Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Recipe Review: Roasted Sweet Potato, Wild Rice, and Arugula Salad

Easter Sunday was quiet for us, and this was a welcome change of pace. Its very very rare for us to take a day off. And even when we say we're taking a day off, a little bit of work will sneak into the packing some orders, or priming boards for the next day. But this Easter was an actual day off. And being that it was a sunny day we decided to go for a walk. All of the boardwalks and amusements parks up and down the Jersey Shore open up on Easter Sunday, including our very own right here in town. So the two of us walked up there to check out the festivities. It was very crowded, which is great. All of the boardwalks are still in the rebuilding phase after hurricane Sandy, so the more business the better. But at the risk of sounding like a downer, it was sad to see that so much of the old charm was gone. Everything is rebuilt and new, so the kitsch value is lost. The owners of the stands definitely did their best to add some fun with bright paint colors, but for me, so much of what I love about these sea shore fun spots is their vintage appeal. But I'm confident that with time it will all be restored to its former glory. A couple things did not change at all. The signature smells. The pizza stand smelled exactly the same...and so did the French Fry stand. But as great as those smelled to us, we weren't going to be stopping for a bite. Why? you may ask...
Well, because we really couldn't wait to get home to make our dinner. Which was Roasted Sweet Potato, Wild Rice, And Arugula Salad from Pinch of Yum

Now make sure that you don't take the word salad at face value. I guess the underlying bed of greens makes it a salad...but this dish is real hearty and bursting with flavor! It is so bright and fresh and comforting. And it was perfect for the day! When you get glimpses of sunny Spring weather you instantly start thinking of fresh, healthy meals. This was a great dinner but would also make a fantastic lunch. I know this because we had it for lunch the following day! The star of this recipe is the homemade lemon dressing. It is just plain magical. The big dose of lemon zest is wonderful.

Ok, first...can we pause to acknowledge the awesome size of this organic sweet potato. Aaron instantly was striking Heisman trophy poses with it. You could totally round up the kids to play a game of Easter touch football with this. 

So the recipe started off with peeling this beast.

And then after you dice it up you get it coated with some olive oil and the spices. Roasted sweet potatoes are just sweet and buttery and work great as the foundation of a meal.

And once the potato is seasoned and oiled it goes for a ride in the oven to roast until it's tender and the edges brown a bit. Would you believe that a single potato filled this entire cookie sheet?! 

And while the potato was roasting we whipped up the awesome dressing in the food processor. I don't know about you...but I get absolutely invigorated when I zest some lemons. That's probably the element in this dressing that makes it far superior to any dressing you can buy already bottled. The fresh lemon zest! It's all about the Zest!

And while I was doing the dressing Aaron was getting the wild rice made. We added some classic spices like sage, thyme, pepper, etc...And once it was ready we added some of the dressing to it in order to marry the flavors.

When everything comes together it lays atop a bed of Arugula and other favorite Spring greens. The warm wild rice and roasted sweet potatoes make the dish so comforting...and by gosh, it's topped with a handful of cashews. The cashews are the perfect finishing topper...and then you drizzle the whole bowl with the dressing.

Oh my goodness! I can't get over how good the dressing was. Our mouths were so so happy! It was the perfect meal for our Easter day. It was just us two, a nice walk in the sunshine, a quiet calm day, and the punctuation of this fab meal to cap the afternoon and bring us into a relaxing evening. We wouldn't change a thing!

If this recipe seems even a tiny bit your style, you just have to try it!

So, bolstered with this fab meal we finished our night with a few episodes of True Blood...yep...we are late to that party. We just never got around to watching it. The two of us aren't the hugest vampire fans. We definitely consider ourselves zombie people. ha! So we honestly weren't sure if True Blood would be for us. But after 2 episodes we were hooked. Its really entertaining. We also thought we were watching a show that was over and done with. So when we saw a commercial this weekend for a new season we were shocked. We have a whole lot to watch in order to be brought up to speed so that we can watch the final season in real time with everyone else.

But stay on topic. Huge thumbs up for this recipe. Make sure to go and check out all the details on Pinch of Yum!

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter! Happy Spring! 
xo Jenny & Aaron 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Around here...

Hello everyone! Just wanted to pop in on this fantastic Saturday to kinda sum up the week over here. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and we're possibly going to head to the boardwalk. We've got more warm weather in store for the next couple days so we're definitely gonna try to get outside. A highlight of this past week was the arrival of my new favorite shirt, seen above. If it looks familiar , it was a Friday Favorite a few weeks ago. When I said I needed it...I really meant it. It most certainly is a fitting phrase for myself. And its super comfy. A few gals told me they'd love to get one for themselves. Word to the runs a bit big and is a loose fit. So make sure to check the sizing guide before ordering. 

So this has been the scene over here the past few days. Lots of orders have gone out to happy new homes. All sorts of things! prints, stickers, plaques, signs, diecuts... nothing makes us happier! This stage of progress that you see above is the moment right before we start to fill the boxes. This is our time to double check everything all at once.

Wrapping orders up is seriously a favorite thing. Everything gets wrapped in pink and tied with baker's twine. We had to do the wrapping on the kitchen table due to every other surface in the house being taken. We had signs and diecuts drying on any flat space we could find.

I snapped this pic of Aaron to show just how big our larger prints are. We offer our prints in a few sizes, the 8x10 within an 11x14 mat is the most popular, but these large prints are great as a statement piece. A perfect way to really establish a theme for a room, or a bakery, or for a kid's room. The large print is 11 x 14 and fits a 16 x 20 frame. And definitely, the vintage pink mixer you see above is a customer fave! 

And guess what!?  Our "The Sweet Life" order arrived the other day and everything is now listed in the shop! Quantities are limited and we've already sold a bunch, so if you've been waiting...grab some goodies now! The resin pieces are so great! So fun seeing our paintings in this form! So many possibilities! And the 6 x 6 paper pads are too cute for words! And don't get me started on the treat bags or journaling cards! ha! I love it all I guess!

The windows were actually open today. Which is such a welcomed change form the past few cold days. Today the sun was shining bright and it made the workday way more pleasant. I like to be able to bounce around from project to project. So while orders dried I worked on a few personal projects. Including these collaged stacking stools that I started about 4 years ago! ha! I just set them aside for some reason and only now have I decided to get them finished up. Better late than never right?  I'll share pics of them when I finish them completely. Hopefully it wont take another few years.

And due to the sunshine outside Aaron got to do lots of cutting out on the deck. This is our trusty scroll saw which is responsible for the precision cutting of our diecuts.

Here we have an ice cream cone, an extract bottle, a cupcake, and a plate of cupcakes. We love working with wood! I grew up in my father's wood shop, so sawdust is in my blood.

We took a break from working to make one of our favorite meals. We call it the Harissa bowl. We got the idea from Sarah over at House in the Hills. It is so incredibly delicious. In this bowl are roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower that get tossed in Harissa spices before roasting. The roasted veggies are then served over coconut basmati rice with currants. Add a side of sautéed lime spinach, top with avocado, and yummmmmm. The balance of flavors and texture is so comforting. You won't believe that something so tasty can be so good for you. 

And finally...a pic of these two little nuts just for the heck of it. Jack's little "hand" get's raised if he's asking you for something. And I think Carlos has a perpetually blurred tail! ha! 

I hope you are enjoying your weekend so far! We may pop in tomorrow to say hi, but if not...Happy Easter friends!

xo Jenny...& Aaron says hi! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Favorites

It's Friday... and it's a Holiday Weekend. Those are two plusses in anybody's book. I love Easter for the pastel colors, the sweet treats, and the baskets full of fun. I have vivid memories of picking out Easter outfits to wear to church...oh geez some are cringe that white 1940s inspired hat with veil combo...and the fact that I wore it with a pink and cream damask blazer, layered over a white blouse with black bow tie! Oh and by the way...I was 11 years old. Always the style maven. And my mom totally allowed my adolescent self to get as disgustingly inventive as she wanted. Luckily I really didn't do heels...that would've added injury to insult. Horrible fashion memories aside, I've always found the aesthetics of Easter to be right up my alley. 

Speaking of Easter aesthetics...I just adore adore adore these bunny nails. So simple yet so effective. Perfectly sweet.

 This tutorial for these coffee filter Fascinators from Aunt Peaches is just so much fun! A totally worthy improvement upon the Easter Bonnet. 

Now does it get more adorable than these? What a perfect way to to present macarons this Easter. Or anytime if you just love cute bunnies like I do. Check out the simple and sweet tutorial over at Sugar & Cloth

 Love these gold leaf eggs! Fabulous! There is something so magical that happens when you pair pastels with shiny gold. These are absolutely enchanting.

And these super simple, super cute doodled eggs are just as sweet as the gold leaf eggs, but they're for those of us who love that scribbly hand drawn look. They're simply rendered with a sharpie. To see them from start to finish check out Paper & Stitch.

This is such an adorable little project...DIY iron on bunny tees.  How cute would these be for the littles in your life! And again, not just for Easter either! Of course I would wear one myself in a hop, skip, and a jump! 

And I just had to include this image. Need I explain why? The word that font! And this totally resembles the fab old motels we've got peppered all up and down the Jersey Shore. Oh jeez, Easter weekend is when all of our boardwalks open for the season. I'm predicting at least a short trip to see the sights and sounds of the stands, the rides, and the waves crashing in the distance.  

Whatever it is you have planned for this weekend we hope that you have a wonderful time. Lets hope for some warm sun. Get out there and enjoy it!
xo Jenny...& Aaron says hi!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vintage Style Spun Cotton Easter Cupcake Toppers

This is a super cute and very easy tutorial for all of you who love Vintage Easter collectibles and cupcakes! I'm thinking I just roped in a sizable audience with that opener. 
Homemade toppers are great, because even if you're not a baker, you can take a handful of bakery bought cupcakes and make them all your own by popping these in. Me and Aaron made these in an afternoon with very few supplies. We modeled them after some of our favorite collectibles.

And these here are just some of my favorite vintage toppers. They were a gift from a dear friend. I love the packaging! And yes, they were never opened. 

These right here are what we modeled ours after. The chicks crack me up. They actually have bangs! They look like surfers or skaters. 

We were so thrilled to find these spun cotton balls. They're exactly what we needed. They're from a great company called Spunnys. And I can't say enough about Nicolas at Spunnys...what great customer service, and fast shipping, and great prices too. I know we will be using Spunnys for lots of projects in the future. And the mullberry paper flowers are from Mullberry Bear, which has a great selection! 

Here is what you will need:
 Spun cotton balls (30mm)
Mullberry paper flowers (1 3/4")
party picks or toothpicks
assorted patterned papers
heavy duty crepe paper (or patterned paper)
all purpose glue
acrylic paint
ultra fine tip sharpie
xacto knife
paint brushes
circle paper punch 
1 white or yellow feather

We had a styrofoam food tray that worked perfectly as a place to keep our toppers while working. We just turned it upside down, and poked holes. First thing we did was to paint our balls with acryclic paint. We chose a pale yellow for the chicks and a creamy white for the bunnies. Once they were dry we drew the faces. First with pencil so that there would be guidelines for our sharpie. Tip: drawing on flat acrylic paint will dry up the tip of the sharpie, so keep a piece of scrap paper handy so that you can periodically scribble to get the ink flowing again.

Next we drew some ears on crepe paper, and some beaks on chipboard. (notice the beaks have two of the points will stick into the spun cotton ball). We used the chipboard as is, no need to paint it. The ears we drew as one shape, rather than two separate ears. The part where the two ears meet will fit into a slot on the spun cotton ball. Cut out your ears and beaks and set aside. 

Next, using a sharp xacto knife we made slices for our ears and beaks. Be very careful just want to poke the blade in and gently wiggle it to give enough space for the ears and beaks to slide in.

Now slide your ears and beaks into their respective slots. It takes a little work to get them in just right. Once they're in, using a detail brush, add a thin line of glue along the front and back to secure them. We love Aleene's because it dries fast, and clear!

Next up are the little "outfits". For your chick hats, cut out circles, then cut the circle in half, roll into a hat shape and glue the end to keep it in place.

For the collars, punch circles from patterned papers and pair them with contrasting colored paper flowers. And if you are giving your chicks the funny bangs you will need a white or yellow feather.

Cut a tiny bundle of feather and glue it inside the front of your hat. Then glue the hats onto the chicks.

Now poke holes in the centers of your flowers and paper circles and glue them together. Then push the doubled collar up the pick and glue to the ball. 
And you are finished!

Since we wanted a forever spot for these toppers we made some faux cupcakes from air dry clay. They're painted pink and creamy white,  and the tops are sprinkled with clear crystal glitter.

We hope you enjoyed this little tutorial! Now tht we've made these you can bet we will be making little characters for all seasons and holidays! If you make some of your own, we'd love to see pics! Thanks for joining us! 

If you enjoyed this tutorial you may love our book!

Happy Spring & Easter!
xo Jenny & Aaron

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Favorites

It looks like it's going to be the wonderful Spring weekend we've all been waiting for here in Jersey. Spring has been taking forever to show up, but gradually it's getting warmer out there. A couple days ago me and Aaron took our first beach walk of the season. It was still chilly and windy up by the water, but it was pleasant enough for us. I'm really looking forward to doing some of our work out on the deck. We've got lots of base coating to do, on plaques and die cuts, and doing it out in the sunshine will feel great. And oh jeez...don't even get me started on the idea of grilling up our veggies every evening out there in the open air. I've been dying to get the grill fired up.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I better keep my mouth shut about the pleasant weather or I just might jinx it. I'm psyched for Easter. The entire Jersey Shore pretty much opens for the season on Easter weekend. So it feels very fitting to open up this Friday Favorites with these super sweet Easter tags. 

I've shared lovely tags from Lia before, and these latest Easter tags only improve upon my already high opinion of her work. And guess what?...these are free printables! 
And not only are the tags printable...the sweet gift wrap is as well! You can find them all right here.

I love this table! The color is so bright and I love the contrast with the wood. It's half industrial, half super fun. Rustic yet modern. And the best is a folding table! It's from World Market, who always has my number when it comes to furniture. They call it a Beer Garden table. I can think of a million uses for it. When I was putting this table in the post, right below those tags by Lia, I instantly imagined owning this and it being our designated giftwrapping table. That would be awesome.

Oh jeez, there's a word that I simply cannot stand: procrastination. Yep, procrastination drives me crazy. I love days when everything that pops into my head gets done right then and there. To me, that is the definition of a good day. 
That's why I love this sign. This simple statement says it all. 

One of my all time favorite collectibles are vintage photos. Vintage holiday photos and birthday photos are the best. Over the years I've come across some really fantastic vintage Christmas tree photos, with kids posed in front holding their prized toys. And I love vintage photos of kids with their birthday cakes. I'm always searching for the classic "kids on Santa's lap" pics. But the much rarer cousin to Santa's lap pics are Easter bunny lap pics. They're not too easy to find, and they go for a pretty penny on ebay. I'm partial to shots from the 1940s - 50s. For my collections I generally like Easter bunny photos that are actually sweet. But it is also very entertaining when you come across the crazy ones. And for some reason, there are lots of very weird looking Easter bunny costumes out there. So, hats off to the girls over at Prudent Baby for putting together this round-up of 25 Absolutely Terrifying Easter Bunnies. You have to click over to see them all....there are some gems in there.

Aaron and myself are makers of signage, and therefore, we treasure any vintage reference that we come across. We are suckers for vintage neon from boardwalks and ice cream shops. And this Giant Ice Cream Cone is like a total dream! It would be amazing in our livingroom! The rust stains are perfect. And I love the sun faded tones of the pink and blue, and that cherry too! Wow! 

Right now I could totally go for these Honey, Peanut butter & Coconut cookies. The recipe is simple, and I swoon for an ingredients list that is as short as this one. 

The other day my friend Carolyn shared a link to this home, which was listed for sale in Toronto. The owner is a 96 year old gal, and it's pretty much a 1950s time capsule. Carolyn suspected that I'd die over these pics...and she was right! This entryway is my favorite. That wallpaper is so incredibly beautiful. I'd move in just based on the entryway!

And this living room! Everything is so pristine! It all reminds me so so much of The Madonna Inn! I've never been to the Madonna Inn, but it is on the top of my list of places that I must stay in one day! You truly should take a few minutes to browse some of the rooms

It is all so much fun! Especially when you consider that it's pretty much a secret. All of these magical pastel interiors are hidden away behind an exterior...that looks...

like this! 

I love it! It would be amazing if the next owner just kept it exactly as-is.

Ok, thanks again for reading my Friday Faves. I hope you found some fun and inspired things. Have a fabulous weekend!
xo, Jenny...and Aaron says hi!