Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How do I even...? Layering

I don't know if you've noticed, but around this here internet space, Lacy is the fashion enthusiast, and I'm just often at a loss.

But I do know what I like.

And last night, I found this beautiful tank top at Target on clearance, and I had to have it.  This picture doesn't really do that embroidery justice.  Because it's ornate and lovely.

Here's the problem, though.  I knew, as I was purchasing it, that I'd get it home and have no idea how to style it. That whole pesky "being modest" thing means that my shoulders need to be covered.  And I just don't have any items in my closet that will do this tank justice.  After a little online Forever 21 shopping, I've found some options.

Maybe.  I don't actually know, because I can't do this whole styling and layering thing!  Help a sister out.

This cardigan is rather plain jane, and might be too warm because I can't do the summer heat.  Cannot do.  As little clothing and material as possible is a must.

I love the color and the light-weight material of this shirt.  But the tie-front thing might not fly if I'm just leaving the sheer shirt un-buttoned.

The shape and deep color of this button up is incredibly great.  Zipper sleeves?  I'm a fan.  But the color probably won't work with the very summer-y embroidery of the tank.

Chambray is everywhere, and I actually love the cropped length of this one to layer over a long-ish tank top.

I'm thinking with this semi-sheer white number, maybe I can layer it underneath the tank top for a kind of preppy collar under vest look?  Maybe?

Some input or links to your favorite ways of layering would be super helpful!

Friday, June 21, 2013

friday favorites - summer solstice style

happy summer solstice!! this is lacy. and can i say i'm actually a little sad that this is longest day of the year? it's just downhill from here (i sometimes get nostalgic for things that haven't happened yet). but we have a weekend full of fun plans with people we really like. so things are definitely going well.

here are my favorites for the week!

 can adults use this water swing set? because this adult wants to.

 so when i cut my hair i decided to trim some "swoopy" bangs. and i really like them, but i forgot how bangs don't do so well on second day hair. my solution has been to just pin them back on those days, and i think making some cute clips would make the situation even better.

i've been trying to knock some things off my birthday list. and these homemade poptarts are next on my list.

 a fancy grilled cheese party!! i just....love cheese.

 these simple posters of song lyrics and tv quotes makes me happy. also cheap decor aaaaalways makes me happy. (secondly, you should just check our her blog. she's funny and has a cute dog. also she swears some....just fyi)

brian and i are looking to purchase a grill. and this is one of the first things i want to make on it. (and this sriracha street corn. because i almost cried with how delicious it looks)

anyone else feeling kind of antisocial lately? just me? ok....


I'm so excited for this whole first day of summer thing!  I'm going to TRY to get some kind of color on this pale skin of mine (without going overboard and stoking that whole skin cancer monster that lurks over me).  Other Summer goals:  going swimming in both a lake and pool, watch fireworks at least three times, sing along to blaring Summer songs in the car with the windows down, go camping at least once.  I think these can be done and with much gusto, too.

Now on to the favorites!

I've watched this gif more times than I can count.  It's amazing! Not sure of the original source but I found it from the hilarious Frogman.

I'm making this ricotta, lemon, and mint pasta for dinner, along with a grilled chicken breast.  It feels very weather appropriate.

I got animal crackers a few days ago, and was kind of disappointed.  I think my memory of animal crackers is of the less sweet off-brand variety.  So I found this recipe, and I think I'll attempt a less sweet version soon.

I have a strange and unexplainable infatuation with wallpaper, and this Orla Kiely version is really making me happy right now.

Strawberries and mint are currently in my fridge, and I think they're yelling out to be made into this goooorgeous lemonade.  Ooh, or maybe popsicles?

And lastly, I've listened to this song more times than I can count this week.  (Wait, let me try... Probably at LEAST five times.  Maybe more like eight.)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract (and how to store vanilla beans)

My mom would tell you with complete confidence that my favorite smell in the world is vanilla.
She'd probably be wrong, because my favorite smell has recently become lavender, I think.  Except that I don't pick favorites ever, because why have a favorite when you can have one of EVERYthing?  That's my policy and I stand by it.

However, vanilla is high up on the list of smells.  And tastes.

The first time I'd ever used homemade vanilla extract was as a young teen, when my best friend pulled a vodka bottle out of her (Mormon household) pantry, and I was like, ummmmm, we don't drink alcohol...  She convinced me it was okay, and I've been in love with it ever since.

The flavors are so much stronger, more developed, and more pure.  And it could not be a more simple process.

Grab yo'self some alcohol.  Both vodka and bourbon work.  I'm trying bourbon for the first time, so I'll let you know if I love it as much as I've loved by vodka vanilla.  Also, go ahead for the cheaper version of the alcohol.  You don't need the fancy stuff here.

Next, have some vanilla beans on hand.  I buy mine online, because I have yet to find a place locally that will sell them for less than an arm, a leg, and my first born, plus tax.  I've only purchased from this store, but I'm sure you'll find your favorite reputable place.

Firstly, dump out a tablespoon or two of alcohol from the bottle.  I forgot that step, and this happened:

Vodka alllll over the table.

Now get out your cutting board and a pointed tip knife (I went with a paring).  Perform surgery and slice right down the middle of that bean, the long way.  Cut that guy right open!  But DON'T scrape the seeds out.

Slide your slit open beans into the alcohol bottle.  For these smaller bottles, a little less than two cups of liquid maybe, I added four good, fat vanilla beans.  For my bigger bottle of vodka, you can see eight to ten beans in there.  The exact amount of beans to alcohol isn't as important as letting them steep together for an appropriate amount of time to get the vanilla essence all up in the alcohol's business.

Now that the vanilla beans and vodka are acquainted, screw the lid on tight, and give it a few good shakes.

This will loosen the seeds from their pods, and you can see them floating around!  Yum.

Now, just store your bottle(s) in a cool, dark place, and here's the hard part... wait about a month or two, at least.  For the first week or two, take you bottle out and give it a good shake each day.  After that, you can shake the bottle ever few days.

Husband says this makes me look like a closet alcoholic housewife, storing my booze deep in a cabinet.
Once the vanilla gives off a good strong vanilla-y smell, and has taken on a lot of deep color, it's ready to use!  You can see the difference in my vodka colors, pre- and post-vanilla beans.

And as a bonus feature:  here's a quick run down of how to properly store vanilla beans once they're out of their vacuum packed environment.  You'll need two ziploc bags, a mason jar, and a straw (not pictured).

Put your beans in one ziploc bag.  Seal all but the corner, and press out, then suck out, any extra air.  It's awesome, because you get to taste what vanilla air tastes like.

Next, slip this bag into the second bag, and repeat the push-out, suck-out air situation.  Seal it up tight.  Slip this bag-in-a-bag into the mason jar, and seal it tight!  And presto.  These will keep for at least a month or two (and I definitely know I kept some of mine for upwards of nine to ten months).

Happy Vanilla Making!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dry Shampoo Reviews

about a month ago, something TERRIBLE happened. 

target stopped selling my favorite dry shampoo (not your mother's brand). after a few weeks of my nice husband accompanying me around town to find some, we finally located it at Ulta. 

during the interim i tried a few other kinds of dry shampoo, and here are my reviews! 
(i guess i could have just started washing my hair more? but that didn't seem like a viable option)

the next time I can't find the Not Your Mother's dry shampoo, I'll just pick up Batiste instead. it adds great texture, doesn't clog, and has a nice smell. and the best part is that it's tinted, so you don't have to worry about any white residue messing with your image.

 this got2b stuff was just ok. it worked sort-of on second day hair, bur didn't add much texture. also the sprayer is crazy powerful, so plan on your entire bathroom being coated with a white film. 

 i didn't want this to be good, because the price tag is fairly horrifying. i bought a tiny tiny sample and unfortunately it was pretty great. so if you're not cheap like me, definitely go for it! 

ugh, is all i can really say about this Tresemme dry shampoo. actually, i can say more. i did not care for this at all. it starts off really wet and just seemed to weigh my hair down. and make it kind of crunchy. maybe it works better for thick hair? but i really wasn't into it.

do you guys have any dry shampoo recommendations? let me know!

Friday, June 14, 2013

friday favorites

Hey-o and a happy Friday to you!  My morning started off with a morning bun from Tulie Bakery, so you know I'm pretty happy today.  Husband has mooooore homework to do tonight, so I've really got to find something fun to ditch him for.  Like the pool!  (I'm kidding.  Mostly.)

Side note before we get going.  I painted my nails last night, and they're this sparkly orange color.  I'm trying to be on board with it, but I think maybe orange just isn't my color.  But I do want new nail polish!  So shoot my some links of pretty colors if you know any.

And here we go.

A souffle that not only doesn't require as much scary work, but is also froooozen for the summer?  I'm on board with this whole list.  Particularly the lemon and praline flavors.

We're having a campfire this weekend!  I can't wait to smell like smoke and get my hands all dirty in the woods.  Maybe I'll even get a splinter!  I'm definitely going to reference Joe's list of brilliant campfire pastries.  I mean, campfire macaroons?  I. Am. In.  Also, campfire roasted marshmallow strawberries?  Yes.

This color palette and beautiful photo make me want to dissolve through the computer screen and onto this beach.  Perfect color scheme.  And I can't get over all the other pretty color schemes Lita Johnson has come up with over here.

I made these salty almond and dark chocolate cookies last night, and they really are rather amazing.  We put two-thirds of the batch in the freezer for when we get future cookie cravings.  Mmm-mm.

This Insta is from a friend of a friend, and I'm completely fond of it.  Can I please go swimming riiiiiight noooooow?

And lastly, from me at least, some old school summer tunes for ya.


my turn! (this is lacy, by the way) 

firstly, can you tell we're excited for summer around here? currently my office feels like it's about 40 degrees and i'm contemplating some tea. so yeah, getting some sunshine would be just great. this weekend we're going to roast some things over a campfire (as ashley already mentioned), and brian and i are going to start our first round of apartment hunting. yay! (i weirdly love looking at apartments. i've been searching online for months)

and we're off!

i maybe gasped out loud a little when i saw this bathroom. luckily i have my office to myself on fridays. but seriously. white white plus all those mirrors is kind of a dream bathroom situation. 

 this outfit is perfection. also, that's a skort. a SKORT. me and skorts go waaaaaay back. and i want to rekindle that friendship.

 Rifle Paper makes some of the prettiest posters i've ever laid my eyes on. but since i can't justify shelling out the big dollars for one, this pack of cards might tide me over. 

this homemade orange and cranberry facewash by Sincerely, Kinsey looks incredible. i want to try making all of her beauty goods.

 this tote folds out into a blanket!! i kind of hate lugging a blanket to the park (lucky for me, brian doesn't seem to) and this is the perfect solution!

this seems like a better storage option for my ukulele than the kitchen table. 

i just thought this was pretty.

hap-happy friday! i hope you all get to eat some s'mores this weekend!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cooking Basics: Soup Base

I didn't think I'd be back to the Cooking Basics series so quickly, but we made soup tonight, and so I thought I might as well share!
(Especially since Husband is busy with school stuff and I'm bored.  And there's only so much Les Miserables reading you can do before you start getting overwhelmed.  Have you seen that book?  Nearly a thousand pages!  This parenthetical is really getting long, right?)

Tonight's soup is a Vegetable Chowder.  Super fitting for a light but filling meal.  And even though soup often feels like a winter deal, I like a light vegetable soup for summer, too!  Especially paired with some grilled meats or a fresh salad.

So, here's how a standard soup base goes.  You ready?  I'm ready.

First, start out with your mirepoix.  That's just a fancy French word for your chopped base vegetables, celery, carrot, and onion.  These vegetables provide a good base flavor for everything else you'll add to your soup pot.  So you start with a good sized glug of fat (I usually go with olive oil, but sometimes, when I want to get crazy, I'll add a touch of bacon grease!  Mmm.)  Make sure to salt and pepper at each step!

But since this is a veggie chowder, we're going to need more veggies than your simple mirepoix.  I also chopped up some broccoli and zucchini.  The broccoli went in first, since it's a tougher vegetable, followed by the zucchini a minute or two later, since it is soft and will cook faster than the other veggies.  Again with a little salt and pepper.

Next up, add the flavor!  Herbs and spices and garlic all up in.  I added a few minced garlic cloves, along with some red pepper flakes and thyme leaves.  These herbs and spices will carry a lot of your soup flavor, so don't be too gentle with them!  It's nice to add the herbs and spices and let them saute with the veggies for 30 seconds to a minute.  Everything gets the high heat of the pan to bloom and develop, but a short saute means you won't burn those precious flavors.

Now, add your liquid! Usually, this is some kind of stock or broth.  I almost always have chicken stock on hand.  Remember when I showed you how to do a crock pot chicken stock?  You can make pretty much any flavored stock with this same method.  A fish stock?  Use fish bones!  A beef stock?  Use beef bones!  A shrimp stock?  Use shrimp peels!  You get the picture.  When you're in a pinch, you can use water.  Though the extra flavor of a stock is really nice.  Bring your soup to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.  All the flavors will meld, and your herbs, spices, and veggies will make that broth/water delicious!

But first!  If you want a starch, add it now, before the veggies are completely cooked through.  And by starch, I mean potatoes, pasta, or even beans.  You want to give them plenty of time to soften and soak up flavor, too!  This is where timing comes in to play.  If you're cooking with beans or lentils, those can take upwards of an hour to cook.  If that's the case, you'll want to wait to add your soft veggies (such as broccoli or zucchini) til the beans are mostly cooked through. If you're using small-chopped potatoes or pasta, those take 10-20 minutes, and they can be added after the soft veggies.

Once your veggies (and starch) are all softened, you have a delicious and flavorful soup!  Go you!

BUT, we're not necessarily done.  Oh no.

Want a cream soup?  Of course you do, they're delicious.  Add the cream or milk mixture.  Then continue to let your soup cook for another couple of minutes for the cream to get fully incorporated.

This is also where you can add any cheese or pre-cooked meats or frozen veggies like peas or corn.  You just need to warm those things through, and it will only take a minute or two in that hot, hot soup.  But wait!  If you want a blended soup, do that BEFORE you add the meat.  That's very important.

Lastly, don't forget the toppings.  Have you ever noticed that the toppings MAKE the soup?  Add a little green onion or bacon.  Add some grated cheese.  Add some crispy tortillas or pre-cooked, warmed meat.  Add some fresh parsley or cilantro.  This really is the fun part!

And that's it!  You're all prepared to make a delicious soup.  Any flavor you want!

And here's my vegetable chowder.

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder
Serves 4-6

2 Tbs. olive oil (or bacon grease)
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup broccoli florets
1 zucchini, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
4 cups chicken broth
1-2 potatoes, diced
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
optional, shredded cheddar, green onion, and/or bacon for topping

Heat a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the olive oil, then add celery, carrot, and onion.  Season with salt and pepper, and saute for 3-5 minutes.  Add broccoli florets and saute 1-2 minutes longer.  Then stir in the zucchini.  Salt and pepper well.  Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and thyme, and saute for 30 seconds.

Pour in the chicken broth, and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add the potato, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.

Stir in the half and half, and allow to incorporate for a minute.  At this point, you can use a blender or immersion blender to blend soup, if desired.  I like to use my immersion blender, and go about half way, so there are still some vegetable chunks.  Then stir in the cheeses until melted through.

Ladle the soup into bowls, and top with toppings of your choice.  Enjoy!

We ate this with shrimp grilled over bacon grease.  Oh yes we did.