Archive | June, 2012

Make Giant Fancy Balloons

28 Jun

I’ve long admired Geronimo Balloons.  These giant, festive balloons pretty effing whimsical.  They’re also a little pricey.  One of these puppies will set you back $60-$100, not counting helium.

Geronimo Balloons

I considered purchasing one for our nuptials this June, but our budget just wouldn’t allow dropping that kind of dough on a balloon.  So I decided to gather the supplies to make our own. And if I do say so myself, they turned out pretty darn well.

photo by Brian Wagner

Giant Fancy Balloon


Inflate balloon at party store (or, if like us, you’ll be miles away from the nearest one, purchase a helium tank to bring with you).  Attach to metallic fringe drape with duct tape and make sure it’s secure.  This will be your main balloon string.  Attach several pieces of crepe streamers.  If you like, get creative and make them fringey or create crepe tassels (we, alas, ran out of time).  Attach these to bottom of balloon as well.
The whole thing will cost you about $30-$50, depending on your helium situation.  However, you can fill two balloons with one portable tank, cutting the cost per balloon almost in half. They’re fun, easy to make, and create an instant party vibe.

Make a Feather Tag for Gifts

20 Jun

I love buying books when I’m on vacation.  There’s nothing like going into a little bookstore, picking out a book and knowing you can get it sandy or spill your coffee on it or fall asleep while reading and drool all over the pages.  However, we have limited space in our little house, so I rarely hang onto novels after I’ve read them.  I bought Michael Cunningham’s  By Nightfall when we were on our honeymoon in South Carolina, and thought my friend Rachel would like it, so I sent it her way.

Never one to pass up the opportunity to make things needlessly cute and quirky, I decided to wrap it up like I bought it just for her and wasn’t just sending it away to save some space on the bookshelf.  I had some random feathers hanging around, so I painted her name on one of them and secured it to the book, which I’d wrapped in plain butcher paper and wrapped some twine around the whole thing.  Voila!  A five minute endeavor turns a hand-me-down book into a bona fide gift.

Ginger Juice for a Summer Cold

19 Jun

I’ve found myself, as I do at some point every summer, with a nasty summer cold.  Generally when I get a cold, I like to sip on hot lemon tea all day and night, but it’s been so warm outside that I haven’t really felt like chugging hot tea.  Cue our new juicer!  It’s the perfect way to may a little soothing herbal concoction that’s cold and refreshing.  I made the following elixer consisting of ingredients that are supposed to help with colds:

Ginger Juice for a Summer Cold

  • one lemon, peel removed (lemons contain over eighty percent of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C).
  • 2 small apples, cored and quartered (these are mostly to sweeten the juice, but an apple a day…)
  • 2 square inch pieces peeled fresh ginger (The heat in ginger supposedly causes the body to warm, making it perspire, which could be helpful in fighting the first stages of a cold or battling chills from a fever)
  • a dash or two of cayenne pepper (Cayenne warms the body and stimulates the release of mucus from the respiratory passages)

Juice all but cayenne in juicer (we have this one and love it).  Add cayenne and stir.  Drink over ice.

For more recipes like this one, check out the Apothecary page.

Make Jerk Chicken, Stuffed Peppers and Spiced Lemon Rice

18 Jun

We’ve been using the grill a lot lately, most recently to make the surprisingly easy and super tasty meal I’m about to share.   The jerk sauce in the recipe is simple to make, especially if you cut out the food processor and blend it with an immersion blender like I did. The bell peppers are equally simple, but we substituted jalapenos for some of them to add a little spice. Beware: there’s a little kick to everything in this meal, so if you don’t like spicy food, this isn’t the meal for you.

Jerk Chicken and Stuffed Mini Bell Peppers (a la Cooking Light)

  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions, divided
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots, divided
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided $
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 large serrano chile, stemmed
  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned (we used boneless)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons light sour cream
  • 8 mini bell peppers (or jalapenos)
  1. 1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. After preheating, reduce one side to low.
  2. 2. Combine 1/4 cup green onions, 1/4 cup shallots, sugar, 2 tablespoons juice, oil, allspice, garlic, and serrano in a mini food processor; process until smooth. Combine half of onion mixture and chicken in a medium bowl; toss well. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. 3. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Cover and grill 5 minutes on each side. Move chicken over low heat. Cover and grill 5 minutes on each side or until done. Brush chicken with remaining onion mixture.
  4. 4. Combine remaining green onions, remaining shallots, remaining juice, cheese, cilantro, and sour cream. Halve bell peppers lengthwise; discard seeds. Divide cheese mixture evenly among pepper halves. Place peppers on grill rack coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Grill 7 minutes or until peppers are lightly charred.

Spiced Lemon Rice (a la Bon Apetit)


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black, brown, or yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 Fresno chile or red jalapeño, cut into thin rings, seeded if desired
  • 2 cups cups long-grain white rice
  • 4 2×1-inch strips lemon peel (yellow part only) plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews

Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and turmeric and cook, shaking pan, until mustard seeds pop, 1–2 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and chile and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat. Add lemon peel, salt, and 3 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until rice is tender, 20–25 minutes.
Stir in lemon juice. Cover and let stand off heat for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in cashews.

For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity page.

Pick a Roadside Bouquet

15 Jun

Last weekend I walked for the grocery store down Central Street, a scruffy Knoxville thoroughfare that’s got plenty of charm and quirkiness, but not a whole lot of natural beauty (for more on Central Street, check out my sweetheart’s photo spread).  As I was walking home, I kept noticing all kinds of flowers growing up from sidewalk cracks and in empty lots.  I decided to challenge myself to see if I could make a bouquet by the time I reached my home, using only rogue flowers and plants.  It was fun to notice these lovely things growing along a street I drive down twice a day, and reminds me sometimes it’s best to take the slow way.

Give Your Shoes a Makeover

12 Jun

I had a pair of nice little Clarks flatsthat I’d planned to wear during the wedding, but once they arrived, I couldn’t help myself and started wearing them to work almost every day.

Inevitably, one of the shoes acquired some mysterious stain on the heel.  A big one.  This is why I can’t have nice things, especially ones I am supposed to be saving for a special event.

I decided to see if I could save them.  Lucky for me, colorblock is all over the pace, so it’s totally fashionably appropriate to just paint the heels of one’s shoes another color.  My dress had peach/coral beading, so I borrowed a few of the beads from the awesome woman who made my dress and sewed them onto the front of the shoe.  Then I mixed up some acrylic paint and carefully painted both heels with two coats to cover the stain and sprayed it with a matte sealer spray
to avoid cracking.  Perfect!

Cocktail of the Week: Blackberry Watermelon Birthday Cocktail

11 Jun

We’ve been wanting a juicer for a long time, and recently acquired one.  I. Can’t. Stop. Juicing. Things.  You guys, it’s so satisfying!  It makes you feel so alive!  It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon!

So naturally, for my friend’s birthday party this week, I thought I’d make her a little birthday cocktail featuring some fresh juice.  I had a yellow watermelon I’d picked up from a fruit stand on the drive home from our honeymoon and our backyard is bursting with blackberries, so I combined the two for this sweet and potent cocktail.

Blackberry Watermelon Birthday Cocktail

  • small yellow watermelon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 3 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup Lillet Red Apertif
  • sparkling soda (I used Ginger IZZE)

1. Juice watermelon.  Add lemon and vodka, stir and set aside.

2. Juice blackberries.  Add Lillet.

3. To serve, fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add 1/2 cup of watermelon juice mixture and shake.

4. Strain into a cocktail glass.  Add 1/4 cup of blackberry juice.  Top with sparkling soda.

For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity page.