Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Guess Who Ran Her First Half Marathon?

This has nothing to do with crafts, or decorating, or cooking, or photography. But there are pictures, so it's kind of like photography, right?

Can you spot me in this mix of people? Like Where's Waldo for bloggers.

But that's okay, because I'm hoping to write a few fitness posts, so this is kind of like a segue into it.

What originally started as a lofty goal after the Boston Bombing has finally come to fruition. It wasn't easy, and I wanted to stop and just walk about, ah, say, 150,254 times during the race. But I powered through and somehow completed 8 minutes faster than what I was hoping for.

With any luck, I'll be posting about natural running (which I used for the marathon, minus one particular length where I was so exhausted from running up the course's version of Heartbreak Hill that I starting running with a heel strike and didn't even realize it) and maybe even a few other tips and tricks. If you follow my 365 Blog, you've already heard me rant about fitness and health. Maybe it's time to bring some of that to this blog, only less rant-y and more informative.

That is, if I'm not completely sidetracked by NaNoWriMo, but that's for another entry.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pinterest WIN!: Mini Tacos with Wonton Wrappers

Oh, it's nice to finally find a far-fetched Pinterest idea that actually WORKS.

It doesn't make any sense: put Wonton wrappers in cupcake tins and make mini tacos? What?

But -- lo and behold! -- it works!

What you'll need:
Wonton wrappers (which, if the grocery store carries them, will be in the refrigerated section, usually alongside tofu)
Cupcake tins
1 lb of beef
Taco seasoning
Any other taco seasons you love

Prep time: 30 minutes \\ Makes 24 mini tacos

Preheat the oven to 425*F. Thoroughly cook your beef as you would for any taco meal. Drain the grease at regular intervals (aside from the fact that the grease is horrible for you and doesn't really add anything to the taste, you don't want greasy beef going into the wrappers). Add seasoning until the beef is how you like it.

While the beef is cooking, place one wonton wrapper into each cupcake tin. If you like a "soft taco" texture, I recommend putting two wonton wrappers in the cupcake tins.

Place about one spoonful of beef into each tin. If distributed correctly, you'll fill all 24 wonton wrappers about halfway up. Sprinkle with cheese and cook for 8 minutes (or until the edges are brown).

And then, top with whatever you like putting on your tacos. Sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, guacamole. More cheese. These are absolutely incredible. This is one Pinterest experiment that I'm more than happy actually works.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Photo Friday: The Sierra Nevada

Ah, the Sierra Nevada. Also known as America's least talked about mountain range. Which is a pity, because there are parts of the Sierra Nevada that are more intense than the Rockies themselves. They just don't have miles and miles of plains to accent how incredible the mountains are.

Still, for someone who spent her life in the northeast portion of the Appalachians (aka the smallest, lowest-lying part), the Sierra Nevada is absolutely breathtaking. I can only hope I can return and spend more than just a few passing hours with these mountains.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Try it Tuesday: Contact Paper Under the Sink

Lining shelves with contact paper is not exactly a new concept. But it is a practice that fell out of favor by the 1990s. And, while I'm not lining the rest of my shelves with contact paper, lining the area under my sink breathed new life into the cabinets.

Let's face it: the area under the kitchen sink is ugly. Even the nicest cabinets get water damaged by the piping. It's not a pretty sight, and I don't like putting cleaning products in an area that isn't clean in the first place.

Contact paper can be found anywhere. Online, in crafts stores, in home improvement stores. They come in all shapes and sizes and colors. I got some granite-patterned contact paper, then chuckled to myself because -- hey -- I live in in the Granite State and got granite-patterned paper. Yeah, I had a feeling it was amusing to only me.

I really recommend doing this piecemeal. Contact paper is a sonofagun to remove from its backing. It crinkles, folds in on itself, and can be a beast to lay down without air bubbles. Cut small strips, start from the back wall, and slowly roll it into place. If you have a free hand, use it to smooth the paper as it lays down on the ground.

I know none of my guests are going to look under my sink and be amazed that I have bright granite pattern, but I like the change. It's nicer to look at and I feel better about putting things like detergent and cat food under here. (Plus, you got a sneak preview of this project in my kitchen post.)

And, while I was at it, I decided to spruce up the pantry. The metal racks are nice enough, but don't provide enough surface support for cans and narrow boxes.

All it took was a few flat pieces of wood, my extra contact paper, and I have brand new shelves.

Although, I must admit, I wish my shelves looked this tidy and pretty. Sadly, these pictures were taken before we fully moved in, and this was just our "to eat while renovating" food.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall Decor

I've been looking forward to this ever since we signed our lease last year and decided that it would be the last time we ever rented: decorating. There is only so much you can do in a little apartment. And the decorations feel like clutter if you're not careful. But now we have the open space to do what we please. And that's exactly what I did.

My little farmer's pair is back again, this time on our den's half wall (don't mind the mess in the back; we went essembling our DVD racks at the time).

Which perfectly accents the kitchenette area. A few plastic gorges, a nice fall-themed table runner, some festive flowers...

And these adorable brass napkin rings that I bought at the local antique shop.

We needed something on top of the mat outside on the porch, something where we could take off our shoes, or wipe off any remaining dirt. I had also purchased a proper kitchen mat, making the one I got from Target last year somewhat obsolete. The result? A little bit of fall right where we pop off our boots.

I finally have a kitchen with cabinets that aren't nailed to the ceiling! So, obviously, that meant hanging garlands of leaves over them.

Including an adorable pitcher set that I got at Marshall's. To keep them visible, I placed them on overturned tupperware containers.

And what kitchen isn't complete without some fall-themed towels?

These were 50 cents a piece at Target. What a cute little way to accent the kitchen island. The nice thing is that these little guys take up such little space that I don't have to worry about moving them when using the kitchen island to eat or make food.

Speaking of festive flowers, I placed some fake flowers in my red vase and used it as a bookend in my library.

I accented the coffee table with a nice little table runner, because I have a weird fascination with table runners.

I love decorations in the front the TV. My husband thinks they're distracting. So we compromised, and I only decorated the corners (with a bit of ribbon in between the two).

And this is why I'm not allowed near Michael's. I went to Michael's looking to get canvas, and saw this little guy on sale for $6. He made his home in the front of our house faster than it took for me to bring out the garbage.

I'm not really one for decorating for Halloween, if only because Halloween decorating is very limited in its time frame (whereas you can have fall decorations up from September to November). But Target also had these little guys for a dollar a piece. And who didn't have something like these guys for trick-or-treating? I put a few handfuls of rocks in the jack-o-lanterns to keep them from blowing away and put them on the side of the stairs opposite of my scarecrow.

I can only imagine what decorating ideas I'll have in store for Christmas. But, unlike the department stores, I'm not going to get ahead of myself: first, enjoy autumn! It'll be gone before we know it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Photo Friday: The Nevada Desert

As a girl who grew up on the coast, near a major metropolitan area, the idea of large expanses of land is almost beyond my schema. Oh, so this is a farm. ...A park? ...A nature reserve? Oh, this is just miles and miles and miles of land, used for nothing, with a highway slicing through it? And this highway is the only major road for hundreds of miles? Well, now.

Nevada was quite beautiful. We were constantly worrying about having enough gas, as we honestly went hours upon hours without anything. And, in true Nevada fashion, every rest area was filled with casinos -- even in the bathrooms.

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