Sunday, October 30, 2011

Magnetic Chalkboard Spice Rack

Perfect for those who love to both cook and craft!

This was a great project which I plan to give away for Christmas this year and the best part is, it can be done on a budget. A word to the wise, this was not an easy project. In theory, it's easy. In practice, there are some issues that you may run into. Maybe someone else knows a way to fix the issues I'll discuss below. If so, please comment and let me know! =)

This project uses a metal platter, which can usually be found at a thrift shop if you want to do this project on a budget like I did. I was able to get three platters for under $5!

What you'll need:

- Chalkboard Paint (I used spray Paint)
- Metal platter (that a magnet will stick to)
- Painter's tape
- 6-10 Small lidded containers
- Strong magnets (as many as you have of the small containers)
- Glue (E6000 recommended)
- Chalk pen (I wouldn't recommend trying normal chalk although maybe I'm just too cautious)
- Q-tips and acetone for removing stray paint
- Newspaper for painting on

Step 1: Tape your platter. Tape anything you don't want paint on. This can take a while when you have curved edges like I did. Make it simpler by purchasing a square platter. The nicer you tape, the less work ahead. I did not tape as nicely as I should have, which is another reason this became tedious.

Step 2: Clean the surface of the platter to remove any dust or dirt and wait until dry. When dry, take paint and platter to well ventilated area and follow directions on paint can. Do two to three coats, letting dry for a few minutes between coats.

Step 3: Remove lids from containers. Paint them too following same directions as above.

Step 4: Let everything dry. Don't rush it. I left mine out overnight.

Step 5: Remove tape. Check to make sure paint produced smooth looking edges. This is where I ran into trouble. The middle of my patters looked great but the edges of the paint were very
ragged looking. I have to use acetone to remove paint where it was jagged. It took quite awhile. I wonder if using regular paint instead of spray paint would have produced better results. I also should have taped more carefully to begin with.

Step 6: Glue magnets on to bottoms of containers and let dry.

Step 7: Cover entire chalkboard and chalkboard lids with chalk pen ink. You can let it pool and then smear it everywhere instead of trying to color in whole board. You don't want to skip this step. Otherwise, the first thing you wrote will stick on to the board, and you'll be able to see it even after erased. Erase chalk with damp towel and you're ready to write!

Step 8: Put some spices in containers and label them with chalk pen. Stick them to
platter and Ta-Da! You have a magnetic chalkboard!

Wanna hang it? Follow these steps:

You'll need:

- Your already made chalkboard platter
- Glue (E6000)
- Strong tape (packing tape or duct tape whould both work)
- Ribbon of you're choice

Step 1: Cut about 1-1/2 feet of ribbon. tie bow in middle so that there is the same amount of ribbon lefter over on each side.

Step 2: Glue ribbon to back of board making it as long or as short as you'd like. Let dry.

Step 3: After a few hours of drying, place a large strip of tape over both ribbons.

Step 4: Hang it! Adjust bow as needed to hang straight.


I love to improve upon old designs. I found new containers for my spice rack. They are perfect because the are lightweight enough to work with magnets and have little windows so you can see the spices!

I found the containers at Hobby Lobby in the scrap-booking supplies organization section.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Broiled Herb Rainbow Trout with Creamed Spinach

Another Lunch Cooking Adventure

I absolutely LOVE the Cooking Light annual recipe books. I own around 10 of them and receive the magazine monthly. I haven't cooked a recipe out of any of their magazines that hasn't been good. They haven't all been great, but I'd say 70% of them have and only 30% have been just okay. Plus, they keep an eye on calories and fat.

The rainbow trout recipe came from Cooking Light's 2002 Annual Recipe Cookbook (pg 271). I modified a few ingredients to my taste and the recipe below is written the way I made it. At only 352 calories for an 8 ounce fish fillet, I was in heaven. Oh! And it's super easy too!!!!

Broiled Herb Rainbow Trout (called Herb-Grilled Trout in book)

Time to prepare: 10 mins (mostly cutting herbs)
Cook time: 5-6 minutes (or 10 mins in toaster oven)
Servings: 4

- 1/4 Cup dry white wine
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 4 (8-ou) Rainbow Trout fillets
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 Cup thinly sliced green onions
- 2 TBSP chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 TBSP chopped fresh basil
- 1 TBSP chopped fresh dill
- Cooking spray
- 4 lemon wedges

1. Prepare broiler (or grill if you wish)

2.Combine oil and wine and brush both sides of fillets. Skin side down, sprinkle top of fillets with salt, pepper, herbs, and onions.

3. Place fish skin side down on broiler pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Broil for about 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over fish.

Nutritional Information (I will always provide this info if I have access):

Cal: 352
Fat: 15.7 g
Sat Fat: 4 g
Protein: 47.5 g
Chol: 134 mg
Sod: 229 mg

Creamed Spinach is one of my favorite things that just has to be terrible for you. Oh well! Moderation is the key to eating food high in fat. A small serving on the side of this meal adds some serious calories but surprisingly still keeps the meal low in calories overall.

Creamed Spinach (modified from this recipe on

Time to prepare: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Servings: 3 (Probably should double this recipe to serve 4 with fish above)

- 1 (10 ou.) bag fresh Spinach, roughly chopped
- 1/4 Cup heavy cream
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 TBSP minced garlic
- 2 TBSP minced white onion
- 1 slice provolone cheese, torn into strips (deli sandwich slice)
- 3 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese
- 1-1/2 TBSP reduced fat cream cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat large skillet over medium high heat and add spinach. heat until wilted, stirring and turning over leaves until wilted (I did this step in batches). Remove from skillet and place in colander to drain. Give a good squeeze to release extra liquid.

2. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook until tender.

3. Add spinach back to skillet and add cream and cream cheese. Stir until mixed and warmed through. Add provolone and let melt before stirring in. Sprinkle most of Parmesan cheese, reserving a little to sprinkle on top after plated. (recipe makes 3 small side servings)

Nutritional information: (this info is provided for the original recipe which contains more cream but no cream cheese. I also cut amount of butter as well. )

Cal: 248
Fat: 22 g
Chol: 69 mg
Sod: 407 mg
Protein: 9.7 g

For more recipes, Check out my other posts:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Photo Collection: Pictures from Bruges/Brugge, Belgium

Buy these prints and more from my ETSY store!

Bruges was another stop on our visit to Europe (my father and I went in July of this year). Our last name, Fleming, came out of Bruges when it was still Flanders. In fact, they still speak Flemish in Bruges today. Known as one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe, you can't help but to fall in love with it.

Bruges was beautiful. The architecture was absolutely gorgeous and the city had a deep and interesting history. Historians tell us that Bruges (Brugge) has been settled since the 9th century by the Vikings. The name Bruges is likely derived from the Scandinavian word "Brygga" meaning "harbor." The city has had many highs and lows and has recently found its high in tourism. It certainly was a wonderful place to visit with great food, warm people, and wonderful landmarks.

The first photographs are of the Church of Our Lady which houses Michelangelo's Madonna and Child among other fine works of art. We weren't allowed to take pictures of the his sculpture but here is one photo that I was able to take from the inside:

(Inside the church)

The outside of the church is just as beautiful. Construction on the building started in the 13th century and was mostly finished by the 15th century. However, the exterior has undergone several renovations over the years. It's tower is the second tallest brick structure in the world making it visible from most places around the city.

(Exterior photograph)

Belfry Tower was originally built in 1240 but was destroyed by fire 1280 and had to be rebuilt. It houses 47 bells, each with distinctly different tones which were historically used for different functions (i.e. one was used if there was danger, others to keep time, bells for important announcements, and so on).

(Belfry at night)

Many of my favorite places existed along the canals that run through the city.

(Canal at night - white spots are swans that are actually owned by the city)

The market square was the heart of the medieval city. The square is surrounded by the Belfry Tower, the Provincial court building, and colorful intricately designed buildings.

(Provincial court building)

The statue in the middle of the square honors the two leaders of the Battle of the Golden Spurs (an uprising in 1302 against French occupation).

(Nighttime view of Market Square and Statue)

Like these photographs? Buy a print from my Etsy store. If there is one on this page that is not offered on Etsy, feel free to message me through Etsy about custom prints!

For my other photo collections, look at these posts:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin on Creamy Polenta

Thank you USDA for lowering the minimum temperature pork can be cooked to!

I went to the store hungry and this is what happened as a result:

I LOVE polenta and what better on top of it than bacon wrapped pork tenderloin? I'm also very happy that the USDA has lowered its recommendation for internal pork temperature. Now we can all eat pork the way it was intended to be eaten: juicy and tender and a little pink. No more hockey puck pork chops! YAY!

Serves: 3-4 (depending on how hungry you are!)
Time: active throughout for about 30-40 minutes.

- 1 lb. pork tenderloin.
- 4 thick cut pieces of bacon
- 1-1/3 C. chicken broth
- 1-1/3 C. water
- 2/3 C. cornmeal
- 1 Cup thinly sliced mushrooms
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 3 TBSP onion, finely minced
- 1-1/2 TBSP butter
- 1/4 C. grated provalone cheese (or one deli slice)
- 1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste


1. Bring water and broth to a boil in medium saucepan. Add cornmeal slowly while stirring to avoid lumps. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Continue to simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring every few minutes to avoid clumping at bottom.

2. While polenta is cooking: Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion and saute for about 1 minute. Add Mushrooms and cook until tender. Remove garlic/onion/mushrooms to a foil covered plate to keep warm.

3. Wrap bacon around tenderloin and add to pan. Cover and let cook for 3-4 minutes or until browned on bottom. Turn over tenderloin and continue to cook until instant read thermometer reads 145 degrees. Remove from pan and let rest for at least 5 minutes.

4. Add cheeses to polenta and mix until melted.

5. Slice tenderloin thinly and place on top of a bed of polenta. Add mushrooms and onion/garlic mix to top of tenderloin. Enjoy!

I have to say, it slightly freaked me out to eat pink pork but was much tastier and nothing terrible happened. Once again, thanks USDA, it will just take some getting used to!

Fish Bowl Succulent Garden

Perfect for Those Who Don't have a Green Thumb =)

I found a bunch of miniature succulents at a craft fair yesterday. I happen to love succulents since I am a chronic plant killer (they just don't like me for some reason). Succulents are hardy and really interesting because of their intricate designs.

You'll need:
- Some small succulent plants (the smaller, the better)
- Some potting soil
- Some rocks or pebbles for the bottom (for draining purposes)
- A large fish bowl

Step 1: Add rocks to bottom of fish bowl.
Step 2: Add soil so that it is 2-3 inches deep.
Step 3: Add plants. Get them as close together as possible and group them towards the middle. Be careful to not rip too many roots on plants. Parts of plants that fall off can be planted in soil to regrow.

Step 4: Lightly push soil up from side of bowl towards the middle so that soil isn't so loose and the plants stay put. I also added some extra rocks in places where plants needed some support and some moss that I found outside to make it nice and green.

Succulents do need water, so water them every once in a while but not so much that they get huge. Great as indoor plants! Just set them in a place where they will get some natural light or, if you want to put them somewhere where they won't get light, move them outside for a few hours every couple of days. Enjoy!

For more DIY fun, Check out these posts:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Better than Sex Cupcakes

The name speaks for itself ;)
I found a recipe for better than sex cake on I wanted to make them into cupcakes and decided to give it a try. It took a few batches (I did three at a time) but I finally got something that tastes pretty close to the original cake.
Since it's just my fiancee and me, I tend to not bake cakes or anything that's too large for us to eat by ourselves. I found really cute single silicon cupcake cups to use for baking as few (or as many) cupcakes as I want. Here's a link to some.
These guys are pretty easy to make and don't require that many ingredients. They are sloppy but delicious.
Better Than Sex Cupcakes
Serves: 24-36
Time: 15 mins to prepare + baking time (will depend upon how many cupcakes baked at once).
- 1 box devil's food cake mix (+ ingredients needed to make cake as listed on box)
- 1/2 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 jar (6 ounces) caramel ice cream topping
- 2-3 bars chocolate covered toffee, crushed into small pieces
- 1 tub (8 ounces) whipped cream topping
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
1. Prepare cake mix as directed on box (see note in step 5 if you're planning to serve these well after being made). Pour into cupcake cups ONLY halfway up (you will need plenty of room for the topping). Bake for about 2/3rds of the time as directed on the box (or until a toothpick can be inserted and comes out clean).
2. While cupcakes bake, combine condensed milk and caramel in a small saucepan over low heat until mixture is hot (don't boil).
3. Cut slits into top of cupcakes and pour caramel mixture over top so that it sinks into slits. Sprinkle about half of the toffee pieces on tops of cupcakes.
4. Using a freezer zip bag, add rest of toffee and half of chocolate chips plus whipped topping into bag. Mix together by squeezing bag and then cut a corner (about 3/4 inch wide) off the bag (if you're not using individual cupake cups, remove from cups now, otherwise, serve in cups for easier eating). Use bag to pipe topping onto cupcakes. Top cupcakes with remaining chocolate chips.
5. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later. I've heard this recipe can get soggy if left too long. If you pan on waiting to serve it, you may want to cut down the oil in the cake mix to make a denser cake.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chalkboard Necklace

An ever changing piece of jewelry!

I've seen a few chalkboard jewelry items on Etsy and around the web. It's a really easy project with a really unique outcome. I found directions for this project on this website.

Love it but don't wanna make it? Buy it here at my Etsy store!

Here's how mine turned out:

Okay, so there are a few things you'll need.

-1 bezel pendent (frame with solid, black backing). I found mine at Michael's. They actually have a whole section with frame and bezel pendants at the location closet to my apartment.
- Some painters tape
- A little scrap of ribbon (about 5-6 inches or so depending on how big you want your bow)
- Chalkboard spray paint (I found mine at Walmart for under $4)

- Craft glue (I used E6000)

- A chain necklace (or make one using chain and the necessary findings)

- Newspaper (or something to cover your work area with)
- White chalk or chalk pen (I used the pen because it looks nicer and is easier to write in small spaces).

- If your pendant does not come with a ring to attach it to the chain with, you'll need a jump ring that is big enough to pass over the clasp on the necklace. To attach a jump ring, you'll also need pliers.

1. Tape bezel so that frame is covered in tape and only the middle is showing (covering any areas that you don't want paint to end up).

2. Go outside, or somewhere that is ventilated and (following directions on back of bottle) evenly spray area in a back and forth motion about 8-10 inches away from pendant. Do a couple or so coats of paint, waiting a few minutes before applying each coat.

3. Let the paint dry. I tried to write on it after about 5 hours and the paint came off. Next time, I'd follow directions and wait 24 hours or at least over night.
4. Untape from newspaper and attach jump ring. Slide pendant on necklace.

5. Tie bow with ribbon and glue on the top of the pendant.

6. You've got a wonderful chalkboard necklace!

7. Write something on it!!!

Like it? Love it? Buy it!