stretch.  So far I really like them.  I'm hoping they don't get all baggy with wear.  I'll keep you posted.

Casual outfit featuring Lane Bryant, Torrid, Forever 21, and Target

Also being worn for the first time is this necklace from Forever 21.  I ended up buying quite a few pieces of jewelry when I stopped in there.  It is pretty darn sparkly in person.  I kind of wish I picked up the pink version as well.

PS - My awesome purple tank is actually sleepwear.  I bought it to wear as a non-sleep top; and I'm glad I did!  I've bought a few tanks from the sleepwear department of LB that I actually don't wear to sleep in. (Especially if it has sequins or glitter on it!)

Casual outfit featuring Lane Bryant, Torrid, Forever 21, and Target

Purple Leopard Tank - Lane Bryant
Black Open Cardigan - Torrid
GeniusFit Straight Leg Jeans - Lane Bryant
Pink Sequin Converse - Target
Rhinestone Heart Necklace - Forever 21

Casual outfit featuring Lane Bryant, Torrid, Forever 21, and Target

Casual outfit featuring Lane Bryant, Torrid, Forever 21, and Target

Now I just wish it would stop raining so I could take some decent outside photographs! lol

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Diva In The Kitchen: Stuffed Sweet Potato

This is another successful recipe found via Pinterest. The original post is found over at Sweet Pea's Kitchen.  This potato took a little bit of extra time, but was totally worth it.  It was so delicious with the pecan streusel inside!  I was craving spiced sweet potatoes long before Thanksgiving, so this was a warm and delightful treat.  I love that the marshmallows get a little crispy too.

I made one large sweet potato and modified the recipe accordingly.  It still made for one enlarged sweet potato treat!  I suppose I went a little overboard with the marshmallows in my excitement.  The potato was very delectable and filling.  I only ate half of it for dinner and had the other half the next day.  On its own or as a side dish, I think you will like this stuffed sweet potato.

Baked Sweet Potato

- 1 cup pecan pieces, divided
- 6 large sweet potatoes
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
- 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup miniature marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans onto a baking sheet and place in preheated oven 5-7 minutes until fragrant. Shake the baking sheet halfway through baking so the nuts will toast evenly. Remove nuts from oven and set aside to cool completely.

Turn the oven up to 400 degrees F. Wash the sweet potatoes, scrubbing them well to remove any dirt. With a fork, prick the sweet potatoes in a couple of spots and place them on a sheet pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center goes in easily. (I had to bake mine an extra 10 minutes or so.) Remove from oven and let stand until cool enough to handle but still very warm.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and push the ends towards the middle so it opens up. Scoop out flesh and place in medium bowl, being careful not to tear skin. Reserve skins.

In a large bowl, mix 3 tablespoons butter and brown sugar together until it's crumbly-looking. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and half of the pecans. Divide mixture in half. Add half of the mixture to the sweet potato flesh and fold in completely. Add the filling back to the potato skins and place on baking sheet.

To the remaining brown sugar mixture, add 3 tablespoons butter, flour and remaining pecans. Mix until crumbly looking. Top sweet potatoes generously with the brown sugar mixture and marshmallows and return to the oven. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the marshmallow topping is golden brown.

Source: adapted from Tyler Florence via Sweet Pea's Kitchen

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

{Crafting Diva} How To: DIY Vanity Table Tutorial

I've spent my whole makeup-wearing life standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom to apply my makeup.  Seeing the pretty vanity tables in movies and television shows always made me jealous.  I longed to sit at a convenient table and enjoy the time it takes to paint my face.  It just always seemed like a luxury I couldn't afford or something just out of reach.

Enter this post by MsTapioca that I spied via a friend's posting of it on Facebook.  Using simple pieces from Ikea, she put together a small but convenient vanity table.  This I could do.  This was attainable.  We have an Ikea just across the river; and while I wouldn't know where to start construction-wise on it, my husband did.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea

Making this table will set you back about $100.  This doesn't count a mirror, chair/stool, or lighting.  Something to consider, but all of those can be acquired for relatively small prices.  What I love about this table is that it is small enough for my allotted space and has a built-in storage area for many of my makeup goodies.  The table itself is eleven inches deep.  If you are in a small apartment or cramped room, this is a great option.  (If you have more room, there is a larger 27.5" deep option - the Vika Gruvan.)

I decided to do a post about this great vanity table idea, not only because it is awesome and I am in love with mine, but because I wanted to add a tutorial for the construction of the table that the original post was lacking.  I relied on my husband's expertise in this area for making the table sturdy and longer-lasting.  Screws can strip out of particle board more easily.  By acquiring a few extra screws and bolts from our local hardware store, we were able to make a better constructed table that can stand up to more.  I also added an additional leg in the middle of the table for added support.  As you will see, I have a LOT of makeup for this table to hold.

The whole process only took about an hour.  I haven't done a whole lot of projects with a drill and additional screws and such, so I am going to walk you through what I learned.  Let's get started, shall we?

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea

What You Will Need:
1.  Ekby Gruvan Shelf -  The larger 46 7/8" x 11" one.  Right now, it only comes in black.  $39.99
2.  GodMorgon box with compartments - If you don't have a lot of makeup or tall things, you can skip this.  $18
3.  Trensum Table Mirror - I use this for magnifying and close up work.  $9.99
4.  Ekne Mirror - or some kind of mirror.  I chose this one because it was inexpensive.  I also liked the scrolling accents in case I need to add some lighting around it.  $14.99
5.  Darice Jewelry Bead Organizer (9 1/2 inch size) - You can use up to six of these under the glass to organize your makeup.  If you choose to utilize the top of the box as well, three will do.  I have a lot of palettes, so I use 5 container halves to hold my goods.  These can be found at craft stores or on$7.50 to $9.99 each, depending on where you purchase them or if you have coupons.  Work those coupons, girl!
6.  Vika Adils Legs - You will need 5 legs.  $3.50 each

Also consider: a stool or chair, lighting, and small garbage can.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea

Hardware and Tools:
- 10 each Carriage Bolts and Nylock Nuts - The bolts measure 1.25 inches long.  About $5.00 total
- 10 of 5/8 inch wood screws.  About $1.00 total
- Needle-nose pliers
- Electric drill
- WD-40
- Screwdriver
- Wrench

Step 1:
Take shelf and 5 legs out of packaging.  To take stickers off of the leg mounts, scrape the stickers with an old credit card or gift card.  Use WD-40 to clean off all the sticky mess.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea

Step 2:
Arrange your mounts on the bottom of the shelf.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea

It's important to line up the holes in the leg mounts correctly because we are going to use 3 types of screws/bolts with varying lengths. Here is why:
DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea

The first screw is the one that comes with the leg and leg mount.  As you can see, it is way too long to be used on the main shelf.  Instead, we will utilize these for the sides and middle where we have extra room.
The second screw is a 5/8 wood screw from your trip to the hardware store.  It is shorter than our main shelf, so these will work in that area.
Last is the carriage bolt with nylock nut.  We are using carriage bolts to make this table sturdy and secure.  Without these bolts, any side to side movement or moving around would eventually strip the screws from the particle board.  Since we are working with particle board and not wood, the bolts give some extra security to keep things together.  The Nylon nut ensures the bolt stays tight.

Step 3:
Line up your leg mount.  Use one leg screw on the hole near the edge.  This is our longer screw that has extra length to go into the shelf side.  The wood screws are used in the two holes towards the middle for the thinner shelf area.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea

Step 4:
Using a drill bit the same width as the carriage bolt, drill a hole in the other two spots.  Place your bolts through and tighten the nuts to the bolts.  (The nuts will be against the leg mount, on the bottom side of the shelf.  The bolts have slightly domed heads that won't interfere with your storage capabilities on the top side.)  Also, when tightening the nut, you will probably need a friend to help you out.  One of you should hold the square part of the bolt (just under the head) while the other tightens the nut with a wrench.  Be delicate in this step because the square part of the bolt could strip the particle board if you aren't careful.  For an easier solution, you can use a lock washer and regular nut.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea

Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for all the leg mounts.  Remember to line up the holes properly for proper screw and bolt placement.  For the middle leg mount, remember that the leg screw will go into the middle divider, the short screws into the main shelf, and the carriage bolts towards the edge.  Additionally, the nice thing about the carriage bolt is that it covers up the messed up finish on the top side from the drill holes.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea
DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea
DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea

Step 5:
Screw the legs into the leg mounts.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea

Step 6:
Turn that table right side up, wipe it down with a damp cloth, place it where you want it, and install the glass via package instructions.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea

Step 7:
Start filling it up with all of your makeup, hair products, and/or skincare!

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea
Here I've arranged my eyeshadows in two of the Darice box halves.  They can actually hold quite a bit - way more than I thought they would.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea
 The GodMorgon box from Ikea has some great compartments for eyeliners, eye primer tubes, and mascaras.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea
This part of the box lifts up to reveal a large compartment underneath.  I store my odds and ends, samples, and backup/overstock in this compartment.  The three side compartments house all my blushes, mineral foundation, and highlighters, as well as taller products like sprays, foundations, powders, primers, and more.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea
My $6 Brush Holder Vase.  I've previously posted a tutorial on this that you can check out HERE.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea
When storing palettes, I wanted to use as much space as I could.  The opening for the storage area is a little bit more than 2 inches high.  It is hard for me to reach all the way back to get to my palettes.  For the ones farther back, I taped a piece of ribbon to the underside and cut it so it was just shorter than the shelf.  This way, I can grab the ribbon and pull the palette out easily.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea
My lip products were originally in a three-drawer plastic container.  While the container fit on the table, it was a bit bulky.  I found this divided plastic organizer at my local craft store (for about $3).  It holds all my lip products, plus some!  I added a little dish to hold my Birchbox samples so I can remember to try them out and review them.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea
With all of my products on top, it is a little cluttered, but it works for me.  I like having everything in view and easy to reach.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea
  DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea
 One last view of a cleaner-looking table top.

PS - Right now, I'm using a plain old chair to sit on while I do my makeup.  I'm on the look out for a more comfortable, cushiony option.
I'm also still working on the lighting situation.  The bedroom is pretty dark, and with all the rain around these parts, the window doesn't provide that much light.  Right now, I am using a clip-on desk light and a small fluorescent light bar, along with the light from my bathroom. It is a work in progress as we find what works best for my needs.

DIY Makeup Vanity Table Tutorial using parts from Ikea
This light was only $6 at Wal-Mart.  It does a pretty good job, but I need light on the sides of the mirror too.

So there you have it!  Please let me know if you get the opportunity to make this.  I hope this tutorial has helped and inspired you.  I love my new vanity table so much!  I'm so happy to have one, and happy it holds so much of my makeup products as well.  Happy DIYing!

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