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June 25, 2014

blueberry cheesecake

Sometimes I complain about my work too much. No one likes working in retail, but I'm really lucky to have a job where I do. For starters, it's a not-for-profit cooperative. This means the business is owned by our shoppers & employees, with the profits returning to the community at the end of the year. On top of that, this is the only job I've had where my relationships with my coworkers extend outside of the workplace (it's where I've met my closest friends, a few past roommates, & my lovely girlfriend). 

As with all jobs, meetings are required. In my department we turn meetings into potlucks. This is where the blueberry cheesecake comes in. Not that I need a reason to make a cheesecake, let's be frank. Although it is dangerous to whip up two cheesecakes & just have them sit in our fridge to be quickly devoured over a startlingly short period of time. 

This recipe makes two cheesecakes: one for the potluck & one for myself - I'm a little cheesecake-selfish. If you have a bit more self control than I do, you can divide the recipe in half for one cheesecake. 


Cheesecake Filling //
  • 2 pre-made (9") graham cracker crusts 
  • 2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Dash of salt
Cheesecake Topping //
  • 2 pints blueberries (fresh or frozen - or local! It's blueberry season!)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch or arrowroot powder 

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Mix together the cream cheese & sugar. A hand mixer works best, but if you don't have one, use a fork. Mix until the cream cheese is completely blended. 

Mix in eggs, vanilla extract, & salt. Mix in sour cream until mixture is completely blended. 

Pour the filling into your pie crusts. Bake for 45-50 minutes. The cheesecake is done when it jiggles & has slightly browned. Insert a knife or toothpick in the center of the cheesecakes to test doneness. Let cheesecakes cool before applying topping. 

To make the filling, combine blueberries & sugar in a pot. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in corn starch or arrowroot powder. Cook until powder has completely dissolved. Remove from heat & let cool. When your cheesecakes have cooled, pour the filling on top. Keep the cheesecakes in the refrigerator until completely cool. 

Now I just have to control myself & not eat this cheesecake before my coworkers have a chance to even look at it. 


Related // Learn how to make your own vanilla extract.

June 24, 2014

out & about // sunrise

Good Morning!

Have you had an opportunity to watch the sunrise recently? 

A friend of mine from college has taken it upon himself to watch the sunrise as often as he can, & invites others to join him. Chase started watching the sunrise in 2011, & made it a personal goal to watch it rise every morning for an entire year. I've had the fortunate opportunity to watch it with him a few times, this morning being one of them.

Sunrise on the lake in Tallahassee, FL

Watching the sunrise is an unexpectedly calming way to start the day. Most mornings I'm either rushing to get ready for work or sleeping in too late. Waking up at o'dark-thirty doesn't exactly appeal to my sleep schedule, but after settling in to watch the clouds change from blue to pink, I felt that calm. Chase may be onto something with this sunrise thing - he rarely seems stressed, & has a peace about him that permeates everyone around. For him, the sunrise represents a greater transition from one thing to the next. He tells me that this transition of dark to light is everywhere, from relationships to new births. I'm amazed by the way he perceives the world & the art he is able to create based on his perceptions. His work & ideas are explored further on his site, Sunrise Goal

It's a beautiful morning.

The best part about watching the sun rise is that you can't be in a rush. The sun's not going to hurry up for you, so all you can do is sit, wait, & watch. It's nice to be able to catch up with a friend - sipping on a coffee & chatting - underneath such a colorful & impressive display. 

Watching the sun slowly rise

Even if it means waking up super early, it's worth it to witness this everyday phenomenon. & the best part? If you sleep in too late & miss it, there's always tomorrow. 

Sunrise at the lake


P.S. // More life musings

June 20, 2014

links i love // bikes, etc.

It's hot as heck in Florida. The humidity, mosquitos, & flash thunderstorms are making it difficult to go out & do things. The key is waking up early enough to be productive before the temperatures rise to unbearable heights. These are a few of the things inspiring me in the morning. 

// Top Links of the Week // 

  • How To Make A Terrarium // I've made plenty a false terrarium in my day (you can see my efforts on my portfolio site), but have yet to venture into the world of the living. This is just too cute though. The teeny deer makes it.
  • (Grow Your Own Crystal) Necklace // RaChil over at The Cwafty Blog posted this totally fascinating, totally gorgeous tutorial that I just love. It's beautiful, fun, & totally worth looking at.
  • PVC and Milk Basket Bike Basket // This DIY is a must-do at my house. M'lady & I have been getting into biking lately, so we've been looking for ways to supe-up our bikes (do people say "supe" anymore?). Stay tuned in to the blog to see this DIY in action in the future.
  • Skip the Bedframe // This is a duh. & also a possible window into my future. I never liked the look of our metal bed frame, but enjoyed having the bed off the ground. This may be the solution that sticks.
  • Venn-Diagram Love // This lovely embroidery comes from Cate at Bee's Knees Industries. I just love this design idea - definitely something I need on my bedroom gallery wall.
  • Cats on a Bike // Enough said.
  • Mint Green Bike // Have any of you ever thought about painting your bike? It's a daunting DIY, but it's something I've always wanted to try. This little bike magnet in mint green has me inspired by it's colors.


Update // I painted by bike!

June 16, 2014

gingerbread apple pie

Gingerbread Apple Pie recipe
Do you have any Fourth of July plans? The small town that I grew up in always had a festival around Independence Day. It lasted for three whole days & came complete with a parade, tractor pull races, & ring-toss games for prizes. My parents would always let us crawl onto the roof with our bags of parade candy to watch the fireworks on the last day of the festival. It was one of my favorite times of the year. Nowadays I tend to keep things more low-key, while still looking forward to the mid-summer holiday.

June 13, 2014

diy succulent pots

Part of my ongoing to-do list involves re-decorating my mantel. This set of tiny succulents I found definitely helped to brighten up the space above my fireplace. The pots they came in, however, did nothing for me. 
I needed something light & airy to keep them in, so I set to work making this set of white clay pots. Since these are living plants, it was important for me to make something for them to thrive in. With air-dry clay, spray paint, & polyurethane, I was able to create new homes for my plants that are conducive to their growth, as well as being pleasing to the eye! The pots aren't perfect, but I think they're quirky enough to get the job done.
A note about using air-dry clay: this isn't a heavy-duty material. I was able to make these pots out of air-dry clay because they're so small. If you're looking to make larger pots, consider using a different material. Dimensions aside, I love the possibilities that air-dry clay presents! These pots could also be stamped or carved into before drying for a more decorative touch.
To make mini-succulent pots, you'll need:

  • A self-healing cutting mat
  • A rolling pin (or a round bottle, as pictured above)
  • Air-dry clay
  • Wax paper
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil & paper
  • X-acto knife
  • Scissors
  • Spray paint
  • Succulents in pots
  • Polyurethane & foam brush (optional - not pictured)
Measure the pots your plants came in. You can either make a template of your pots or keep the measurements in mind. I traced the bottom of my pot, making a template, but just wrote down the width & height of my pots.

You will need to use one of the pots as a template, so temporarily transplant one of your succulents.
Next, take a portion of your air-dry clay & roll it out about 1/4 inch thick. I put the clay in-between two pieces of the waxed paper before rolling. This kept it from sticking to the rolling pin & cutting mat.
With your x-acto knife, cut out enough clay to cover your pot, based on your measurements. I traced around my template of the bottom of the pot, & cut a 2 inch by 5.5 inch-4.5 inch piece to wrap around the sides. 
Next, cover your template pot in wax paper. This allows it to be easily freed from the clay. Wrap the clay around the wax paper-covered pot, smoothing out the seams as you go.
Flip the pot over & place clay on the bottom. Smooth out the seams. 
Roll your pot on the cutting mat to smooth the surface of the clay. 

If you find this isn't smoothing out the surface enough, run a slightly wet paper towel across the surface of the clay. This will up your drying time by a few hours, but it also creates a seamless finish.
Pull the pot out of the clay, leaving the wax paper behind.
Next, turn your pot over & cut a few draining holes. If your pot is too soft to work with, put it in the freezer for a few minutes before cutting the draining holes. 
Now for the hard part - waiting for them to dry. I let them sit overnight.

 I made the saucers by rolling out clay as before, cutting them to the size of the top of my template pot, & pressing the middle down to create a divot

Once your pots are dry, spray paint them inside & out. If you're making your pots for live plants, apply a coat of polyurethane to seal the clay.
Now I just have to remember to water them. 


Related // If neither of your thumbs are green, consider decorating with a plant look-alike

June 10, 2014

10 things you probably forgot to clean

I just finished cleaning my whole house. Well, almost. The more I cleaned, the more I came across things that needed cleaning. Vacuuming lead to scrubbing behind the toilet, which lead to wiping down the baseboards, which lead to washing the walls. The cleaning-domino-effect inspired me to put together a list of things that need the occasional TLC. 

1. Blinds // Maybe you're ahead of the ball on this one, but blinds never make it to my to-do list. You can clean your window treatments with the dusting brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Even if you don't have blinds, your curtains need to be cleaned every other month or so, & can be vacuumed the same way. 

2. Ceiling fan blades // If you're like me, this is the one spot in your house you forget to clean until it's the last day of your lease & you're running around trying to make sure you get every cent of that security deposit back. Fan blades can be wiped clean with the aid of a step-stool, or by using a duster with an extended handle. If your blades are particularly dusty, vacuum them first with a long vacuum attachment before wiping. 

3. Ceiling // While we're looking up, check out your ceiling, particularly in the corners. If you see cobwebs or dust, it's time to clean. Ceilings can be cleaned with a dusting brush attachment on your vacuum. 

4. Remote // Everyday objects often get overlooked on cleaning day. Keep your remote gunk-free by brushing it with a slightly damp toothbrush, making sure to clean around the buttons. Use this same method for phones with buttons.

5. Walls // Similar to the ceiling, walls often get overlooked. When you spill something on the floor, you wipe it up - but spills can splatter, hitting the walls. If you have pets, oil & dirt from the coats end up on the walls when they bump into them. Dust also collects here, so you may have to clean with a combination of a vacuum & all-purpose cleaner.

6. Floors // Sure you mop, vacuum, & sweep your floors regularly, but when is the last time you really cleaned them? Sometimes mopping isn't enough to get tougher spots out in the bathroom & kitchen. Ala Cinderella before she met her Prince Charming, getting down on your hands & knees & spot-cleaning the floors can really make a difference. Make sure to scrub along the walls & in the corners. While you're down there…

7. Baseboards // Baseboards should be vacuumed every time you vacuum the floor, using a long attachment. Spot cleaning can really make them shine. Use a wood cleaner or all-purpose cleaner. 

8. Behind the toilet // If boys live in your house, you know how important is is to clean behind the toilet. Clean this area with bathroom cleaner or a bleach-based cleaner every time you clean your toilet to prevent odors & mold from thriving here.
9. Computer keyboard & screen // Your fingers are on your keypad everyday, trapping all the dirt, germs, & oils from your hands. Using a can of compressed air will help to clean out the dust from under the keys, & a gentle wipe with a microfiber cloth can keep the keys shining. Don't forget to clean your computer screen as well. When dust starts to collect, a quick wipe with a microfiber cloth will make your screen clearer & brighter.

10. Air filter // You keep your house clean, & you should also keep your air clean! It's recommended that you change out your air filter every three months. Don't forget!

What are some other things that you forget to clean around your house? 


P.S. How to keep your home tidy (even when life isn't).

June 6, 2014

links i love // inspired

A chair redo from my pre-blog life!

What gets you inspired? Is it watching others build things? Seeing pictures of finished projects? To-Do lists? Boredom? All of the above? These are some of the things inspiring me this week: 

// Top Links of the Week //

  • Coffee & Tea Print // A little graphics love. I just adore the color choice & the patterns. Check out this print for sale at bunnypumpkin's Etsy store.
  • Gold with While Tile - Shower // Can't stop pinning subway tile. Can't pass up on the gold. I think I have a problem.
  • DIY Etched Glasses // I love DIYs, & this tutorial is super helpful! The Yummy Life goes into every detail of glass etching, & all the mistakes that can be made along the way. I'll definitely be following along with this tutorial in my future glass-etching adventures.
  • Etched Glass Gift Ideas // Speaking of glass etching… I'm getting a little ahead of myself with my Future Wedding board, but hey. Dream big, right? Besides, personalized glasses are a fantastic gift idea (& super cheap).
  • Crispy Kale Chips // A friend of mine told me that she eats entire bundles of kale in the form of chips, all in one sitting. I may have to see what all the hype is about by using this recipe.
  • Hoop Earrings in Different Shapes // This is such a no-brainer, & I'm upset with myself for not thinking of this before. Hoop earrings in basically one step! I'm not much of a hoop-wearing-gal, but I could see the need for a tasteful hoop like this in my future.
  • DIY Printed Pocket Tee // A lovely, self-explanatory DIY project to spruce up boring tees a.k.a. my entire summer closet.


June 5, 2014

bike pouch

When I was in high school, I biked every day. Not for pleasure, but out of adolescent necessity. When you're a teenager, the last place you want to be is stuck in the house with your annoying siblings & your boring parents (oh how things change). Since I didn't have a car, I took to the streets on two wheels. 

Now I bike for pleasure, but more & more I feel the need to incorporate biking into my everyday transportation needs. Plus the town I live in has recently adopted bike-friendly changes to its roadways. We actually have sensible bike lanes now (I live in the south so this is kind of a big deal)! 

I made this bike pouch for those quick runs to the drug store or meet ups at the coffee shop. It's the perfect size for my belongings that were before dangerously contained in my pockets (why don't they make iPhone-sized pockets for lady's pants?).

This tutorial is not for the novice sewer, but it's no where near expert level. It's basically the same concept as my No-Sew Clutch Tutorial, only this time with sewing & straps. If you need help with the pattern, I've included links under the supply list.

Continue with the tutorial after the break!

June 1, 2014

out & about // take it easy

Take it easy

Every now & then I let things get to me. Circumstances & events - past & future - collect together into a looming pile of sad. I know from past experience that if I do not tackle these stressors head on with a more positive attitude that the piles will tumble & overwhelm me. 

Such has been the case of late. Do you have a job you love to hate & hate to love? Or perhaps balancing school & a life engulfs you in stress? For me I tend to pile things up (what can I say - I'm a collector) until the piles become mountains & I can't see clear across them anymore. But the older I get the more capable I become at handling stress-mess. 

I like to de-stress a couple of ways :
  • Going out to eat (no cooking + no dishes = less stress, right?)
  • Reading a book (I honestly don't do this enough, & escaping to someone else's reality can be good for the body & brain)
  • Spur-of-the-moment date night 
  • Taking a bike ride
  • Spending moments alone (mostly to come face-to-face with my stress & get real with it)
  • Cleaning the house top to bottom
  • Having a conversation with someone I haven't seen in a while
  • Doing my nails (looking pretty makes a person feel pretty!)
  • Naps (sometimes you have to throw in the towel & just sleep it off)

What about you guys? What are some of the ways you deal with stress? 


Related // De-stress by watching a sunrise

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