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!

Q & A Monday: Dear Santa

I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend and festive Thanksgiving.  Everything went by so fast, but I had a great long weekend.  On Wednesday, I made two pecan pies and some cranberry relish in preparation for the holiday dinner.  We spent some of Wednesday evening shopping the pre-Black Friday sales online.  I was able to get some great deals via Kohl's, JCPenneys, Amazon, and Torrid.  Thursday was pretty laid back before we went to spend the holiday with some of my family.  We got home pretty late, but stayed up anyway checking out the online sales some more.

Friday was a gloriously lazy day where we slept in and then played Lego Lord of the Rings for a bit.  Saturday evening brought around our first ever Bunco night with friends.  It was so much fun and will be a monthly thing for all of us from now on.  Sunday was another day of sleeping and being mildly productive.  We at least got the carpet shampooed, laundry done, and a few other odds and ends.

I have a zillion things on my To Do List for this week, so hopefully I can find the motivation to get it all done.  For today's Q&A Monday, it is all about a wishlist to Santa.  I went totally over-the-top with this one because it is more fun that way! :-)

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.

Dear Santa:  
List at least ten things that you may or may not need that you’d love to find under your tree this year! 

1. A trip to Ireland

2. A gorgeous house with an utterly gorgeous dressing room with glitter wallpaper

3. A sweet little piggy friend

Source: via Diva on Pinterest

4. Madison Metallic Leather Carrie

Source: via Diva on Pinterest

5. Swarovski encrusted KitchenAid Mixer

6. Ros Hommerson Brooke Super Wide Calf Boot

Source: via Diva on Pinterest

7. Personalized Initials of my furkids names and birthdays to add to my special necklace

Source: via Diva on Pinterest

8. A teleportation device so I can go visit my sisters and friends/family and travel to vacation destinations quickly.

9. A gorgeous rhinestone/beaded/sequin gown and some place to wear it

Source: via Diva on Pinterest

10. And a private concert for me and my closest friends that features NKOTB, Westlife, and BSB.

Source: via Diva on Pinterest

Source: via Diva on Pinterest

So there ya go! It is your turn now.  Be as realistic or outrageous as you want to be!  Happy Monday and have an awesome week!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Diva In The Kitchen: Turkey Day Tips

I'm busy making pecan pies and cranberry relish, while cleaning and doing laundry.  (And browsing all the pre-Black Friday sales online.)  I'm really excited to spend tomorrow with my husband and some of my family.  I've already been promised a Pumpkin Pie Martini!  I love Thanksgiving!  In preparation for the holiday, I wanted to share a few tips for using up your leftovers in fun ways.  (Let's face it, sometimes we don't want a week of only turkey and cranberry sandwiches.)

Use any drippings from the turkey and your picked-over turkey carcass to make a tasty broth.  This broth can be used for soups, such as a delectable French Onion soup.
- How to Make Turkey Broth recipes HERE and HERE
- Over at Amazing Ribs, there are plenty of cooking techniques, recipes, and loads of information on cooking great meat.  My husband LOVES this website.

Got leftover mashed potatoes?  Put them to good use for breakfast.

Source: via Diva on Pinterest

Likewise, here are a few sites with ways to use your leftovers:
- 3 Healthy Ways to Use Thanksgiving Leftovers (from Chicago Now)
- 8 Ways to Use Thanksgiving Leftovers  (from Reader's Digest)
- New Ways to Use Thanksgiving Leftovers (from Eating Well Magazine)
- A Ton of Recipes for Leftovers (from
- And finally Pinterest has LOADS of pinned recipe ideas for those leftovers!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you all have a wonderful visit with family and friends, followed by a fabulous weekend!   Stay safe if you are going Black Friday shopping.  People are crazy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Friendsgiving 2012!!

This past Saturday was our annual Friendsgiving event!  It is long-awaited and highly anticipated.  Getting together with friends like this is such a wonderful idea and always a fun time!

Nigel hosts all of us in his tiny apartment that somehow accommodates everyone.  The kitchen is covered with tasty food dishes and loads of beverages.  You can smell delectable aromas before you even go up the stairs to his front door.  (You can also hear everyone talking before you even get in the building. lol  We're a loud bunch!)

Sometimes we have a theme (last year was International Dishes), but people seem to enjoy the more traditional dinner items.  This year, we had turkey, ham, green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing, orzo salad, spiced cranberry sauce, a corn dish, scalloped potatoes, cheddar garlic biscuits, pumpkin gooey cake, a big salad, pasta salads, spiced bundt cake, more cake, caramel apples, red velvet cupcakes, etc.! That isn't even everything.  It was all fantastic!

There were 29 folks at the party this year.  I pulled out my camera at the beginning of the night to snap a few photos before dinner.  We got into visiting and I totally forgot to bring the camera out again.  So these pictures are just a small sampling of the wonderful people and all the fun we had that night.  Next year, I will keep the camera around my neck! lol

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and hope you have fun celebrating with friends and family alike!

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