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Spending My Summer in the Backyard Part 1…

So, I’ve been missing all summer from these blogging streets. Let’s just say that I’ve been taking some time to stop and smell the flowers….

Backyard Bending Pose Zinnia_edited-1

For the past few years, I’ve been really trying to work on my green thumb. Pinterest has me inspired and thinking that I can do anything! And what I can’t do, I can convince hubby to do!! lol! The picture above features a preview of the patio hubby built a couple years ago and the pergola he built this year. The flowers though…that’s all me!

Backyard Flower Bed

We’ll get to the details of the full patio/pergola design as well as the decorative touches that I add in part 2. In the meantime, the flowers are courtesy of of box of Zinnia seeds that I purchased from none other than Dollar Tree! One box claimed to contain 100 seeds and produced all this!

Backyard Orange ZinniaBackyard Pink Zinnia

They attract the most beautiful butterflies!

Backyard Black Spotted ButterflyBackyard Black Spotted Butterfly2

You have to appreciated God’s creations and how He perfectly coordinates the body of the insect to the wings! And did you see that extra splash of blue and orange??

Backyard Umbrella Stand

Another of my Pinterest inspirations was this umbrella base. I used a large 16″ flower pot from Home Depot, one and a half bags of cement mix, a pvc pipe, and spray paint. After everything set, I added dirt and flowers. This thing is heavy and holds a large 8 foot umbrella and all for less than $40!!

Backyard Pepper in Garden

Did I mention that I garden now too?? Well, I actually started that last year after hubby and daughter built a garden bed for me. I grew a variety of peppers and herbs this year.

Backyard Peppers Harvest

I harvested these peppers and made some deliciously spicy tacos!

I realize that summer is coming to an end but where I live, fall is an even better season to enjoy the outdoors. As fall approaches and the temps cool a bit, I’ll be adding the finishing touches and will share it all in part 2 so stay tuned!Backyard Standing Zinnia Pose_edited-1

DIY Summer Hair Color: No Bleach, Cover Grays, and Add Shine!

There comes a time in every woman’s life when she wants a little change in her look. Our hair is usually the easiest change to make and the easiest to reverse if we don’t like it. Well, I’ll be honest and share that I had some gray strands that were becoming downright disrespectful so I needed a little “highlight” to help me calm them down.

(Affiliate links are used throughout the blog and when you make a purchase using them, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.)

I went over to my local Sally Beauty to purchase a few items to begin my mini-transformation. Here comes some demi-permanent color to the rescue! I chose the color medium burgundy brown. From my understanding, the demi lasts longer than a semi-permanent but still washes away after about 20-25 washes.  I purchased this burgundy color because I wanted a not too obvious but show a little something in the sun type of color. I paired with with this 10 volume developer per the package instructions.

Dye Hair Materials

I mixed it all together in a non-metal bowl. I used equal parts color to developer because I wanted a strong enough pigment to match the level of disrespect to those pesky gray strands, lol.

Dye Hair Mixture

 

I gathered a few other necessary items to help me get the job done: hair clipsglovesplastic cap, and an optional application brush. The last item you see is an old t-shirt that I usually use to dry my hair so I don’t mind getting it messed up in this process.

Dye Hair Tools

 

I sectioned off portions of my hair and made sure that each part was saturated. I then twisted the section and added a clip.

Dye Hair in Hair

I put on the plastic cap (not shown here) then sat under my bonnet dryer for about 40 minutes.

Dye Hair under dryer

I applied a heat protection and proceeded to use a hair dryer to dry my hair stretched but not completely straightened. I then used a curling wand to create a wavy, curly look.

Dye Hair Styling Tools

Dye Hair After pics2

The result is va-va-va-voom! You have to squint one eye and turn your head in the sunlight to notice the color but it’s there and most importantly, no grays!

Dye Hair After pics

Still can’t see the burgundy too well in this pic but check out my bouncy curls, lol!

I’m working on editing a video that will give you more detail on this look so stay tuned for that if you’re interested!

Summer is nearly upon us and I have a lot of grand ideas from outdoor decorating, around town festival-ling and mini renovations that I’m excited/scared about executing. So I hope you follow the blog so you don’t miss all this excitement!

Until next time, friends….

Home Depot DIY: Wall Planter Turned This Novice Into a Pro!

So I had been contemplating for quite some time how I could artistically display house plants that I’ve been trying not to kill to grow. I had a failed attempt at some wall shelves that I “secured” to the wall with command strips. They looked good at first but came crashing down out of nowhere a couple of times nearing destroying the plants they were holding. To save my plants, and our lives by preventing the heart attacks induced by loud crashing plants, I gave up on that idea. I had been wracking my brain for a couple weeks on how to get these plants on the wall in a decorative fashion when I came across this post on Instagram:

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Is Home Depot reading my mind? I know that Facebook and Google have infiltrated my whole life and know my thoughts before I have them but how did Home Depot know??? I’ll dismiss the creepiness of that for now since I did actually want to learn how to do this project.

So, I registered online and moseyed on over to my local Home Depot on the designated day. This was my first time attending a workshop here and I’m guessing it won’t be my last. It was a painless and fun experience overall.

Uncut Plywood

We started out with a 2 X 4 plank of plywood. We measured and marked the wood every 12 inches both horizontally and vertically.

I even had the chance to use an electric saw for the first time. We cut out 8 planks that were each 12 X 12. I thought I inspired my mini-me to be brave enough to take on the challenge of sawing but turns out she’s done this before with my husband. I guess I’m the only novice in this house.

 

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We were then given a sanding sponge thingy to get the surface all nice, smooth, and splinter-less.

Sanding Plywood

Then we were instructed to make a marking 3 inches from the top corner in order to affix a hanging device. We hammered the hanger in place.

 

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We measured to get to the center point of the wood and drilled in a 1/8 inch hole. We then attached a metal adjustable holder in the center.

 

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We added the flower pot and tightened the adjustable holder in place.

Finished at Home Depot

Now to finish it up and make it all pretty, we applied a couple coats of a dark wood stain. I don’t know if we were a little too heavy handed but it actually took a full couple days to completely dry.

 

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Nevertheless the end result is beautiful and looks like it costs a little bit of money. Did I mention that we got these completely for free!! Yes, not only was the workshop free but we got to take home our project for no charge…score!

I added my own touches to the final product by switching out the pot for these glass jars. I added some decorative stones at the bottom for drainage. These cost me a whole $3 at my favorite high end store, the Dollar Tree…lol.

Planters on wall

And there you have it! My first diy utilizing power tools. I feel so empowered and ready to saw and drill everything in sight!

Have you ever attended a Home Depot workshop? What did you learn? How come I’m just now finding out how awesome this is? That last one was rhetorical….

I’m going to keep riding this creative wave and have many more ideas that I’m going to implement so stay tuned! 🙂

Transition to Spring…Outfit Ideas

Spring season is here even if it doesn’t feel like it most days in my neck of the woods. Nevertheless, I wanted to at least mentally pack away my winter shroud in exchange for some lighter fabrics.

Often you’ll find that I like to layer a structured jacket over a dress. Sometimes the jacket just completes the look. Other times, it’s really not warm enough yet to wear the short sleeves by themselves. Either way, it has kind of become my signature look.

blue-striped-dress-denim-jacket.jpgGray Jacket Peach Dress edit_edited-1

Continuing on with the jacket-wear theme, it could be used to add a pop of color to an otherwise color-less look like I did with this green jacket.

Green Jacket Black Skirt2

As you can tell, a jean jacket is usually my go-to in order to top off a look. It is truly a wardrobe essential.

Denim Jacket blue skirt_edited-1

Then we move on to warmer days (hopefully sometime soon). Since I did this try on in the comfort of my own home with the thermostat set comfortably at 70 degrees,  I decided to try a romper. Honestly, I didn’t think I would like it but the generous off the shoulder sleeves and shorts cut just right won me over.

Blue Romper edit

This last look shows how I would rock a sleeveless and very form-fitting body con dress. I paired it with this over-sized sheer blouse. I wore a belt on top to put some shape back into the look. You can have the balance of having a cute trendy look without showing it all if you know what I mean.

Peach Dress Printed Blouse.jpg

I hope you enjoyed these looks as much as I enjoyed putting them together.

Just so you know, I will listing all of these pieces for sale. Many are not yet listed so if you’re interested, send me a message and I’ll give you the details. Any unclaimed pieces will later be listed on my ebay store here

Thanks for reading and stay tuned or follow me so you don’t miss my next post!

 

Stopping to Smell the Flowers…Flower & Garden Show 2018


This past weekend, Chicago’s Navy Pier hosted the Flower & Garden Show. I’ve recently taken an interest in turning my brown thumb green. I  started a vegetable garden last year and have even been attempting to keep house plants alive. Since I still consider myself a novice in this game, I figured I’d head on over to get some inspiration and knowledge from the experts.

The Flower & Garden show had beautiful flower displays as well as a few teaching demos. I didn’t have much time so my focus was on visual inspiration. So I’ll take you all on this journey with me in case you also like to occasionally stop and smell the flowers…

By the way, this is the emptiest I’ve ever seen Navy Pier. Could have had something to do with the 30 degree temperature…

Flower Show 15

This year’s theme was “Every Garden Has a Story to Tell”

Flower Show 16

I was welcomed in to a beautiful flower landscape creating the ambiance of a storybook fairy tale.

Flower Show 11

Flower Show 12

These beautiful floral tablescapes used floral arrangements to create a story book feel.

Flower Show 14Flower Show 10

Although the camera could not pick up the water flowing from the large fountains, this display gave me tropical rain forest vibes.

Flower Show 8

I had to grab a close up of the tropical foliage displayed near the fountain. I love the variety of green foliage accented with pops of pink.

Flower Show 9

This plant is so amazing to me. Who knew Flaming Hot Cheetos grew on trees?? Lol

Flower Show 5

Hmmm….does this mean that Cheetos are organic??

Flower Show 6

I love the idea of creating a diy flower stand. This looks like it could be replicated by using recycled wooden pallets. I could imagine throwing on a nice coat of paint or stain.

Flower Show 7

Definitely going to try to recreate this display this summer. I love the concept of combining small scrubs with pops of color and some hanging foliage.

flower-show-1.jpg

Another plant stand that will work for an indoor or outdoor display. I think a spray paint of a glistening metallic color will really make it pop.

Flower Show 2

What a way to create height! I’ve been thinking about ways to use a floral display that also adds additional privacy to our backyard space. I also love the use of the stacked pots to add height variance.

Flower Show 3

The hubby built garden/flower box for me last year. I managed to grew quite a bit for a first try. This year, I’m trying to reach this level of goals.

Flower Show 4

I love the texture and beauty of succulents. Unfortunately, I can’t get enough bright sunlight in my house to keep them alive.

Flower Show 13

 

I hope you all have been inspired as much as I have been. I’m looking forward to some inexpensive diys, creating jaw dropping floral displays, and a garden of lush veggies! I’ll keep you all updated on how I’m doing it.

Do you have any plans for spring/summer gardening?

 

Don’t Invite Me Out to Eat with You: Becoming Socially Physical

I recently came to a realization that my whole social life revolved around food. It’s your birthday? Let’s go out to eat to celebrate! It’s date night. What restaurant should we go to? Hey Friend, we haven’t seen each other in a while….let’s go out to eat. You get the idea and I don’t think I’m alone in this. People all around the world like to gather to break bread and connect because we all have to eat, right?

Well there are lots of things we “have to” do on a daily basis so why did eating become the go to social activity? Physical (upright) movement is not only necessary but is something that many of us don’t do enough. That’s why I’m declaring to all who I’ve dined with in the past to not invite me to eat with you. I can eat at home. Let’s go out to move! There are so many activities that I would enjoy and I thought I’d share a few just in case you too want to be more socially physical.

“House Music Workout” This class was recently recommended to me as a fun group fitness class. I do zumba at my gym all the time but this takes that to the next level. Loud pumping music orchestrated by a live dj while instructors alternate in leading us in fun high energy movements. This workout was an hour and a half but you have so much fun, that you almost forget you’re exercising! Invite your friends so you can all burn together.

house music workout

“Flirty Girl Fitness” I have not done this one yet but have heard only great things about it. From what I hear, it is the ultimate girls night out where you can burn some serious calories while learning some sexy moves. Classes include chair dancing, twerk body boot camp, and pole-dancing fitness. Don’t let the names fool you, some serious upper and lower body stretch is needed to perfect these moves!

Flirty Girl Fitness

“Live Reggae Band” A while ago, my husband and I visited a club that regularly has a live reggae band performing. Being there, we felt like we were back in Jamaica, warm sun shining on our faces with the rhythm bumping in the air. What did we do though? We sat, ate food and listened. Next time, we will hit the dance floor and dutty wine some calories away! Going to live music venues is the perfect opportunity to get out, enjoy some music and dance like no one is watching!

The-Wild-Hare

“Lakefront Bike Riding” One of the benefits of living in a city on one of the great lakes is having an awesome walk/bike path right next to beautiful scenery. I used to do this a lot when I was younger but as life started to happen, I found less time to go out and ride. Not only is it a great family activity but a wonderful way to catch up with friends as we ride, talk and take in some fresh air from the cool breeze flowing off the lake.

Chicago-Lakefront-Trail

“Stair Climb Challenge” Now this one I’m questioning, lol. A friend recommended it as a challenge for herself and invited some friends along to join her. Another advantage (??) of living in a big city is having access to high rise building with lots of stairs. Who ever thought to say “No, I won’t be taking the elevator this time. I’ll take the stairs to the 100th floor instead.” ??? I didn’t think I’d meet that person but apparently she’s been hiding in my own circle of friends! Because I’m on this new journey, I told her I would try. It should be fun as we watch each other cling on to life as we climb crawl higher up.

John Hancock Stair Climb

So that’s how I’m planning to change my social life to my physically active life. Engaging in fun group activities that don’t involve eating is a big step from my norm but I’m excited and ready to move. Is this something you would do? What physical activities will you do with your friends & family?

I’ll keep you updated on how all these go so follow the blog so you don’t miss it!

 

 

 

 

Crispy Chicken & Savory Collard Greens (No Oil;Gluten Free)

So we’re a little over 1 month in, how are those new year resolutions going so far? What? Don’t bail on them just yet. I’m cooking up some goodies that will make you forget they are “healthy”! As mentioned in a previous post, I went gluten free out of necessity not because it appears to me the “in” thing to do these days. With that being said, I learned to tweak certain recipes so that I could still enjoy some of my favorites.

Today, I’ve cooked up some crispy chicken that I made using not one drop of oil.  To go along with that is a family favorite: savory collard greens. Let me tell you, since I put together this greens recipe, I’ve been the “you bring the greens to the party” person. If it’s possible to make comfort food into health food, then this is it!

First off, let me introduce you to my new best friend. Her name is Bella, she’s an air fryer and she has changed my life forever. You can actually fry chicken completely crispy on all sides with no oil! It works best with parts that have a natural fat content like thighs and wings. For other parts with less fat, all you have to do is spray with an oil spray which still adds no additional calories. Do yourself a favor, buy one. They are usually on sale somewhere, I bought mine on sale at Macy’s for $50. I’ve seen them as low as $20 around black Friday so look around but definitely get one!

Air Fryer.jpg

For the greens, I took the easier route and purchased two bags of pre-cleaned and pre-cut collard greens. It saves time on the preparation and makes it more convenient for a week day meal.

Bag of Greens

I always make my own stock using smoked turkey tails. I like this part of the turkey for its flavor and fat content. It gives greens a rich and savory flavor. Put these in a large pot and cover with about one inch of water. Boil covered on medium high for about an hour until it becomes fork tender.

Smoked Turkey Tails

To the stock pot, add in your “wet seasoning”:
1 green pepper
Half red pepper; half yellow pepper (or use mini peppers like I did)
2 medium onions (or 1 large)
4 cloves fresh garlic

Chop all of the veggies finely or use a food processor until it looks like this:

Chopped Onions Peppers

This is where it gets tricky. I like bold flavors, so my seasoning blend may be more “robust” than others. You really have to tweak it to your preference but this is what I use:

1 tbsp + 1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
2 tbsp paprika ( I really like paprika)
1 tbsp minced onion (I hate onion powder so I use this instead)
1 tbsp salt free garlic & herb seasoning
1 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar

Add the greens, “wet seasoning”, and dry seasonings to the pot with the turkey tails. Cook uncovered for one hour; stir occasionally. The water will dissipate and concentrate flavors so only tweak seasoning at the end of the hour.

Greens in Pot_edited-1

For the chicken, I used chicken thighs and use the same seasonings as above minus the sugar. The amount will vary depending on the number of pieces you prepare. Estimate about 1/8 tsp each per piece. I put all the seasonings in a bowl to make a “seasoning blend”.

Season Mix for Chicken

Half of the blend is added directly onto the chicken. The other half is added to a separate bowl with 1/2 cup of Brown Rice Flour.

Brown Rice Flour

Set the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Preheat for 5 minutes. Place chicken in without overlapping. Cook for 20 minutes, turn over, cook for another 10-15 minutes or until completely done.

Chicken in Fryer

You are now ready to enjoy this crispy and savory delight. I know what you’re saying, “where is the macaroni & cheese and cornbread!” Trust me, this is so good, you won’t even miss it! You can even get seconds while staying true to your resolutions!

Chicken Greens Finished Plate

Oh no, I’m not done yet! I have more yet to come that I’m sure you don’t want to miss. Be sure to follow and tune in next time for a new treat!