Author Archive

Amy’s Notebook 04.20.16

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Plum painted master bedroom via The Inspired Room

Source: The Inspired Room

 

Master bedroom inspiration- love the color in this room.

Glee fans will tear up over this one- so sweet!

5 great podcast episodes to listen to.

We need to try this pancake trick!

Try this! Frame a wallpaper sample.

Back during the Harlem Renaissance, he swept the lindy hop of its feet and transformed big-band dance. More than sixty years later, Frankie Manning got a renaissance of his own.

Airbnb Tiny Houses via Thrillist

Source: Thrillist

 

How fun to rent a tiny house!

Spring capsule wardrobe inspiration.

Oh, this looks really good!!

Best drugstore products for summer skincare.

21 brilliant books you’ve never heard of.

Chinese chicken salad spring rolls- yum!

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

 

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium ($50 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway!)

Monday, April 18th, 2016

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

This post is sponsored by EcoScraps. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that help support our site! 

As regular readers know, I have a black thumb. I have never been successful at growing anything and my lawn can prove it. When I discovered succulents though, my world finally got a little greener. Succulents are my kind of plants because they are so low maintenance and they don’t require a lot of water. Today I want to show you how to make a succulent terrarium and how I made it as budget-friendly as possible.

Oh, and did I mention a $50 Walmart Gift Card giveaway?

Sweet!

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

We are going to be making our succulent terrariums with a new product that is on the shelves at Walmart called EcoScraps. I’m so excited to share about it because the company’s mission is so awesome and really aligns with our family values. EcoScraps recycles food scraps and turns them into organic and sustainable lawn and garden products. They recycle by collecting wasted food from from stores and restaurants and convert it all into natural garden products. 

Between 2011 and 2015, EcoScraps has recycled 75 million lbs of food waste! They are matching that number in 2016 with projected recycling of another 75 million lbs of food waste–this time in just 12 months.

Before they contacted me, you may recall, I was all fired up about food waste after watching the documentary, Just Eat It, on Amazon Prime and chatting about it on my 3 Little Things list. Our family is REALLY trying to do better with our food waste and have been making it a big focus during the week to eat the food we purchase and not throw it away.

You can TRULY make a significant difference in the food waste crisis by simply changing some of your shopping habits. Did you know that bagged salad, for instance, is one of the #1 foods wasted? Doing things like buying bagged salads only on the days you plan to use them is a GREAT way to reduce the food waste in your home. Simple switches will do so much for our world.  You can find out more on the EcoScraps website and find their products on Walmart shelves now!

Now that you know the company’s mission, let’s make a succulent terrarium with their eco friendly potting soil!

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

Glass Trifle Container (I found this for $6.97 at Walmart)

Pebbles

Charcoal

Sphagnum Moss

EcoScraps Potting Soil (this was located outside of our local store)

Succulents (I like to choose an odd number for arranging. Mine had 7 of various sizes)

Garden Trowel

Ways To Save on Supplies

  • Fairy gardens are very popular right now. Ask your local nursery if they have smaller bags of pea gravel or moss available for purchase. I was able to get small bags of these items for a lot less.
  • Look to see if there are any succulent arrangements that are already prepared and the pricing and compare it to individual succulents. At my nursery, succulents individually were $4 each,  but for $20, I was able to get double the succulents AND it helped to know which ones worked and looked nice together.

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

Easy How-To

Creating a terrarium is a lot like creating a layered cake or trifle so that is why I thought this container was so fitting!  

1. Begin by adding your pebbles to the bottom of your container. This is to create a false drainage layer so water can settle and not flood the plants. You will want to add one inch to two inches of stone, depending on the size of your container.

2. Next, we will layer our charcoal. The charcoal can come in granules or shards (the type I am using is shards). We will spread a layer of this over the rock to help reduce bacteria, fungus, and odors in our terrarium.

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

3. Next add a layer of moss to create a barrier between the potting soil and charcoal.

4. Prepare your plants for planting by removing them from their pots and loosening up the root ball and exposing the roots. If the roots are particularly long, you can trim them down a bit.

5.  Add a layer of dirt to your terrarium. Gently place your plants inside and then top them off with a bit more dirt, using your hands to gather the dirt firmly into place around each of the plants. Be mindful where you are planting them, mixing up your plants of varying heights and foliage, to fill your jar.

Siri Reminder To Water Plants

5. Finish by watering your terrarium lightly, being mindful not to overwater it because succulents do not like to be soggy. Caring for your terrarium is easy, especially if you are a terrible gardener like me. I’m so terrible, I put Siri in charge.  Feel the soil weekly to see if it is dry and add water if it is.

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

Here is another view of what our terrarium should look like from the side. Make sure to place it in a spot that gets a little sun on their beautiful leaves, but not scorching hot spot in your home.

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

 

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Succulent Terrarium from MomAdvice.com

These are beautiful to keep or to give to someone special in your life. Thank you, EcoScraps, for letting me share about your amazing mission to reduce food waste in a really wonderful way. I hope you guys can try their products!

To help you get started on your own gardening, we are giving away a $50 Walmart gift card to one lucky reader! Enter to win below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post was sponsored by EcoScraps. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that help support our site! 

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Sundays With Writers: Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

Sundays With Writers

I love how book clubs can stretch me into books or genres of books that I might not have ever explored on my own. This month our local book club read Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan. It was such an incredible read that I knew I had to share it with you. When preparing for this interview, as with most of these interviews, I discovered the author was just as intriguing as the book. I’m so excited to share an interview with Shawna today and how she prepared for her incredible new book.

Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan

I just love when a book educates you on a time in history that you have been completely unaware of. Ryan pulls off a magnificent literary feat by tackling six decades set in Taiwan over the course of the twentieth century. It is horrific what so many endured during this time and begins with the story of the unnamed narrator’s father being captured because he is suspected of Communist activities. He is kept for over a decade in brutal and inhumane conditions. It then follows his return home, the unkindness of others, the stress of feeling watched, and the other generations that continue to struggle through the decades with their own issues. It’s far too much to go into in a quick review, but you will learn a lot along the way!

There are a couple of things I would note when you dig into this great read.  First, I wish I would have educated myself a bit before diving into it. I knew nothing about the Chinese nationalists or the history of Taiwan and there is no real introduction into the history of that.  After a browse through Wikipedia, I was able to understand better, but it was a confusing time in politics and reading that first would have helped me through the book. I also found this one moves at a slower pace at times, but I felt it was worth the journey to really build out these characters.

Now grab your coffee and let’s chat with Shawna Yang Ryan this morning!

Shawna Yang Ryan

I understand that Green Island took fourteen years to write. What an incredible moment to finally see your book out in the world after all that time! What was your biggest challenge you faced when writing this book and how did the challenges compare to writing your debut novel, Water Ghosts?

I still have to pinch myself—I still can’t quite believe it’s out! The biggest challenge was managing all the information and figuring out how to tell the story in a way that was responsible to the people who had lived through the events. I felt much more free to be inventive and less beholden to the facts of history with Water Ghosts, which is set much further in the past and depends more on magical realism than history.

Chiang Kai-shek(蔣中正)

As an American, I was blindly unaware of this time in history for Taiwan and I am sure I echo many other Americans who were unaware as well. What do you think are some common misconceptions that are held about this time in history? What do you hope people will come away with after reading your book?

Thank you for saying that. I too was largely unaware of this history before I did this project. The biggest misconception is that Taiwan somehow “broke away” from China, rather than seeing the story as Chiang Kai Shek fleeing to Taiwan and then using it for his own purposes. The supposed “China/Taiwan split” is really about an old conflict between two Chinese political parties and not about Taiwan. Taiwan is separate from the Chinese Nationalists (or Kuomintang/KMT) but the two get conflated. I hope that after reading the book, people will understand Taiwan’s distinct history, and why the island rightly should be considered and recognized as an independent country, and not a “renegade Chinese province.”

Green Island Taiwan Prison

(green island prison, source: Taiwan Adventures)

In 1987, martial law was finally lifted in Taiwan. Did you find that people were still hesitant to talk to you when you were conducting interviews for your book or did you get the impression that they were finally unafraid? What was your favorite interview that you did while gathering your research?

I started interviewing in late 2002 and a few people were still afraid, though many more were relieved to speak out. One woman told me that her colleagues did not believe the story of the massacre and had called it a lie, so she was glad that more and more people were starting to talk about their experiences. The more time went on, the more comfortable, eager even, people were to talk. Every interview was so intense, so interesting and so moving that I really don’t have a favorite. I do have a fondness for one interview that I hadn’t planned for—I was interviewing someone else and she said, let’s go find So-and-So and we walked over to his shop and talked him right then. I liked that it was spontaneous, and I liked sitting in his little shop on an old street in a small mountain town outside of Taipei and hearing him talk. The setting and the conversation together were a beautiful experience.

I have read that your own mother is Taiwanese and the daughter of Chinese immigrants who had fled the mainland in 1949. Did any of your own relatives share or aid in crafting your story for Green Island?

I based some of the story of Ah Zhay’s husband on my grandfather, who, as you note, fled to Taiwan in 49. My aunt’s husband’s father was also a 49er, who married a local woman, and I borrowed a little from their unique story too. And I thought about my parents’ romance in Taichung in the 70s for the narrator’s experiences in that period. I also had a conversation with my dad about motorcycles and who rode what—it was fun to think of all the nuances embedded in something as simple as that.

fulbright

You had the unique opportunity to come to Taiwan through the Fulbright program and then ended up staying in Taiwan for three years. What was just as impressive as your book to me was that while you were there you took Mandarin daily and tried to do many household tasks only speaking Mandarin.

Not only does the language have 20,000 Chinese characters, tones in your voice can mean completely different things. How difficult was it to learn for you and how do you think knowing this shaped and improved the quality of your writing?

It was extremely difficult and it’s still difficult! I get tongue-tied so often! Though I have learned so many characters by now that when I read something, I think, My god, how did I do it?  How do I know that character, I don’t recall studying it—since every single one took countless repetitions to memorize. After all that, it was only last summer when I was visiting my family that I had what I guess must be the experience of fluency. I found myself listening to their conversations and not translating in my head. I even forgot they were speaking Mandarin. I was just in it. It was amazing! I guess twenty years of study gets you somewhere eventually!

Language study has made me more aware of grammar, so I think my sentences have a lot more formal transitions—more subordinators and conjunctive adverbs than before. I’m also more aware of the roots and connotations of words. I think about how metaphors might make sense in Mandarin.

What do you miss the most about living in Taiwan now that you are teaching in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Hawai’i?

I definitely miss my family. I also miss the feeling of being slightly not-at-ease with myself—feeling foreign and working through the day in another language. Lastly, Taiwan may be the most convenient place on earth to live. You can even do your dry cleaning at 7-11!

I loved reading that you had a really unique experience landing your literary agent. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to landing an agent with your first book?

I had been sending my first novel out for years and receiving rejections. One rejection stated that it sounded like a story, not a novel!  I found that my former professor had started a small press, so I queried them, and his editor liked the manuscript and they ended up publishing it. Somehow, a copy found its way into the hand of Marilyn Dahl of “Shelf Awareness,” and she wrote a rave review. An agent saw the review and emailed me. It was out of the blue, and I had given up on going the traditional publishing route, so I was very surprised. My path was circuitous, but it worked out in the most ideal way.

If we want to learn more about Taiwan and their history, can you share books or documentaries that might help us understand more about what the Taiwanese people faced?

Julie Wu has a lovely novel called The Third Son that came out a few years ago. A few books by Taiwanese feminist author Li Ang have been published into English. Hou Hsiao Hsien, considered by some to be one of the best filmmakers in the world, has two films that are particularly historical: A City of Sadness, about the 228 Massacre, and The Puppetmaster, which is part narrative and part documentary about the life of puppeteer Li Tian-lu. Lastly, for nonfiction lovers, George Kerr’s Formosa Betrayed is a classic.

Lastly, what is one of your all-time favorite books? (This will be added to one of our most visited posts of must-reads from the authors featured in Sundays With Writers)

Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a perfect novel. The perfect novel? The language is dense and poetic, and it strikes the ideal balance between personal level intimacy with the characters and broad, historical importance, as it tackles the trauma of American slavery. And it has magical realism! This book is everything.

Watch this interview to learn more about why Shawna decided to write about Taiwan!

You can connect with Shawna Yang Ryan  on her website or through Facebook!  I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads, through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!
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It’s the 3 Little Things: Perfect Petite T-Shirt, Laughs, & More Laughs

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Ramona Books

What a special week to know that one of my favorite childhood author’s turned 100! Happy birthday to Beverly Cleary.  If you haven’t dug into the Ramona books with your little girl, it is one of those moments you will always treasure. There were a lot of articles about Beverly Cleary this week, but my favorite was this interview. You can just tell she’s still got that wonderful sense of humor.

Hey, if you have a moment, I’d love to invite you to Like Us On Facebook. I have a little personal goal to see that grow to 20,000 this year so I am working really hard to keep it fresh and funny for you. I would be honored for you to be a part of that! 

audible

A Happy For YOU (and me!)

I was SO excited to see that Audible is giving THREE months FREE this month instead of their normal 30-day trial membership. It gives you one audiobook a month and I am totally cashing in on this freebie. I hope this makes YOU as happy as it makes ME!!

Here are a few other things that are making me happy!

Petite Dolman T-Shirt

(sources: black t-shirt, black leggings, necklace, & booties)

Perfect Petite Girl Dolman Top

I am working on showing off my spring/summer wardrobe for my next capsule wardrobe. I am keeping the wardrobe almost all gently used (thanks thredUP!), but one thing I needed was a white & black t-shirt. Those were two of the things I thought might be worth investing in since I tend to wear those the most in the summer.

I am IN LOVE with the oversized t-shirt styles, but I am petite (short and small framed) so oversized tees can quickly gravitate towards the nightgown look on me. The boxy style never seems to work out for me, but this week I found THE loose t-shirt that doesn’t look all wrinkly, can be dressed up or down, can be worn with leggings since it is just a little longer in the back, and it was on sale! Yay!

FYI, this is the XS. I could have sized down, but I really wanted the looser fit. It’s a little sheer so I have a cami underneath! It looks almost like linen in the front with a great draping and t-shirt feel on the back.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

My Favorite Show is Back

Today is THE DAY that I have been waiting for because the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt begins and I am going to do all I can to really settle into a Netflix binge with my hubby for this next season. If you haven’t watched it, you must! As a good old-fashioned Midwestern girl, I can relate to a girl like Kimmy and her adventures in New York.

This awesome show is a Tina Fey-produced comedy featuring a young woman who’s trying to build a life for herself in New York City after escaping a doomsday cult.

Based on this description alone, you should watch it.

This is one of those shows that makes me laugh until I cry (repeatedly!).

Are you adding season 2 to your agenda too?

lol

Photoshopped Book Covers- One Big LOL

ADULT humor, friends, adult humor. Or not.  Kind of childish, but adult language. These photoshopped book covers are absolutely hilarious. Is it sad that this caption reminds me of my first kiss? It was pretty awful.

Look at these and have a good laugh without your kids. The Taco Bell title and the Exploding Sun are two of my favorites!

This week I’m…

The Nest

Reading: The Nesand so far I’m really enjoying it. In a way it reminds me of Jonathan Tropper’s, This is Where I Leave YouThis one has received a lot of mixed reviews. I am hoping it is a 5-star rating for me. Have you read it?

Eating: Surprising my kids with a Shrimp Boil tonight. It’s finally beautiful in Indiana and I look forward to their favorite feast on a gorgeous day.

Watching: Tiny House Hunters & Tiny House Builders came to Netflix. There are only a few episodes of each. Is it because they only had a few because only that many people would do that or was it a really short season? Let me know, HGTV subscribers! Regardless, I am dreaming of a tiny house again!

Laughing: These brothers are awful. And funny. Another crying laugh (no adult language- it’s one you can laugh at with your kids!)

Happy Friday, friends!

 *this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

As Mother’s Day approaches, I thought it would be fun to revisit one of my favorite crafts that I did with my daughter (a fellow expert pom-pom maker!). What a great way to use up scraps of yarn! xo

 

What could be a better gift for Mother’s Day than a bouquet of pom pom posies that you can enjoy all year long? You won’t believe how easy it is to make pom pom flowers for a special mom in your life. Walmart challenged us to come up with a fun Mother’s Day project that anyone can do for someone special in their life and we are so excited to show you how easy (and thrifty!) this little project is!

Supplies Needed:

Scrap yarn in any color (we used scrap yarn from my overflowing yarn bin)
Hot Glue Gun
Glue Sticks
Scissors
Large Clover Pom-Pom Maker
Wilton Cookie Sticks (over in the cake decorating supplies aisle)
Jar

How to Use the Clover Pom-Pom MakerHow to Use the Clover Pom-Pom MakerHow to Use the Clover Pom-Pom MakerHow to Use the Clover Pom-Pom Maker

How to Use the Clover Pom-Pom Maker

Directions:

 

1. Make an assortment of Pom-Poms using your desired method of pom-pom creating. Follow my picture tutorial above if you would like to use the Clover Pom-Pom Maker that I discovered.

Why I Am Using The Clover Pom-Pom Makers: I have tried every thrifty known method for making pom-poms from cardboard, to forks, to compact discs. To make this bouquet of posies, I decided to see if I could find a gadget to help me and I cannot rave about this Clover Pom-Pom Maker enough. It is the perfect tool to add to your arsenal if you are making pom poms and it is simple enough that my 7 year-old could use it.

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

2. Open a package of cookie sticks and remove one from the package. Begin wrapping yarn around the cookie stick, covering all of the white parts. I start the yarn weaving the tail in at the top so that I don’t have to glue it at the top. It’s okay if there is a bit of white showing at the top because your pom-pom will cover it!

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

3. Once you are almost to the bottom of the stem, add a dab of hot glue and continue wrapping until you get to the bottom. Snip the end of the yarn that has been secured with the glue.

4. Add a dab of hot glue at the top of your stem and then secure a colored pom pom to the top. Hold in place for thirty seconds.

5. Gently bend your stem (gently or it will break) to create a more natural looking flower. Set aside and repeat this process with the rest of the flowers.

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower BouquetThat’s it!

TA-DA!

Easy yarn pom-pom posies that are sure to brighten any mom’s day! If you want to really make this cute gift stand out even more, here are a couple of more sweet ideas to really set the mood for a special mom in your life.

Pom-Pom Cupcake Topper

I went ahead and bought the Small Clover Pom-Pom Maker to show you how cute this one is for decorating a cupcake for a special mom in your life. We just hot glued this little cutie on the top of a toothpick and it only took a couple of minutes to add a little pom-pom magic to a store-bought cupcake!

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower BouquetWho could resist a gift as sweet as this?  Not only is it the perfect Mother’s Day gift, but it would make a sweet gift to celebrate any occasion. Pair these pom-pom posies with a gift certificate to pick up craft supplies for the crafty mom in your life.

I also joined Vine this weekend which is a fun app for making a quick 8 second video. Here is my 8 second video of my pom-pom making. I would like to disclose that I am in my favorite polka-dotted pajama pants here for this super professional tutorial!

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

Happy Pom-Pom Making, friends!

How to Make a Pom-Pom Flower Bouquet

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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Amy’s Notebook 04.13.16

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Crochet Market Bag via Left in Knots

Source: Left In Knots

How cute would this bag be to take to the farmer’s market?

My book list gets longer (be sure to check out those comments!)

DIY hard lemonade looks like a great summer treat.

Free pattern to make your own crochet buntings.

Avoid those spring spending traps!

Spring capsule wardrobe inspiration! I’m putting mine together this week!!

Still my favorite show on television.

Treats that Aren't Shopping or Eating via Yes and Yes

Source: Yes and Yes

Treat yo’ self without spending money. YES!

A tip for wearing maxi dresses in cooler weather- genius!

What a beautiful breakfast!

Painted bricks- so cute.

I swear by my earlier morning routines. It helps so much!

Could you embrace a 10-piece wardrobe?

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

 

Butter Chicken

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Butter Chicken from MomAdvice.com

I am the queen of adapting takeout food at home. From lo mein noodles to restaurant-worthy steaks to fish tacos, there is little that I haven’t been willing to try to save money. When I visited my friends in Colorado we enjoyed  a delicious night of Indian takeout and I fell in love with Butter Chicken. Have you had it? It’s so rich and delicious, just as you would expect from its name. I knew when I got home that I wanted to attempt making the dish and I set out to find a recipe that would adapt to my small town supermarket.

One of the ingredients in this recipe is a spice combo called garam masala, that you will find is used in many Indian dishes. After standing in our spice aisle for a good half hour, I discovered our store did not have it (or apparently was out of it on the day I decided to be adventurous!). Since I had already visited three stores that day, I found this recipe for making your own garam masala spice combo out of spices you likely have lurking in your pantry. It was easy to know what I already had thanks to my newly organized spice cabinet and this saved me some money especially since I wasn’t sure if my family would love this dish as much as me.  If your store doesn’t have this spice too, this diy recipe will do in a pinch or you can order the real stuff online.

With basmati rice in my rice cooker and my Ninja Cooker  for my frying and then warming (The greatest gift of an appliance to busy moms. Amen. AND on sale. Ahem.), this was an easy dish to prepare and to double.

I also noticed that our ALDI has boneless skinless chicken thighs now and at around $4-5 for two pounds of meat, it is a very economical dish to make at home. You can basically make enough for your whole family instead of just indulging in one small takeout dish. For this frugal girl, that is a true bonus!

Butter Chicken from MomAdvice.com

Although I intended to be flashy and show off my gluten-free naan to accompany this dish, I still need to work on tweaking the recipe.

Don’t worry, I haven’t given up yet (but maybe my poor mixer and dirty kitchen have).

Butter Chicken from MomAdvice.com

If you haven’t had Butter Chicken before it is DIVINE and a great way to dip your toes into Indian cooking and eating. It’s a mildly spiced curry dish and you can do the majority of the preparations the night before which makes it an easy weeknight meal. The chicken is marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and a variety of spices (including that garam masala we talked about!) overnight. The next day, you simply cook the meat and add a creamy tomato sauce to finish it off.

I hope you can give this dish a spin in your house and I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

Next on my cooking agenda?

Tikka Masala!

Oh, and I will nail that gluten-free naan.

It’s a promise.

Butter Chicken from MomAdvice.com

Butter Chicken
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 35 mins
 
Butter Chicken is an affordable dish you can make at home instead of relying on takeout. Be sure to read my notes about substitutions for small town markets! Oh, and double it! You'll thank me!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup full-fat plain yogurt (do not substitute with Greek yogurt!)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala (see my notes above to make your own spice combo)
  • ½ tsp chili powder or cayenne pepper powder (you can go lighter if your family prefers a less spicy dish)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into pieces
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup tomato passata or puree (I used crushed tomatoes because that is what our store offered. If you prefer a smoother consistency substitute with tomato sauce and use a little tomato paste to thicken)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup- ¾ cup heavy cream (we went a little lighter with half-and-half)
  • Rice
  • Coriander/cilantro (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine the marinade ingredient in a bowl. Dice your chicken thigh meat and place in a food storage bag. Pour the sauce over the chicken, seal, and shake bag to coat your chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil over high heat in a large fry pan. Add the chicken coated in the Marinade and cook for around 3 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked on the outside. It has a yellow hue thanks to the tumeric!
  3. Add the tomato passata (or crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce with the addition of a little tomato paste to thicken), sugar and salt. Turn down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Do a taste test to see if it needs more salt. Stir through the cream, then remove from heat.
  5. Garnish with coriander/cilantro leaves if using. Serve with basmati rice.

 Slightly Adapted from Recipe Tin Eats

 

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Werewolves, Trips to Spain, & Forensics

Friday, April 8th, 2016

vail

I hope you are having a wonderful week. It is Spring Break in Indiana and my daughter and I went on a trip to see our BFF’s out in Colorado. We managed to squeeze in plenty of deer sightings, a trip to Garden of the Gods, antiquing, a day in Vail, and an afternoon in Breckenridge. Did I mention we did this in the matter of two days? We had some incredible tour guides! While we were doing all that, our son was having the time of his life with his grandma & grandpa catching the sites in Indy. What a memorable year this will be.

Here are a few other things I am enjoying this week!

One Night Ultimate Werewolf

One Night Ultimate Werewolf

Our friends invited us to join them and and another couple, who are really into board games like us, for a delicious dinner and game night. How lucky are we? They brought One Night Ultimate Werewolf to play and after we got done playing, Ryan got to ordering it the next day. Yup, it was that fun. I had never heard of it. Have you?

This is a great group game (ideally six or more people)  and the game is composed of two people, werewolves and townsfolk. The objective of the werewolves is to kill off all the villagers without themselves being killed. The objective of the townsfolk is to figure out who the werewolves are and kill them. One of the townsfolk is a seer, who has the ability to tell whether other players are werewolves or not.

The game works with an app that will tell each player what to do, for example, “Werewolves open your eyes,” so that you know who the other werewolves are.  Other things that can happen are that different roles may be required to switch cards or peek at cards, as directed by the app while everyone’s eyes are closed. Once everyone opens their eyes, you share why you aren’t the werewolf, defending your case that you are a townsfolk. The better the liar, the stronger the game. At the end, you decide who you think the werewolf is.

Each round takes about ten minutes and it is a BLAST. It can be played with kids although every time my daughter said, “I’M NOT THE WEREWOLF. I’M THE DRUNK,” it made me laugh (which she did not appreciate).

I also rediscovered that all those years of lying as a kid REALLY pay off in this game.

If you are looking for a fun, easy, and quick group game, I can’t recommend it enough. We are so happy our friends shared this one with us!

 

Vina Fuerte Tempranillo La Mancha Wine

A New ALDI Wine to Love

I love trying out the new wine offerings from ALDI. As you know, one of my favorite bottles is their Chianti. Well, Chianti, there is a new sheriff in town, and it is this Spanish red wine, Viña Fuerte Tempranillo Crianza. It is $4.99 a bottle, making it an affordable weeknight splurge. The wine is dry and has notes of black cherry and plum with a hint of clove and spice.  If you are looking for a new red to try, this is a great one for the price point!

The Poisoner's Handbook

The Poisoner’s Handbook

We are still trying to make the most of that Prime membership and, thankfully, there are plenty of fun documentaries to watch. We started watching, The Poisoner’s Handbook, which is a documentary about the first dive into forensics. It’s an exploration of how forensics was used to explain murders that happened in the 20th century. I can’t rave enough about this because they do such a great reenactment of what happened along with forensic experts that share the process. Of course, prohibition and no regulations on what you can add to household products and cosmetics, made it so much harder to figure out if death were caused by murders or by the items that everyone was using in their home.


Here is the trailer for it! It’s really well done and I learned so much about the pioneers of forensics. Hope you can use your Prime membership for this one too and learn a lot like I did this week!

This week I’m…

Reading: This book for my local book club. Have you read it yet? It looks really good!

Eating: We are testing Indian recipes this week for the blog. Fingers crossed for our gluten-free naan tonight!

Toms Leila Booties

Wearing: My only souvenir from Colorado in a little shop that had ONE pair of these for a mere $49. Be still my beating heart. They feel like slippers inside. I can’t rave enough. Did I mention they mold to your feet and I wore them all day as a tourist and never had a sore foot or blister. YES!!

Laughing: Enjoy the hilarious Pocahontas number. I’m still laughing!

Happy Friday, friends!

 *this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

 

How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Using a rice cooker to make quinoa is a game-changer- it’s such an easy way to make this healthy food and have it ready for delicious meals like Greek Quinoa Salad, Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms, or Quinoa-Berry Breakfast Bowls! Originally published in 2012, this remains one of our most-pinned and searched recipes.

I have discovered a new favorite food and it happens to be healthy for me too! Quinoa is a delicious protein-filled side or main dish that is as just as easy as rice to prepare. Today I want to show you how to make quinoa in your rice cooker. You won’t believe how easy it is to make rice cooker quinoa and the best part is that you can make a weekly batch and enjoy it all week long to add or create other dishes with.

What is Quinoa?

Thanks to a little site called Pinterest, quinoa is quickly becoming one of the hottest foods this year to try to create new recipes with.

Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-wah) is a very nutritious gluten-free seed that originates from the Andean region of South America. Quinoa is a fantastic source of protein, contains all eight amino acids, is a good source of dietary fiber, contains B Vitamins, and iron.

Though it is smaller than rice, barley, farro and bulgur, quinoa looks like a grain, thanks to its neutral coloring and hard exterior. In reality, it is actually a seed that originates from the cousin of the spinach plant. When cooked, these seeds expand rapidly and significantly, become tender but chewy and expel spirals that boast the slightest crunch.

What Does Quinoa Taste Like?

After cooking quinoa in a  liquid of your choice (water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth),  it becomes light, fluffy,  and nutty. I find the flavor of quinoa to taste a little like couscous and a little like brown rice. It is one of those grains that is difficult to describe, but worth trying simply for the nutritional benefits it offers.

I Don’t Have a Rice Cooker. How Do I Cook Quinoa on the Stovetop?

To cook quinoa on the stove, measure two cups of liquid per cup of quinoa and combine them in a sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a vigorous boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered until the quinoa is tender, but still chewy and white spiral-like threads appear around each grain. This should take approximately fifteen minutes.

What Rice Cooker Do You Recommend?

A year ago I bought this inexpensive rice cooker for about $20 and I have been using it two to three times a week ever since.  It provides consistently great brown rice, white rice, steamed vegetables, and quinoa for our family with very little work on my part. It does take up valuable space in my kitchen, but it has earned its rights to the space by saving me a lot of time hovering over pots!

Is Quinoa Good Plain?

I don’t really love quinoa plain, but I think it is a great building block for creating healthy dishes. For example, my favorite dish right now is to simply add the zest from one lemon to the cooking liquid (in the recipe I have shown you below). Then I chop a few handfuls of baby spinach and a pint of cherry tomatoes (halved) and place them in a large serving bowl. Cook the quinoa as directed and then put the hot quinoa on top of the spinach and tomatoes and allow it to wilt the spinach and cook the tomatoes with its heat for about five minutes. Then toss it all with the juice from one lemon and a little drizzle of olive oil. You can serve the salad warm or cold and I have found it to be a hit at every party I have ever taken it.

Other ingredients you can add are sauteed mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, or white beans for a double whammy of protein power. Be creative with what you have leftover in your fridge, and put together your own flavorful combination.

5.0 from 1 reviews
How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Quinoa in the rice cooker is easy as 1,2,3. This is a simple and fool-proof way to make delicious quinoa that you can enjoy all week long in your recipes or as a protein-packed side dish.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups liquid (low-sodium chicken broth, low-sodium vegetable broth, or water)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Using a fine mesh sieve rinse 1 cup of organic quinoa in cold water (Note: the brand pictured here does not require a rinse, but I wanted to show you how to do it if it does. Read the back of the box/bag to find out if rinsing is necessary).
  2. Pour rinsed quinoa into your rice cooker.
  3. Add your liquid and salt.
  4. Turn on your rice cooker. When the rice cooker beeps, you will have perfectly cooked quinoa (approximately fifteen minutes)
  5. Unplug the cooker. Allow quinoa to set for three to five minutes and then fluff with a fork.


Have you cooked with quinoa before? What is your favorite way to serve this food? Any tips or tricks for cooking it? I’m all ears!

Disclosure: The link to the rice cooker is an affiliate link and is provided so you can locate what you need quickly and easily.

 

 

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Amy’s Notebook 04.06.13

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Palette Play House via A Subtle Revelry

Source: A Subtle Revelry

 

A playhouse made from pallets- WOW!

A real struggle with living in excess- oh, how I can relate.

No More Sandwiches! 20 non-sandwich lunch recipes.

Joanna Goddard’s mother shares her beauty uniform & it is perfect.

The best pinners to follow- lots of eye candy in these pin boards!

50 books every modern teenager should read.

What a brave piece to share. This is more than a home tour, more of a heart tour.

Egg-Ham and Greens Cups via Design Mom

Source: Design Mom

 

These baked ham and egg cups with dressed greens look like a fantastic breakfast!

Eek! I am so excited- we are IN LOVE with this illustrated series!

11 WiFi network names that put yours to shame.

Happy mail inspiration- what a sweet exchange!

DIY yarn wall hanging- you know I love this!!

The internet is not real life- a glimpse at how creatives approach Instagram.

REALLY loved this short film on the creator of The Oatmeal.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!