Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve What's old is NEW!

It is almost 2016. As we look back on this past 2015 I want to reflect on the good thrifting finds I had this year. I also want to give you some fun thrifting tips.

I guess first I should further explain thrifting. What is it exactly? It is buying things second hand really. I know there is a big sigma against buying other peoples things but honestly I think that is dumb. I have found so many name brand discounted things at Goodwill or my local high brand resale places to count. Here are my top 5 things you can buy second hand and how to spot a good deal.

#5. Platters-
This is food platters folks. They are expensive a good Italian platter can set you back $100 plus. My mom and I found a Italian porcelain platter at Goodwill for $20ish. I saw the same type platter from the same brand at Macy's for $120. What you want to look for is the brand stamp on the back it will usually tell you who created it and where it comes from. If not you want to look and make sure it is a good  quality item by checking for discoloring or cracks. If it is a good sound platter snatch it up.

#4. Records-
There is nothing like the sound of a good vinyl record from the 60-80's. The really only place to find a record that is original is second hand now-a-days. I am always scouting to add to my collection. My best deal--- Fleetwood Mac's Rumors for $3. Worth upwards of $30 at some places and by far my favorite lately. What you want to look for is a record that is clean and has minimum scratches on it. Some are okay but if it looks like a cat attacked it skip the buy.

#3. Tea sets-
I maybe the only person that prefers to drink my tea out of an actual tea cup. Whatever I feel like I am at Downtown Abbey and it makes me happy. When I got married I needed tea cups and a lot of them to make candles. Second hand is the way to go if you want to find some tea cups. What you want to look for is lack of chips and matching sets. I was blessed and inherited my family set which is gorgeous. Another thing to look for is to try to find a tea cup that has a saucer. That way you can put your stir spoon down on something.

#2. Accessories-
I cannot add up the amount of name brand hand bags, scarfs, necklaces etc. etc. I have found for almost a steal. If you really look you will find name brand items. Look for items that are not worn out and that would be great accent pieces. I have a love of old broaches and have found plenty second hand. My best deal was a $4 Liz Claiborne hand bag last year. It is brown/black mix and perfect size for going out. 

#1. Clothes-
This is my favorite. I like the hunt and when the payoff is huge it is the best feeling in the entire world. I like quality items and they are not cheap. I cannot justify paying $1,000 for a fur coat or $100 for good jeans. I can justify buying them second hand. HELLO fur coat from Goodwill!! I get so excited because I have been on the hunt for a fur for about 10 years. I am not joking yesterday I found it. It is big for me which was a concern but I belted it and now it is good to go. I may think about bringing it to a tailor to take it in.

Thrifted designer sweater (wearing today)
What you want to look for a thrifting clothing item. The obvious things are rips, discoloration and fit. I think for most items I want to look at the basic construction. The above sweater is Calvin Klein and I checked to make sure it was of good construction. How is the sewing? Are the buttons attached properly? If it is a jacket (IE: Fur) how is the inside liner of the jacket, the stitching is it solid? Does the item smell?  If you find the item you are looking at is well constructed you have a win!

I love thrifting and I love a good deal. I hope that when you get out there and shop my tips will help you along the way.

Until next time AND Happy New Year~
XoXo Emily

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Blizzard Weather Drinks

We got at least 10 inches of snow last night during blizzard "Ashley". She was an intense snow storm and I am so thankful for my husband and snow-blower today. Winter came in like a beast and I wanted to share some of my favorite warm recipes with you I enjoy making this time of year. Here are some of my pictures from the storm as well.

Luna concerned with the snow on the porch.

Duke parked safely in the garage.
Low calorie Chai Tea
What you need-                                             
1 chai tea bag                                  
4 ounces soy/almond milk                 
12 ounces of water
sprinkle of cinnamon

Warm milk in the microwave for at least 1 minute. While this is going on heat water in a tea kettle or prepare your keurig to dispense water. Place tea bag in a cup/container. Pour hot milk over the tea bag and then the hot water. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the tea. Depending on the type of milk you have this can be a 45-75 calorie tea. It is perfection.

Rich hot chocolate 
What you need-
1 packet of swiss miss hot chocolate
4 ounces soy/almond milk
4 ounces hot water

Warm milk in microwave for at least 1 minute. While this is warming up you want to also heat some water in tea kettle, keurig or microwave as well. I always like to slowly add the hot water/milk to the chocolate packet that is in the cup. You can top it with marshmallows or some coolwhip.

Hot cider
What you need-
cinnamon stick

Put cider in a cup with the cinnamon stick. Warm hot cider in the microwave until desired warmth is reached.

I hope you have safe travels if you live in a snow covered place like myself. I also hope you can make some of these tasty drinks to keep yourself warm in the chilly weather.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Holiday Chex Mix

Happy Holidays!
I hope you are able to take some time this week to spend time with your family and friends. Showing people love and compassion this time of year is such a magical thing that my spouse and I love to do. Donate $50 to someone in need? Why not!!? 
This holiday chex mix I made for my family Christmas this weekend. It was the perfect way to show some love and have some yummy snacks for the cabin get-a-way. 

What you need-
1 box of chex mix
.5 bag of holiday shaped pretzels
1 container of chocolate covered holiday tree pretzels
1 cup of mini M&M's 
1.5-2 cups of peanuts (honey roasted) 

I like to layer my mix as I go so that it is evenly mixed and looks pretty. 

This is what it looks like after we ate almost all of it. I forgot to take some pictures while I was making it. It is tasty and the perfect holiday snack!

Once again as I mentioned before, Happy Holidays this weekend!

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Memories

It is finally here Christmas week. My Christmas celebrating started this past weekend with my family. We went to the Wisconsin Dells as a family and rented a cabin. If you follow me on Facebook I am sure you have seen the numerous pictures my mom took. The reason I wanted to make a post is about the topic of gifts.

Gifts are great right and everyone loves to be able to give the perfect gift. The older I get though the more I realize that the holidays should be about making quality memories with people. I would rather go to lunch with someone and talk to them than get a candle or something. That is why going to the Wisconsin Dells and spending good quality time with my family really warmed my soul. It was so fun to go to the water park with everyone and chill around the bar. We even played this funny game called exploding kittens and got an old time picture taken. These memories are important because we do not know how much time we have on this earth.

That is why I will be trying this year to give the gift of time to people. When I see someone on Christmas I want to really listen to them and hear what they have been up to. With my group of friends I want to go out to dinner and hang out. I want to make some lasting memories because those are the things that stick with you. Not a material gift.

I wish you the happiest of holidays this season and here are some fun pictures from our vacation-

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Harvest Salad

It is becoming more and more winter like outside. We got almost 4.5 inches of rain so far this month and zero snow. Last time I checked I live in the north US where it snows. With the lack of snow it still feels like harvest season to me. This is my favorite salad to make and there are a ton of different things you can put in it. My sister in law Katie and my mother in law Yvonne both make an excellent take on this salad too.

What you will need- 
Spring mix salad greens
Dried cherries or pomegranates ( I used both)
1 green apple
Feta cheese
Mrs. Dash

I do not have exact measurements for this recipe as you add as you go and your dish maybe a different size than my bowl. The thought I have is to throw it all together and add more as needed.

 This is after the lettuce and apples are put in the bowl. Already looks tasty.

 Cheese makes everything more tasty does it not?

This is it all done and ready to be dug into. I like to top it with a walnut raspberry vinaigrette that Yvonne introduced me too. Others have done ranch or even french though.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Chicken Salad Sandwiches


I usually make this in the summer for Ryan as he loves this salad on a sandwich. I made it this past weekend for my cookie decorating lunch I had for my gal pals this Sunday.  I am still fighting my lingering cold and this crazy rainy weather is not helping. I hope to use the rest of my rotisserie chicken for something tasty to warm me up.

Things you will need-
Half of a rotisserie chicken or about 3 cups of chicken
1 cup of mandarin oranges
1 cup of purple grapes
.5 cup almonds (sliced)
3 stalks of celery (chopped)
3/4 a cup of cucumber ranch
Mrs. Dash seasoning to taste
Time to cut up that chicken. Beware if you try to cut it up when it is too hot you will burn yourself. I bought my chicken on Saturday and it cooled off in the fridge till Sunday morning. Easier to clean a cold chicken. Chop up your chicken and throw it in a big bowl.  

 Now you want to cut up your oranges. You can use fresh oranges but that is way to much work for me so I used canned in a light syrup.

This is what they look like before you chop them up. Chop them up and throw in the bowl with the chopped chicken.

Now you want to cut up your grapes and add your almonds to the bowl. I love a dish that has a variety of colors.

Here is the final product after you add your seasonings and cucumber ranch dressing. Put this on some bread or smear on some crackers for a delicious treat.

Everyone seemed to like the sandwiches and Ryan even got two sandwiches for lunch the next day. The salad is a great mix of textures. I always love the crunch of the almonds with the creamy dressing. I hope you enjoy!

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Friday, December 11, 2015

New Look For The NEW Year!

Sometimes I get bored with the way the blog looks. It is the same thing with my work computer. I am constantly changing my background like every other week if not every week. I thought I needed to refresh the blog and give it a new look. I found a great background for the header of the site and then built the colors and everything around that. Looks pretty amazing if I must say so myself.

Since I created this post about changing the look of the blog I want to take a moment to remind everyone that I am now on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Follow me to see more about my day to day life. Trust me on Instagram I post some real awesome pictures of my sassy dog Luna and grumpy old lady cat Stella. I of course have included some examples of the adorable little beasts below for your viewing pleasure. PLUS, food.... oh how I love sharing all the yummy things I am eating.

I hope to share some fun pictures of the 3 pounds of sugar cookies I will be baking and decorating this weekend. As well as recipes of the yummy things I am making for the girls cookie brunch I am hosting on Sunday. I hope you have a fun filled weekend.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Snowflake White Nails

I am going to Wisconsin Dells soon for my family Christmas with my mom, dad, brother (his fiance) and my hubby. We rented a cabin and it is going to be a blast I am sure. Swimming, eating and playing board games. In winter one thing that people often forget about since it is sock and boots weather is taking care of their toes and nails. Now as you can see from some of my really old posts I like to have my toe nails painted literally all the time. I did them for Thanksgiving and have not done anything since. I finally had some time to do my nails last night in between filling out some Christmas cards to send out. They turned out pretty good and are ready to be in the pool on Saturday for water aerobics and Wisconsin Dells for some swimming.

 Here is my line up of current favorite products for doing nails.
Base coat is Seche Clear. Trust me if you want your polish to last more than a week on your toes you need a good strong base coat for the color polish to adhere to.
Avon white polish. I know that this polish most likely has a fancy name but I forgot to look at it. I like Avon polish because of the tiny brush that comes with it and the formula of the polish is a perfect thickness for spreading.
Sinful glitter. This polish is cheap... Like $1 or $2 cheap at Walgreens. I always want to tell people that you do not have to have fancy polish when it comes to glitter since it is just a decorative element really. I love how it makes it all snowflake like on my nails.
Sally Hansen INSTA-DRY top coat. I have tried them all, I mean at least every big brand of top coat and this one has worked the best lately. I really love it because is not crazy expensive and has a easy to use brush.
I hate my toes but I wanted you to see how they turned out. This is like the worst blurry picture ever but you get the idea at least.

I hope during this busy season you take a couple of minutes to do something for yourself. Even if it is just 10 minutes to do your nails.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Taco Bar

Whenever I have people over and I have no idea what they like to eat I resort to a taco bar. It is a fool proof way to please everyone as they get to pick and choice what goes on their tacos.  We had some awesome friends over and Ryan threw together a great taco bar on Tuesday. I even did one for Halloween this year. Here are my top five recommendations for a good taco bar.

#1. Proteins. It can be chicken, ground beef, shredded beef or beans. You want to make sure you have a base protein for people to pick from. I tend to do ground beef as most people like that. Sometimes I get creative and will do chicken or fish tacos. Once you pick your proteins seasoning the meat is important some of my favorite things to use are (cumin, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper). If you do not like to use your own seasonings the grocery store has pre-packaged seasonings you can pick from.

 #2. Tortillas. I always serve soft and hard shell tacos. Most people I find eat the soft but you always want people to have options. The size of your tortillas is also important as there are many sized to buy. Since you are making tacos pick a smaller size otherwise you are getting into burrito territory.Warm up the hard shells in the oven and the soft in the microwave so they are perfect for eating.

#3.SPICY. I like to have spicy options. What exactly do I mean you may ask? I like to make sure I have hot and mild salsa for people to eat. I also like to have different types of hot sauce for people to pick from. Some like it hot like me with a sriracha and some like it mild (taco bell mild sauce). It is nice to have some heat.
#4. Cool it down. Just like there are spicy things you want to have you need to cool it down sometimes too. I do this by have sour cream, avocados and cheese to add as toppings.
#5. Building your taco. This is the best part before eating. Make sure you have spoons or serving utensils for people to add the toppings to their tacos. Some of the best toppings you can put out-
shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, cilantro, salsa, avocado (guacamole), sour cream, onion, tomato, black olives, hot sauce, rice, beans etc. etc.

Tacos are so fun and tasty and I could eat them every day it does not even need to be taco Tuesday!

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Monday, December 7, 2015

Beef Vegetable Soup

Sometimes my husband requests certain things I have never made before. Which is exciting because I love trying to make new things. Sunday is a day were I love to take the time "if I have it" to make a large batch of soup for the week. This recipe was modified from one I found online but I changed a bunch of things because I am always doing that. It really turned out fantastic. I also make some rosemary dinner rolls which paired perfectly with the warm soup. Yum!

What you will need-
2- 32 oz beef broth
4 cups of tomato juice
1-16 oz can of diced tomatoes
1- 15 oz bag of mixed vegetables
3 cups of water
8 small yukon gold potatoes chopped
1/2 onion chopped
4 cloves of garlic diced
1.5 pounds of beef
Cayenne pepper
Mrs. Dash seasoning

 Start by browning your ground beef. Make sure to leave the meat in medium chunks. Once this is done drain the grease off of the meat and throw in your chopped up onions and garlic. I let these cook down for about 2-3 minutes before I added the tomatoes, potatoes, bag of veggies, beef broth, water, tomato juice and additional seasonings.

It is always great when you can talk your husband into helping with dinner. He cuts up potatoes better than me.

I used homemade tomato juice we canned in the early fall with family. You can easily use normal tomato juice or spicy V8 for a little kick.

This already looks fantastic before I added all the liquids. As I like to stress every time I cook season in layers. Every time you add to the pot make sure you season. Also, you need to taste as you go to make sure your flavors are balanced.

Once you add all the liquids put it on high till it starts to boil. Then turn to a simmer for at least 1.5-2 hours. Cook covered other wise you will lose all the liquids.

The finished project with some oyster crackers added. It was divine and I will be making this again as it was so easy to throw together. I hope that in this holiday season you find some fun and easy recipes like this.

PS: I recently joined Instagram. It is an addiction. You can follow me at emilykielar.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Food Processor

Last week on Black Friday I was so excited to get a Cusinart 7-cup food processor. It was my Christmas gift to myself this year. To get this device I had to give up some other appliances to make room in my pantry. Totally worth doing this. I have been pining a ton of food processor ideas on Pintrest for years. I have always thought oh I love this recipe but I need a food processor. Now I can make all of those recipes.

Here is my short review and some of the things I have made so far-
The food processor comes clearly labeled and the tabs on the box explain in detail how to remove the appliance from the box. I found this to be silly and unneeded but it was interesting. It comes with two manuals a quick guide and a large manual with recipes. Thank goodness for Ryan because I kept putting the processor on the base wrong. He helped me work through the kinks.  Once you figure out how to put together the device it is really easy to use. It had two settings "on" and "pulse" I have now used both and they are both helpful depending on what you are doing. Pulse works best for chopping items up. The on setting is best for blending. Be careful when removing items from the bowl as the chopping blade will fall out if you are not watching.  That thing is sharp too. Washing it is relatively easy compared to my blender. I  thought it would have a ton of places for things to get stuck but the bowl and everything are easy to clean. Overall I am rather pleased with my $50 purchase. Gotta love the sales. Here you can see what mine looks like an purchase one of your own.

Here is an example of using the extra blade that comes with the device. You get a chopping blade and another extra blade that shreds (think cheese) and slices (like these sweet potatoes).

Sweet Potato Chips
What you need-
1 sweet potato
Olive oil
Cajun seasoning
Cookie sheet
Parchment paper 

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Using the food processor use the slicing blade and slice the sweet potato. Used the pulse setting. I had to cut it into fourths to fit inside and be sliced. I then spread the sweet potato slices on the cookie sheet that was covered with parchment paper. At this time you want to go ahead and put olive oil on the chips. I then season with the cajun seasoning and pop in the oven for 20 minutes moving the chips around after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and season with salt. They are so good!

What you need-
2/3 cup walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups spinach
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Splash of lemon juice
salt and pepper
Cookie Sheet
Parchment paper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Put the walnuts on a cookie sheet with parchment paper in the oven for 10 minutes. Add all ingredients to the food processor besides the lemon juice and oil. (Use the chopping blade). Turn the food processor to the on setting and slowly add the oil and lemon juice as it all blends together. It is heavenly.

Cauliflower Rice
What you need-
1 head of cauliflower

Cut up the cauliflower into large chunks and put into the food processor. (Use the chopping blade). Pulse the food processor until you get the cauliflower to a rice size. Add to a pan with about a 1/2 cup of water. Put on medium heat for 10-15 minutes covered until the "rice" is tender. I added the pesto to this and it was amazing. It tastes and feels just like rice!

I am loving my food processor and I really think it is here to stay in our home. I cannot wait to make other things such as hummus soon.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How to decorate your Christmas tree

It has started! I love decorating for the holidays more than anything. I swear the whole week of Thanksgiving I dream about how I am going to change up what I am doing or what types of crafty things I am going to make this year to add to my collection of decorations. This year we moved our tree to in front of our back sliding door. This allowed me more room to really decorate my entire tree completely. As you can see in the final picture Luna (the lazy husky) was thrilled with me making a mess and noise all day. Anyway here are my top ten recommendations for making your tree look like a million bucks!

1. Decorate the whole tree- I mentioned this already but you cannot half decorate your tree make sure the back has ornaments too. Trust me people will notice if you do not have any in the back when they walk by.
2. Layer your ornaments- I learned this from my mother in law before she passed away many years ago. I noticed whenever she decorated her trees she had large or shiny ornaments pushed way in her tree. No matter if you have a real or fake tree you will have bare spots. Fill these spots in with large ornaments and try to stick some in by the trunk of the tree. This creates wonderful depth to your tree.
3. Wear gloves- You may need to wear gloves if you are handling the tree and trying to put it in a base. I now have a fake tree and do not have to worry about this .If you have a real tree the gloves will protect your hands from sap and needles.
4. Add texture- I use little icicle ornaments and gold sticks to create texture all over my tree. Having all that green can be boring. Some people even flock their trees to make them look like snow. I love the look of that but not the mess.
5. Add more lights- When you think you have enough add more. There is nothing like a sparkly tree. My tree is so bright it makes my light sensor coo-coo clock think it is day light and the darn thing goes off at night!
6.  The more ribbons the better- I am not a fan of ribbon around my tree or garland. That does not mean you should not add it to yours. My great aunt puts it on her tree and it always looks fantastic. I like ribbon bows trailing down the sides of my tree. I have four ribbons like this on my tree.
7. Always have a tree skirt- This really pulls your tree together and makes the bottom of your tree inviting for all those gifts you need to store before giving. Luna almost looks like a gift in the picture. Most days you will find Stella my cat under the lights on the tree skirt as the tree is like a warming lamp for her.
8. Water your tree- I have a fake tree but if you have a real one please water it regularly. this prevents you from losing a ton of needles. No one wants to get to Christmas and have a naked looking tree.
9. Tree topper! This is most likely not something you think much about but I personally think it could be the most important part of decorating the tree. My husband picked out our topper after our last one mysteriously feel down and smashed on the ground. It is a mega watt star that is so bright it is like looking at the surface of the sun. There are a ton of fun ideas if you do not want a light up star. Giant ribbon bows, angels and santas are some other fun options.
10. ENJOY!
This is such a warm/loving and fun time of year. I hope that after you spend all this time making your tree perfect you take the time to enjoy it for the short time we have the tree up each year.

Here is a sneak peek of my baskets I made for outside and my centerpiece for my kitchen table. They took about 45 minutes to make but look fantastic outside.

Until next time~
XoXo Emily