Category Archives: 365Project

Pinspiration: 80’s Jewelry Cabinet Rescue

I spent HOURS last night catching up on Sons of Anarchy episodes (it’s the sub-plot that I love) and pulling inspirational pins for my 1980’s jewelry cabinet rescue from various Pinterest boards.  I’ve been collecting these pins for years, but not necessarily with my jewelry cabinet in mind.

Yes.  I may have a Pinterest problem, and the first step is admitting it.

Now comes the difficult task of narrowing down my choices.  Ugh!  And fun!  Both, at the same time.

The options are limitless, and I need a limit.  What would you pick?

We Both Need a Fresh Start: 80’s Jewelry Cabinet Rescue & Blogiversary Recap

One year ago today (happy blogiversary to me), I started this blog with the best of intentions.  Little did I know how much WORK this blogging thing required.  Especially for a girl with a full-time job and full-time life.  Some weeks, especially when I was inspired by the holidays (Easter and Cinco de Mayo, woot woot!), I blogged daily.  Below are some of awesome highlights during these up moments.  I can’t even begin to describe the glee I felt every time another blogger or site featured one of my posts, and I give a big, fat ♥ every time I see one of my posts pinned on Pinterest.  GRINNING EAR-TO-EAR SMILEY FACE.

Hand-Painted Tribal Print Ottoman -- annumography.wordpress

Hand-Painted Tribal Print Ottoman

Take5 Layer Cake -- annumography.wordpress

Take 5 Layer Cake

Boozy Blueberry-Sage Sherbet -- annumography.wordpress

Boozy Blueberry-Sage Sherbet

Copycat Roslyn Spumoni Cake -- annumography.wordpress

Copycat Roslyn Spumoni Whip Cream Cake

Gluten-Free Enchilada Casserole -- annumography.wordpress

Gluten-Free Chorizo Enchilada Breakfast Casserole

Cookbook Bird House -- annumography.wordpress

Catalog Hack Cookbook Bird House

Hand-Painted Otomi Canvas Shoes

Hand-Painted Otomi Canvas Shoes

Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream -- annumography.wordpress

Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream

Kate Spade-Inspired Painted Nightstands -- annumography.wordpress

Kate Spade-Inspired Painted Nightstands

Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce -- annumography.wordpress

Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce

Bluth's Original Frozen Banana Cocktail -- annumography.wordpress

Bluth’s Original Frozen Banana Cocktail

Low Carb Mini German Apple Pancake - annumography

Low Carb Mini German Apple Pancakes

And then there were the weeks…and weeks…okay, maybe months…where it was radio silence around here.  Heck, I couldn’t even manage a daily Instagram post.  SAD FACE.

Let us look at the reasons, shall we?  Not that I’m making excuses.  But, dang it, if I don’t identify my problems, how am I going to fix them?

  1. Photography (i.e. the eye candy that keeps blog readers coming back for more) – I mentioned early on my photography shortcomings.  Then WordPress changed the interface to Instagram, and my blog’s whole concept took a nosedive.  Honestly, though, this turned out to be a good thing.  I am now re-learning photo editing, and the quality of my photos should dramatically improve (no more relying on Instagram filters).  And I’ve promised myself a new camera if I show more commitment to the blog this year.
  2. Not measuring up – Every influential blogger tells you not to compare your blog to others.  Well, I didn’t listen.  Or at least not consistently.  So I tried to Keep Up with The Bloggers, and I failed.  This isn’t my full-time job…or even full-time hobby…so I need to cut myself some slack.  I know that my blog quality will improve.  But if not, I’m happy that I’m back to blogging for me.
  3. And then…bam, boom, wham…major life change – With the news I received about my health this year, my diet has dramatically changed.  With my diet change,my after-work evenings have also changed.  Time formerly spent blogging is now spent in the kitchen planning, prepping, and cooking.  Sadly, I can no longer eat any of the recipes that I posted above.  It feels like I’m learning to cook all over again, and sometimes it feels like I have more failures than successes.

So.  It’s a new year with new opportunities.  I’m going to commit again to daily Instagram posts for my 365 Project.  But my blog content is going to be (even) more real, true-to-life Karen.  I’m going to be less concerned about themes and what the other bloggers are doing and more focused on my interests.  I hope this results in more interesting and dynamic reading, because my heart will be in every post.

Take this jewelry cabinet.  Yes, it is so 1980’s.  But I see potential.  In fact, I’ve been seeing its potential for about a decade now.  I just can’t seem to make a decision about how I want to rescue this baby.  Heck, the style may come back again, if I wait long enough.  Or not.

80s Jewelry Box Rescue Before1 -- annumography.wordpress

I found the perfect place for this curved-line, potential beauty between my two closet doors.  I hate the golden oak stain, but then again I don’t hate how it ties to the clock on the wall above.  And I totally dig the rose pink velvet lining.  Over the next couple of days, I will be mulling over my options.  But no more procrastinating and unfinished projects!  I promise both myself and this Material Girl that her makeover will be complete by the end of January.  Maybe before…CONFIDENT SMILEY.

80s Jewelry Box Rescue Before4 -- annumography.wordpress

What are your ideas?  How would you rescue this stuck-in-the-80’s babe?

 

Easy Weeknight Meals: Roasted Cauliflower with Dates & Capers

cauliflower with dates and capers -- annumography

When friends and family ask me what I’ve been up to lately, my response is typically “Chopping vegetables.”  Though I love my improved health and reduced symptoms (and weight loss…25 pounds so far) from foregoing gluten, sugar, and dairy, I do admit that cooking almost every meal at home is seriously taking away my free time.  My me time.  So this weekend my hubby grilled a plethora of meats, and I cleaned and prepped an entire refrigerator full fruits and vegetables, in an effort to save time and have (almost-) ready-made meals on hand throughout the week.

Advanced planning aside, though, some nights I dread the clean-up more than the meal preparation itself.  Last night was one of those nights.  Since this is my first week following the autoimmune protocol, I didn’t want to skimp on yummy food just to avoid doing the dishes.

Browsing through my saved recipes on Pinterest, I re-discovered this roasted cauliflower recipe from Running with Tweezers.  Dates?  Olives?  Rosemary?  Yes, yes, and yes.  With recipes like this, how could I miss tomatoes and peppers?  But I wondered if I could be lazy get creative and simplify the recipe.  Remember, the fewer dishes, the better.

easy weeknight cauliflower -- annumography

I plopped my bag of prepped (cleaned and chopped) cauliflower in a shallow pan and tossed it with olive oil.  Right in the pan.  While the cauliflower roasted, I combined more olive oil with chopped dates, fresh rosemary, and…wait for it…capers in a small bowl.  I decided to swap the capers with the olives, because it saved some chopping time.  And I love cauliflower with capers.  Using olive oil in place of butter allowed me to eliminate the need to melt the butter in a separate pan.

After roasting the cauliflower until the edges began to crisp up a yummy golden-brown, I took it out of the oven and pushed it all toward the center of the pan.  Then I dumped the date/caper mixture right on top of that roasted goodness.  Yup, right in the pan AGAIN.  A few quick tosses, and I popped it all back in the oven for another five minutes.

easy weeknight cauliflower with dates and capers -- annumography

Then the cauliflower went straight from the pan to my plate.  Above is what I’m calling the beauty shot.  You could add salt and pepper to taste before plating, but I found the capers seasoned the dish enough to more than please my palate.  And I’m avoiding pepper in this early phase of AIP.

This dish is definitely a do-over.  One bite hits all the right flavor notes: sweetness from the dates, salt + sour from the capers, and a slight bitterness from the rosemary.  And I especially love that I only had one pan, one bowl, and a silicone spatula to clean at the end of the night.

Sharing this recipe at Sift, Stir, and Savour, Mostly Homemade MondaysEasy Green MamaReal Food Forager, and The Gluten-Free Homemaker.

cauliflower with dates and capers -- annumography

Roasted Cauliflower with Dates & Capers
Adapted from Running with Tweezers

1/2 head of cauliflower florets, cleaned and sliced to approximately 1/2″ thickness
4 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
10 pitted dates, roughly chopped
3 T. capers, drained
1 T. fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
sea salt and black pepper, to taste if desired

Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit.  Combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil with the dates, capers, and rosemary in a small bowl and set aside. Toss the sliced cauliflower florets with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.  Place the pan in the oven and roast the cauliflower for 25 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn a golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and push the cauliflower together into the center of the pan.  Pour the date/caper mixture over the cauliflower and toss.  Return the pan to the oven and roast the mixture for another 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper if desired.  Serve immediately.

Makes 2 large portion servings (or 4 servings if you put some other vegetables on that plate). 🙂

Goodbye Grain-Free Eggplant (No-)Parmesan, Hello AIP

eggplant no-parmesan on annumography

I know, right?  This grain-free eggplant parmesan recipe from Miss Dot’s is seriously something that needs to be in your gluten-free cooking repertoire.  I skipped the cheese and added sausage, Local Folks Foods pizza sauce, and crispy basil (basil quick-fried in olive oil), and I used olive oil in place of grape seed or coconut oil.  Just so you know, we didn’t miss the dairy AT ALL.  My hubby ate leftover eggplant the next day with his favorite spicy muffalata.  Yum!

It is with some sadness, however, that I post this culinary triumph.  You see, I am weaning myself off a host of foods on which I rely daily.  I’m going to give the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) a try.  The answer to my friends’, family, and co-workers’ “So, what do you eat?” is going to be that much more challenging to address.  And I can’t help thinking that I have to re-learn everything that I’ve been so successful in learning over the last few months.  But I think it will be worth it in the end.

What is AIP?  Check out The Paleo Mom for a great, easy-to-understand resource about AIP (it’s where I started).  I’m a HUGE fan of her blog; an evidence-based approach to the paleo lifestyle and managing autoimmune disorder symptoms, whaaat?  The list below is from her post on AIP. 

      • Eggs (especially the whites)
      • Nuts
      • Seeds (including cocoa, coffee and seed-based spices)
      • Nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, sweet and hot peppers, cayenne, red pepper, tomatillos, goji berries etc. and spices derived from peppers, including paprika)
      • Potential Gluten Cross-Reactive Foods
      • Fructose consumption in excess of 20g per day
      • Alcohol
      • NSAIDS (like aspirin or ibuprofen)
      • Non-nutritive sweeteners (yes, all of them, even stevia)
      • Emulsifiers, thickeners, and other food additives

So this is what I won’t be eating for the next two weeks.  Or month.  Or forever.  I’m not ready to talk in much detail about why I am planning to “go AIP”, but I promise more information on the why’s and my results in future posts.   Why not now?  Because I am still waffling between the Contemplation and Planning stages of change (Transtheoretical Model, or TTM).

 

TTM

(source Wikimedia Commons)

Okay, stay with me.  What you may or may not know is that I have a master’s degree in social work, and this may be the closest I ever get to using it.  But as I have noticed my own transformation from first ignorance, then denial (pre-contemplation), then a desire to learn more and seek advice (contemplation), and now finally beginning to prepare in a VERY PUBLIC way, I recognize that this is a process.  I can’t quit cold turkey and succeed (i.e. know thyself).  And TTM isn’t as linear as it looks.  If I fail to move on to the action stage, it’s more likely because I have slipped back down into contemplation (or…Lord help me…pre-contemplation) stage where I need a little more time/work.  But what better way to avoid slipping than to be accountable through sharing my intent to change and my progress on this blog.

I like this diagram of TTM, because it reminds me of a hill (or mountain) to climb.  And in that image, I’m the little engine that could.  (Taking deep breaths.)

Sharing this post on Allergy Free Wednesday.

 

Low Carb Mini German Apple Pancakes

Low Carb Mini German Apple Pancake - annumography

It’s been almost nine weeks, since I embarked on this new lifestyle without grains, sugars, and dairy.  Most days I would tell you that I haven’t missed a thing.  This weekend, though, I wanted doughnuts.

Knowing that giving in to these cravings would only make me sick for the next two days, I resisted the temptation to hop in the car and head to Long’s.  But just barely, until I remembered pinning these German Apple Pancakes from the Civilized Caveman.  (Umm, yeah.  That’s a lot of links in one paragraph…but they are worth it, trust me.)

Low Carb Mini German Apple Pancakes - annumography

And so are these mini German pancakes.  Even though I set off our fire alarm five times while they were baking, because I forgot to place a pan under my muffin tin to catch any potential drips.  No joke.  They were even worth the scrubbing I gave my stove afterward.

Typically I forego all sugars – even the non-refined ones – while I am healing.  For this recipe, however, I decided to leave the two teaspoons of maple syrup in the batter.  Since I planned to bake these in a muffin tin, I doubted that 2 teaspoons divided by 12 would have any negative impacts on my health.  It’s all about moderation, right?  So I eliminated the two tablespoons of honey in the apples.  I instead used a combination of organic Fuji and local, organic Gingergold apples; I found these to be sweet enough for my taste.

To enhance the flavors, I added a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to the batter.  I also reduced the number of eggs to five and used apple cider vinegar in place of the lemon juice.  Why?  Because I only had five eggs and no lemons in the fridge when my craving struck.  You could increase the number of eggs to six and use the juice of half a lemon, but I was happy with my results.  All of that vinegary flavor cooks off, I promise.  And yes, I am headed to the market to restock my fridge today.  Lemons and eggs are ESSENTIAL to my quality of life.

One more tip.  When I added the melted coconut oil to the cold-from-the-fridge almond milk and eggs, the coconut oil hardened into chunks too large to whisk into a smooth consistency.  Never fear.  My immersion blender made quick work of breaking down the solidified coconut oil, and whipped together the other ingredients into a lovely smooth batter.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, I recommended whipping the batter ingredients with a stand mixer or blender.  Or you could allow the almond milk and eggs to come to room temperature before adding the melted coconut oil.

Sharing this recipe on: Nourising Treasures, Easy Green Mama, Real Food Forager, The Gluten-Free Homemaker, Allergy Free Wednesday.

Low Carb Mini German Apple Pancake - annumography

Low Carb Mini German Apple Pancakes
Adapted from Civilized Caveman

Coconut oil spray
5 eggs
1 c. unsweetened almond milk
4 T. coconut oil, divided
2 t. vanilla
2 t. Grade B maple syrup
1/4 c. coconut flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. sea salt
1 1/4 t. nutmeg, divided
1 t. cinnamon
1 T. apple cider vinegar
2 medium apples, diced

Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit.  Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven and allow to preheat as well.  Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with coconut oil spray and set aside.

Whisk eggs, almond milk, 2 T. melted coconut oil, vanilla, and maple syrup in a large bowl with an immersion blender (see notes above).  In a smaller bowl, combine coconut flour, baking soda, sea salt, and 1/4 t. nutmeg.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and whisk or blend until you have smooth batter.

Melt the remaining 2 T. coconut oil in a medium pan.  Add remaining 1 t. nutmeg, cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar, and cook for 1 minute.  Add the apples and saute until the apples just begin to soften.

Divide the apples evenly among the muffin pan cups.  Top the apples with the egg mixture; the cups will be almost full.  Place the muffin pan on the rimmed baking sheet in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes at 425°.  Reduce the heat to 375° and bake for another 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Makes 6 servings (2 mini German pancakes per serving)

If you are visiting from Easy Green Mama or The Gluten-Free Homemaker, WELCOME!   I love comments, visitors, and followers.  You can also find me on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Easy Green MamaGluten Free Wednesdays

Wedding Quilt: Part I

Tiki/Rockabilly Wedding - annumography
Willow Grove Photography

Hubby and I celebrate our wedding anniversary this month.  Maybe it’s the anticipation of this anniversary, or maybe it’s the desire to finally GET ON IT when it comes to all the projects I have unfinished around the house, but I have been working on our wedding quilt lately.

Tiki Table Runner - annumography
Willow Grove Photography

Wait.  Let me back up a sec and start from the beginning.  Most of our wedding was hand-crafted by me.  I made the wedding programs, which doubled as fans for our outdoor wedding. And tripled as flags for the guests to wave after the ceremony.

Is it a wedding program, fan, or flag - it's all the above - annumography
Willow Grove Photography

I made the wedding “flowers”, including my bouquet, the maid-of-honor’s clutch and corsage, the flower girl’s headbands, and the groom’s/best man’s boutonnieres.

Vintage Brooch Bouquet - annumography
Willow Grove Photography

I made the groovy buffet food (with a lot of help from friends/family), the chocolate-covered strawberry truffle groom’s cake, and the cupcake tower for the coconut cupcakes.  By the way, my friend Beth made the cupcakes, and she deserves a huge shout-out.  BEST COCONUT CAKE EVER!

Tiki Wedding Toast - annumography
Willow Grove Photography

I made the ice breaker table game for the guests…okay,  you get it.  I made a lot of stuff for our wedding.  And I loved every minute of it.  Yes, it was a lot to do.  But I had a deadline…and boy, did that help a procrastinator like me.

Ice Breaker - How well do you know the couple - annumography
Willow Grove Photography

Anyway, you can catch another (small) glimpse of the table runners that I made in the background of the shot above.  We rented the typical round tables and white tablecloths for our outdoor wedding reception, but wanted to add some tiki vibe with the centerpieces and table runners.  My inspiration for the table runners was a Better Homes and Gardens table runner made from napkins.  It reminded me so much of a patchwork quilt, that I was inspired to create my own table runner with fabric.  And then make it into our wedding quilt.  Fun, right?

I bought several 1960’s inspired cotton fabrics — some tiki, some rockabilly — and labeled the patterns A-I.  I then used Microsoft Excel (my go-to design tool) to create a pattern using the fabrics for four runners.  I needed a total of eight for the reception tables, so I just repeated the design again.

Table Runner Pattern - annumography

The unit of measure is square inches, and is depicted with the light-blue outlined squares.  Once I doubled the runner patterns above, I could determine the cuts that I needed to make for each fabric.  Using the diagram below as a guide, I got busy with my rotary cutter.

Table Runner Fabric Cuts - annumography

After cutting all the pieces, I first sewed them together in 6-inch square blocks.  I then joined the blocks to make one long runner.  I used iron-on interface to make the runners more sturdy and to help keep the seams pressed down…and intact…during the reception.  My idea, if it works, is to use the adhesive properties of the interface to my advantage.  I plan to machine quilt, and I usually have trouble with my batting and backing shifting.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can just iron the batting directly to the quilt top to help it stay put.

Quilt Tip - Iron-on Fusible Interface - annumography

Not that iron-on interface photographs well.  But it may be the solution to all my quilting problems.  I’ll let you know how it goes in Wedding Quilt: Part II.  Until then, here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come.

Wedding Table Runner Quilt - annumography

Linking to these wonderful blogs:  Homework, The Winthrop Chronicles, and The Vintage Farmhouse.  Check ’em out!

Sugar-Free Made Simple: Spiced Pickled Peaches

196/365 no sugar was used in the making of these peaches...awesome sweet + tart #365project #seekarencook

A post shared by Karen Collins (@annumography) on

I’ve said it before, but I love me some pickles.  Unfortunately, most store-bought pickles have some form of sugar in them.  So do most of my homemade pickle recipes.  (I see a whole lotta recipe revamping comin’ on.)

This spiced peach recipe, however, is not one that I’ve made before now.  I found it while searching for new ways to use my fresh chocolate mint.  If you haven’t tried chocolate mint yet, I highly recommend it.  I steep it in warmed coconut milk in the evening, and I also used it to make this gluten-free chocolate mint snack cake.

My inspiration recipe started with canned peaches in syrup.  Looking for a healthier alternative, I chose to use fresh peaches.  Remember – I’m kicking my sugar addiction here.  I also made some substitutions with the spices to use what I had in my pantry.  One of the things I love about pickling is that you can customize it to suit  your taste.  You also know exactly what is going into the food that you eat, when you use whole, fresh ingredients.

195/365 pickled fresh peaches #365project #seekarencook

A post shared by Karen Collins (@annumography) on

Aren’t they gorgeous?  I almost couldn’t wait the 24 hours in the fridge before trying my first bite.  Patience is not my virtue.  But then I decided that eating a too-sour, too-unpickled slice too soon would be a waste of peach.  It’s all about choices.

If you don’t have chocolate mint, you can substitute regular fresh mint.  You could also double, triple, or quadruple the recipe, if you have a bounty of peaches while they are in season.  I think these would also do well, if you wanted to preserve them for a longer period of time through a sterile canning process.  Me?  Remember, I’m not patient.  A quick, refrigerator pickle is more my style.  But let me know how they turn out, and I will envy your canning prowess.  And admire your patience.

Spiced Pickled Peaches
Adapted from Skirt in the Kitchen

3 sprigs fresh chocolate mint
1 cinnamon stick
1-inch fresh ginger, sliced
1 c. rice vinegar
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 t. whole cloves
1/4 t. whole peppercorns
1/8 t. anise seed
1/2 t. sea salt

In the bottom of a pint jar, place the mint, cinnamon stick, and sliced ginger. Set aside.

Place enough water to cover the peaches when they are submerged in a medium saucepan.  Bring the water to a boil.  Meanwhile, cut a small “X” at the bottom of each peach.  Place a medium-side bowl of ice water near the stove top.  When water is boiling, submerge the peaches for 30-40 seconds.  Remove the peaches from the boiling water and place in the ice water bowl for approximately a minute.  Remove the peaches from the ice water and pat dry with a clean cloth or paper towels.  The skins should easily slip off, but use a paring knife for any spots that don’t easily peel.

Slice the peeled peaches in half and remove the pits.  Fill the prepared jar with the sliced peaches.  If they don’t all fit, set them aside.  You may be able to sneak more in once the liquid is poured over the peaches.

In a small saucepan, bring rice vinegar and the next 8 ingredients to a boil.  Remove from heat and pour the vinegar mixture over peaches in the prepared jar.  If you had any leftover peach slices, try to fit them in now.

Put the lid on the jar and allow the peaches to come to room temperature.  Place the cooled jar in the refrigerator and allow to “pickle” for at least 24 hours.  The peaches will keep for about a month in the refrigerator.