Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sweets N' Snapshots with Jennifer Louise Photography

This weekend, one of my dear friends, Jen with Jennifer Louise Photography is hosting a wonderful, wonderful event at a place that serves up on of my favorite treats....you guessed it,
cupcakes!   Join Jen & the team at Dottie's Cupcakery in downtown Waxhaw for a memorable
moment and something special:-)
Jennifer Louise Photography is holding mini-sessions, for mommies, daddies, little ones, young & old for Valentine's Day.  Let Jen capture you & your sweetie pie.  Or get your picture taken to sweeten up someone else's Valentine's Day.  You won't want to miss this event!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Everything's Better with {a little Washi tape!}

Okay, I am looovvving this new & lastest "find" of mine.  Haven't heard of it?  That's okay:)  It's called washi tape.  I stumbled upon it while shopping over at Etsy and was smitten right away!  Since another family birthday has rolled around and it's time to mail a card I thought, why not?  Now let me back up to say that my little sister Chenelle is always sending the sweetest little dressed up cards and packages in the mail.  When something is coming from her, you know it even without checking the return address so I figured that I'd send that same sort of love to someone else to brighten their day.

I bought this set of washi tape (and some other...of course!  You know that I just couldn't stop at one;)  And for this card, since I had a nice blue envelope and a red one, I went the "kraft" route.  Looove kraft color.  I feel like it's totally making a come back.  And so help me God if everyone's packages this coming Christmas aren't "brown paper packages tied up in string...these are a few of my favorite things!"  Julia Andrews and I are both dancing upon the mountain top & I am dancing with my washi tape.  Okay.  Back to reality!   But this here washi tape really dressed things up.  I can't wait to get some more uses out of it and put on some more things. 
Have you tried using washi tape?  Ever heard of it to begin with?  If not, you've got to get out there and get some.  Serious!  And start slapping it on EV-REE-THING.  I know that I will!

Cheers Everyone!
-Bakie (Chemeeka)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Meal with a Resolution!

On any given weekend in our home, you can find either my husband or myself cooking up something yummy.  Since we are both "foodies" by nature, many times we try to go "over the top" in impressing the other person.  This weekend, it was my husband's turn.  He was making me chimichurri sirloin steak, sauteed brocolli rabe, tri-color peppers and onions and a cauliflower-brown rice blend (with a little carrot) that made what we're calling "risotto".  Introducing.....
A Meal with a Resolution!
 I say that because this meal was not only delicious but more than half of my plate was taken up vegetables, not including the veggies that were in our rice as well as the yummy chimichurri sauce that was drizzled over the meat.

Here's how you make it:

*Chimichurri sauce If you have fresh herbs laying around you can always make something average extraordinary but even if you don't...get out to the grocery store.  There are tons of fresh markets and farmer's markets (in season) that have readily available what you are looking for.  For the chimichurri sauce you will need a package (or 1/2 cup) fresh parsley leaves, chopped, 1/2 fresh oregano (again, this is in your produce section), 1/4 extra virgin olive oil, one clove of garlic minced, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, to taste.
Finely, finely chop your herbs as best as you can.  Many times for either a pesto or a herb-based sauce we will use a food processer, and you can do that in this case.  If you are not using a machine and you are chopping it by hand, make sure that you mince your garlic thoroughly so that you get an "even" flavor throughout your chimichurri.  Now in a bowl, add first your olive oil (to infuse the flavors of the garlic and the herbs) then the kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside & wait for our steak to be ready :-)

*The Risotto
This one was a real treat.  For our "risotto" Don sauteed up a small yellow onion in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and then added in about 1/2 cup of hand-grated cauliflower.  Yeah.  When I heard him out using the grater, I thought, "what is he doing?"  We both have our "signature" dishes that we make and he doesn't always use the grater for his.  So this was new.  Next, he added about 1/2 cup of chicken broth and cooked the cauliflower until soft.  Sauteed up the already cooked brown rice (1 and 1/2 cups) and mixed the two together.  He let those cook together for about ten minutes and added ten finely grated baby carrots and 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan.  YUM!

*Brocolli Rabe
Now Mama loves her some brocolli rabe!  I was first introduced to the dish by an Italian woman that I used to work for.  She was having a family dinner for her entire immediate family and their spouses and children and that totalled up to about 40 people including the children.  She and her sister were making dinner and I offered to help and this was one of the dishes that I was assigned to.  I was smitten ever since!  For the brocolli rabe, you start it the "traditional" way: a little olive oil in the pan with two cloves of sliced garlic.  Next you add your cleaned brocolli rabe (rinsed and with the ends chopped off) and you sauteed until wilted.   If you feel that your pan is not moist enough, you can add a little bit of water.  No more than 1/4 cup.

*The Steak
 For the steak, you want to go with your favorite cut of meat.  Be it prime rib, or filet.  The choice that we made in this case was: sirloin.  Now interestingly enough, this was (1) the cut that was on sale, and (2)just as delicious as prime when it was cut.  For the meat, it's all about how you season it or tenderize it and how it's cooked.  If you know what you're doing, a good steak only needs a little drizzle of kosher salt and fine cracked pepper.  My hubby fired up our cast iron skillet for this one.  He seared it nicely about 4 minutes on each side & then he let it rest.  Once it rested for about 6 minutes then he sliced it and served it with our sauce.
I have to tell you that this meal was deeeeliiiicious!  And it was so easy on the waist line.  I had about 4-6 ounces of steak and 1/2 cup of starch that was 1/3 vegetables.  The rest were all veggies.  You couldn't ask for more!

This is my meal for the month.  A meal fit for your resolutions!
Happy New Year Everyone!
xo Chemeeka

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sweet Sophia's 1st Birthday Party

I have been a fan of the parties that I've seen on Frog Prince Paperie and Celebrations at Home's site for a long, long time.  I had finally decided to try my hand at trying to create my own party-masterpiece  And this birthday party for my sweet Sophia is my first real attempt:-)
I was originally going to go with a "penguins" theme but the more I approached the thought and searched for inspiration, I found more natural, classic and even vintage touches speaking to me:-)  I was largely inspired by this party for my layout and styling.  As the time for the party approached, the idea of penguins was definitely out, and I had to go with things that I more had at my disposal.
I hand tinted several clean plain white coffee filters a pale pink by add one centimeter of pink food coloring gel to a large bowl of water.
I then spread them out to dry on my counter top until they were completely dry and used those as box liners.
 Everything at our party was either pink, kraft, or white.

I added little touches of soft pink yarn everywhere possible.  Our guests, received little jelly mason jars (that I cleaned and had in the garage) with touches of kraft colored coffee filters and pink yarn, filled with little chocolate kisses.

 Our sweets table was adorned with everything "winter" and "pink" to celebrate our 1-year old little girl.  I also incorporated her little white and pink teddy bear from her bedroom, as we like to affectionately call her, "Sophia-bear" at times:)  Her cake was a 4-inch circle frosted in a sweet Swiss buttercream with rosettes.  The frosting was tinted a pale pink.
 My husband helped out by making our pink frosted Christmas tree cookies.  (I am terrible at making cut-out shaped cookies...don't ask me why, but I needed his help here and he gladly obliged:-)
 I wanted little soft touches of pink everywhere and of course, white.  The milk bottles are re-purposed coffee beverage drink bottles.  Striped paper straws were adding for that "pink" touch. 
I added faux snow and ornaments from a baby's 1st Christmas ornament set strung on kraft twine.

 I'd have to say that the Pink S'mores, which were my original idea were my favorite part of all this!  I took pink wafer melts, and melted them down into square molds and added them to graham cracker and marshmallow sets.  I finished them off by tieing them with more of my soft pink yarn.

(I added in a few styrofoam bowls turned upside down to create a little "fill" for this gorgeous pitcher for pictures).
The milk pitcher and cake stands were all adorned with additional ribbon scraps that I had left over from previous hairbow projects.
Everything from Sweet Sophia's 1st Birthday was soft, pink, and sweet.  We had a great time celebrating our little bear, Sophia.
Happy 1st Birthday to a wonderful little girl!
Photography/Styling/Cupcakes/Pink S'mores/Milk Bottles/Treats: Chemeeka Sparks
Tall 3-tiered pink stand (originally black): Home Goods
White porclain cake stands: Marshalls' Home Goods
Rectangular trays: Crate N' Barrel
Center Square Tray: Target
The actual table itself: courtesy of S. Michael