September 2012 | Live Pretty on a Penny

One Year Down..Forever to Go!

September 24, of the best days of my life. I still can't believe that I married my best buddy one year ago today! I can remember the proposal, the planning process, the house hunting, and our big day just like it was yesterday. *sigh* It makes me sad to see how time flies, but so happy that it is spent with someone that I love so much:)

As we spend the week celebrating like two big kids at Disney World, here are some of our engagement pictures, and photos of me and my booskie from our special day, one year ago. I have even included our wedding cinema. Enjoy!

Some engagement photos...


Wedding Pics...AND Cinema...


Me and my girls!

Julius and his boys!



Thanks for stopping by! I will be back next week to share some of our adventures at Disney!

{Budget Friendly} Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls

Today I am featuring a great budget friendly party recipe by one of my great friends, affectionately known as Scooter:) She and her mom put together a delicious meal this past weekend featuring Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls, and once I tasted it (heck even heard about it), I knew I had to share with you guys. My buddy was gracious enough to put together step by step directions, including photos from her camera phone, so let's check it out! Woo hoo!

For this recipe, you will need:
½ Rotisserie Chicken (meat picked off and shredded)  
2 Cups Finely Shredded Cabbage
1 Cup Matchstick or 1 Shredded Carrot(s)
¾ Cup chopped Celery
16 Egg Roll Wrappers (or you may use wonton wraps for smaller size)
¼ Cup Water
½ Cup Hot Sauce
½ Cup Butter or Margarine
Juice of ½ lemon (optional)
Blue Cheese or Ranch dressing for dipping
Take the rotisserie chicken and peel off the skin and any excess fat. They used both of the legs and thighs and most of the breast. In all, about half of the chicken was used, pulling it off in big chunks and cutting with a chef knife. Just shredding by hand works as well!

 After preparing the chicken, melt the 1/2 cup of butter. Once the butter is melted, add the hot sauce and stir. *Note: Taste the sauce mixture before adding the veggies and chicken. If the sauce is too hot, lemon may be added to cut out the spice. 

While melting the butter, shred the cabbage using a mandolin or a chef knife. We used ¼ of a small cabbage which measured to about 2 cups shredded.

Next, take your shredded carrots (we used matchstick carrots), and cut them in half. Also, chop two stalks of celery which measures out to about ¾ cup. Coarsely chopped for a little extra crunch.

Once the cutting is complete, add the carrots, celery, and cabbage to the butter/hot sauce mixture, until heated thouroughly.

Stir the chicken into the mixture until well heated. Make sure all of your sauce is absorbed, to ensure egg rolls aren’t runny. If it is too saucy, continue to stir until sauce is absorbed.

Next, Heat 1 ½ inch of oil in a large skillet.

 Now for the fun part! Cover your work surface with wax paper. Roll the egg rolls according to the directions on the egg roll wrapper package, using two tablespoons of the chicken mixture. (These are easier to roll with the wrapper at a diagonal angle toward you).

Repeat until all of the chicken/vegetable/hot sauce mixture is gone. Or until you run out of egg roll wrappers. Our recipe yielded 16 total.

*If you are working alone I recommend rolling all of your rolls at once before you start frying. They cook pretty quickly! If you have a partner, one can roll, while the other does the frying:)

When oil is hot, begin to add your egg rolls. About 1-2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove egg rolls and drain on paper towels.

Eat up and enjoy!!! (After letting them cool off a bit of course.J) Use ranch or blue cheese salad dressing for dipping.

Also note, these can also be baked in a preheated 400 degree oven. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray and lightly brush the tops with olive oil. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Now don't these babies look super yummy? I tasted them, and they are! The cost makes them taste even better, how about this purse and time friendly breakdown:

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Cost Per Serving: 80 cents  
Servings: 8
Let me know if you try them and how they turn out! After they are done, call me over to endulge:)
Thanks "Scooter" for sharing!

Decorating and Making it Work...No Matter Where You Are!

Today I was inspired by one of my good friends, Jessica, who is living and working in Abu Dhabi. You may rememeber a post I did a couple months ago about her funky accessory line, Feathers, Leather, and Lace for my Creative Spotlight. She and her fiance, took it upon themselves to tackle four rooms in their new apartment in Abu Dhabi! I am so excited and proud about how it came out, that I wanted to share it with my readers! They have shown a true representation of Living Pretty on a Penny, by tackiling DIY projects throughout the entire process.  Take a looksie:)

Creation Station! Decorating and Making it Work!

Yay! So we are in our new apartment, and aside from us being so excited about living a life overseas, we were excited that we were able to do what we wanted when it came to decorating and jazzing up our new apartment. Since we are gonna be here for a while, we thought it made sense to make our apartment as homey as possible.
When our decorating mission first started we bumped heads so much that we didn’t even bring it up in normal conversation. It was crazy. This was a test in team work and learning when to bow out gracefully and we passed with flying colors! It wasn’t easy though. Imagine being pissed because you don’t get the curtain that you want… It was that serious. The results came out better than we expected and everything was pretty much fleshed out by the two of us, collectively. Who woulda thunk a guy would be so into interior design? I will even go ahead and say he may be better at it than me. I have visions but sometimes so much is in my mind that I lose control. Exhibit A: Our bedroom. When we started this plan, I knew that I wanted something bright, yet subtle, yet calm, yet full of energy. I thought “hmmmm, yellow!” Q wanted the room to be all white. I think he had just been so used to staying in hotels that he had lost his creative side. Regardless, we came to a happy medium; Yellow and white. I didn’t know how I was going to incorporate the yellow but I knew that I was not getting yellow furniture. I have been so inspired by my sister and her blog that I knew I had the power to be great! I decided on having a stencil wall with letters and small accents here and there. For some reason, I wanted to have words and letters floating around the room, don’t ask me why. I went to Ace Hardware and purchased alphabet stickers.  Then we went to Ikea to find a nice picture to hang over the bed. They were a disappointment.
But guess what? Ikea sells fabric now! So I improvised and purchased this fabric and a frame to put it inside. Very cheap and cute idea.I am sure that any fabric will work. I tried this idea at my old apartment and it was just as cute. Record frames give this look a nicer outcome, but the Ikea frame worked just fine!
While these pics aren’t the greatest, they still can give you an idea of our work in progress :)
We went from this:

to this:

Next, we moved on to that alphabet wall. I started by placing the alphabet stickers all over the wall, then we painted over them with yellow paint. The wall started off like this:

and the finished product came out like this:

Now to be completely honest, I was sad that it was so bright. It was a nice idea but I think I should have gone for a more subtle yellow. It has started to grow on me though. To add a balance, we plan on adding more white and brown to calm the wall down a bit. We have already added floating shelves right above the bed. This project is not finished, but it will only get better :)
Up next was our little frames wall in in the hallway. Very simple. Just figure out what your theme will be and run with it. I went with what was on sale, a few small frames, and then I added a clock for balance.
The hardest part was arranging the pictures! We may add photos later but for now we have this:
Now, for my favorite room; the living room. We did our greatest collaboration here. He picked out the couch, which is red and has yet to be delivered…..another story for another day….we bothed loved the rug, I did the wall design and paint color, he picked the pictures and the lamp… I did the table & tv stand. We start out with this:

and ended up with this:

Once our red couch arrives, this room will be my all time favorite!!!!!! :)
I must say that while I pride myself on being creative, this kind of designing is a bit more challenging. There are just so many rooms to think about. Colors, furniture, layout, room sizes, paint, on and on and on! While I am glad we got the chance to try our hand at freestyle decorating, I know that when we move back to the states, we will plan a lot better and do one room at a time instead of 4!
How cute is their apartment? I can't wait until they get that red couch to place on the zebra rug. It looks so fun and so very rewarding! You can follow all of their experiences via Jessica's tumblr.

Good job Jessie and Quincy:)

Updating a {Dated} Brick Fireplace

When I first moved into my house, this is what my family room fireplace looked like...

Yikes...I know...why didn't I run out screaming? Well, it was a foreclosure, priced pretty good, and I saw the potential. I knew with a little elbow grease, I could make it feel like home. So my first project was to update this burnt brick fireplace that made me sick to look at. Believe me, if I can do you, then you can too! Some of you that followed along with my old blog may remember my post about this. But, since people have come over to my home and ask how we did it, here is the tutorial again, new and improved!

For this project you will need:
Any tile of your choice (ours was a mosaic polished marble tile on a mesh sheet from Home Depot)

MS International Crema...

MS International Crema Ivy Bamboo Stone Pattern Mosaic Polished Marble Floor & Wall Tile

*Wet Saw (to cut tile)

*Versabond Thinset Morter
*Notched Trowel to apply thinset
*Large bucket to mix thinset
*Drop cloth for mess (there will be plenty of it)
*Any grout color of your choice (We used grout in Canvas)
*Grout Float
*Small bucket to mix grout
*Small bucket for warm water
*Painter's Tape
*XL Grout Sponge
*Tile Sealer

To begin, we covered our floors in front of the fireplace with a drop cloth to protect against any thinset accidents. With this being tour our first DIY project, we knew there would be some mess.

We then took our large bucket, mixed the thinset with water according to its instructions and ended up with this...

A peanut butter consistency mixture.

Starting in the center of the fireplace, we grabbed our notched trowel and applied thinset to the fireplace, and for harder to reach spaces, we applied thinset to the back of the tile. You can make the decision as to what works for you. We did a mix of both techniques, just make sure you do not apply TOO much thinset! It is better to start off thinner, and build if needed.

 The reason I suggest starting in the center is because when you need to cut the tile to fit into smaller spaces, it looks better if the cuts are along the edges, as opposed to closer to the middle, if that makes sense:)
Next, we laid tile onto the brick fireplace where we placed the thinset. We made sure that once the thinset was placed, we went back over it with the notched portion of the trowel (the part of the trowel that looks like little teeth). This will allow the thinset to spread evenly and breathe. I didn't take a picture of us doing this step, but it pretty much looked like this...

spreading mortar
Let's use our imaginations and pretend that this is my hand and our fireplace:)

Ok, moving on. We then tore a piece of painters tape and placed it across the tile to hold it in place while it dried. We repeated this step until all the tile has been placed.  We used our wet saw (read instructions provided with wet saw before use) to cut tile as needed.

Once all of the tile was placed,we let it sit for a few days to allow the thinset to cure. After that, it was time to grout! We mixed the grout to a similar consistency of the thinset and began to fill in spaces. Once the grout was placed, we I went back over it with the XL sponge, dipped in warm water to remove the excess grout and haze.

We allowed the grout to dry for a couple days, then came back and sealed the tile, according to the instructions on the sealer. Basically, just used a spray bottle to spray the sealer, then wiped over it with a clean, dry towel. They also make pour bottle sealers that you can pour into a bucket and spread on with a sponge. The choice is yours!

When we finished, along with new paint, a few accessories and some furnishings, my family room now looks like this...

We still need to mount our t.v., and change out the light fixture, but overall, its a big change that we are happy with, so far! 

Did you do any fun projects, or make any big, immediate changes when you first purchased your home? I would love to hear about it:)

Apparently, I am Illuminating!

Yep, you heard correctly! Me, little old me, and my wee little blog received the Illuminating Blogger Award nomination. I can only say that I am BEYOND stoked, simply because it's amazing to see something that I love so much and have put so much work into, be recognized by others, especially since I have only been live just over a month. I have my loyal readers to thank!

To start, I was nominated my Missi, whose blog is Havoc to Heaven. I love her blog! You must check it out. Anywho, I received a message from Ms. Missi (hehe) via twitter (follow me if you haven't) saying that she nominated me because she really liked my blog! Thank you so much Missi! That means a whole lot:) Also, a big thank you to CJ at Food Stories Blog for creating the Illuminating Blogger Award! So, as part of this process I am encouraged to share something random about myself. Hmmmm, let's see....there are so many random things, how about I share two!

1) I love mayonnaise sandwiches. No meat...just bread and mayo. YUMMY!!! When I was a kid I used to beg my mother to let me take them for lunch and she would tell me no. I hated that. But, now if I want to have one at lunch at work, I could! I don't, but I could if I wanted to:)

2) I cry at the drop of a dime when I think about my dogs getting older. I mean real tears. Just the thought of losing them devastates me. I love those guys and they are just so sweet (sometimes). I am tearing up as I write this:(

How illuminating are those random things! I know, not the most interesting or controversial things, but they are pretty random.

I am honored to pass this award along to six other blogs that light up my day with their inspiring posts, and informative content:

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your continued support! It is VERY much appreciated:)

{Budget} Half Bath Makeover

Hey there, good people! I hope that everybody had a wonderful Labor Day holiday! I just love long weekends because it seems that I get so much more done! Though it may not have been as relaxing as I had hoped, I still enjoyed spending time with my mom, who came in for a visit from Chicago. I have composed a massive to-do list of projects that I would like to complete in my home. So, with the extended time off this past weekend,  I was also fortunate enough to have a chance to check a project off of my list, and I am excited to share.  This entire makeover cost me just over $80, and I want to share with you  ways that you can put your hard earned pennies and any other treasures that you may already have in your home to good use!

Here is my first floor half bathroom before...

Nothing special. Just a plain old dated bathroom that was crying out for a little TLC.

Well, my sweet little half bath...your call has been answered. Here it is now! 

I love how it turned out! All of my items were either things that I already had in my home that I decided to repurpose, or those that I grabbed from stores near my home. It was pretty much as simple as some paint, adding vanity knobs, a new light fixture, and some accessories.  Here is the breakdown:

Quart of Paint- Valspar Cafe Blue (Lowe's) $14.00
Rug- Target $25.00 (SPLURGE!)
Brushed NickelVanity Knobs- Target 4pk for $5.00
Bird Pictures- Marshall's $25.00 for two
Vase- already had (bought from HomeGoods a few years ago)
Hand Towel- Target $6.00
Towel Holder- Ikea $5.00
Soap Dispenser- HomeGoods $8.00
Framed Mirror- already had (purchased from HomeGoods last year and painted white)
*if you have a bathroom mirror and that you would like to frame, here are several tutorials). A great way to save money is figure out a way to use what you already have. 
Turquoise Vase and Flower- already had (purchased from IKEA)
Light Fixture- already had (purchased from Home Depot about 6 months ago)

I would eventually like to change out my faucet to a nice satin or brushed nickel, buuuut, not right now.

This project had me thinking about all of the other items that I may have stashed in my home, that I will pull out and put to good use. I love going shopping at home:) It always has the best prices (hehe). 

Do you have any budget  makeovers that you completed this weekend? Any items that you moved from one room to another to freshen the look? Do share!