Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Keeper!

Happy Valentine's Day Eve y'all! Hope everyone is having a good week so far. As I was making my grocery list the other day, I was really craving something homemade, sweet, and delicious. The thought of going home after work and measuring stuff, getting out my big stand mixer, and making lots of dirty dishes did not sounds appealing though. I also decided it wouldn't be a good idea to make a big batch of something because I knew I would sit around and eat it all by myself...not good!! I turned to one of my favorite blogs, SkinnyTaste, and found a delicious recipe of Gina's. 

Low Fat No Bake Cheesecake (original recipe can be found here)

8 oz light or fat free Cool Whip
8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese
9" reduced fat graham cracker crust
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Directions: Whip the cream cheese, lemon and sugar together for a few minutes until it's fluffy. Add the Cool Whip and whip for a few more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Spoon the mixture into the pie crust. Let it chill for a few hours and then get to eatin'!

I planned on using my little hand mixer but couldn't find it, so I used my Cuisinart SmartStick instead. It worked like a charm. 

I can probably take the sticker off now...oops!

My mouth was watering due to my excitement of cheesecake for dessert, so I don't think I whipped everything long enough. Other than that, it was DELICIOUS and husband approved! 

Next time, I think I'll add some strawberries or blueberries on top. I also want to try it with an Oreo crust instead of the graham cracker kind. So many possibilities!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Mardi Gras!

Happy Mardi Gras!!  Today is Fat Tuesday... the day that ends the carnival season.  If you're from an area that celebrates Mardi Gras (lucky you!!), you know that we've been celebrating, partying, eating, and parading for a few weeks.  If you aren't from around here, you need to know Mardi Gras is one of my favorite times of the year! I'll spare you a long history lesson, but basically, Mardi Gras (literally translated is Fat Tuesday) is a French holiday celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday.  Traditionally, all the food/drink/etc was consumed in a big party to rid the pantries of everything before fasting for the Lenten season leading to Easter.  Still with me??  

So how did we get to the weeks of parading we have today?  Well, first, (and haters gon' hate) thank MOBILE, ALABAMA for the first Mardi Gras in the US!  Check out this little piece from   You'll see the first carnival celebration went down in Mobile in 1703 (full of French/Catholic settlers)... well over 150 years before New Orleans borrowed our little party :)  Mardi Gras was stopped during the Civil War and was revived by Joe Cain in the late 1860s.  Joe Cain Day is a whole other story... so we'll just stop there.  If you read the article, you know that Mobile will have hosted 38 parades this year.  Fairhope (my hometown) hosted 3... 4 if you include the puppy parade! :)  

So what does Mardi Gras look like??  Here are some pictures I took during the Mystic Striper parade in Mobile last week.

Never park on the parade route!

Striper's Emblem Float

Mascots Southern Style: Striper's Theme Float

Roll Tide!  My favorite float of the night

Roll Tide!  15...

Hawkins and I ready for the Ball

Each masked Mardi Gras society has a ball after its parade.  Attendance at the ball is by ticket/invite only (sounds fancy, huh??!  Not too hard to get tickets... just gotta know someone in the society).  Ladies must wear a floor length gown, and guys must wear white tie/tails (also known as costume de riguere).  The night is filled with way too much food, way too many cocktails, and way too much dancing!  Lots of fun is had by all!

As we wrap up Fat Tuesday, I'll share some of my day with you!
Masked Mardi Gras Tree

1 Hour Jambalaya in the Dutch Oven
Homemade King Cake... complete with baby!
In our family, we leave our Christmas tree up, take the Christmas decor down, and swap it for Mardi Gras beads, masks, and other trinkets.  This will stays up until Ash Wednesday.  Tomorrow, the tree comes down.

I fixed jambalaya for dinner!  I used a great 1 hour recipe that uses a dutch oven!  This is super authentic, super easy, and allows for as much spice as you want!  We'll save this recipe for another day!

Last but not least, one of the best parts of Mardi Gras... THE KING CAKE!  This cake is more like a bread/drier cinnamon roll.  I fill mine with a cream cheese/sugar/fruit preserve mixture... its the only way to go.  This baby is TIME CONSUMING but oh so worth it!  Once baked, a tiny plastic baby is hidden in the bottom.  Whoever finds said baby brings the king cake to the next party!  Complete with icing and topped with green, gold, and purple (Mardi Gras colors for faith, power, and justice), this cake is an amazing yearly treat!

I hope y'all had a fabulous Mardi Gras!  Until next year, laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll!)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Meatless Monday

Please excuse our crazy blog design. I finally figured out how to add our header back but now everything is all out of whack. Hang in there with'll eventually be back to normal!

Even though we're nowhere near being vegetarians or vegan, I like to read Mama Pea's blog. I was always scared to try her recipes but I finally decided to give it a shot a few months ago. I searched through all of her recipes and came across one for Roasted Chickpea Tacos. My husband and I love tacos so I thought, why not?! 

Who knew this would become part of our regular dinner rotation? D thinks that you have to have some type of meat in order to have a complete meal. I finally proved him wrong with this recipe! Coming from a bacon loving, steak eating man, this recipe gets two thumbs up :)

Here's what you need (original recipe can be found here):

2 t. chili powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. dried oregano
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
1 t. sea salt
1 T. lime juice
2 T. water
1 14 oz. can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
taco shells

Directions: Combine chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, ground cumin, sea salt, lime juice, and water in a large bowl. Add in chickpeas. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. When you're ready to start cooking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet (the kind that has a rim around the edges so the chickpeas won't roll off--I'm sure it has an official name but I don't know it!) with cooking spray. Place the chickpeas on the baking sheet and cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring once during that time. You'll know when the chickpeas are done because they'll be a little crispy. While the chickpeas are cooking, prepare the taco shells according to the directions on the package. Once everything is ready, add your toppings and enjoy!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Etsy, Here I Come!

As some of you know, I'm really working to get my embroidery and vinyl business up and running!  Y'all have seen some of my work, my Facebook page, and my preparation for my first craft show!  Now, I'm on to the next phase of taking over the world (ha ha ha)... ETSY!  

Etsy is website for handmade goods, vintage goods, and craft supplies.  I could literally spend hours just looking at some of the cool things people create! I've sort of hesitated in getting an Etsy shop up and running... I was afraid it'd take a lot of time, and I wouldn't get much business.  But a few weeks ago, I decided to jump on in!  With Facebook business pages reaching fewer "likes," (they want businesses to pay to advertise w/ them... I'm not!), I need another way to reach people.  Hopefully my shop will reach those without Facebook as well as others not local to me!  Southern Charms Gifts is open! 

I've learned quite a bit in the short time I've been "open."  Etsy pretty much walks you through your set up; you get to choose your name, picture, etc.  I spent some time researching how to best write policies to my protect myself as well as to keep the buyers informed.  Thankfully, there are so many people willing to share their experiences.  You need to include ship time, payment expectations, etc.  Lots of stuff to remember to add, but it is all very important in case you ever need to settle a dispute (PLEASE GOD NEVER LET THAT HAPPEN TO ME :) ).   Listings are definitely something I'm learning about, too.  There is SO much to include.  Sizes, colors, options, descriptions, titles, tags... it goes on and on.  You want to come up with as much information as possible about your product.  Since none of your customers will ever actually hold your product before they purchase, the goal is to make them feel as if they have.  I usually NEVER have a problem writing/talking/etc (shocker - I know), but it is kind of hard to describe something I know so well.  If any of you are interested, take a look at my listings and tell me what you'd search to find them!  It could be a fun game!  

Etsy also has the ability to create custom listings.  Custom listings allow me to create a listing just for one person.  If someone asked me to monogram a set of month onesies for a baby gift, I can make just one listing, pay 1 fee, and have the buyer be able to make all choices at once.  Pretty cool!

My biggest news has been my FIRST sale!  A customer bought an anchor monogram tshirt similar to this one:

She chose to have hers done on a bright pink tshirt with a navy anchor and white monogram.  It will look so cute!  I was so thrilled to hear the "CA-CHING" sound of the notification :)  Here's to many more!