Friday, May 31, 2013

Afternoon Craft Project - Jewelry Organization for Under $3

So it all started last week when my husband, who was diligently vacuuming in our bedroom, came "thisclose" to sucking up a the necklace he'd purchased for me as a Valentine's Day gift.  I'm not really a jewelry girl, so the pieces I have are usually sentimental or practical - a few hoop earrings, some chunky necklaces, and a bunch of heirlooms from my mother and grandmothers. 

And the necklace from my husband.

Because I don't have a lot of jewelry, I don't really "organize" it. The necklaces were hanging on command hooks attached to the side of my dresser (and apparently fall off onto the carpet), the bracelets and brooches were tucked in a box in the closet, and the earrings were jumbled with bobby pins and hair ties on my dresser. 

So today I decided I needed to organize my jewelry in a way that was convenient and cute. I had a three-drawer particleboard cabinet that I purchased about five years ago at Dollar General. It was accumulating random makeup/medicine/hair product and wasn't really meeting its full potential. 

I went to Michael's and looked through the felt. It was 29 cents per sheet and came in lots of nice colors. I picked out a pretty blue that caught my eye and, lucky me, it fit perfectly inside the drawers! 

I also found this really cute tea pot dish for $1 (also at Michael's - who knew?!). It's perfect for holding my little rosette earrings! I lined all my hoop earrings up, and because of the felt they stay in place really well. No shifting around when I open or close the drawer. 

I found old jewelry gift boxes to hold bracelets, and I used double-sided tape to make sure they didn't shift around too much, applying it to the sides that touched the drawer, and a little in between the two boxes. 

For my necklaces, I just laid them on the felt, looping them a few times to make them fit. 

I'm so happy with my new jewelry chest! It's perfect!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

(Vegan) Kabocha Squash Soup

I went to Sprouts a few weeks ago (have you been to Sprouts?! It's amazing!) and saw that some of the winter varieties of squash were on sale. I'd used butternut squash before in soups and in roasted medleys with carrots and onions, and I am not unfamiliar with the acorn squash either. 

But there was a third squash present. Kabocha. At first I assumed this was the squash from which that weird fermented health drink is made (I later learned this is kombucha and not connected to winter squash at all), but at the sale price, it was worth trying. So I grabbed one and put it in the cart. 

For a solid week the little hard-skinned squash sat on top of the microwave, mocking me with its inability to be thoroughly Googled. Few recipes or health facts exist for the kabocha squash. Eventually, I just decided to bake it, puree it, and make a soup. If it turned out awful, I'd just feed it to the garbage disposal. 

But I was in luck. Using a recipe I had for butternut squash soup, I substituted the kabocha and added a little more garlic. Not only was the texture like velvet, but the flavor was amazing. Definitely one of my favorite soup recipes ever.

Vegan/Gluten-Free/ Dairy-Free Kabocha Squash Soup

1 kabocha squash, peeled and cubed (you chould also use butternut or acorn squash)
5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 bag baby carrots or 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups GF vegetable broth (more if needed)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp basil 
1 Tbsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
plain yogurt (optional)

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add in olive oil, onion, and garlic. Saute until translucent. 

Add in squash, carrots, and broth. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer on low until carrots break apart easily with a fork (about 45 minutes). 

Add in basil, oregano, and salt, then cook for 5 more minutes to allow the herbs to blend in. 

Turn off heat and, using whatever blending method you choose (immersion, upright blender, food processor, etc.), blend until smooth. 

Serve warm with a dollop of plain yogurt on top (optional).