Tuesday, April 16, 2013

diy salt scrubs

I recently hosted a spa party for a few friends in which BeautiControl products were used. I wanted to personally thank everyone for coming and participating. So inspired by a previous colleague I made a scrub. Approximately a year or so ago, a colleague made all of us a Pomegranate Sugar Scrub. I ended up using Tree Hugger's recipes. I have tried a couple of the recipes thus far, including:

Rosemary Lemon Salt Scrub
from food plus words

Pour 1 cup kosher salt into your choice of container (Mason jars are always a winner in my book)
Add lemon zest and fresh rosemary leaves stripped from the stem to the top of the jar
Pour 1/2 cup olive oil over the top, then screw on the lid

To use, just give the jar a stir to mix the oil and salt, then scrub away escaping to a relaxing mediterranean destination
Should last 6 months sealed at room temperature

Citrus Salt or Sugar Scrub

1/2 cup sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
citrus zest (I used a lot of dried orange and lemon zest with the addition of some fresh orange zest)

Mix together and enjoy!

My friend P has used this one and reported that it made her skin incredibly soft!

Now it should be noted that alternate ingredients were recommended or given as choices in some of the recipes and these are merely my interpretations. I made the Rosemary Lemon Salt Scrub when I was making Rosemary Buttermilk Grilled Chicken for a dinner party this past weekend and felt inspired by the scents and colors. Unfortunately it seems to be my downfall lately with food blogs that I start taking pictures as seen below and then get caught up in the delightful conversation. This of course leaves me with only a half completed blog. In which it you were to interpret the photos we had raw marinating chicken breasts and raw aspargus pinned into 'floats' as recommended by Steve Raichlen. When in actuality the aspargus was grilled, and I repeated the aforementioned Barley Risotto (minus the butternut squash) and finished it up with Smitten Kitchen's Cream Cheese Pound Cake and Strawberry Coulis. Oh well maybe someday, my blog will actually feature completed photos.... sigh*

Monday, April 15, 2013

Grundy Forest State Natural Area, Parts of the Fiery Gizzard, Raven Point, and Overlook of Foster Falls Tennessee

My husbands' wonderful pictures have inspired my to document one of our shared passions-hiking. We became obsessed with hiking when living in Knoxville, TN with easy access to the Smoky's. This past weekend we went with friends to Grundy Forest State Natural Area. Hiking is good for my soul and honestly good for our marriage.
The Drive:
We drove down from the Metro Nashville area, therefore taking I-24 then getting off at exit 134  for US Hwy 41 Monteagle, Sewanee. From there we turned right on Main Street (away from Sewanee) towards Tracy City. Left on Fairmont, next to the DuBose School, which interestingly was a theological seminary of the Episcopal Church from 1921-1944, until drafting for the war resulted in declining enrollment. It is now a conference center. Slight right onto TN Hwy 56/US 41 S Tracy Road. You will pass the Cumberland Visitors Center on the left with picnic tables and decently clean restrooms. Then turn right onto Pine Street (next to a blue garage), you will know you are on the right street if you then pass the elementary school on the right. Turn right onto Second Street and continue onto Dutchtown Rd. There are also bathrooms located at this jump off point for the trail, with parking and overflow parking.

The Prep Work
We started out at about 9:30 am for this hike. The weather was amazing - near the 60s in the mountains and next to the creek. We all wore layers so that we could strip down if we got warmer. In addition, since we were planning the 9 mi loop to Raven Point we packed light lunches and protein enriched snacks, such as my husbands favorite beef jerky or my preference of Mojo Bars by the Clif Bar Co. We always take his Camelbak as well which holds approx. 2 liters of water. We actually don't know the exact amount since it was a gift, nor have we taken the time to figure it out. It seems as if 8-9 miles is about the max distance we can go with sharing water. We haven't done very many hikes much longer than this and if so, will certainly be investing in another Camelbak or similar hydration pack. Now generally when we hike we go at a pace of 2 miles an hour, however this time one of our friends had their dog and a friend who had never hiked in tow, so our pace ended up being a bit slower.

The Hike
We started off at the Grundy State Forest trail head or Picnic Shelter and used the maps available at the outpost, though they are also found online at the Friends of the South Cumberland Recreation Area here. The trail was pretty well marked both on trees and signs at intersections, but there were times when it was easy to get off the trail. 
At .07 we split from the Grundy Forest Day Loop to stay on the Fiery Gizzard trail by crossing over a bridge. Photo: Fiery GizzardHere you will see the Little and Big Fiery Gizzard Creeks merge and cut a cascade, which is known as the Black Canyon for its organic stain on the rocks. from there at mile 1.2 you will see the Chimney Rock
which is a 20' column of rock. Just past this there is an option to hike 0.1 of a mile to Sycamore falls, but we stayed to the left as the Fiery Gizzard trail and the Dog Hole Trail intersect. We chose to stay on the Fiery Gizzard trail at this point (stay straight), but for those who are looking for an easier climb to Raven Point I would suggest taking the Dog Hole Trail.
 and yes that is the trail 
We traversed over the 'Fruit Bowl' which is a pile of giant boulders. This definitely slowed our speed down and actually our friends who brought their dog eventually ended up turning back due to the difficulty of the boulders, for the dog's safety. We saw lots of small falls, cave and rock formations, and wild flowers (from what I can tell we saw viola, trilium, dwarf crested iris and hepatica), though the rhododendron were not yet in bloom.

The most challenging part of the trail was the arduous climb to Raven Point which lasts for about a .7 of switchbacks and steep incline. Once you reach the top you are directed to turn right towards Raven Point and a spectacular overlook in .4 mi.

From there we hiked back down the Dog Hole Trail from Raven Point Primitive Campsite (complete with vile outhouse) which was blissfully free of rocks by this point in time and took us significantly less time. We ended up finishing up the hike around 4pm. Drove to the southern end of the the Fiery Gizzard and walked a brief ways to the Foster Falls overlook.

The Eats
We always like to wrap up a good hike with some good food, so after seeing Crust Pizza on Tennessee Crossroads (thank you PBS) we included a short trip to Sewanee The College of the South into the trip. Sewanee is a beautiful and unique campus. 
Crust pizza was homey and delicious. We ate the cheese crust and Sizzler pizza, with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ham and beef  (disclaimer this is not our photo but one I took from Google Images courtesy of Carden Photography- we were too tired for photos by this time lol) which is on a lovely thin crust and the ingredients taste so fresh right down to the marinara. Service was impeccable as well.

what a great day! I don't know about you guys but trees are good for my soul and there is something about dappled sunlight that just brings me peace. I hope you guys find your version of peace this week.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

guest bedroom and craft room renovation

Here are the beginnings of our guest bedroom and my sewing/craft room. First we ripped up the carpet and fortunately there were awesome hardwood floors underneath. This wasn't a huge risk since the previous owner had already uncovered the hardwood floors in all of the other rooms.

 I really wanted some gray colors, and ended up choosing this Behr Down Pour color that is gray and purple. I hung some white curtains that we already owned. I also set up my Nana's old sewing desk and an old bookshelf that has been in my family for as long as I can remember in the room. Though I am thinking that I would like to paint the bookshelf a more interesting color as well, the black just feels a little harsh to me in this room. Most recently I have been considering painting it khakish color.
We recently purchased this brass bed for $30 from someone on craigslist
I spray painted it oil rubbed bronze after cleaning it a little, but I did not sand it. Clearly I need to work on my spray painting skills - I was a little over zealous to cover it all quickly rather than having the patience to go slowly with multiple even coats. Things I will hopefully remember for next time, though I am still really pleased with the improvement!  The brass has been banished! (side note: I also clearly love the use of exclamation marks too much-which always reminds of the seinfeld episode about just that)

We clearly still need to purchase a mattress and I am going to be doing a little room rearranging, as well as intensifying the closet organization. I finally made a leap and purchased the coral fabric from Joanns below to add pop of pattern and color, by lengthening to white curtains to floor length. Strange that color feels brave to me, but it can be difficult to step outside your comfort zone and commit to a different color. Can anyone else relate?
My mom picked out the white bedspread with shams from Martha Stewart for us as a Christmas present. Not sure if you can tell but it has a scalloped edge and a white on white quilted leaf design. I also just recently found these sheets at TJ Maxx - how perfect are they in color with the geometric design! 
Curtains complete, mattress added complete with bedding and the room has been reorganized, as you can see below

And the inevitable To Do: 1. lengthen white curtains 2. add mattress and deck out bedding 3. find a nightstand and lighting (maybe a coral lamp?), 4. paint bookshelf 5. organize crafting area and closet to be purposeful and eye appealing 6. cover the oatmeal boxes to create some of that organization 7. reorganize room to help with space to walk around bed  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

diy alphabet wall art

I can't resist making presents for my nephews who literally seem to have every toy under the sun. So this year I made a colorful alphabet wall art, like the one seen on Dawn Nicole. I used spray adhesive glue, (which sadly did not work very well in my parent's cold Alaska garage) to attach the colored paper and letters to a blank stretched canvas. I would have loved to have upscycled the canvas the way that Dawn Nicole did, however traveling to Alaska with my paper materials and buying the canvas through Amazon and having it shipped there was the only way that I could guarantee its completion. I did however upscycle in one way, by using my Ansel Adams calendar pictures to make the letters. I printed letters in a large size (that I can no longer remember) then I used plastic to trace an indentation to cut around. After everything was glued down, I attempted to spray modge podge to seal it, but once again the temperature was not very conducive to success. I completed the edges with denim look duct tape, due to my abbreviated time span rather than paint the edges. Here it is hanging in my nephews bedroom - yes my sister loves bright colors and actually painted their bedroom that green of her own volition ;)

We also got them a couple of other fun things the Q-Ba-Mazeand Snap Circuits which were both big hits, as  you can see by the heart my sister helped them build out of the marble run.