Pickle This

Now that the gardening season is no longer in the full swing of things, I had a lot of vegetables that are still somewhat growing or have just about stopped producing.

One of my vegetables that just stopped producing was my peppers. I literally had about 6 pepper plants and they all sort of stopped growing at the same time, and I figured since the holidays are coming and I come from a big Italian family that has antipasto with every holiday meal and one of the favorites among it is the pickled vegetables I figured why not try my hand at pickling my peppers for the first time. I did eggplant last year and it came out AmAzInGg! So, why not try my hand at the peppers!

To begin, I sang a sweet song to the peppers, haha Just Kidding! I washed these bad boys and let them drain, while I waited for them to completely drain, I began to cut up and mince two (2) cloves of garlic, you know us Italians, we LOVE our garlic!

I then packed the peppers in ever so tightly in a hot sterilized jar I had, leaving about 1/2″ headspace. If you would like now is the time to put in at least 4 heads of fresh dill, or if you don’t have fresh dill you can use 2 tablespoons of dill seeds.

In a saucepan, combine 3 cups of water and 1 cup of white vinegar. Mix in 2 tablespoons of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, bring these bad boys to a boil.

Once the mixture has come to a boil, you will than pour the hot pickling liquid over the peppers, again leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

Adjust the lid and put the closed jar in a boiling water bath for 10 minuets. Once its been 10 minuets, take the jar out of the bath and cool it down before putting the jar in the pantry. Wait about 2 months and then you can enjoy your delicious pickled veggies!

Luckily, in two months my pickled peppers will be ready to eat on December 23, perfect timing for Christmas Eve Dinner!

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Ingredients you will need:

  • 1lb red peppers or 1 lb green or 1 lb yellow hot pepper (8 cups)
  • 4heads fresh dill or 2 tablespoons dill seeds
  • 3cups water
  • 1cup  white vinegar
  • 2tablespoons salt
  • 2cloves garlic, minced
  • 14teaspoon crushed dried red pepper

 

 

 

 

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Colorful Colorado

So guys, I know my typical posts are usually DIY’s but this post is about a recent 3 day fun filled trip I had taken to Colorado.

My fiance was turning 30 and I decided for his milestone birthday that he deserves a trip, well he deserves more than a trip because he has to deal with me and all my DIY’s haha.

Justin has always wanted to go to Colorado, for skiing, however, his birthday is in the beginning of October when clearly its still fall and there is no snow, so I had to really do some research to make this trip as memorable and entertaining as it would have been if we were skiing down a black diamond in Aspen. Let me be clear, if HE was skiing down a black diamond in Aspen, myself, I would be perfectly content sipping hot coco in the lodge 😉 Anywho, my research started a month an half before his birthday, first I started to keep an eye out for flights, affordable flights that is. Luckily I pinned something awhile back saying the best time to look for flights is on a Tuesday 6-8 weeks before your trip, which worked out for me because my research started on a Tuesday and it was luckily 7 weeks until we would have left, amazingly I found (2) round trip tickets for $220 each! what a steal!

Now with flights out of the way, I went on every hotel website under the sun to get the best deal, and if you all know me, I love a good deal! Luckily I found a hotel 20 min from the airport and also 10 min from downtown Denver, perfect location and right smack in the middle of everything, and the best part, I didn’t have to pay anything until we stayed. (Bookings.com) This was an awesome find because if I found any better deals I could cancel at any time and it didn’t cost me anything, luckily I never had to cancel because the hotel price and location was perfect for us.

So I checked off the flights and hotel and now its time to plan the days and what we were going to do, the fun part!

I started Googling around “Things to do in Denver, Co” and “Places to eat in Denver” My fiance is a big foodie so I had to make sure we ate at some highly recommended places. I found myself on TripAdvisor and a few other websites.

I made notes of all the top attractions and started to map out our days with the places people recommended, on our first day, since our flight landed at 11:30 AM, we really had the whole day and we didn’t want to waste a day hanging in a hotel room asking each other “well what do you want to do, where do you want to eat, check google” I wanted to have a plan, hence why I made an itinerary to refer to each day.

On the first day, since we would have the whole day, I didn’t plan anything solid, so no tours, or appointments we had to make, it was a flexible day. We picked up our rental at Enterprise and drove off towards the hotel, since we knew we couldn’t check in yet and we were starving, we decided to go to The Source in Denver. The Source is an artisan food market that is in an 1800’s brick foundry building in the North District of Denver’s River. It’s literally a mall for food and its amazing, they have everything and anything you can think of, food related. We ate at the Comida, its a taco truck turned cantina and they serve the most amazing Mexican street food.

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After we stuffed our faces we headed to the hotel to check in, luckily they let us check in an hour early. We relaxed for a bit until it was time for a little road trip at 5 PM to Colorado Springs to check out the Garden of the Gods. Seriously, if you ever have the chance, you need to see these red rocks, they are simply amazing! We opted out of the tour and decided to just walk around the and take in the beauty of the Red Rocks themselves, its an experience that I will never forget.

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After we walked around the Garden of the Gods and took in the beauty of these rocks, we started to get hungry and I have to be honest, I didn’t do my research so I didn’t know where we were going to eat, this was probably the only thing I forgot, but not to worry too much, I went on Trip Advisor and found Caspian Cafe Mediterranean 5 minuets down the road from the Garden of the Gods. This place was delicious, they serve Mediterranean, Turkish, Greek type of food and they even have belly dancers! It was a great ending to a great first day in Colorado.

Day 2,

The next day, I planned for us to go to breakfast at Snooze, an A.M. Eatery in downtown Denver and let me tell you, the 30 minute wait was fine with me after I had my first bite of their amazing OMG French Toast! Justin wasn’t feeling the wait but once the food came it didn’t matter anymore, now we know why there was such a wait the food they serve is not only mouthwatering but pleasurable 😉 HIGHLY recommend!! We ordered the Pancake Flight (shown below, Pumpkin, Blueberry Danish, and Peach Cobbler) a Benny Duo (eggs benedict) and the OMG French Toast

 

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After we indulged all this deliciousness we decided to go for a walk around downtown Denver, we found Coors Field and a bunch of astounding street art, this city really spoke to me. It was just so unique.

We looked back at the itinerary and decided to head to our next stop, The Flatirons in Boulder. Boulder is about 40 minuets from Denver so we hopped in the car and made our way out to Boulder. As we are driving you notice all these mountains from afar, its simply breathtaking and almost like you are in another world if you have never seen views like this before.

The trail for the Flatirons is a 3.3 mile loop trail that leads out from the trailhead westward through open stands of ponderosa pine before the junction with Doudy Draw Trail. Prairie Vista connects with Flatirons Vista South. The views are insane and there is no other way to explain how breathtaking they are. Another highly recommended place!

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After we were done hiking we headed to our last location of the day, a tour on the Banjo Billy Bus Tour around Downtown Denver for an hour an half bus ride telling us and showing us the history of Boulder. This tour bus is not your typical tour bus, its an old school bus tricked out to look like a traveling hillbilly shack, we heard ghost stories, crime stories, and had a history lesson. We even saw a bear in a tree that day! Unforgettable times!

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Once we got off the Banjo Billy’s Bus Tour, we were dropped off conveniently at Hotel Boulderado on Spruce Street which is only a block away from Pearl Street Mall. The Pearl Street Mall is not your typical Mall, its a four block pedestrian mall in Boulder and it stretches from 11th street to 15th street. We did some shopping and explored the different vendors. We ate at the West Flanders Brewing Company, they have Belgian inspired craft beers and delicious “pub food”.

We had a 30 minute drive from Boulder to Denver and after the delicious pub food at West Flanders we decided to get dessert at the Little Man Ice Cream in Denver to add some sweetness to a great day. Little Man Ice Cream is a 28 foot tall 14K ice cream can that brings you the most incredible vegan ice cream handmade with its finest locally sourced ingreidents. Justin ordered the Space Junk and I had the Salted Oreo in their handmade waffle cones. The Little Man experience is another one that is unforgettable, they provide live music, slam poetry, movie nights, and while we were there, their very own pumpkin patch!

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Another perfect ending to an adventurous day.

 

Day 3,

The last and final day, and also my honey’s 30th Birthday!

We decided to eat at the hotel that morning, we had a free breakfast buffet coupon our hotel gave us because I told them we were there for Justin’s birthday.

I scheduled a couples massage for the both of us to start his and of course my morning right, I found a local deal on Livingsocial and it was probably the best decision I made for that day because with all the hiking and traveling, our bodies needed a good massage, and let me tell you, it was just what the doctor ordered!

After our massages, I set up a tour with the Colorado Cannabis Tour, I can’t speak to much on this tour for personal reasons and of course legal reasons but I will say this, it’s fucking amazing and definitely an experience and I HIGHLY recommend.

Last but not least, I treated my man to a delicious meal at the Guard and Grace in Downtown Denver. They really went above and beyond to make Justin’s birthday special. They had a personalized birthday card sitting at our table for when we arrived and everything from the appetizers to the dessert was delectable and exquisite. I couldn’t of asked for better service, food, or drinks. It made the whole birthday vacation perfect and ended our 3 day vacation incomparably.

All in all, I would say if you have the chance to go to Colorado make sure you check out the following places and I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

  • The Source
  • Garden of the Gods
  • Banjo Billy Bus Tour
  • Guard and Grace
  • Snooze
  • The Flatirons
  • Colorado Cannabis Tours
  • Little Man Ice Cream

 

 

Melt, Pour, and Wait

 

The three main steps to candle making.

Well there are more steps than just those three, but it is pretty simple to create or recreate candles to your liking. As most of you know I am an upcycler, a DIY enthusiast and I will try and do anything at least once. My most recent obsession is candle making, I love the aroma’s, colors, and look.

Last Christmas my fiance gifted me a candle making set and while I tried it once or twice when I first received the present, I didn’t fully commit to this hobby until very recently. On a rainy day when I was cleaning up my hobby room and found the open box of candle making supplies, I figured hey why not make another candle, I had enough supplies to make at least two so I can toss the box and not clutter the 2 inches of space it took up and at least I will have two new candles in my home.

During my process, I really got into it, I thoroughly enjoyed using my essential oils and creating new fragrances and finally getting the perfect shade of blue and burgundy to match my living and dining room, I am never able to find the perfect colors to match my decor accents. After I had finished up and was waiting for the two candles to cool down and conform to my candle mold I got to thinking, I have dozens of “old” candles that were on their last wick (get it, last wick, haha I crack myself up sometimes) anyways, I figured instead of tossing them I would burn them down and make my own candles with new fragrances and maybe a new color.

The following process is a simply one but you need to be careful, spilled wax isn’t a fun clean up! Gather the following supplies,

  • Wax Chunks, Shavings, Old Candles, or even a block of wax at your local craft stores
  • Boil Bags or heat resistant container
  • Essential Oils
  • Food coloring
  • Wicks
  • Candle Mold
  • Scissors
  • Lighter – to light that baby up at the end

Place the Wax Chunks, Shavings, old candles, or block of wax into the Boil Bags or Heat Resistant Container in a larger pot. Reminder: you cannot put candle wax directly on hear or it will catch fire or evaporate. Turn the hear up high and watch that water boil, the boiling water will slowly start to melt your wax. Please keep in mind that the wax can be difficult to clean up so maybe investing in a cheap, heat safe, pot designated specifically for making your candles would be your best option.

I usually wait until the wax is completely melted before taking it out and pouring into the candle molds but the following temperatures are ideal for different types of waxes,

  • Paraffin wax should be melted until it reaches between 122 and 140°F (50 and 60°C).
  • Soy wax should be melted until it reaches between 170 and 180 degrees (76.6 and 82.2°C).
  • Beeswax should be melted until it reaches roughly 145 degrees (62.7°C). You can go a little bit higher but try not to exceed 175 degrees (79.4°C).
  • Old candles should be melted at around 185 degrees (85°C). Remove the old wicks with tongs.

After the wax is completely melted, its time to add scents to it, the fragrance you choose it entirely up to you! Scents such as essential oils can also be found at your local craft store. Be aware that some scents are stronger than others so slowly put a couple of drops in and add more if you don’t feel the scent is strong enough, stir the scents in well.

Now to add the coloring, you can keep your candle white if you would like, or you can purchase oil-based dyes because normal food coloring is water based and will not work well with the wax.You can generally find specific candle dyes. Read the bottle for the proper amount of dye to put in to achieve a certain color. Add drops of coloring until you have reached your desired color. Stir well.

Now before you pour the melted wax in your candle mold, you need to place a wick in the center of the candle mold. You can use tins, mason jars (my favorite) old teacups, really any thing that will withstand the heat. The metal containers are the safest to go but honestly anything that can withstand the heat of the melted wax will do. I typically put down old newspapers or bills (just kidding about the bills part) under the candle mold so if wax does spill as I am pouring my work space/tabletop is protected. The wick should be in the center of the candle mold with about two inches sticking out of the candle. Loop the end that will be out of the wax around the center of a pen or pencil or really anything that will keep the wick in place ( I sometimes use the wooden shish kebab sticks. Rest the pen or stick across the top of the mold you will be pouring your wax into and make sure the wick hangs down straight into the center of the mold.

Pour the melted wax into the mold. Pour slowly so that it does not spill over. Make sure not to knock the wick out of the mold accidentally. You are the judge of how full you want your molds to be. Beeswax will shrink a little once it has cooled so keep that in mind when pouring it into your molds.

Once the wax is poured into the candle mold, it needs to be cooled, and typically it takes about 24 hours for it to be completely cooled down. The longer you let it cool, the better the candle will look. Once its completely cooled down and the candle looks completely set its time to remove the wax from the mold and trim the wick to a quarter inch of the top of the candle. Keep in mind the longer a wick the taller the flame will be, be cautious and keep the wick smaller so its not so out of control when burning.

Finally you are able to light the wick, burn your candle, and enjoy the perfect homemade candle!

 

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Mhmm Smells like…

Happy third day of fall all!

In celebration of the fall season and smushy bananas, I have decided to wake up extra early this morning and bake up some Cinnamon Crunch Banana Bread!

I am obsessed with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, you know the deliciously sugary breakfast cereal?Well I decided to give my spin on it. I am trying to be very health conscious lately and not eat sugary things that are going to expand my waist line. I had about 5 small size bananas that were just riped and ready to be mashed up into banana bread!

I found a recipe on Pintrest but decided to revise it and add my twist to it and change up some ingredients so they were healthier.

Grab your banana bread pan and some mixing bowels and get ready for amazingness!

Banana Bread Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup in the raw sugar
  • 3/4 cup quick-cook oats
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup Vanilla Almond milk
  • 5 very ripe bananas (3 if you have normal size bananas, mine were littles)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Cinnamon Crunch Topping Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup in the raw sugar
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowel and the wet ingredients in another.

Now you can go ahead and make your topping mixture. Combine all of the ingredients and with a fork, break up the butter into the sugar/flour mixture until it looks like wet sand.

Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean). Let it cool down before you take your first slice!

Your home will seriously smell delicious even while the bread is in the oven baking to perfection.

 

 

 

 

All from an Idea…

Have you ever gotten an idea and thought to yourself, I can totally do this and actually went through with it!.. Well that’s exactly what happened to me!

One day, I was downstairs in my basement and I was thinking to myself, what can I do with all these old vintage windows?! We made a greenhouse out of some and also made an awesome window wall decor out of another but truthfully how many windows am I going to display in my house? So this idea came out of nowhere and I thought, Shadow Box! I loved the idea of having a shadow box coffee table, one because its a unique idea and two because I babysit my two year old niece occasionally and she LOVES when there is anything on my coffee table so she can play with it. As much as I am the “cool” aunt and let her get away with murder, I don’t necessarily want anything to get broken. So I thought to myself, if I can display everything that I normally would ON the coffee table why don’t I do it IN the coffee table so the knick knacks and pictures don’t somehow end up broken and truthfully it adds a little something something to it if you ask me.

I started this project like I do with a lot of them, ran the idea over with my fiance, not because he rules what I do, but because, I have some wacky ideas and sometimes I need someone to pull the reigns on me. Well after I explained and drew up my idea, he thought it was an amazing idea, Whew! Luckily for me, his uncle owns a carpentry shop and that left over wood needs to go somewhere! I told my fiance the dimensions of the wood I needed and he picked up some amazing mahogany wood pieces cut to the size I needed (they had to be custom since the windows are vintage and the dimensions aren’t necessarily common)

I began this project by putting together the frame of the table itself with the mahogany wood, I went to my local Home Depot and picked up “L” brackets to secure it all together. Once the frame was created, I than began to screw wood to the bottom of the table onto the frame itself.

As you can imagine this is now sorta looking like a wooden stage (when flipped around). I bought these awesome wooden legs from Home Depot that gave the coffee table the perfect height, drilled the hole and screwed them onto the wooden bottom. Now that the wood frame and leg part is completed its time for the staining!

While the staining was drying, I started my work on the window. The window was so weathered and the existing paint that was previously on it was all chipped, I started to sand it down by hand (I didn’t want to use a sander for the fear that it would be too much power on a window) Once it was all sanded I wiped it down and began to paint it antique white, I added some gold embellishments on the window frame for a vintage feel and added a turquoise distressed handle to complete the overall look I was going for.

I secured the vintage window on top of the wooden freshly stained framed, added finishing gloss all over and then buffed it complete.

Now this gorgeous, one of a kind Shadow Box Coffee Table has be completed, its ready for its new home, because as I mentioned earlier, how many windows am I going to display in my house?

If you are interested in this piece or any other piece you can purchase them directly on the website!

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Fizz this

If any of you know me, you’ll know I can not go a week without a relaxing bath. From as far back as I can remember I would jump at the chance to take a bath over a shower any day. Maybe I like to be lazy with it or maybe I just like to light a few candles put on some spa music, read some trashy magazines and pretend I am getting pampered at a $200 an hour spa. Whatever the reasoning being it all comes down to the same thing, I LOVE baths!

I have become almost obsessed with creating the perfect bath atmosphere, bath salts, bubbles, lotions, candles, even a loofah! Because I am on the tightest budget possible lately, I have decided to try out a new hobby that can help with my passion of baths and warm water. Bath Bombs! I know you have all seen these once or twice before. You throw a ball of fizz that almost looks likes a candy jaw breaker into the water and then all of a sudden that $200 spa experience is all yours for just a measly $10. YES $10!

I read up on DIY tutorials and watched some YouTube videos on how to make bath bombs at home, here is all you need to get yourself set up, some of these items you may already have in your home!

  • a clear plastic ornament (for the mold) OR metal molds- I purchased my metal mold on Amazon for $1 but any craft store has the clear plastic ornaments that you can use as a mold
  • Baking Soda – I luckily had this already in my cabinet
  • Citric Acid (this makes the fizzing) – I found mine again on Amazon for $5.99
  • Epsom Salt – Again, I was lucky to already have this in my bath room.
  • H2O – FREE Water!!
  • Essential Oils – For the smell. I bought a set of Essential Oils at my local TJ Maxx (go figure!) for $3. I used Lavender and Eucalyptus. Lavender is for calming and relaxing and Eucalyptus is used for inflammatory and respiratory.
  • Olive Oil or Coconut Oil – I had both in my cabinet. These oils leave your skin feeling nice and smooth as well as a radiant glow.
  • Food Coloring – Again, I had this in my cabinet. To make the bath bomb a pretty color, you can pick any color you want. Use a few drops, don;t worry it wont stain your tub or your skin.

Once I created these amazing bath bombs, I couldn’t wait to jump in the tub to try them out!

I think I am going to create more and start selling them on my Urban Hippie site, these are too amazing not to share!

*I have a video of my final product on my Instagram page*  https://www.instagram.com/urbanhippieapparel

 

 

 

 

The Budget Friendly Bride

I recently got engaged 4 months ago and the first thoughts in my mind were, “how do I get my Pintrest board ideas to become reality” and pay only a fraction or in my case, a faction of the fraction of the cost. By no means do I consider myself “cheap” but I do consider myself “budget savvy”.

After my first initial “Is this really happening, I have to plan a wedding” shock, reality started to settle in. And not the reality of being someones wife, okay that is shocking too but the reality of “where the hell am I getting the money for a wedding!” I took a deep breathe and reevaluated the situation and of course my Pintrest board.

Since I had a whole year and 3 months away until my wedding day, I decided to handle the deposits of my vendors first. I did a TON of research on vendors (Photography, Videography, DJ/Band, Flowers, and Catering) I contacted close to 20-30 people in each individual vendor category, looked at their samples, met with them, and contacted their references. Since I was getting a jump start on booking, I requested immediate quotes, asked for military discounts (my fiance is in the Army), and/or special pricing since I would be booking with them immediately. I must say if not all, A LOT of the vendors were able to provide me discounts, its all in the approach.

I also knew I wanted the following things for the decor at my wedding:

  • Unique Centerpieces
  • A Bridal Bouquet I can keep for years to come
  • Beautiful personal wedding gifts for parents
  • Shabby Chic decor
  • and anything I can get a discount on

For the centerpieces, I decided to look at my local thrift shops, craigslist, and tag sales. I wanted something unique and not your typical flower arrangement. I decided on lanterns, I found a bunch of different colors and styles and decided on instead of putting the same color/style lanterns on every table, each table will be different.

For my bridal bouquet, as much as I love fresh flowers, I decided to make a brooch bouquet. I found a ton of ideas and designs on Pintrest and Etsy. Instead of paying $500 for someone to do my bouquet, I decided since I am design savvy, I got this! and I did! I requested brooches from my grandmothers and my mother in law so I can incorporate them in my bouquet as my something old and something borrowed. I am still in the process of creating this amazing piece and will update with pictures once it is completed.

The beautiful personal wedding gifts for my parents, I don’t want to spoil it too much with what I came up with but I will say, it is something very meaningful and apart of my childhood with both of my parents, my father always carries a handkerchief with him. I will leave the rest up for your imaginations.

and the Shabby Chic Decor, Pintrest has a plethora of ideas, I have since decided on the vintage ladder and twinkle lights, mason jars, and our initials in wood decorated on each step, as well as the old vintage windows with pictures throughout our relationship. I am still happily “pinning” more as I type.

My wedding is not until May 26, 2017 but I wanted to get a jump start on designing and getting decor since the budget is tight. I will definitely be providing more blogs about my Savvy Wedding Ways in the future, I think I may have a passion for this Wedding planning stuff after all.