Thursday, May 31, 2012

{diy} school spirit canvas

As many of you know, I am a recent graduate of Florida State University.

With graduation comes happy tears, anxious tears, and "OMG, when am I going to see you again" tears.

Another thing that comes with it is an indescribable love for your university.

Something about sitting through that entire four hour graduation ceremony makes you realize how lucky you were to attend a school so beautiful and well-respected. 

I am a proud alum, and will continue to be so for the rest of my life.

With proud alum status comes ideas for CRAFTS, of course! One craft that kept popping up in my head was to paint a garnet & gold striped canvas, and then stencil on the FSU logo. I would not let this idea go.

I had everything I needed in my handy-dandy craft basket,
(which is filled to the brim with everything you can imagine from my sorority crafting days)
so I decided to just do it already!

As usual, the end effect was not quite what I envisioned in my head, but I still love the way it turned out!

School Spirit Canvas:

What you'll need:
  • One canvas
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes of varying sizes for filling in the lines & for painting the detailed sections
  • Painter's tape
  • Optional: a ruler
  • For the stencil: Permanent marker, pencil, and tissue paper

First, tape up your canvas with painter's tape. I wanted to have my stripes be of varying sizes, so I just kind of eye-balled it. If you want your stripes to be more exact, then use a ruler! Next, paint your canvas. You will have to let the paint dry and paint over it a few times to create a deep color.

**As you can see, my paint somehow got underneath the tape, creating jagged lines. You can check out this great tutorial for tips on how not to do this (and how to create a chevron pattern!) I actually ended up really liking the unfinished look that the jagged lines gave my canvas, but I know it is not for everyone!**

Next, create your stencil. Click here for my original tutorial on how to create a stencil using a computer screen, a pencil, and tissue paper. After you create your stencil, lay the tissue paper down on your COMPLETELY DRY canvas. Make sure the paint is the color you want it by now!

Using a permanent marker, copy your stencil onto your canvas. 
I would suggest using a sharpie the color of whatever you want your stenciled picture to be. 

Lastly, paint in your stencil very carefully & add text if you would like.

Andddd viola, you are done!

I know this canvas is not perfect (look at that first 2!), but it is my first attempt at "painting." :)

I can already think of a few more ideas for a canvas painting like this. You could paint it your sorority's colors & letters. Or paint the stripes light grey and then stencil on a cute monogram?

What do you think?
Is this project getting your crafty brain going?

PS. I added a new "love" tab that I am very excited about. I created my own graphic page!

PPS. How is today the LAST day in May?! 
We are one day away from being halfway through 2012 people!

PPPS. I just downloaded The Lucky One onto my Kindle.
Have you read it? I'm so excited to start it riiiight... now. Promise!

xo, Jen

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

{blog love} what i'm loving wednesday

I haven't participated in my favorite link up in forever!
It is about time for me to join Jamie again. :)

I'm loving some of my Pinterest finds this week:

I'm loving that my boyfriend will finally be taking his second round CFA exam this weekend.
Stress... (almost) be gone!

I'm loving these fun recipes:

Thai Corn Salad

Speaking of food..

I'm loving that I saved $31 dollars on my grocery bill yesterday using coupons & buying BOGO!
So wonderful.

What are you loving this week?
Link up with Jamie!

xo, Jen

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

{recipe} roasted veggie mexican tostadas

I'm not sure if y'all know this yet, but I l-o-o-o-ve Mexican food.

For whatever reason, I haven't blogged about many of the Mexican-style recipes I have made. Maybe it is because they are usually so easy to put together that I don't really think of them as "recipes"... but more as weekly dinner necessities. I am a huge avocado, salsa, queso, quesadilla, nacho, etc., etc., girl.

I'm also big on margaritas and lime-flavored tortilla chips... but that is a completely different story.

Such a bad picture. It was dark. And this is blurry. 
Take my word for the deliciousness! Pretty please?

These tostadas take the cake over any Mexican recipes I have ever made in my kitchen. 
And that is saying something because I loved my shredded chicken enchiladas, 

These delicious, fresh veggies turn into.....

...these sweet, charred, smokey, fajita-like, roasted veggies.... make the best darn tostada there ever was.

Roasted Veggie Mexican Tostadas
recipe by Real Simple Magazine

  • 10 oz button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 2 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 10 sweet baby bell peppers or 2 bell peppers, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 15-oz can refried beans
  • 4 oz cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • sour cream, cilantro, hot sauce, and avocado for serving

  1. Heat oven to 450* F. Toss the mushrooms, zucchini, and bell peppers with 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt on two rimmed baking sheets. Roast, tossing once and rotating sheets halfway through, until the vegetables are tender, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl.
  2. Place tortillas on baking sheet. Dividing evenly, brush remaining tablespoon of oil, spread with the refried beans, and sprinkle with cheddar. Bake until the beans are warm and the cheddar is melted, 5-7 minutes. 
  3. Top with veggies, sour cream, cilantro, hot sauce, and avocado.
  4. Enjoy!

PS. I created my blog header all on my own. 
What do y'all think?! :)

xo, Jen

Monday, May 28, 2012

{fashion} pink & orange

I am loving the bright color block trend this summer!
Here are a few different options of dresses in my favorite color block pattern - pink & orange.
Whether you are ready to splurge or save, there is a perfect color block dress for everyone.

{tibi} - $675.00
photo credit: Atlantic-Pacific

{old navy} - $29.99
also seen here

{target} - $25.00

Do you like the color block trend?
What are your favorite pieces you own?

xo, Jen

Friday, May 25, 2012

{recipe} memorial day smoothie

Have a patriotic drink on me. :)

Triple Berry & Pineapple Protein Smoothie:

  • 1/2 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 3/4 cup frozen fruit - I used frozen blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and pineapple
  • Blend together and enjoy!

If you are looking for recipes for a barbecue, check out my Summer Cookout post! :)

Have a great 3-day weekend friends!

xo, Jen

Thursday, May 24, 2012

{recipe} chic greek salad

I've been learning a lot about cooking lately.

It is okay to use canned tomatoes when you are too lazy to go buy more fresh ones, (because your fresh ones went bad in a few days before you could make this salad... grr.)

It is okay to wing it and veer completely away from a recipe.

It is okay to use sweet onions in place of red onions in your greek salad, (because the red onions at Publix cost twice as much and looked completely yucky.)

It is okay that it takes me a million years to chop up veggies and herbs when it takes chefs on Food Network five minutes.

It is okay to substitute basil for parsley in this salad. In fact, I think I prefer it.

I could really go on and on.

This is not a traditional salad.

In fact, lettuce is not even an ingredient! It is made up of a bunch of different chopped up veggies mixed in with chickpeas, herbs, and artichoke hearts. It is hearty but still healthy.

You can eat this straight out of the fridge in a bowl by itself, throw it in a wrap with lunch meat, or eat it over lettuce. We chose to do the latter last night.

Oh, the difference natural light vs. nighttime light makes.

I can't wait to add it to my wrap for lunch today!

Chic Greek Salad:
Adapted from Rachael Ray's recipe 

Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  1. Combine shallot, vinegar, and oregano in a bowl. Stir to combine and let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Slowly whisk in olive oil until dressing thickens.
  3. Put in fridge to cool.

Salad Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained -  (You can use two vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped - remember, mine went bad before I could make this salad! The canned tomatoes were fine as a substitute.)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped -  (You can use red onion instead if you want)
  • 4 large sweet baby peppers, chopped - (Or use one large bell pepper)
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup basil, coarsely chopped - (Or parsley)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 container feta cheese
  1. Combine all ingredients but lemon and feta in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Squeeze lemon juice onto salad and stir to coat salad.
  3. Fold in feta cheese.
  4. Pour dressing onto salad and stir to combine again.
  5. ENJOY!

PS. I'm still looking to exchange more blog buttons
Email me if you are interested.

xo, Jen

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

{recipe} funfetti cake batter chocolate chip cookies

These were not planned.

My roommate and I were sitting on our couch watching America's Got Talent last night, laughing at all of the crazy auditions. 

Side note - did y'all watch? Did you see the dancing dogs?!

If you didn't... you need to. Click here for the Youtube video!! They are adorable!

Now back to the cookies.

We started to CRAVE cookies out of nowhere. I searched Pinterest, but had no interest in baking cookies that were going to take a million years to mix up, assemble, and bake. 

Enter cake mix cookies.

I know you have had the cakey cookies from Walmart. You know, that ones smothered in frosting? I used to be a sucker for those cookies back in the day. They are almost TOO sweet now (who has ever heard of such a thing?!). These cookies are the grown up versions of the Walmart cookies... although I have a suspicion that kids will LOVE them too. 

These cookies literally took me 10 minutes to mix up and assemble, and ten minutes to bake.
Not to mention there are only five ingredients in this recipe.

So quick.
Too quick.

I can see lots more of these cookies in my future.

I happened to have a box of Funfetti cake mix in my pantry.
I can only imagine how delicious these would be with a red velvet cake mix.

Funfetti Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Recipe adapted from: Stephanie Cooks

  • 1 (18.25 oz.) funfetti box cake mix
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I did half semisweet and half white chocolate chips)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix and baking powder. Add eggs and oil, then mix until well blended. 
  3. Stir in chocolate chips, or your choice of additions. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

PS. I'm still looking to exchange more blog buttons! 
Email me if you are interested.

xo, Jen

Monday, May 21, 2012

{recipe} trail mix bites {& a blog button exchange}

I love tiny treats that you can pull out of the freezer one at a time and enjoy.

One sweet little bite.

One healthy sweet little bite.

I have been looking for new ways to use oats and quinoa together.
I love savory quinoa and oatmeal for breakfast, but this recipe took the two to another level.

These trail mix bites are perfect for a healthy, sweet snack to take along on a hike or in a lunch box.

The latter is especially important to me because I will have to pack my lunch every day for seven weeks once I start working summer camp at my elementary school. I am currently trying to find a bunch of lunch ideas to keep me happy and healthy. I will definitely make another batch of these for summer camp.

Trail Mix Bites:
Recipe adapted from Eat, Live, Run

  • 1 cup old fashioned or quick-cooking oats, dry
  • 1/4 cup quinoa, dry + 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup chopped up plain almonds
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries, raisins or cranberries
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
**The original recipe called for coconut flakes and sunflower seeds. I used what I had on hand and you can too! 

  1. Combine the quinoa and water in a small saucepot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 12 minutes, until quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. Fluff and scoop quinoa into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add almonds, oats, and dried cherries to quinoa and mix well. Bring honey to a simmer on the stove then stir in the vanilla extract and pour on top of nuts and seeds. Mix until well combined.
  3. Let mixture cool before adding the chocolate chips, peanut butter and sea salt. Mix well with your hands so the peanut butter is evenly dispersed but be careful not to melt the chocolate chips! Chill dough in fridge for an hour.
  4. Using wet hands, gently roll mixture into golf ball-sized balls. Place balls on a plate and chill for at least two hours until firm. (You will need to wet your hands a few times or else mixture will fall apart and stick.)

You can store these in the fridge or in the freezer. 
I prefer them straight out of the freezer after a long workout.

{blog button exchange}

I recently created my own blog button! 
I would love to exchange buttons with fellow bloggers to put on our sidebars. :)

Please email me at if you are interested!

xo, Jen

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

{recipe} roasted strawberry & brown butter pancakes

I love lazy mornings filled with delicious food.

I went home for the weekend to spend Mother's Day with my family.

I saw the recipe for these pancakes on my favorite blog the other day and could not stop thinking about them. I e-mailed the link to my mom and told her to get excited for Mother's Day! :)

We ate our pancakes with our favorite sausage, Aidells' Pineapple & Bacon, which my dad grilled.

These pancakes are soooooo good.
I kept wondering why I had never let roasted strawberries into my life before.
They would be delicious on oatmeal, in yogurt, in dessert, on waffles... the list goes on and on.
They would also be really good in salad or risotto I think. Hmmm....

But don't just take my word for it...
You better try these for yourself. 

Less talking. 

More cooking. 

Get to it!

Roasted Strawberry & Brown Butter Pancakes
Recipe by: How Sweet It Is.

  • 1 1/2 cup sliced strawberries - We used an entire quart of strawberries and it still wasn't quite enough for how many strawberries each of us wanted on our pancakes. So. Make 1 1/2 cups, or more... up to you!
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour - The original recipe called for whole wheat pastry flour. We didn't have any so just used plain whole wheat flour. I think the pancakes would be lighter and fluffier with the pastry flour, but mine were still delicious without!
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1-1 1/4 cups milk 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Toss sliced strawberries with olive oil and a pinch of salt, then lay on a nonstick baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until juicy and caramely. While strawberries are roasting, heat butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk constantly until brown bits form on the bottom, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup milk, egg and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to dry, mixing until just combined, then stir in brown butter (get all the brown bits from the pan!) and 1/4 of the roasted strawberries. If batter isn't smooth or is too thick, add additional milk. (The strawberries will add liquid to the batter so you may need to add a little more milk if needed, based on your strawberries.)
  3. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Add a bit of butter to the griddle and using a 1/4 cup measure, spoon batter into pan. Cook until bubbles form on top, then flip and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Top with remaining roasted strawberries and syrup.

Who is ready for breakfast?

xo, Jen

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

{fashion} OOTD - mother's day

The Details:
  • Shirt: Vestique
  • Shorts: Target
  • Shoes: Not Jacks! Surprised? The brand is Mila Paoli, but they don't sell online. My mom found these cork ones at Marshalls. I have also seen them at TJMAXX!
  • Watch: Anne Klein - gift
  • Bracelet: Alex & Ani - gift
  • Belt: Came with a dress.

I have been looking for non-hoochymama shorts for a while that have a smaller price tag than my dream J. Crew chinos. I finally found these shorts on sale at Target and fell in love!

I love this comfy top paired with the structured shorts.

I was busy running around the house all afternoon with my cousin's adorable little ones.

I hope that you had a great weekend filled with family and yummy food.

xo, Jen

Monday, May 14, 2012

{beauty} easy summer hairstyles

Who cares what the calendar says... it is officially SUMMER in Florida!

Sweltering, humid days and nights... nothing quite like it.
With the intense FL summer heat comes lots and lots of hair and makeup frustrations.

Two things about my hair:

A) It is L-O-N-G.

B) I have no idea how to do anything to my hair except blow-dry, straighten, and curl it.
Check out the tutorial I used to learn how to get soft curls - it is extremely helpful!

I will be working outside at a summer camp during some of the hottest months out of the entire year coming up shortly. I knew that I needed to find some ponytail and braid styles that were quick, easy, and durable. Since I will be playing with kids outside quite a bit, I want to make sure that my hair is off of my neck and back and out of my face. I have learned that practice makes perfect when it comes to new hairstyles, so I searched Pinterest & Real Simple's websites, and set out to try out a few new styles.

Click on the source links beneath the photos to visit the original websites!

The "Rainy Day" Style:

{source - Real Simple}

Directions: To get this look, you must first pull your hair into a low ponytail. Divide your ponytail into two sections. Take the first section and wind it into a bun. Pin with a few bobby pins. Take the other section and repeat. Add a fun headband to complete the look.

My experience: This style was easy to put together, but I had to use a lot of bobby pins to hold up my long, thick hair. It didn't feel too terribly secure. Word of advice: Don't try to twist your hair section before creating the bun. The hair will be too thick and heavy, and will likely stretch out your bobby pin. I have no idea if this makes sense to anyone but me, but I think you will see what I mean! 

Verdict: I think I will definitely rock this look sometime, but probably not at summer camp. Also, I kind of think that the original poster has shorter hair, making the buns a bit neater looking.

The Double Braided Bun Style:

{source - Join the Mood}

Directions: Follow the photo tutorial. She did a great job displaying the steps!

My experience: This was a very easy hairstyle to put together quickly. Note to self: invest in tiny clear hair ties. My normal sized lime green one totally showed!

Verdict: I will definitely wear my hair like this to summer camp. It is extremely secure and cuter than a normal bun. I looove that it keeps all of my hair out of my face and off of my neck.

Follow my Style - Hair & Makeup board on Pinterest to see more styles I want to try.

I do not know how to utilize hair products at all...
Now that I am a college graduate, I think it is time I learn. :)

Question of the day: What is your favorite summer hairstyle?

xo, Jen

Sunday, May 13, 2012

{life} happy mother's day momma!

I love you to the moon and back.

I hope everyone has a wonderful day with their moms and grandmothers!

xo, Jen

Saturday, May 12, 2012

{diy} mother's day craft for kids!

This is my first teacher-esque blog post!

As some of you might know by now, I am an after-school kindergarten teacher. I co-teach with two fabulous girls, and we couldn't love our jobs more.

We are constantly looking at Pinterest to help us figure out our latest craft that will match our theme of the week. The most recent theme of the week was "Marvelous Music." We had our kids bring in their favorite instruments for show-and-tell. It was a hit! We had a hard time figuring out a cute craft that fit the "Marvelous Music" theme on Pinterest this week though. So I thought of the second-best option...

A cute mother's day craft!

I thought of this idea originally after seeing this craft on Pinterest. I liked it how it was in the picture, but thought that we could make it a little more special. We decided to have them do handprints with green paint on a piece of paper first, and then glue the flower pots on second. We sat each child down and asked them why they loved their moms, wrote it down for them, and had them copy their sentence onto their flower pot in their own handwriting. We used a machine in the elementary school's media room to cut out the flowers.

I think that they turned out great! This is a very easy craft. We spread this project out over three days so we would have time to let the hand prints dry and get a sentence from each of our 39 kindergartners to write on the flower pots. The answers range from super silly to incredibly sweet. Click on the picture above for a bigger view.

I know it is a little late to re-create this project for mother's day with little ones, but I; think it could really be done for anything! I am sucker for painted hand print crafts. :)

Any teachers, moms, or camp counselors out there?!
What is your favorite craft to do with little ones?

xo, Jen