Inspired by Play Kitchens

Friday, September 30, 2011

On September 1, 2010, I sent an email to my family and friends letting them know that I had been working on this blog and has started a challenge, bringing The Whole EnCHELLEada along. We both worked hard during the month of September to post something every day, and I'm stoked that we decided to do it again this year. And although I'm not 100% satisfied with the quality of a few posts (I blame the limitation of 24 hours in one day), I'm 30 minutes away from posting every weekday this month and successfully completing the challenge!

Today's post is my reflection on the reason why I even started IHB and why I continue posting, even late into the night and house chores waiting to be completed. In order to explain where it all started, I need to share this picture of little Debbie (not the snack cake) in her play kitchen holding her baby doll and drinking air out of a plastic tea cup.

This little Debbie not only had shiny brown hair and amazing taste in ruffle tops even at a young age, she had a HUGE imagination (hence, air tea) and her foreign-born parents made sure she never stepped back from going after what she wanted. So she did.

I'll stop talking in the third person now and get to my point. From high school activities to college shinanagans to a post graduate degree, I put myself in too many activities and too many leadership roles. I now work hard, 50 plus hours a week, spend time working retail for the addition of a discount, train hard and constantly make sure that my Pinterest is not neglected.  And on top of this, I make sure to create new things, visit new places, and call everyone back. But I know I'm not the only one - a woman can have a career, can strive to be the best, and still be creative.

And that's what I live to do. I will be that working professional and I will make it to my tenth half marathon. I will be the best wife, daughter, cousin, friend and neighbor, and although my nachos are really my only claim to fame, I will also be a pretty darn cook one day. Just as the little girl in this picture hoped for.

I love you. Thanks for being a part of my life! And I hope you have some time in your day to be inspired to create something new.

Inspired by Ho Ho Holiday Cards!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

When I left the house today, it was dark. And when I finally came back, it was dark again. Clearly, summer has left me in the dust and fall is not shy about returning to California. We can't complain, really, with all of this great weather year-round and the fact that it's sunny most days of the year. But I wasn't ready. I never got a chance to wear my bow tie wedges.

So now I begin thinking about holiday cards - the first year as husband and wife. I'm skipping the wedding picture upcycle trend and instead sending some humor into the homes of our family and friends. Since my brain is packed full of presentation content, messaging, and new federal rules, I'm taking a back seat on the creativity Volkswagon bug and letting Pinterest do the work for me.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Choices!! There are so many cute ideas ... what's your favorite?

Inspired by Tying the Knot

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

(Today, I learn a valuable wife skill.)

During tonight's shift at my it's-so-much-fun-that-I-work-here-for-the-discount job, I noticed a new tutorial sign on the fitting room wall: how to tie a tie. How timely: my husband isn't a fan of this process, and actually gets a little frustrated when he has to tie one for himself. And since I hate walking through life not knowing something as crucial as tying a tie, I experimented with different styles and learned a few things about creating the important knot.

First, I started with the four-in-hand knot. This actually looked incredibly awful when I finished and just wasn't tight enough. The four-in-hand knot is an informal method and works great for skinny ties (which are SO back in).

Next was the half-windor knot and my product was spectacular. I had a few bumps at first, making the skinny end too long and ultimately having an unbalanced tie. But I especially liked the result and this is the best option for a semi-formal event.

The windsor knot is specific for formal events and leaves you with a thicker knot. I had trouble with this version but got the hang of it, but enough to really like the heavier product.

My favorite was the half-windsor knot, and I'm mostly saying this because it was the easiest knot that had amazing results. And frankly, I really like dressing up the mannequins (it's the preferred knot in the store)!

Thanks Banana Republic for teaching me another valuable skill!!!

craft: alphabet soup art

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

(Today, I design my alphabet soup.)

My mom wasn't much of the canned soup type, but I am definitely the kind of gal to see something I like and make something with a Debbie touch. In this case, the alphabet soup graphic being created by different artists is pretty awesome and my Photoshop skills are sort of rusty. I found the picture of our Pottery Barn bedding and used those colors in the letters.

home: shells, sand and friends

Monday, September 26, 2011

(Today, we step into a beach getaway.)

As we get older and find ourselves moving away from home, going to college, bouncing around from coast to coast, town to town, I have been fortunate enough to hold onto a handful of true friends. That is the case with MA, a fellow small town farm girl that I met while on a high school FFA trip and who I ultimately lived with during that turbulent first year as a freshman in college (she's the first roommate I ever had ... you're welcome MA!).

MA and her husband invited us along with our other friends to spend the weekend at her family's beach house in Aptos, California, and the three-story family getaway is a reflection of a down-to-earth family that enjoys a classical beach style with touches of modern design. Here are a few of the small details that can be found around the house, including this local print and a vase to store beach treasures.

As you enter the beach house, you'll see these two signs in a second kitchen and laundry room. This is a great space to leave behind sandy shoes and wet bathing suits.

It's all in the details. On the left is a starfish drawer knob found on a bureau and on the right is a water faucet with a shell knob outside on the deck.

Still on the second level of the home you find youself eye to eye with these classic oars and outside you can sit on this adorable aged bench.

These two faux shells decorate a table while this chic dresser and its glass knobs store linens. The mirror and its shells reflect the beach calm that we enjoyed during our stay.

A big heartfelt thanks to the Charters for letting us enjoy the oceanview, watching dolphins play in the waves, and their friendship. You're welcome for bringing LRC, or RLC, or CLR ... Love you Caddy!

craft: picture perfect cards

Thursday, September 22, 2011

For most holidays and special events, Jeremy has received one-of-a-kind collage cards with pictures, small pieces of paper and a few words. In honor of today's September Challenge, I share with the IHB readers some of the cards that have brought tears to the young buck's eyes, including this year's Valentine's Day card with pictures of our engagement photoshoot at Fenway Park in Boston.

This card was a collage of "debbie and jeremy" pictures given to him on our first Valentine's Day. To fill some of the white space, I used scrapbook paper and stamped a few "heartfelt" words.

Happy 32 birthday Jeremy with a memory collage of pictures from the previous year of his life, including all of the major sports trades that really made that year special (oh, and the fact that we bought a house, got engaged and he ran the Boston marathon ... ).

On our two year dating anniversary, I created another collage of "debbie and jeremy" pictures, filling some of the white space with pieces of pink scrapbook paper.

For another birthday, the Whole EnCHELLEada gave me some of her 50 state scrapbook paper, and I used a square from each state he has lived in, highlighting the most important one!

These cards have become a tradition and he now looks forward to receiving them more than a gift. It's incredibly easy to create small pictures on your computer, print them out on regular paper or cardstock, and cut them out. The best part is moving the squares around and creating a puzzle. Your creativity is endless when you need to fill the white space - use construction paper, pieces of special messages to each other or ribbon.

september challenge: meal sharing

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Today, I beg my best friend to be the first IHB "food" blog post since I'm a pathetic soul in the kitchen. Cece Mendoza is an incredibly talented baker and cook (she joined me in the wedding registry process), so please join me in welcoming her.
Since I'm not crafty, it came as a shock when IHB invited me to be a guest blogger. Luckily for all of us, she asked me to cook and make something I have never made before, and chronicle the process here. Well, it didn’t take long to figure out what that was going to be. I thought it would be perfect to attempt the avocado eggrolls that we both love from The Cheesecake Factory (which we enjoy to wash down with a couple of cocktails). After some Internet searching, I found a good recipe at Recipe Secrets.

For the most part, the eggrolls are pretty easy to make; however, there are a few unusual ingredients in the recipe but there's no reason to become intimidated and give up. My advice is to visit your local super market and ask for help in finding what you need. This particular recipe calls for tamarind. What the heck is tamarind? Answer: tamarind is the fruit of a tall tree that grows in Asia and North Africa. Its pods are about five inches long and contain seeds and a pulp that become extremely sour when dried. Ultimately, it’s a central ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.

Here are some helpful tips before making this dish:
  • Make your dipping sauce first.
  • This recipe only makes 4 egg rolls, so if you are sharing with someone (like IHB), double, triple, quadruple the recipe.
  • Use large avocados.
  • If you decide to fry the egg rolls, make sure that your oil stays at a constant heat of 375 degrees (my first one got very crispy, really fast). I used a cooking thermometer. You can also bake them for a healthier option (400 degrees).
Dipping Sauce Ingredients
  • 3-4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon tamarind pulp
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 pinch powdered saffron
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews
  • 2/3 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
Dipping Sauce
Stir together vinegars, tamarind, honey, and saffron in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave for 1 minute. Stir until tamarind is dissolved.
In a blender, puree tamarind mixture, cashews, cilantro, garlic, onions, sugar, pepper, and cumin. Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in oil. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Egg Rolls
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, & diced
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced red onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 egg roll wraps
  • 1 egg, beaten
Gently stir together avocado, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and salt. Distribute filling evenly onto center of each egg roll wrapper.

Position a wrapper so that a corner is pointing toward you; fold the bottom corner up, 1/4 of the way over the filling. Brush remaining corners and edges of the wrapper with egg, roll up from side to side, fold top corner over all and press to seal.

Repeat with remaining wrappers. Continue by deep-frying the egg rolls in 375 degree oil for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Slice egg rolls diagonally across middle and serve with prepared dipping sauce.

I'm sure you are going to have some leftover egg roll wrappers. Try making some of the following: 
  • Raviolis
  • Chicken egg rolls
  • Won-tons
  • Egg noodles 
You can use leftover dipping sauce you can put some over some salmon as a glaze and bake.

Cece Mendoza

craft: pinwheel chore chart

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Today, we welcome the talented Talia Sinkinson to share with IHB readers the creative way she keeps chores in line with her roommates. The sister of my amazing coworker, Talia is an artistic young woman who inspires me with her talent and desire to be more creative every day.

Nothing affected my crafting career more than learning how to make a pinwheel. I finally found my go-to embellishment for a bedroom, birthday card, or, as I discovered this fall, a chore chart! When I moved into an apartment with three of my best friends, I knew that delegating chores would be important and what better way than an ornamental chore chart. Every week, we spin the pinwheel and each person is charged with a new task. Practical and it adds some color to our fridge! Here are my step-by-step directions for how you can make your own pinwheel.

Start with two sheets of scrapbook paper, a thumbtack or fastener, a pen, and scissors. Choose one sheet of paper for the pinwheel and one for the chart.

Cut the sheet you’ll be using for the pinwheel into quarters. You’ll only use one quarter of this sheet for the pinwheel. Fold the pinwheel sheet diagonally, both ways.
Cut along each folded line 3/4 of the way to the center of the page. You should now have 8 separate corners along the perimeter of the paper. Bring alternating corners to the center of the sheet. Hold them down using your finger. The corners should overlap.
Punch the tack or fastener through each corner and through the center of the pinwheel.
Fold the remaining sheet of paper into quarters. Write each chore in a quadrant. Make on hole in the center of the this sheet. Poke the fastener through this hold to attach the pinwheel to the bottom sheet.

Ta-da! Your pinwheel chore chart!

Thank you Talia for being a part of Inspired Honey Bee and sharing with our readers your creative idea for helping moms keep kids in check (or husbands) and encouraging roommates to share responsibility!

Inspired by Keepsakes

Friday, September 16, 2011

(Today, I give you a glimpse into our wedding.)

One of the best components of our wedding was the photobooth and the scrapbook we had on hand for our guests to glue a photostrip and write a message. The day after the wedding when we finally caught our breath and looked through the book, we laughed so hard that we teared up with gratitude for adding this to our wedding day.

halloween: Eek! inspiration

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

(Today, I'm inspired by ghost, goblins and pumpkins.)

Halloween is calling out to me at the grocery store, in magazines and especially on Pinterest. I'm not sure if it's because the weather is still sunny and lovely or because I'm still planning summer weekends, but the need to decorate for Halloween just isn't there yet. So to inspire myself, I collected some of my favorite Halloween images for this holiday mashup.

The Whole EnCHELLEada is still up to her creative tricks and inspiring you this month. Make sure to see what's going on with her challenge.

Inspired by Warmth

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

(Today, I get the house ready for colder weather.)

There is a popular trend right now all over Pinterest (and frankly, I don't know how I came across so much good stuff, really!) - yarn and felt wreaths. With a straw wreath stuffed in the corner of our house, this was a perfect time to give it a makeover with this popular cold weather look.

The 18 inch straw wreath was covered with one bundle of yarn. With a bit of hot glue to secure the beginning of the yarn, I started covering that straw wreath, one loop at a time. Once the majority of the wreath was wrapped, I went back and covered up a few gaps.

When you have so many choices, it's hard to pick just the right felt flower style to create. So for this crafter, I opted to try all of them. Instead of me repeating all of the steps that I followed to get these awesome flowers, I'll give credit to my inspiration and hope that you'll make a visit on the sites of my fellow bloggers.

After finishing the flowers, I arranged everything perfectly and hot-glued the final pieces to complete this cooler weather wreath for our front door. Two buttons polished this project!

Inspired by ... Walmart?!

Monday, September 12, 2011

(Today, I walk out of my comfort zone.)

During our most recent trip to the East Coast, my husband was a groomsman in the wedding of his childhood friend and I had some time to spare while the boys were boys. There wasn't much in the area where we were staying, but there was a Walmart across the street. Now, it's not that I'm a Walmart hater, it's just that I don't have access to one close to home. So it was surprising to me when I walked in and it was like a kid in a candy store ... so much to see!!

Directly to my left was the craft section - scrapbooking, yarn, fabric, wood pieces, oh my! The Cricut cartridges were less expensive than the sale price at other locations. Look at my choices!

One aisle over had yarn in every color, blends of colors and of different textures, for as little as 97 cents each. I couldn't believe such quality yarn was at my fingertips, with visions of scarves in shades I only dream of making.

And fabric! Oh the fabric! There was so much of it and for as little as $1.50 a yard. There was burlap and holiday fabric, and all I can think about is whether buying a second luggage bag and paying the fee is worth buying a whole lotta stuff here!

And after spending some time with The Whole EnCHELLEada, these wooden letters would be perfect and inexpensive for her wedding projects.

Can you imagine a spool of ribbon for less than what some places charge for one yard? Well, Walmart makes it easy to imagine just that! Ribbon with stripes, dots and pattern. I just love the look of a wall with so many different types of ribbons staring back at you. These aren't very heavy, now are they?

And as much as I claim that I need to sew more, I'm obviously incapable of doing it without the generosity of the free online tutorial. Well, Walmart has sewing patterns for less than $1, and with the inexpensive fabric, I can make everyone an apron for their birthday!

The people in the area must have amazingly decorated holiday tables because a bin of plastic fall vegetables for less than $1 each can make the Cotton house festive year-round!

If you are ever within a block of our house, then you know that a Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Celtics fan lives within our walls - you can either hear the cheering or cursing coming out of our windows. But when you're a New England fan living in the Bay Area and walk into a Walmart store in Massachusetts, it's pretty amazing to see so many Red Sox shirts in one place! Holy smoke green monster!

After going through my Pinterest boards, I found some projects that I'm confident can be accomplished after just one trip to Walmart. Here are some of my inspirational faves: