Category Archives: home

Did You Get Another Gift Card You’ll Never Use?

Let’s be real here.  Have you ever gotten a gift card that you know you will never use?  Are you a vegan and somehow ended up with a gift card to Omaha Steaks?  Do you think cleats are something for the kitchen and received a gift card to The Sports Authority? Did you get a gift card to Babies R Us and you don’t even have kids?!  I have discovered the best website for you!

Instead of letting your generous friend’s cash go to waste by letting the gift card sit at the bottom of your purse with old pennies and linty gum,  get on your laptop and check out cardpool.com (I totally sound like I’m selling this! LOL!) I saw it in a magazine and it is awesome. I promise I am not being paid to say this stuff.  Although, if they want to pay me, that would be cool too 🙂

You can trade your lame gift cards for an Amazon gift card of equal or lesser value or up to 92% cash back. You can also buy gift cards at a discounted price (up to 35% off ) !!

Do you re-gift the lame cards you get?  Did you already know about this website?

Meet Travis!

There was a very special delivery this holiday in our family! A 6 pound package was delivered to Florida.  My cousin and his wife welcomed baby Travis into the world.

Ain’t he cute?

Congratulations Matthew & Katie on the birth of your beautiful son.  I can’t wait to meet him!!

2011 Holiday House Tour Continued

I figured I’d show you all around our house in all it’s tacky shimmering glory lol!  Here’s what the rest of Casa FSL is looking like these days…

Super Christmas-fied!

I added just a few touches to the kitchen…

The kids got at it before I snapped the picture, but you guys get the point right?  It was a snow globe attempt gone awry!  It looks more like a snow egg… whatev.

Silver reindeer and a rhinestone tree (what else did you expect?!) sittin on top of Simon.

Some snowmen soaps and a couple of silver and glitter votives sit by my sink to keep me happy while I wash the dishes.

Here’s our entryway area looking festive and a bit rustic. Please excuse the weird lighting.  I don’t know what’s up with it.

And a close up on a few little moments…

The gold glitter doesn’t stop there.  It’s in our bathroom also 🙂

And what bathroom is complete without feathers?!

Somebody stop me.  Really.

Our mancave downstairs already had the turquoise thing goin on, so I added some peacock feathers and disco balls to add some holiday jazzy-ness.

Merry Christmas to all of the Finding Silver Linings readers out there!  I hope you are all on the “Nice List” this year!!

xo

Mindy & Mr. FSL

Gingerbread House Making With The Kiddos

Continuing on with yesterday’s gingerbread theme…

It’s becoming a little bit of a tradition around here.  For the past couple of years, we rally up the kids and decorate gingerbread houses.

 

Last year I learned that you need to assemble them about an hour or so before you plan on decorating them because the frosting holding it together needs to harden.  This year I remembered *insert smug grin here* .  It’s a rare thing that I remember something like that people.

Here are a few shots of the night.  Bitten, headless gingerbread men and all.

Um, I put the houses together.  Yeah.  Good thing I didn’t build our house that we live in, that’s all I’m sayin  😉

Here’s my 15 year old cousin’s iPhone, my best girl and my God daughter getting into some frosting action!

Mr. FSL looking exhausted ecstatic about all of this and our niece who actually was! LOL!

My cousin and her sugar induced smile.

Do you have any Christmastime traditions with the kids in your family?  Do you bite the heads off of your gingerbread men first? I wanna know.

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

I’m going to be honest. I should have posted this on like Thanksgiving. It has looked like Christmas here at Casa FSL for about a month! I couldn’t wait for it this year. Last year we were only living in our home for 2 months and didn’t have tons of decorations. This year, it looks like my house threw up Christmas. Glittery, flashy, silver, white, gold, even disco balls and peacock feathers! Since the halls are decked (and the bathroom, and the kitchen, and the yard…) I figured I’d do a little house tour to let you guys house crash at our place.

We moved all of the furniture out of the front room (formerly the dining room) and our tree lives in there, along with gifts, Rocco’s food & water dish, and two gold reindeer that Rocco goes nose to nose with and growls at is learning to live with.

Put on your shades people, brace yourself for the glitter 😀 .

Here’s our “mantle”. Also known as the weird ledge over our front doorway.

Here’s our other “mantle” also known as the giant Ikea buffet table that weighs a zillion pounds and is not moving until Mindy gets the fireplace that she really wants pigs fly.

***************************************************

Do you pick a “theme” color for your Christmas decorations? Do you pile it on? Do you keep it minimal?

Stay tuned for more Christmastime at FSL tomorrow!!

Skinny Pizza Dip

Who doesn’t like pizza?  Really though.  I’ve never met a person that doesn’t like pizza. If you don’t, I don’t think we can be friends anymore.

Mr. FSL despises anything that is classified as a “dip”.  He thinks all dip is gross.  Especially if there’s any sour cream or cream cheese involved.  He actually makes this odd mock barf noise when those particular ingredients are mentioned out loud.  Not kidding.

I made three different hot dips in my new triple crockpot buffet thing-a-ma-bobber.  I made low fat  turkey taco dip (recipe here) and a full fat bacon and cheese dip (I’ll post that next week 😉 ).  I didn’t tell him what was in the pizza dip and he took it upon himself to test it.  He said verbatim “Woah! You need to make this again!  It’s awesome”.

I’ve eaten pizza dips before.  They are dangerously addicting.  I’m always the girl at the party with sauce around her lips when this stuff is around. Embarrassing.

I got my saucy little paws on the recipe so I can hoover it down without an audience to gross out make it for parties.  I doctored it up to make it lighter so I can eat twice as much.  I switched out the full fat version for low fat.  I don’t choose the non-fat version when it comes to dairy because it tastes weird to me and it tends to have a watery consistency.  Ew.

Here’s how I made it…

2 packages of low fat cream cheese (if you’re like my husband, insert weird belchy noise here)

2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning

2 cups

2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 (16oz) jar of pizza sauce

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper, olives, onion, olives, (whatever “topping” you like on your pizza)

1 Baguette sliced for dipping

*******************************************************************

In a bowl, combine the cream cheese and the Italian seasoning.

Spread in the bottom of the crockpot.

Next, sprinkle 1/2 of the shredded mozzarella and 1/2 of the grated cheese over the cream cheese mixture.

Pour the jar of pizza sauce on top.

Sprinkle the remaining cheeses and any “toppings” on top.

Put the crockpot on high for about an hour, then switch to low heat for 3 hours to serve.

I’m a bad blogger.  I forgot to snap a finished photo.  You’re just going to have to take my fatkid word on this one.  It was demolished in like an hour flat.  All of it.  My husband said it tasted like a cross between bagel bites and pizza rolls.  I though it tasted more like Elio’s Pizza.  Either way, it is something you need to make.

Now.

Go ahead.

I’ll wait 😀

What’s your fave party dip?

DIY Clothespin Christmas Card Display

Last December was our 2nd month in our first (and current) home.  In other words, we had nothing.  This included a place to display our Christmas cards.  This is what I came up with last year since the only things we had hanging on our walls were 2 really big screws.

*Hangs head in embarassment*

I literally didn’t even have thread or twine.  I was too lazy to go buy it, and I ended up using dental floss to hang my Christmas cards…DENTAL FLOSS! Not only was I not ashamed to post about the fact that I used it, I even make an attempt to justify it.  Shameless people, shameless.

See that dazzling post by clicking here.

Many things have changed since then, thankfully.  Most for the better.  This year’s Christmas card display also costed me nothing but a few minutes (and I still had my dignity afterward).  I’ve seen this project before and thought it was cute so I gave it a whirl since I had all of the materials.

I had the empty frame that I’ve been hoarding saving for the perfect project. I actually hid this because Mr. FSL wanted to throw it out so many times…shhh!

Next, I swiped a few thumbtacks from our cork board and the spool of jute twine that I used to make this wreath.

I tied a knot at the end of the twine and tacked it into the back.

I spaced the 5 rows pretty evenly, and was ready to display my cards & photos using old clothespins.

I made this the night before our Annual Ugly Sweater Party (which will be recapped next week) so instead of cards, I hung up photos from last year’s party.

When the party was over, I took most of those down and put up our cards.

Free & Easy!

Red Velvet Pudding Shots

I swear I’m not a lush.

Once I find something that is a hit at every party, I try every variation I can think of.  Here’s the latest incarnation of the pudding shot.

Red Velvet.

I was getting ready for our annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.  Pudding shots were a must.  I had pistachio and I had cookies & cream already mixed and poured.  Ready to roll.  I wanted something festive and all I had was vanilla pudding.  I grabbed this lovely bottle instead of the usual whipped cream vodka.

1 1/4 cups of Devil’s Food Cake flavored vodka

3/4 cup of whole milk

a packet of instant vanilla pudding mix

a lot of red food coloring

a tub of cool whip

Mix it all up!

Pour into squeezable shot cups.

Top with whipped cream & garnish!

Poof! Holiday cheer in a cup!

3 Ingredient Nutella Cookies

If this is not your first time on this blog, I’m guessing that you already know about my Nutella obsession. If it is your first time here, you now know one of my weaknesses.

Even if you are not a Nutella fan, you will probably like these cookies. The hazelnut flavor is not very prominent. Think of it as a cross between a fudge brownie and a good old fashioned chocolate cookie.

I found the recipe ( wait for it ) on Pinterest. Shocking, I know.

Hold on to your seats…

1 cup of Nutella

1 cup of all purpose flour

1 egg

That’s it.

Mix until uniform consistency. I used my hands because it was a pretty thick dough.

I suppose you could spoon these puppies right onto a baking sheet and call it a day. It was almost too easy. I felt guilty. I am weird.

I covered the chocolatey lump of dough with waxed paper and used a rolling pin to make it about 1/2 inch thick. Maybe a hair thinner.

I have been itching to use my new cookie cutters, so I picked one out and cut cut cut.

I sprayed the baking sheet with nonstick spray and laid the cookies out.

Bake them for six minutes on 350. They barely spread out at all, so I put them pretty close together.

I sprinkled a little powdered sugar on top for an extra dose of happiness.

There ya have it. The easiest cookie from scratch recipe I know. Enjoy!!

****************************
What’s the easiest cookie recipe you have up your sleeve? Share it here!!

Compost Cookies

This recipe should come with a warning for various reasons.

Reason #1 : I’ve eaten 5 since I’ve baked them yesterday…FIVE.

**slaps herself in the forehead**

Reason #2 :  There are more than 2 sticks of butter in this recipe.

Reason # 3 : People that try these will ask you to bake them again and again.  You will, and then you’ll eat five more when that happens.

Reason #4 : People that you give this recipe to will hate you afterward because they will have eaten five of them in one sitting.

****BAKE AT YOUR OWN RISK****

The first time I ate this cookie was at Ma Peche (part of the Momofuku family). I have since then been obsessed with all things David Chang and/or Christina Tosi (you understand if you’ve tried the crack pie — click here for the recipe for that one).  Momofuku’s wonderfully creative dessert chef is Christina Tosi.  This is her recipe that is cut & pasted from Oprah’s website.  Photos and obscene commentary by yours truly. You knew O would be all over this shizzle.

The cookie is kind of a 2 parter.  You need to make the Graham Crust Recipe first.  The recipe makes 4 times the amount you need for 1 batch of Compost Cookies.  You can save the rest of this graham stuff in the fridge for up to a month for the next time you want to make these cookies.

It won’t be longer than a few days before you want to bake them again though.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Don’t hate me.

Please.

Graham Crust Recipe
Recipe created by Christina Tosi
Original Content  |  November 08, 2011
  |
Makes about 340 grams (2 cups)

Ingredients

  • 190 grams (1 1/2 cups) graham cracker crumbs
  • 20 grams (1/4 cup) milk powder
  • 25 grams (2 Tbsp.) sugar
  • 3 grams (3/4 tsp.) kosher salt
  • 55 grams (4 Tbsp. or 1/2 stick) butter, melted, or as needed
  • 55 grams (1/4 cup) heavy cream

Directions

Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.

Whisk the butter and heavy cream together.
Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 grams (1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons) butter and mix it in.
Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.
Compost Cookies Recipe
Recipe created by Christina Tosi
Original Content  |  November 08, 2011
Excerpt:
Compost cookies always turn out great in my mother’s kitchen because she infamously has a hodgepodge of mix-ins, none in great enough quantity to make an actual single-flavored cookie on its own. My brother-in-law calls them “garbage cookies”; others call them “kitchen sink cookies.” Call them what you want and make them as we make them at Milk Bar or add your own favorite snacks to the cookie base in place of ours.
Makes 15–20 cookies

Ingredients

In a pinch, substitute 18 grams (1 tablespoon) corn syrup for the glucose.For the coffee grounds in this cookie, we tested the recipe with freshly roasted and ground artisanal coffee from Stumptown as well as with craptastic coffee grounds that you can find just about anywhere. We discovered that it doesn’t make a difference what kind you use; the cookie is delicious every time. Just make sure you don’t use instant coffee; it will dissolve in the baking process and ruin the cookies. And, above all else, never use wet, sogalicious grounds that have already brewed a pot of coffee. We use Cape Cod potato chips because they aren’t paper thin, so they don’t break down too much in the mixing process.

  • 225 grams (16 Tbsp. or 2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 150 grams (2⁄3 cup, tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 50 grams (2 Tbsp.) glucose
  • 1 egg
  • 2 grams (1/2 tsp.) vanilla extract
  • 225 grams (1 1/3 cups) flour
  • 2 grams (1/2 tsp.) baking powder
  • 1 1/2 grams (1/4 tsp.) baking soda
  • 4 grams (1 tsp.) kosher salt
  • 150 grams (3/4 cup) mini chocolate chips
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) mini butterscotch chips
  • 1/4 recipe Graham Crust (85 grams or 1/2 cup; see separate recipe)
  • 40 grams (1/3 cup) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 5 grams (2 1/2 tsp.) ground coffee
  • 50 grams (2 cups) potato chips
  • 50 grams (1 cup) mini pretzels

Directions

Combine the butter, sugars and glucose (or corn syrup)  in the bowl of a stand mixer
Fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk overmixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust (from your first recipe) oats and coffee, and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. I used the big mama chips.  Ain’t nothing mini about this recipe, so why start here?
Add the potato chips and pretzels, and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips. (You deserve a pat on the back if one of your cookies bakes off with a whole pretzel standing up in the center.)
I used Ruffles because they are really salty, thick, and look cool poking out of the cookie.Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop (or a 1⁄3-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat.
Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature—they will not bake properly.  

Okay.  You know I am a deviant.  Sometimes that makes me cooler, but this time, mmmm not so much.  Tosi knows what she’s talking about.  First of all, I didn’t use parchment paper. 

Second of all, I didn’t refrigerate the dough for an hour.  Ms. Smartypants put the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes and thought she was the cat’s meow.  Popped them into the oven while she took a 7 minute shower. Bad. Move. Mr. FSL ended up banging on the bathroom door because the smoke alarm was going off.  I jumped out of the shower with soapy hair to see this:

That would be my kitchen filled with smoke and Rocco running for cover.

Yikes!

Burnt cookies.

Attempt #2 happened the next day.  I followed the directions.  Seriously.


Heat the oven to 375°.

Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case.

Booyah!

*kisses fingertips*

Perfecto.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage shovel into mouth while still hot and make odd groaning noises. At room temp, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.  Psssht!  Good luck keeping them in the house and out of your dirty little paws for 2 days!