Giveaway on The Charming Blog!

Hello, friends! I have a little something for you all today to cure your Monday blues. Amy of The Charming is hosting a giveaway on her blog, and was sweet enough to include me! There are a bunch of different ways to enter to win some fun prizes - including one of my tassel necklaces! You can take a look at the details, read about the other sponsors, and enter the giveaway below.

The introductions paragraphs below are clickable so feel free to hop on over to their blogs and social media to say hello! Then scroll down to the bottom to enter the giveaway!
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Now, enter the giveaway below. The giveaway ends midnight next Monday, April 7, 2014. Winner will be announced on the Rafflecopter as well as via email and social media. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Healthy Eats // Guilty Pleasures

Well, it’s only the second round of these “healthy eats” posts and I’m already on to guilty pleasure foods…really, Ella? Oh well, baby steps, right? This week I thought I’d find some healthier alternatives to some guilty pleasure foods (though, if we’re being completely honest I’m not sure that sweet potato fries are any better for you than regular fries. But they just look so good!). This way on those days when you really just want pizza or mac and cheese, you have an option that won’t completely ruin all the healthy eating you did before ;) 

Here are some alternatives to pizza, fries, potato chips, burgers, frozen yogurt, and mac and cheese that I've come across recently. I'm most excited about trying the cauliflower crust pizza. I really hope it tastes as good as it looks.

Spring Break // Seattle

To kick off our Spring Break Taylor and I decided to go for a quick weekend trip to Seattle with our friends Alex and Harrison. I've never had the opportunity to go to Seattle with friends, so it was fun to have a slightly different experience there than I'm used to. We explored the nightlife in Fremont, walked around downtown, had a picnic at Gas Works Park, went to the beach, ate delicious food, and played some pretty hilarious games of Cards Against Humanity. Alex's aunt and uncle were kind enough to let us stay at their house in exchange for watching their sweet pup and cats...and when they got home we got to snuggle their teeny tiny little twin girls. I almost died. Best. Weekend. Ever.

Here are a few (ok, more than a few....I couldn't narrow it down) photos from our weekend!
Walks around the arboretum, and taking silly pictures/staring deeply into each other's eyes.
Walking around the pier.
Pike Place, of course. Mostly to smell the flowers.
Our fancy home-made steak dinner.
Juno dog being sweet.
Picnic-ing at Gas Works Park.

If you'd like to see the post I did about my last visit to Seattle, you can find it right here

Healthy Eats // Salads

Lately I've been trying my best to eat healthy, but last week after I realized that I had eaten pizza for dinner two days in a row, and that the box of Girl Scout cookies I had just bought was completely empty, I realized I need to be even more conscious and intentional about what I'm putting in my body. I can definitely feel a difference in my energy level when I'm eating well. And let me tell you, my job requires a lot of energy.

I find that I get stuck in a rut easily when it comes to cooking...It's pretty frustrating cooking for one (occasionally two if Taylor comes over) while trying to save money. I often find myself wasting food because I can't finish it before it goes off, so I have a couple go-to meals for one that I find myself making over and over again. And this means my diet isn't particularly balanced (let's not talk about how much pasta I end up eating). I want to start trying out some new recipes and building my repertoire of meals that work for my particular situation. Hopefully this will help me be better at meal planning as well so I can save some money! First up, some interesting salads to get those greens in.

What are your go to meals? Do you have any strategies for making sure you're eating well? I'd love to hear!

Follow my Food + Drink Pinterest Board for more healthy (and not so healthy) food inspiration!

A Cocktail Shaker for All You Mason Jar Lovers

The number of jars floating around our house is a little ridiculous. We have them in every size, design and shape. And of course we had to buy the blue ones when they started making them again. Our one male housemate doesn't get the obsession at all and I think he secretly tries to sneak a few of them into the recycling bin every so often...hah! We use them as cups, vases, pen holders, make up organizers, traveling name it. A while back I saw these mason jar cocktail shakers and thought, I could make that! Taylor's birthday gifts this year were mostly alcohol themed - he's recently gotten into whiskey, so I got him some whisky and fancy drink making ingredients. I decided to make him a shaker to go along with it. Here's how I did it...
To do this you will need a 32 oz mason jar and one extra lid (just the flat part, not the collar). You can find packages of just these at most stores that sell mason jars. One lid will be for shaking and the other will be for pouring. I decided to cover the shaking lid with some chalkboard tape I had on hand, so we can write fun little messages on it. If you can find some food safe paint that will stick to metal, it could be fun to paint the lids as well. Get creative!
To make the pouring lid you will need a nail, a hammer (or a drill), and super coarse sandpaper (or a metal file would probably work better). Poke one hole at the top, and a bunch of holes on the bottom (see picture). The underside of the lid will be a bit dangerous at this point...I pounded the spikes down with a hammer and sanded it a bit to prevent any cocktail making injuries (it's serious business, guys). That's it! Now go make some drinks. And, uh, remember to drink responsibly, kids ;)

Easy-Peasy Icebox Cake

Every year for Taylor's birthday his mom makes him an icebox cake. Ever heard of it? It's insanely good and tastes like cookies and cream (but Taylor would tell you it tastes like his birthday). When Taylor left home to go to school on the other side of the country, I started making the cake for him each year. His birthday was on Wednesday, so I made it this week and thought I'd share with you all! Luckily, this is the easiest cake to make. Ready to hear what the ingredients are? Ok, go: whipping cream, vanilla extract, sugar and 2 boxes of Nabisco chocolate wafer cookies. That's it!
To make it, whip up a big ol' bowl of whipped cream using about 3 cups of whipping cream. Now, lay down a layer of cookies, cover them in whipped cream, and then lay down another layer of cookies...keep layering the cookies and whipped cream until everything's gone. Don't worry about making a big mess of can make it look pretty at the end! When you're done, stick it in the fridge over night. This is essential because you want the cookies to get soft! Now, try not to devour the whole thing in one sitting :)
I'll be back this weekend with a little DIY present I made for Taylor that I'm pretty excited about!

DIY Tassel Necklace

Ever since I did this tassel pillow project, I've had a bag of leftover tassels and embroidery thread waiting to be used. My roommate Sydney has this gorgeous tassel necklace that I often contemplate stealing...the other day we realized that it would be super easy to recreate and was the perfect use for those leftover tassels. This project took me about 20 minutes and cost a few bucks...and I'm so happy with how it turned out!
Here's what you'll need:
Embroidery thread in a few different colors
Chain and closure - You will need a pretty long strand. I think I ended up getting 6 feet and could have used more. (I used a ball chain since this is what was used in Sydney's necklace - I think this type of chain definitely looks best)

Start by measuring out your loops. I did four loops but but I think if I had enough chain I would have done one or two more (and possibly made the whole necklace a little longer). Experiment around and see what you like best. Just make sure you can get the whole thing over your head since you won't be able to use the closure. Once you have arranged your loops add your closure to the two ends of the chain while still holding onto your loops so you don't lose them.

Now take a little piece of tape and wrap it around all of the chain where the closure is so that your loops stay in place. Take a foot long piece of embroidery thread and cover up the area with the piece of tape by tying knots around it like you would for this type of friendship bracelet. Basically the chain will serve as the threads in the center and you will just use the embroidery thread to tie knots. Make sense? (If not, you could also just cover up the closure by wrapping a little piece of fabric around the area and securing it with fabric glue.)
Now you can start making your tassels. Take a look at this tutorial if you're not sure how to make them. For these ones I used about 6 strands of thread for each tassel. I wanted them to be small enough that they wouldn't be overwhelming. Before you tie a thread around the tassels to secure them, fold them around the chain so they are secured. I put one tassel on each loop of chain. Once you've secured all the tassels, you're done!
Do you have any projects you've done involving tassels? I still have quite a few left! I would love to hear any ideas :) Hope everyone had a great weekend! xx

We're A Million Miles Away

Just popping in today to share this pretty song from the movie "Her" has been the perfect soundtrack to this rainy, gray week. You may have seen Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Ezra Koenig (of Vampire Weekend) perform this at the Oscars on Sunday since it was up for Best Original Song...sorry "Frozen" fans, but this really should have won! Also, if you haven't already seen "Her" I would highly recommend it - it's an incredibly beautiful film.

I hope all of your weeks are going well - mine has been good, but long and tiring! I'm looking forward to a weekend of sleeping in, a visit with an old friend, and perhaps an outdoor adventure or two :)

Flavored Popcorn: Three Ways

Since the Academy Awards are tomorrow I thought it would be an appropriate time to come up with some fun flavored popcorn recipes! These would make a great little snack for a viewing party if you're planning to watch with friends. And if you want to get a little fancy, I've included an easy tutorial to make little popcorn bags to serve it in!

Each of these flavors are pretty simple and easy to make. I went three different directions: One sweet, one salty, and one with a little spice. Each of the recipes for these toppings are enough to flavor about a third cup of popcorn (makes a medium sized bowl). I made the popcorn first by heating up a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil on medium heat (using coconut oil gives the popcorn a slight flavor and makes the house smell amazing). I put in one kernel first and waited until it popped so I knew when the oil was ready. Pour in your kernels, cover the pot, and shake it around over the heat until it stops popping.
Honey Butter Popcorn: Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of honey in the microwave, and stir. Pour the honey butter mixture over the popcorn as you stir it. Season with some salt and you're done!

Asian Inspired Popcorn: Start by covering your popcorn with a thin layer of melted butter (about a tablespoon).  Now, put a bit of soy sauce in a spray bottle (weird, I know, but it's the best way to do this without making the popcorn soggy), and spray the popcorn with a thin layer of soy sauce. Sprinkle on a teaspoon of wasabi powder, a couple sheets of crumbled nori (we used teriyaki flavored), and salt. If you don't have a little spray bottle on hand you could forgo the soy sauce, add a little more melted butter so everything sticks and finish with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast.

Curried Popcorn: Cover your popcorn in 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle on 1-2 teaspoons of curry powder and sprinkle with nutritional yeast and salt to taste. That's it!
Aaaand here's how to make those cute little popcorn bags. I used pages out of a magazine because they are the right thickness for these bags, but you could also use regular paper. Start with a full sheet of paper and fold one side about 2/3 of the way, then fold it back on itself, and then back over again (like when you're making a fan...take a look at the pictures below and it will all make sense!). Do the same to the other side. Use tape or glue to attach the two sides. Now, choose which end will be your bottom and double fold and tape/glue it down. Cut off any excess paper at the top and cut a zig zag shape along the top of the bag. Now fill it up with yummy popcorn!
Will you be watching the Academy Awards tomorrow? I think our plan is to watch the show with a few friends during our weekly family dinner. I've always loved watching them so I can't wait! What's your favorite part of the Academy Awards? The dresses? Betting on who will win?

P. S.Thanks to my roommate Sydney for reteaching me how to properly pop popcorn and helping me come up with the flavors! :)