Sweet Potato Burgers

Holy yum. I found this recipe on Pinterest several months ago, but never got around to making it until very recently. I don’t know what I was waiting for, because this was delicious. I remembered this was on my Pinterest boards, and I knew it would be perfect for my vegetarian month back in February. I mean, it’s a combination of two things I love. Burgers = yum. Sweet potatoes = excellent. Sweet potato burgers = amazing. Okay, so they’re not the same as a real beef burger, but they were a great substitute. And they’re much lighter and healthier than a regular burger, so it was a nice change. Would I make these again? Definitely. Even when I’m not being a vegetarian for the month.

So the recipe said to either fry or bake them. I started to fry them but I had other things to do and ended up baking them. It worked just fine, but they didn’t get quite as brown.

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They’re also really delicious with avocado on top!

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Shameless Self-Promotion

As I mentioned once before, I work part time in a thrift store. It’s almost always delightful – tons of interesting and different people come through the store, there’s all kinds of weird/unique stuff laying around, and employees/volunteers get first dibs on any donations. Have you heard Macklemore’s Thrift Shop song (I linked to the explicit version, FYI)? A lot of us had been hearing quite frequently and it finally dawned on us to make our own version. Over the course of a week, we blocked and filmed the video to look very similar to the Macklemore version, but in our store. It was amazing. So in an effort to promote both my music video debut and the store, I’ve posted the video here for your viewing pleasure.

If you’re in the Omaha area, please come visit! Our Facebook page and website are always up to date with our hours!

When the sewing gets tough, the tough get sewing

This post is a long time coming, but better late than never, right? When I graduated from college and moved home (over a year ago), I decided that since I was going to be around for awhile I wanted to a space that reflected my new place in life. My bedroom was still the same room I had in high school, and I wanted something that was a bit more grown up. But since I wasn’t there forever I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I set out to DIY and reuse whatever I could. One of those was a DIY-ed duvet cover. I found (and loved) this duvet cover at Urban Outfitters, but didn’t love the price tag for a room I wasn’t going to be living in long term. Not long after I found the original duvet, I ran across a tutorial to DIY my own version. Perfect timing, right? Looking at the tutorial I thought, “how hard could it be?” It looked easy enough, so I set out to make one of my own.

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my inspiration

Not having sewed anything since probably 7th grade, I might have gotten myself in over my head with this project, but it ended up turning out pretty well! Fortunately Kiki provided a pretty clear tutorial for how to make the ruffles, so all I had to do was follow her instructions and do a little trial and error to figure it out.

Wanna know how I did it?

Since I have a full size bed, I started with two queen size sheets, and a twin size sheet set that I got on sale to make into ruffles. I cut up (when I say cut, I really mean rip – who wants to do that much cutting?) the sheet set into strips in varying widths and lengths to make into ruffles. Then following this tutorial, and the different methods of making ruffles she describes, I sewed for what seemed like days to make a zillion ruffles.

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a zillion ruffles

It took forever to do this, but it was really fun to see the pile of ruffles grow. Once I felt like I had enough ruffles (really, I just got tired), I pinned and sewed them onto one of the sheets in a pattern similar to that of the inspiration, but, at this point I was really just winging it. I had grown tired of the project and wanted it to be done. Once the ruffles were (haphazardly) sewn onto one of the sheets, I pinned the sheets together on three sides to sew them together. Bella wanted to help with this step.

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she is such a good helper

I sewed the sheets together on three sides, leaving the bottom open. I learned in this step that sewing in a straight line is definitely not my strong suit. Again, I was winging it. If I had been really ambitious I would have sewn ribbons or string of some kind to tie the bottom closed, but I really didn’t feel like it. You could do that if you wanted to. I would probably recommend it. But only if you want to. Once I got Bella off the sheets and sewed them together, I just kind of shoved a duvet inside, threw it on my bed, and called it good.

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the result!

Is it perfect? Not even close. But for not having sewed (sewn?) anything for at least 10 years, I’m pretty pleased with myself. We won’t look at it too close because you’ll be able to see just how crooked the seams are, but from this distance you can see just how awesome I am at making my own duvet covers. Honestly, I don’t know if I would ever take on a project like this again. I’m really proud of myself, but it was a lot of work. When I was done I was a lot happier with the price tag. I was able to get all of the materials on sale at an after Christmas sale, so it really was pretty cheap to make. Are you impressed? If you’re not, you probably should be. You know what else was cheap and easy to make? Those canvases above my bed. I’ll talk about those soon. In the mean time, please admire my ability to wing it and it not be a total disaster awesome sewing skills.

March Photo Challenge

It seems an entire month got away from me without my knowledge. I turned around to try to see where February went, but it seems to be gone. Long gone. Umm, what? It’s March already? How? When? What? (You just caught a glimpse of my daily inner dialogue. Yeah, I’m REALLY interesting.)

So, want to know about my meat-free month? To be honest, it was great. It wasn’t all that difficult for me. I don’t eat meat a lot, anyway, so I guess it wasn’t a huge hardship. What did get difficult was eating out. I found myself having to be a lot more mindful about where I was going to go and what I was going to order. Even that wasn’t all that hard – it just required a little bit of forward thinking. What was so great about this challenge for me was that I got an opportunity to try new recipes I maybe wouldn’t have tried before and really branch out.

Like I said, I haven’t really craved meat much, and this has been a fairly easy challenge for me. That being said, however, I’m not going to give meat up entirely (ahem…bacon). I do still have a lot of vegetarian recipes I want to try, though, so I think those will stay on my recipe lineup. I think this challenge has been a really good opportunity for me to try new foods I normally don’t eat or aren’t necessarily my favorite – I tried tofu (it was okay – the texture skeeves me out).

So what’s up for March? My official challenge is a photo challenge – take a photo every day during March. I thought about doing one of those photo-a-day challenges that are all over Pinterest, but knowing myself, I know I wouldn’t stick with it. Instead, I’m going to take pictures of my random, ridiculous life and share those with the world. I think it’s better that way. If I think about it, I’ll share some here, but mostly I’m just going to post them on instagram. Today I took a picture of the perfect pizza I made, which made me realize pizza making must be a lot like riding a bicycle (I was once a pizza artist – okay that’s not really what we were called, but artist really makes it sound more glamorous, right?)

To recap: vegetarian month was a success. tofu is weird. March = one photo every day. but not based on one of those photo-a-day challenges. those are too restricting for my free-flowing life (I literally just laughed out loud as I typed that).

Oh! And with the complete of the vegetarian month, I have crossed one more thing off my 25 Before 25!

Peppermint Marshmallows

Not long after I graduated from college I bought myself a Kitchenaid stand mixer. When many of my peers were thinking about buying the next big tech thing, I was buying a kitchen appliance. A kitchen appliance I have never once regretted. As an aside, I bought the cobalt blue. His name is Lorenzo. Anyway, once I had my mixer I wanted to make all the things I had ever seen that would be easier in a mixer. Including homemade marshmallows. I had a homemade marshmallow in a cupcake shop once and I couldn’t get it out of my head. It was just so much better. I looked up some recipes and found that it’s really much easier to make marshmallows in a stand mixer.

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my Lorenzo

Once I finally had my mixer, it took me a few months to actually attempt making marshmallows. My first attempt, I went for just plain marshmallows. And plain they were. My guess is that I didn’t use enough vanilla, so they really tasted like unflavored gelatin. Not exactly what I was hoping for. Once Christmas time and hot chocolate season arrived, I knew I wanted, no needed, to try again. Since I love all things peppermint, particularly during the holidays, these peppermint marshmallows were just what I needed to make. Since my first attempt ended up with too little flavoring, I really amped up what this recipe called for. I added at least a full teaspoon, doubling what the recipe called for for peppermint extract.

Making marshmallows is a wonderfully sticky mess. My kitchen was just coated in sticky, unset marshmallow. And when I say my kitchen, I obviously mean I was covered as well. It was glorious. Sometimes the best cure for a stressful day (or semester) is to make an awesome mess in the kitchen. And then ignore it. For a few days. Not that I do that or anything.

Delicious, pepperminty marshmallows

Delicious, pepperminty marshmallows

I served my marshmallows in a large, steaming cup of hot chocolate. In my favorite mug of all time – my Gryffindor mug featuring the Gryffindor crest from Harry Potter (I might be a superfan).

Birthday Cake = Birthday Love

Remember Andrea? We competed against each other throughout Janathon, which I won, by the way. Which means, Andrea owes me sushi. Anyway, yesterday was her birthday. And since punctuality isn’t my strong suit, I’m sharing the birthday love today. With cake. Cake = love. Since one of my goals for my 25 Before 25 was to make someone a birthday cake, I thought, who better than Andrea?

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Andrea requested almond cake with raspberry filling, so I was on the hunt for the perfect recipe. I ended up using this recipe I found for cupcakes, and doubled it to make a layer cake. Though I doubled the cake recipe, I kept the frosting recipe as is because Andrea is not a huge frosting person. Honestly, though, the cake is really rich on its own. It doesn’t really even need a ton of frosting.

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It’s no secret that I love to bake, but making this cake was different. The process of mixing and baking and frosting this cake meant so much more knowing that it was all to celebrate my friend and made it that much more special. I knew the cake would be appreciated and enjoyed, and I wanted to make Andrea’s birthday that much more special.

I think she likes it!

I think she likes it!

A bonus? With this cake I not only crossed off the item on my list about making a birthday cake for someone, but I also have made another Pinterest recipe!

Day 31: Janathon, check! and what’s next

Miles: 2
Miles to date: 82.2

It’s over! It’s over! It’s over! It’s over! It’s over! Janathon is over! I bet you can’t tell that I’m excited. Not only am I excited, but I’m exhausted. My body is done, my legs are over it, my motivation is kaput. So how was it? Thanks for asking. In the first week or so, I did pretty well. I really tried to front-load a lot of miles in the first week so I had a little bit of a cushion when school started and my life got busy. But then on day 10 I sprained my ankle. I almost quit there. I’m glad I didn’t, but it was touch and go for awhile there. I’m actually really proud of myself for not quitting, for sticking it out, and for pushing myself beyond the limits I thought I had. Turns out I can run/walk the equivalent of three full marathons (and beyond!) in a month. And maybe if I hadn’t gotten hurt I would had reached my initial goal of 100 miles.

So how about my other goals?

1. Jog, log, and blog every single day. – well, I did log and blog every day, though I didn’t jog every day. I did take a day off, and threw some walking and elliptical-ing into the mix to help rest a bit.
2. Log 100 miles, mostly on foot. – I revised this goal halfway through the month, and I reached my revised goal! 
3. Beat Andrea. – we have a winner! more on that tomorrow.
4. Jog every.single.day. – I wasn’t able to do this, but not because I didn’t want to. I needed to take a few days from jogging to rest after my ankle injury, but I was in the gym or exercising outside every single day this month.
5. Continue working on my 25 Before 25 list. – I didn’t cross off any new items, but I do have a plan to get those things done!

So what’s next now that Janathon is over? Well, I’ve got a list of about 25 things that I want to accomplish before October. To keep me focused on completing items on my list, and to (hopefully) help me find balance between the rigors of Janathon and not working out at all, I’ve devised a plan. I’ve decided I’m going to do a monthly challenge every month this year. Some are fitness related, some are not, but they are all things that will help me complete my 25 Before 25. I have tentative plans laid out for every month this year, but I think I’ll keep those to myself until the month is looming. You know, in case I change my mind or something. So what’s up first? I’m going meat-free in February. Giving up meat for a month is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile, so I put it on my list. It was just a matter of picking a month and just doing it. So, of course, I picked the shortest month. Naturally. It won’t be easy, but I think it will be fun. I think it will be the push I need to try some recipes that I’ve been meaning to try. It will help me learn to try new foods, although I’m generally pretty adventurous when it comes to food. But I get it in my head that there are certain vegetables I don’t like, so I never eat them. This may be the time to try those new things (I’m looking at you, eggplant). No, Mom, this does not mean I’m going to start eating mushrooms. I do know I don’t like mushrooms.

So, you won’t be hearing from me every day anymore. But you will be hearing from me. In addition to posting about my meat-free month, I have some posts archived of crafts that I’ve done around my apartment and some recipes I made during Christmas time. Look for those in the next few weeks/months.