Friday, June 29, 2012

"How To Butcher A Human" and Other Blog Posts We'll Never Do

Blogger lets us see how many people come visit Hardly Housewives every day, the country they're visiting from (we're huge in Slovakia), and, if they found us via Google, what search keywords sent them our way.  The most popular searches are for "Anthropologie Registry" or "Gouda Mac N Cheese", though sometimes people searching for housewives doing much more risqué things than we do find our site as well. 

We usually check the traffic sources every once in a while and email each other if we see any odd search keywords.  It's usually people looking to make tasty food, do some crafting, or find some naughty housewives.  Pretty standard.

Except when it's not.  Jaisa sent me this screen capture from a few days ago:

WHAT?!  While I guess the internet has something for everyone, Hardly Housewives clearly does not.  Imagine their disappointment when finding our site and reading about Jaisa's latest quinoa dish or my aspirations to sew a quilt.  I'm actually curious to know which of our posts it sent them to, but alas, Blogger doesn't get that specific.

So, dear readers, if you're looking to chop somebody up, please look elsewhere.  Otherwise we'll be here cooking food, crafting up a storm, & sharing our travel adventures.  Stay hungry, stay homey, & please, oh please, stay out of harm's way.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Our Not-So-Traditional Wedding Album

Jesse and I are approaching our two year anniversary but I have only recently (finally!) made a wedding album.  Our wedding photographer was set on selling us the traditional, puffy, white-leather-ish albums, which a) aren't for me and b) STARTED at $500.  No, thank you.  I knew there must be a way I could make an album that was less expensive and more my style.

So I started doing research on where I could build my own photobook online.  Reviewers said that Snapfish's photo albums were too grainy.  Pinhole Press looked good but was pretty expensive.  I settled on My Publisher.  It seemed well reviewed, easy to use, and reasonably priced (I found a bunch of coupons online).

I pored through my wedding pictures, uploaded them to My Publisher's tool, and a week later, I had my book in hand.  Super easy.

When you work on your book, My Publisher's tool allows you to choose how many photos go on each page, what size they are, etc.  Here are a few examples of mixing and matching our favorite pictures:

The paper is thick and feels substantial (AKA I don't have to look on in panic as people turn the pages)...

I have a few pages that are full page photos, but the rest are mostly a collage.  I love it.

I ponied up a few extra dollars to get the "lay flat paper" (they had a special running).  It makes a difference when looking through the pictures, as you can see:

All in all, I am pretty excited about this.  So excited that I ordered one for my mom and godmother, too.  The price was right, the photos came out beautifully, and it is all designed exactly how I wanted it.  If I had to choose a downside, it would be that I'm not sure how sturdy this thing is.  Even though the paper is thick, I still worry about messing up the dust jacket or tearing a page somehow.  Will it last forever ever?  It may - and if it doesn't, My Publisher has this one stored so I can order another one.  Speaking of ordering another one, if you are thinking about making one for yourself, be sure to look online for discount codes or sign up for their emails.  My Publisher has coupons aplenty.

What did you do for a photo album?  Did you go traditional?  Try something different?  Or are you still sitting on your wedding photos like I was until recently?  Jaisa had THE MOST amazing wedding photographer and I can't wait to see what she does with her pictures.  Until then, stay homey!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Edible" Breakfast Nook

Last time we looked at my breakfast nook, Jesse and I were at odds about paint colors.  And then in the last few minutes of the Super Bowl, somehow I got Jesse agree to let me paint any and every room in the house blue IF the Giants won.  They did.  Go Blue, indeed.

Though the color we went ended up being a bit greener than I expected, the walls in the breakfast nook are now Behr's Atmosphere.  I love it.  It's hard to capture in photographs because the breakfast nook gets so much sunlight, but check it out:

And, as you can see, I stuck up some old "Edible" magazines that I had collected during our time in NYC...

I have a mix of Edible Brooklyns (from my favorite kitchen store) and Edible Manhattans (taken from the Gramercy Tavern, across the street from my old office) propped up on the window sill.  I'm trying to decide what to do about framing, but for now I love the colors and the detailed photographs...

I even like that sparkly pink pig lamp, even if the "good meat" issue wasn't my favorite one.

For now, I'm loving them just casually propped up.  They're food related, of course, for the room we eat most of our meals in but interesting and a little different.  What do you think?  Let me know and stay hungry (& homey!).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

DIY Herb Salt Labels

So you know if good ol' hungry can assist with some arts and crafts it HAS to be easy.  I LOVED how these turned out.   Yesterday I showed you Caitlin's mother-in-law's herb salt made by my dear friend Lauren, and today I'll show you how we made little labels for these puppies. 

Aren't these just adorable?  

The bride's colors are yellow and lavender, so instead of yellow ribbon, we used a more natural twine so they matched the organic, rustic look of the bottles. 

Ok peeps this is what you'll need: 

Label Cards (we used 2 x 3.5" business cards from Paper Source)
VersaMark Watermark Stamp Pad 
Embossing Powder 
Hole Punch
Ribbon or Twine 
Scissors (not pictured)
Embossing Heat Gun (not pictured)
Something to herb salt. Duh. 

Notes:  If you don't know how to emboss (this is very new to me) ask the folks at Paper Source.  They will help you out.  

You know why I love Lauren?  Because this was waiting for me when I came over...

They didn't have pre punched, pre sized labels in lavender.  Fear not!  We made our own.  Depending on what you are labeling (tiny little bottles in this case) you may want to trim a little off the top and then cut the sides...

...punch a hole...

...and make it look like this.  How happy are you that I don't normally run this portion of Hardly Housewives?

Lauren and I divided and conquered.  We are a good team.  Sort of like how one of us always "keeps it together" enough during our girls nights out so we make it home in one piece.  Actually they are totally unrelated, but whatever.  You get the point.  

She wrote out the ingredients of the salt and recommended uses on each of the cards...

Here was my little station.  We tried the gold ink with gold embossing powder and it was a little too much.  So, we went with the clear watermark ink and the Bridal colored embossing powder.  

When you do this you want to move fast.  Get a good amount of ink on the stamp, stamp your paper and immediately sprinkle the embossing powder so it sticks...

Be generous with the powder so it covers every bit of the ink...

...and then shake off the excess on a piece of paper.  It looks like I'm wasting a lot here, but I'm not.  You can fold the paper and drop it right back into the container.  

PS - look at the cheese plate Lauren put together for me.  She knows how to bribe me...

Now, back to Lauren.  I'm scared of this thing.  She wields it around like it ain't no thing.  You want to hold the embossing gun close to the powder so it begins to bubble up.  You'll see it change textures before your eyes. 

Ta daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.  

 I might have been bitten by the DIY bug...

...this was SO much fun.  

And if I can do it, you can do it!

Hope you guys try this out and stay homey!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Herb Salt Favors

For the tutorial on the handmade embossed labels featured in this post, click here.  Now, back to our scheduled program:

I frickin' love salt.  

Our homey home girl Caitlin had the most amazing wedding ever.  One of the best parts of being in her wedding was getting to know her and her husband's family better.  Her mother in law, Jackie, is a hoot.  I absolutely love her.  She made herb salt for everyone that attended the rehearsal dinner and I smuggled about 3 of the jars home with me.  Maybe I shouldn't say "smuggled" since I almost didn't get through airport security. 

I literally had to open up one of the jars and have security smell it in order to convince them that explosive powders don't usually include orange zest.  Luckily, I got through and was able to give one of the jars to my friend Lauren.  She loves it just as much as I do. 

Lauren offered to make her future sister in law, Lindsey, herb salt favors for her shower this past weekend and I jumped at the chance to help.  Except, I didn't really help.  She enlisted her husband Zan.  I helped with the cute little labels that I'll show you how to make tomorrow.  

She made the following herb salt flavors:

Parsley, oregano, basil, lemon zest, and garlic – good on all things Italian & good in olive oil for dipping

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme – good for chicken and pork and root veggies and beans

Parsley, cilantro, lime zest, and garlic – good in everything – especially salsa

Zest an entire lime, lemon, or orange depending on what flavor you enjoy.  I wonder how basil grapefruit salt would be as a cocktail rim...hmm...

You are going to want a whole mess of herbs.  For each batch, you are going to want 4 cups of herbs per recipe so go nuts. 

Oliver is so over it...

Anyway, you are going to want to pulse your herbs in a food processor so they are nice and fine.  

Ta da....

If you want, you can also add 4-5 garlic cloves to this as well.  YUM.  Add the herb paste to the salt...

...and stir it up...

Once the herbs are fully incorporated into the salt, pour the salt onto a cookie sheet. 

Next, spread it out so it's nice and even. 

To speed things along, you can bake the salt in a 200 degree oven for 2-3 hours.  Otherwise, it will take a couple of days for the salt and herbs to dry out.

 Ok so here's the deal.  If you bake it, the salt is going to get crusty.  

But fear not...

Just throw it in a plastic ziplock bag and break it up with your hand or the back of a wooden spoon. 

In order to bottle these up without getting salt everywhere, use a funnel.  Don't have a funnel? Use a rolled up piece of paper.  Lauren is a smarty pants. is the (almost) competed product.  Tomorrow, I'll show you how we put together the super cute, personalized labels.    

Have you guys ever made herb salt before?  Any crazy combos we just need to try?  Let us know and stay hungry! 

Herb Salt Recipes 
3 cups Kosher Salt
4 cups finely chopped fresh herbs select a combination – parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, cilantro,
oregano, basil
Minced zest from one lemon, lime, or orange can also be added
4-5 minced cloves of garlic can also be added

1. To begin, choose a combination of herbs and finely chop by hand or use a food processor

Some combinations that are good are:

Parsley, oregano, basil, lemon zest, and garlic – good on all things Italian & good in olive oil for dipping

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (just like the song) – good for chicken and pork and root veggies and beans

Parsley, cilantro, lime zest, and garlic – good in everything – especially salsa

2. Stir minced herbs into the 3 cups of kosher salt and spread on 2 cookie sheets. Let the salt dry
out the herbs for 2-3 days – you’ll know when they are ready because the moisture will be gone
and the salt will be dry and crusty (if you are pressed for time you can bake the mix in a low
200 degree oven for 2-3 hours. It may take more or less time you’ll know when salt begins to
get crusty. As it cools it will dry out more.)

3. For a finer salt return it in batches to the food processor and pulse until herbs are a very fine
grade like the salt. Or you can leave the mixture the way it is and put it in a salt or pepper
grinder – a very nice presentation.

4. After the mixture is dried and processed (either ground fine or left whole) I like to add an 8oz
container of Tony Chachere’s Creole lite seasoning. it adds a nice kick.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hip, On The House: Bloomin Thank You Cards

Happy Friday, dear readers.  We are back with a giveaway from a company that I met at the National Stationery Show, Bloomin.  If you remember, Bloomin makes cards & paper products with seeds IN the paper for reusable, flowering goodness for long after you're done with the cards.  I think it would make for an amazing wedding invitation suite or birthday greeting, but I also love that they sell sheets of the paper if you want to craft with seed paper yourself!

The good people at Bloomin have generously offered to give a 8 pack of their Cherry Blossom thank you cards to a lucky HH reader!  They are made with wildflower seeds and are PERFECT to send out to your friends, families, teachers, etc. this summer!
Here are the ways you can win:

 1) First, go look through the Bloomin's website and leave a comment below with your favorite thing there.  Are you into the confetti?  The wedding invites?  Let us know!

2) If you want another chance to win, be sure to "like" Hardly Housewives on Facebook here and leave another comment letting us know that you did (or if you already have)

3) Join the Hardly Housewives follower community - publicly follow Hardly Housewives via Google Friend Connect (& leave a comment)

4) Like Bloomin's Facebook page here and leave us one last comment about it!
Contest closes NEXT Friday morning.  Good luck!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Blue Hydrangea and Curly Willow Centerpieces

I knew right when we got engaged, that Charlie and I would have a fall wedding.  We love fall in Chicago.  The sun is warm and the air is cool and the city just seems to sparkle a bit more.  The only dilemma:  I dislike traditional fall colors.  Brown, orange, red...need not apply.  

When I was younger, my mom taught me about the different pH levels in the soil to make hydrangeas turn different colors.  She always has the most beautiful, plush, and colorful hydrangeas - ranging from deep magenta to a vibrant sapphire.  I did not inherit MJ's green thumb.  Or maybe I did and don't know it because I've never had a yard of my own.  Hard to say.  Regardless, here is MJ.  Doesn't she match the flowers perfectly?

It's no surprise that these are one of my all time favorite flowers.  Since my favorite colors are gray, blue, and purple, hydrangeas played into our wedding color theme quite well.  

The curly willows were my mom's idea.  Such a smarty.  I thought they added drama and height and tied  perfectly into the season.  

Incorporating the curly willow also allowed us to hang tea lights from each of the tall centerpieces.  This looked magical at night time. 

Here is a picture of the head table.  If you look closely, you can see silver brunia pods in the bridesmaid bouquets as well as the dusty miller and silver seed eucalyptus in the garland.  This helped tie in the silver linens and silver bridesmaid dresses.  

Pale hydrangeas aren't really my favorite.  But still having enough money left over to eat the hottest new pork dish in  The pale hydrangeas helped offset the cost of importing the deep blue and purple hydrangeas from Holland as well as provided some contrast.  I think the lighter color really made the darker flowers pop. 

I love how the large green leaves created a collar around the base of the flowers. 


...and lastly, here is a picture of the other centerpiece variety.  We wanted varying heights to break it up a little and I just LOVED how this looked.  The seeded eucalyptus and dusty miller is my favorite.  It just looks so organic and not so contrived.  Read:  I'm a hot mess and would never have totally neat, symmetrical flowers. 

Ok folks - here they are.  Our hydrangea and curly willow centerpieces.  Hopefully I provided some brides out there with some inspiration for a non traditional fall wedding.  Stay in love and stay hip!