Month: March 2016

Mini 50% Off Thrift Haul!! More Dresses!

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Value Village always has a 50% off day for members on the Sunday before the regular 50% off day for everyone.  Even though it is always crazy to try to make my way through the store on days like these…other rabid thrifters looking for the ultimate bargain just like me…I ventured in.  I didn’t find very much as the racks were already pretty picked over, people were pushing around precariously overloaded carts full of bargains all over the store.  But I did find these two dresses which I quite like.  Both were originally $17.99 each, but with my discount, I got them both for that price.

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This mustard coloured knit dress is a great basic piece.  I love the colour and the fit of the flared skirt.  It was in the store the other day on a previous thrifting trip but I didn’t want to pay full price even with my 30% off coupon.  But since it was still there today, I figured it was meant to be.

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This coral and beige colour blocked dress can be worn frontwards or backwards depending on how I want my neckline to fall.  Not a huge haul by any means, but two good pieces anyways.  Cheers, Michele

Shoe Refashion!! Painting With Fabric Paint!

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I purchased these shoes, at a shoe outlet store, for only $20 for both pairs.  So not technically thrifting, but thrifty.

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I already have this exact same style in black and nude faux leather and love them so much.  They are the most comfortable flats ever and I get so many compliments on them.  These are in a light blue denim but I am going to change all that.

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To change these shoes, I used masking tape, fabric paint, a sponge brush and the shoes.

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I carefully masked off the soles of each shoe with the painter’s tape.  And then began applying a thin layer of paint to them.

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I let them dry for 4 hours and then removed the tape. Ta da!!  Brand new shoes in a beautiful bright red and  bright blue.  Two colours which I think I will get much more use out of and I will be adding these thrifty hand-painted shoes to my collection.  What do you think?  Cheers, Michele

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe!! From www.addapinch.com!

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For Easter dinner we had a wonderful time with friends and family and for dessert we had this cake I baked.  The recipe comes from www.addapinch.com.  I doubled both the cake recipe and chocolate butter cream recipe from this site.  The cake is super easy and super moist and delicious.  All I did was add alternating layers of whipped cream and used whipped cream on the outside. It ended up being 6 layers of cake. I love chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream and whipped cream.  I was told the cake was excellent, and I have to agree.  Check out the recipes from www.addapinch.com.  Cheers, Michele

Pepper Crusted Beef Tenderloin Roast!! Aunt Jackie’s Recipe!

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Here is another scrumptious contribution by my Aunt Jackie, a favourite guest contributor.  She has made this dish for us for special occasions.  It comes from America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks.  It is a bit time-consuming but well worth every step.  A real wow of a dish to serve to special guests or for your family for a special occasion.  Enjoy.

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Pepper Crusted Beef Tenderloin Roast

Serves 10 to 12
Not all pepper mills produce a coarse enough grind for this recipe. For alternative methods for cracking peppercorns, see “Cracking Down on Peppercorns,” (related content). Serve with Red Wine–Orange Sauce or Pomegranate-Port Sauce (see related content), if desired.
Ingredients:
4 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely cracked black peppercorns
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 (6-pound) whole beef tenderloin, trimmed
Instructions
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine salt, sugar, and baking soda in bowl; set aside. Heat 6 tablespoons oil and peppercorns in small saucepan over low heat until faint bubbles appear. Continue to cook at bare simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until pepper is fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Using fine-mesh strainer, drain cooking oil from peppercorns. Discard cooking oil and mix peppercorns with remaining 3 tablespoons oil, orange zest, and nutmeg.
2. Set tenderloin on sheet of plastic wrap. Sprinkle salt mixture evenly over surface of tenderloin and rub into tenderloin until surface is tacky. Tuck tail end of tenderloin under about 6 inches to create more even shape. Rub top and side of tenderloin with peppercorn mixture, pressing to make sure peppercorns adhere. Spray three 12-inch lengths kitchen twine with vegetable oil spray; tie head of tenderloin to maintain even shape, spacing twine at 2-inch intervals.
3. Transfer prepared tenderloin to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet, keeping tail end tucked under. Roast until thickest part of meat registers about 120 degrees for rare and about 125 degrees for medium-rare (thinner parts of tenderloin will be slightly more done), 60 to 70 minutes. Transfer to carving board and let rest for 30 minutes.
4. Remove twine and slice meat into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve.
Technique
Preparing—And Packing On—A Peppercorn Crust
Most peppercorn crusts either bring big crunch or grip the meat—but rarely both. Here’s how we got it right.

CRACK: For a crunchy crust that also sticks, coarsely crack—don’t pulverize—the peppercorns.

SIFT: To remove the dusty bits of ground pepper, sift the cracked peppercorns in a strainer.

GLUE: Rub the meat with salt, sugar, and baking soda to make the surface tacky.
Technique
Manipulating Pepper’s Heat and Flavor
For a crust that was satisfyingly crunchy, we needed to use so much cracked pepper that its spiciness overwhelmed the mild flavor of the meat. Simmering the peppercorns in oil before applying them to the roast tamed their heat by pulling out an oil-soluble compound known as piperine. Unfortunately, this treatment also dulled the pepper’s flavor by drawing out three other oil-soluble compounds—limonene, sabinene, and pinene—that together are largely responsible for creating the citrusy, piney notes that give pepper its depth.
To restore complexity to our lackluster pepper, we scanned databases used by perfumists and flavorists to identify aromatic ingredients that might share those dominant flavor compounds. We zeroed in on two: orange zest (95 percent limonene) and nutmeg (58 percent pinene and sabinene). By adding these ingredients to the oil-simmered peppercorns, we created a crust that was not too spicy, but still full of distinct pepper flavor.

SUBTRACT PIPERINE: To tame the peppercorns’ heat, we simmered them in oil, but along with the heat, we lost flavor.

ADD BACK LIMONENE, PINENE, AND SABINENE: By adding nutmeg and orange zest to the crust, we replaced three key flavor compounds lost during simmering.

Red Wine and Orange Sauce

2 tbs. Butter
2 minced shallots
1 tbs. Tomato paste
2 tsp. Sugar
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 cups of beef broth
1 cup of red wine
¼ cup orange juice
2 tbs. Balsamic vinegar
1 tbs. Worcester Sauce
Sprig of fresh thyme
4 tbs. butter
Directions
Melt butter, add shallots, tomato paste and sugar, cook for about 5 minutes till shallots soften.
Add garlic cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add, beef broth, red wine, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcester sauce, and thyme.
Simmer for about 40 minutes until thickened and reduced to 1 cup. Strain, working solids to get all the sauce. Return to pan, bring back to simmer, add 4 tablespoons of butter 1 tablespoon at a time.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with tenderloin.

I hope you enjoy this delicious beef tenderloin.  Cheers, Michele

Ideas for Happiness!! A Self-Help Post for Me!

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I have been trying this year to focus more and more on happiness and what it means.  I think what it means is as tied up in how you approach happiness as the happiness itself.  So I have been gleaning information from self-help blogs and websites and books and have come up with a few ideas that make some sense to me.  They are either ones that I have heard or have read or sometimes just figured out myself.  So here goes…

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  1. Get enough sleep but not too much.  It is hard with all that goes on in our lives to get enough sleep, but sometimes it is easy to wallow in our beds when things are tough.  I find this wallowing easy to slip into.  A “just pull the covers over my head and wait til the bad stuff goes away” is an unfortunate part of my character.  But I am working hard on breaking this cycle.  Sleep and naps are a big treat for me, so I try now to get up in the morning and get going rather than lingering in bed and leaving naps for days I get lots accomplished in the morning.  That way it is a treat not an escape.
  2. Fake it til you make it. This little tip is from my mom who went through some pretty serious crap in her life in her last few decades.  She had breast cancer; a very rare and potentially deadly form; and survived it for over 15 years.  Then she got terminal lung cancer; after never smoking and living a healthy life.  She always seemed to have such a positive outlook and just plugged along through those tough days and will always be an inspiration to me.  Sorry, having a little crying break here….I miss her so much.  But she did leave me with this little tidbit to nag in my ear when I am feeling less than confident or down.                           image
  3. If your belly’s full and your pants are dry, you have nothing to complain about.  Another mom-ism.  She always said that when your basics are covered, you really don’t have that much to complain about.  And she certainly meant more than hunger and bladder problems, she meant all the basics for life.  All the extras we take for granted are just gravy really.  I hear myself quoting my mom with this little saying when I hear people complaining.   I just have to hear it myself.
  4. Be truly thankful for the little things.  This is kind of a repeat of the previous, but in a broader scope.  Once the basics are covered, the wonderful other “stuff” should be appreciated and recognized that they are the sweet things in life.  Like a good book, a great hug when you really need it, good music to dance to, or the love of a great dog (although to me, that’s a basic).  The little things really matter, the details that spice and sweeten our lives need to be acknowledged.  I need to recognize these every day and say thanks.                                                                      image
  5. Don’t nag.  Simple, straightforward and so hard to do.  And I don’t just mean nagging your partner or your children, but yourself.  Lighten up, give yourself a break.  I am my own harshest and most vicious critic, no one could be harder on me than me, and I have to just let it go and recognize my good qualities and characteristics.
  6. Do go to bed angry.  Sometimes it feels like you need to just vent, like an anger vomit binge, but really, who does it serve?  Words are weapons when used in anger, and in the heat of an argument can be deadly.  Let the sun go down and hope that in the morning rationality will rule and you will be able to either let it go or talk with kindness or at the very least, not plot a murder.                                                                                      image
  7. Pick your hills to die on.  This is one I have tried to use through out my life, think this may have come from my mom or dad.  When it comes to those battles with people that you come up against, decide if it is worth the fight.  Most of the time it isn’t, people just have to agree to disagree.  But if the other person isn’t willing to retreat from the battle, then gather your forces and your dignity and high-tail it out of the argument.  Decide if it is just a skirmish or a full on battle, and if the ground conquered is worth the price.        image
  8. Have a good cry now and again.  I know this might seem counter productive when I am trying to focus on happiness, but there is nothing like a good cry to let loose the pressure of stress, of life and frustration.  It lets the valve go and brings you back to a more rational mind-set.
  9. Have trust in something or someone.  There is nothing like giving over total trust in something whether it is fate or faith or what ever gets you through the rough times that takes some of the pressure off you.  Just believing that things will get better often helps me get through the rough times.  Trusting someone totally is very freeing as well, I know that no matter what, my husband has my back, totally and without equivocation.  He is my rock and he gets me and my weird and quirk stuff and he has helped me through the good times and the bad with total support and advice and encouragement.              Help Support Advice Assistance and Guidance on a signpost
  10. Get Help.  This post is not a frivolous one.  I have been through some pretty rough times in the past, have experienced deep depression and these previous ideas have helped, but not all the way.  Get help for your feelings, by talking to your partner, a friend, a medical professional; what ever it takes.  There is no shame in admitting that sometimes it can all be too much and you just have to accept that you need help sometimes.  This one is a hard one for me as I am a bit of a control freak and admitting that I don’t have control over my emotions or my experiences or my reactions to them is sometimes difficult to accept.  But just do it, accept a helping hand when you need it.

Hopefully this post isn’t too serious for my readers, but I don’t want to be just all about thrifting or refashioning or recipes.  I want to share some things I have learned the hard way and the good way.  Cheers, Michele

Black Bean Brownies!! Gluten-Free Chocolatey Heaven!

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This recipe has been a go-to for many years.  My husband bought me the “Full of Beans” cookbook by Violet Currey & Kay Spicer and I have made a version of their brownie recipe ever since.

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I like mine a little more Chocolatey so I have upped the chocolate a bit.

Michele’s Black Bean Brownies

1 cup canned black beans, drained and puréed

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1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup gluten-free flour

1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of cayenne pepper

pinch of cinnamon

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips plus 1 cup for topping

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray 13 x 9 inch baking pan with non-stick spray.
In the food processor where you puréed the black beans, add all other ingredients except chips and blend until very smooth.  Add chips and pulse just til combined.
Pour batter into pan, spread evenly over bottom of pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 20 minutes and then remove from oven.  Pour the 1 cup of chocolate chips evenly over the brownies.  Put pan back in oven and bake for 10 more minutes until tester comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then spread the melted chocolate chips over the top of the brownies with a spatula.
Cool in pan.  Cut into squares.

These are very moist and delicious.  They keep well in an air tight container for several days, but I have never known as they disappear so fast.  Enjoy.  Cheers, Michele

Thrifted Vintage Print Scarves!! For A Future Refashion!

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I seem to find a lot of beautiful printed vintage scarves when I thrift and these are just three of the latest.  They were all $1.40 after discount.

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This one was made in Italy and I have to find a coordinating scarf to make another top.

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This one has a beautiful floral print which coordinates with the next one for colours and size.

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So these two are going to become a reversible top that I can wear frontwards or backwards depending on my mood.  A little run through the washing machine and about 10 minutes of sewing and I will have a brand new top which will appear in a future refashion.  Cheers, Michele