Friday, January 31, 2014

Food Friday: Oven Beer Can Chicken

Alex & I have wanted to try beer can chicken for a long time, so when we got a beer can chicken holder for Christmas, we gave it a try right away. And it was delicious. 

We followed a rub recipe from Michael Symon of The Chew, but changed it a little based on what we had in the house. 

Oven Beer Can Chicken

4-pound whole chicken
1 12-ounce can of light beer (we used Stella, because that's what we had)

Dry Rub:
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Trader Joes's 21 Seasoning Salute (this is a blend of tons of seasonings)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix all of the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. 
Once the chicken has been cleaned, including the cavity, squirt lemon juice on the inside and outside of the chicken. Rub the rub mixture over the outside of the chicken. 
You can refrigerate the chicken for a few hours if you'd like. We skipped this step and it tasted great. 
Fill beer can holder with beer and place chicken over the holder, legs down. 
Place chicken in oven, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. This will give the skin a nice initial crisp. After an hour, check the chicken's internal temperature. Once it reaches about 165 degrees, it should be done. 
Take the chicken out of the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes, then serve!

The chicken turned out very moist and full of flavor. It's great with some veggies, like mashed potatoes and carrots or a green salad and rolls.

We used the leftover chicken for chicken noodle soup, which is a great way to use leftover chicken. This is my favorite chicken noodle soup recipe, from Tyler Florence

If you give this a try, let me know how it turns out! 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Random Loves: Quick Dinners, Threads & Cartwheel

I always love hearing about what people are loving, things that make their lives easier, happier, prettier. So I’ve put together a list of random things that I’m loving right now. 

Two dinners from Designer Bags & Dirty Diapers I will be trying for sure!

Quick dinner ideas: This post from the Designer Bags & Dirty Diapers blog has a great roundup of quick, easy & healthy dinner ideas. I will definitely be trying a bunch of these, like the veggie ranch pizza and enchiladas. I'm always looking for quick & yummy dinner ideas, so I thought I'd share this list with you in case you are too! Plus, she also includes tips for how she gets dinner on the table while also juggling two kiddos. 

Threads Blue Dust Pixie bracelet

Threads: Alex bought this Blue Dust Pixie bracelet for me for Christmas & I love it. It adds a fun pop of color to an outfit. Plus, I love love love that a portion of proceeds from the Threads line goes back to helping at-risk kids pay for college. I love finding small businesses that give back. You can check out their bracelets & other jewelry here

Fresh herbs: Last week I spray painted a few pots white, planted some herbs and placed them in our kitchen window. Just that little bit of life and greenery we now have in our home is awesome. I forgot how much a plant adds to your home decor. It's also awesome having basil, thyme and Italian parsley on-hand when I cook. 

Cartwheel: I’ve been using this Target-saving app for a little while now. Before I head out to Target, I always search items that are on my list to see if there’s a Cartwheel coupon in there. I buy all of our toiletries, diapers, household stuff from Target, and so far, I’ve saved some money, which is a huge plus. One downside I have found is that sometimes it’s hard to know if an exact item can be used for a specific coupon, since the descriptions can be vague. But if you’re a Target addict, like me, it’s worth a try. 

Photo from Shea McGee Design blog

A living room makeover: I've been looking for living room inspiration & love so many things about this room makeover, from Shea McGee Design's blog. It has such a fun mix of colors and patterns that all work so well together. You can see more photos of the room here

What are you loving lately? 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ikea Hack: Kid's Chalkboard Table Top With Pink-Dipped Legs

For Raegan's first birthday, I wanted to give her something other than toys and clothes. Something useful, fun and personalized. Thanks to my Pinterest addiction(!) I saw a bunch of ideas for customizing a children's Ikea table and chairs. We decided to paint the table and chairs, use chalk paint on the table top and pick a bright color to dip the table and chair legs. 

I fell in love with the idea that Raegan could have a little spot in the house all her own where she could sit and be creative. For now, the table is mostly filled with doodles drawn by me and occasional scribbles by Raegan, but I hope someday soon she'll use it to draw, doodle and learn. Until then, she loves climbing up onto the table top and carrying the chalk all around the house ;)

The project was quick and easy — it only took one weekend. The hardest part was picking the paint and waiting for it to dry before letting Raegan use it. 

Here's how we did it:

The paint: For the table and chairs, we chose this white spray paint and primer in semi-gloss. The chalk we chose was this Rust-Oleum chalk board paint in black. I found it had the best reviews and is easy to clean. The dip color (chosen by Raegan herself!) is Behr semi-gloss in exotic bloom

1. We bought this Ikea white pine children's table and chair set

2. Before putting it together, we spray painted all of the table and chair parts white that would show. This took a couple coats. I wish I had taken a photo of this step since Alex created a creative contraption using cut up hangers to dangle the parts from our garage door while they dried. 

3. While Alex sprayed, I painted the table top with the chalk board paint. I think I painted it three times, waiting for it to dry in between coats. 

4. Once the spray painted parts were dry and fully covered in white, we dipped each leg into the actual paint tin (the exotic bloom color), about three inches up. While the parts hung to dry, we had quite a bit of drips, so make sure you put a cloth underneath. I love that the dipped legs are each a little different. 

5. Once everything is dry, put it all together! 

Now that Raegan has been using it for a while now, the one thing I've noticed is that the white chairs and table rim are constantly getting colored chalk marks. I do really like the clean look of the white though and it is pretty easy to clean. An easy fix could be to only use white chalk ;)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

5 Tips for Decorating a Blank Slate

Working with a blank slate can be fun, but daunting! Getting started is usually the hardest part. With a little inspiration from artwork, fabric, paint color, or a piece of furniture, a great space can be created. Here are a few tips that always help me out when I am designing a space.

Neutral paint colors. Photo from

1. Paint: Paint is single-handedly the best and most inexpensive way to freshen up a boring space. When selecting paint I always start at a paint center of some sort, whether it's Lowe's, The Home Depot, or a specialty paint store. Keep in mind color swatches will always look different in the space, therefore you should select several different options and try them out before painting. Test the samples in several different locations around the room and leave them up for a few days to see how light affects the color. When I was choosing paint for my house, I got several samples and the one that looked great in the store ended up looking like a dirty diaper was smeared across my walls! If you are painting several rooms that are adjacent to each other, make sure you select colors that are in the same tonal family to ensure they blend well, same goes for your white or trim color. Paint centers will have whites that correspond to the all the different color families, if you select a cool palette you wouldn't want to chose a white with warm undertones. Lastly make sure you chose the correct sheen. My rule of thumb is that flat paint only goes on the ceiling, high gloss is for trim, woodwork, and bathrooms, and eggshell or satin goes on the walls.

2. Big Impact: Besides paint, woodwork can make a huge impact for not a lot of money and believe it or not you can do it yourself. Unless you live in a super modern space, woodwork is a must! Dress your naked windows with a window sill, and some casing and you will not believe the transformation. Stay tuned and I will show you step by step instructions on how to dress your naked windows.

3. Artwork: I used to be a strong believer that artwork had to match the space, until my sister informed me that artwork is artwork and it will look good no mater what, so don't be afraid to put up your favorite piece. It doesn't have to be expensive, in fact artwork can be anything from found objects to homemade posters. These days my favorite type of artwork comes from my kids and if you frame it correctly it can look like a million bucks! If you are framing a simple black and white image, wrap fabric around the mat to spice it up a bit. I recently framed an old door knocker and used fabric to add a pop of color.

4. Fabric: I think we can all agree that fabric plays a big part in changing a room's feel. The more fabric and textures you have in a space the more interesting it becomes. Have fun with your space and don't be afraid to mix and match patterns. Yes, that means you can mix strips and polka-dots! Switching out pillows can be a great way to add lots of pattern without overwhelming the space.

Don't be afraid to mix and match patterns!

5. Furniture: Before you run out and buy new furniture, look around your house, that old dresser that you thought about tossing out could become the new focal point in your room. With a little elbow grease and a few coats of paint, an old piece of furniture can be revitalized to look new again! When redoing a dresser, for instance, think about ways you can personalize it to the space. If you like the look of the wood but don't want to re-stain the entire thing, paint the bottom white and re-stain the top. By using an accent color to paint the sides of the dresser you can really customize it to your space. This is a great way to add color in an unexpected way and if you ever want to move the dresser into another room all you have to do is re-paint the sides and voila, you have a new dresser that is custom to the space!

Like I said in the beginning, getting started is usually the hardest part, but if you pick one thing and build from there you can create a unique space. Just remember to have fun and be creative, because after all that's what design is all about!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Food Friday: Lasagna Bolognese

This is hands down the best lasagna I’ve ever made. It’s also the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten. It’s that good. 

It’s rich, creamy, meaty, hearty, cheesy — everything you want in a lasagna :)

The only thing that keeps me from making & eating this regularly (besides the health factor) is that it’s a time-consuming dinner. The bolognese, or meat sauce, needs to cook for an hour, and the b├ęchamel sauce (made of butter, flour, milk and cream) needs constant stirring until it thickens. So it’s a dish that’s best for special occasions or when you don’t need dinner in a hurry. 

Usually when I make this, I double the recipe and stick one batch in the freezer. It freezes pretty well. 

A few changes I made to the recipe, which was scanned and emailed from my mom (luckily I found a pdf version online here), in the bolognese sauce I have tried with canned diced tomatoes, drained, to equal 2 cups, instead of fresh tomatoes. I also use no-boil lasagna noodles, which is a huge time saver. 

You can find the full recipe for Lasagna Bolognese here. It's best served with a big glass of your favorite wine and a simple salad!

You won’t be sorry if you try this recipe, I promise :)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A New Adventure!

Hi, we are Lauren & Lindsey, sisters who love interior design, cooking & baking and being mamas. We are starting this new adventure, blogging about everything we love. We both live in sunny California with our teacher husbands, daughters and fur babies. 

Meet Lauren:

Here we are, Alex, me & Raegan, in Hawaii over the summer. 

I live in Sacramento with my husband, Alex (I call him Loves), daughter, Raegan (15 months) (she also goes by Balooga or Monkey), our cat, Frankie, and lab, Sadie. I’m a journalist turned stay at home mama who loves to try out new recipes, decorate our house and daydream about vacations to far-away places. Chocolate, writing, sangria, fun pillows & Italian food make me happy!

Guilty Pleasures: Watching Bachelor and Real Housewives of Orange County & Beverly Hills, buying cookie dough ice cream & just eating the cookie dough chunks (sorry Loves!), I’m addicted to Pinterest & spend way too much time at Target!

Meet Lindsey:

Me, Jena at 1 year, Jeff (before Jayden was born)

I live in the Bay Area with my husband, Jeff, daughters Jena (2) & Jayden (1 month), cat, Tank, and black lab, Roxy. When I'm not home with my girls, I'm going to school part-time to earn my associate's degree in architectural design. I'm a football wife who loves working on updating our home and trying out quick family-friendly recipes.

Guilty Pleasures: Keeping Up With the Kardashians, collecting classic Disney movies, eating mint Oreos, Pinterest and angel food cake.

We hope to share with you our adventures in interior design on a budget, trying new recipes in the kitchen and mama life.

Welcome to our little world & thanks for stopping by!