Category: d.i.y. (do it yourself)

Jack-O-Lantern pudding.


When I was little, Bewitched was one of my favorite TV shows. It used to be on in the early afternoons in syndication, on channel 11 or something. I’d rush home from school to try and catch it. I loved Samantha Stevens so much, and I wished I could just wiggle my nose and do magic like her and Tabitha. I even designed some Cupcake Rehab merchandise based on the show’s opening credits. It’s only fitting that I share this photo! Especially since I’m starting to think about what my jack-o-lantern this year will be. Previous years: Edgar Allan Poe, many varieties of cats, Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas, Oogie Boogie and Jack Skellington (also from TNBC), pipe smoking pumpkins, regular jack-o-lanterns, witches on brooms and many more.

Jack-o-lanterns are kinda my thing.

So, today since we’re talking about jack-o-lanterns, I thought I’d post just a little a short and sweet little DIY/recipe post for you; in true Halloween-y fashion. These jack-o-lantern puddings are actually just pumpkin puddings in cute glasses that I DIY’ed. I mean, what are jack-o-lanterns made of? Pumpkins! Duh.

Jack-O-Lantern puddings! With a DIY for cute jack-o-lantern glasses.

You’ve probably seen this idea or something similar all over the Internet. But do you know how it’s done? Nope- I didn’t buy jack-o-lantern glasses.

And no, I didn’t use a Sharpie.

Jack-O-Lantern puddings! With a DIY for cute jack-o-lantern glasses.

I used black electrical tape.

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Wicked witch cupcakes.

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

Aren’t these adorable? I know they are. They’re definitely not scary at all. But maybe the Wicked Witch of the West wouldn’t have been so upset if Dorothy had dropped a cupcake on her sister, instead of a house. Don’t you think?

Wicked witch cupcakes.

So, it’s getting close to Halloween. Everyone is either having a party, going to a party or expected to make something for a children’s party… or just for the kids, period. You need something easy but cute to make (and maybe use to impress people with your creativity) and I have just the thing- these!

Black and white with a little green is my favorite Halloween color combination. I usually avoid black and orange because it’s everywhere. It’s also really versatile, it can be used for witch cupcakes, monster cupcakes, vampire cupcakes… just about anything! And if you get a lot of black or black & white cupcake liners, you can also use them year-round for other things.

But anyway today we’re talking about witches. Wicked witches- who had a cupcake fall on them- with legs made of striped paper straws and shoes made of black paper. So easy!

Wicked witch cupcakes! Made with paper straws and black paper.

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Homemade brown rice & catnip cat treats & DIY gift jar.

I’m a crazy cat lady. Okay, no, let me rephrase that: I’m a crazy animal lady. I love all animals. I don’t discriminate. I’ve had both cats and dogs at various points my entire life; sometimes at the same time. I chase bunnies in our yard in the hopes one will hop into my arms and speak to me like Thumper. I feed the birds & have a bird bath in the yard (despite them shitting on everything!). I came home from the hospital after being born and shared my crib with Daffy, a little calico. Since then I’ve had Licorice (Licky), Tigger (Tiggy- notice a pattern?), Casey (canine not feline), Arwyn (Awbeez) and now Indy (also canine). My mother has had cats since she was 4 years old.

And the newest addition to the family is my mom’s new kitty, Snowflake.

Snowflake in the window (click through for homemade cat treat recipe!)

Snowflake (aka Snowy, aka snuggle face, aka Snowball, aka Arabella Snowflake, aka crazy ass, aka silly butt) is around 3 years old, and she’s deaf. We aren’t 100% sure of the extent of her hearing loss, but it’s probably around 90%. She does hear some things- specifically higher frequency things (i.e. babies/kids yelling, high pitched noise) but its not all the time and it isn’t clear how much of it she hears. Not that that holds her back at all! She’s the sweetest little mush face in the world; she’s beautiful too (for the in-depth story about how we surprised my mom with her, keep reading to the bottom of the post). She’s super friendly, loves people, loves kids, loves to snuggle… and loves to eat. Ah, a girl after my own heart. Which is funny because she’s a thin, graceful, athletic little thing!

But boy, does she love to eat. Treats, canned food, dry food, human food. She likes French dressing. Seriously. And she loooooooves catnip. We have a certified addict here.

So I decided to make her a little gift. Homemade cat treats, in a fancy little jar.

Brown rice & catnip cat treats and a DIY gift jar.

Arwyn, my mom’s previous cat, was not big on homemade stuff. She was super picky- she’d prefer to go without food than deign to eat a can of something unappetizing. She did love cat treats, but she was selective. She didn’t like soft treats, didn’t like fish-flavored ones, etc. Snowflake, on the other hand, loves all food. We haven’t hit on something yet that she doesn’t like.

I was inspired to make these by Joy The Baker, who inspires me in many ways. Her cat treat recipes have been making me think about homemade cat stuff for quite some time. Yeah, I’ve made Indy TONS of homemade cookies and biscuits and “pupcakes.” But cats? I always assumed they were too picky (or at least mine were). But Snowflake made me change my mind.

The jar idea is something I’ve been doing for a while (remember these?), but Joy also has that on her blog, and you can find them all over the internet. It’s a very simple DIY and I’ll get to more about that after the cat treats.

Brown rice & catnip cat treats and a DIY gift jar.

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The garden life.

Living the garden life, 2015!

Well, last post was about the start of my married life, this post is about the updates to my garden life.

I’ve had gardens for years. You all probably know how I feel about this, but I’ll say it again: if you have a piece of land, you should be growing SOMETHING on it. If you have a terrace or patio or small deck, you can grow some small peppers or patio tomatoes. If you have a window box, you should be growing herbs. There are no excuses! I started growing herbs myself, outdoors on a bigger scale, in “container gardens” in 2008. In 2010, I expanded to create an entire veggie container garden with a few tomato plants, a few pepper plants, and some zucchini, eggplant and cucumber. I really didn’t know what I was doing, to be honest, and while I got one or two paltry cukes, the zucchini didn’t give me anything that year. I later learned that the zucchini wasn’t being pollinated, and I would have to do it myself, which was unsuccessful. I did get some zucchini blossoms out of it, however.

In 2011, I had quite a large setup and everything was doing awesome! I had even gotten some cukes that year! But my nana had passed away in July, and then thats when Hurricane Irene hit us in August. And while she wasn’t as bad as we expected, she was bad enough. She decimated my plants, ripped the growing eggplants off, and ruined a few things. But that year I realized that the best results come from attracting lots of bees!

By 2012, I had learned a thing or two more about how things go, and what should go with what. I planted basil with my tomatoes, and the tomatoes were sweet and juicy, and the peppers were amazing. I wasn’t an expert yet by any means, but I was headed in the right direction. The next year, 2013, I just grew herbs. It was a transitional year for me in a lot of ways and I just didn’t have the heart to have a lot of things to “take care of.”

Baby leaf spinach.

And last year brought my  new raised garden bed! Jay agreed to build it for me and it turned out to be his new hobby/favorite thing ever. And so we really expanded. We ended up with TONS of veggies & herbs… and a few lessons learned the hard way; i.e. cucumbers should be by themselves because they will over take EVERYTHING, and tomatoes and dill should not be planted in the same area! Whoops.

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“A little party never killed nobody…” (whoa- I’m married!)

Marilla + Jason | Pixel Perfect Photography | New York City Hall wedding #bridesinblack #offbeatbrides

Union by Robert Fulghum


Holy crap. Yes, we’re married. I’m a Mrs.

First kiss as a married couple! | A New York City Hall wedding (Photo by Janai McNeil of Pixel Perfect Photography) #bridesinblack #offbeatbrides #nycbrides

We finally did it. After almost 12 years together, knowing each other for almost 15 and with  almost 2 of those years being engaged, we tied the knot/jumped the broom/took the plunge/bought the cow/hooked up the ball & chain/got hitched on Friday, April 3, 2015. And what a beautiful day it was.

Not so much weather wise. It was definitely still a mixture of “March” & early April (April showers & all that) in New York City weather time. And so it was rainy, but not heavy, just an annoying off-and-on drizzle that made NYC look even moodier than usual. It was gray, but it wasn’t even that cold (around 60° F), despite getting snow less than 2 weeks before. I didn’t so much mind the weather, to tell the truth. No one did. I actually quite liked it.

Dancing in the streets | A New York City Hall wedding (Photo by Janai McNeil of Pixel Perfect Photography) #bridesinblack #offbeatbrides #nycbrides

We planned this wedding in roughly 2 1/2 months. A little less. That’s it. Granted; I had already bought my dress a year before and we basically knew exactly what we wanted. But after I was so sick in December & hospitalized for two days, I realized we were stupid to wait any more. I mean, why? Add to that the deaths of the two NYPD police officers on December 20th, combined with the fact that the doctor told us about a patient with what I was close to- a thyroid storm- going into cardiac arrest and being resuscitated, I thought, WE ARE STUPID FOR WAITING. Why the hell didn’t we just do it right after we got engaged? No clue.

But we did it.

And we did it our way. Click on through to read EVERYTHING! And I do mean everything, so be prepared- there are a LOT of pictures here… A LOT. So here goes: my big fat wedding post!

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Raised garden bed DIY project!

How to build a DIY raised garden bed!

As you might remember, I love gardening. Every summer I typically do container gardens. Not for lack of gardening space, but because the best spots were taken by other things, and I never had the time nor frame of mind to really tear down and build up, so to speak. I do love container gardens for many reasons, and a raised garden bed is pretty much just a big ol’ container garden!

But this year a few events worked in our favor & some great spots were open. So my woodworker Jay decided to finally build me some raised garden beds! What a great early birthday gift. And it turns out, it’s actually a super easy DIY project that you can make in one weekend.

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Friday Fifteen: Summer love.

Old bottles filled with flowers on the porch table, mixed with Ball jars & candles. Classic.

Wow, it’s been forever since I did a Friday Fifteen! As a matter of fact, it was about 6 months ago. Sorry about that, guys. Bad blogger. But I’m back in action now… and I’ve got some sweet stuff to share! Tomorrow is the first official day of summer, so let’s run with that. SUMMER TIME, AND THE LIVIN’S EASY.

(Ten points to you if you immediately began rapping “And Bradley’s on the microphone with Ras M.G.” An extra 10 points if you then began thinking of Porgy & Bess. Zero points awarded to you if no song went through your head at all after reading that.)

But however many points you have in this little game, it doesn’t matter. Because it is, indeed, summertime. Or at least it will be in two days.

Friday Fifteen: Summer love.

  1. Tea lights in mason jars & flowers in old soda bottles. Like you see above, it’s just classic for summer nights. Add a traditional red gingham tablecloth and you’re set. Plus, it’s a really cheap but beautiful way to decorate for a summer party.
  2. Uhm YOU GUYS. Speaking of parties- I bought my WEDDING DRESS(!!). It’ll only be a year on June 20th that we’ve been engaged… figured I should get around to doing some planning now. Haha. And I also started looking at venues! I might actually get married sometime this decade. EXCITING.
  3. Now that the weather is warm, I’m DYING for fresh bruschetta. Bring on tomato season, already, please. PLEASE.
  4. It’s also now seafood season. On Long Island, where I live, were surrounded by beautiful water so there’s always lots of fish to be eaten. Which makes me crave some Southern pickled shrimp; and don’t worry- it’s not what you think! There’s no vinegar involved.
  5. Speaking of shellfish: how does a Connecticut-style lobster roll sound? Pretty damn good, right?
  6. One of the coolest ideas ever… a BUNDT PAN HANGING FLOWERPOT. I have to do this with the copper bundt pan that belonged to grandma Dotty, ’cause seriously it’s this exact one.
  8. If you’re a salsa lover, I highly recommend Gustavo’s Salsa. It’s a local business (based out of Brooklyn, NY). If you like smoky flavor & a versatile salsa that can just as easily be used as a marinade then this is for you. Make the effort to order some- it’s made in small batches & well worth the shipping fee. Seriously. Buy some.
  9. If you’re in or around the NYC area, think about taking a trip to the Queens County Farm Museum (especially if you have kids). I wrote all about it last year, and I think it’s a really enjoyable way to spend a day! Plus, if you purchase eggs or flowers from them, you’re supporting their efforts. You can also go to their website & “fund a farm animal“!
  10. Theres a chunky salsa I buy in my local market that’s made by them on premises, & it has cucumber & jalapeño in it. I love it! The cool cucumber and the heat of the jalapeño combined with the tomatoes & onion makes it extra special. So this watermelon salsa intrigues me.
  11. If you’re looking for the perfect easy summer cocktail, no muddling, no mixing & no complicated ingredients… then this is the one for you: a Woodchuck Shandy. Two ingredients, plus a slice of lemon.
  12. And if you have kids, here’s a kid friendly drink: sun tea! You can brew it right outside your front door on a crazy hot day & watch it brew! Or… you can make some cold-brew tea in your fridge on a rainy day. Get the directions here.
  13. I am loving Penny Dreadful on Showtime. Creepy, gory, summer-TV-show goodness.
  14. My new favorite coffee: Native Roaster‘s NYC Diesel. Amazing coffee by another local (this time Queens-based) company. Gotta support our local businesses! And when they’re this good, it’s easy to do. I’ve been making myself a full French press of it a few times a week, and saving half for iced coffee. You might’ve seen this photo of it on my Instagram.
  15. I’m super psyched because I get to use this awesome DIY potting bench Jay made for me on the regular. From transplanting herbs, rooting seedlings and planting new plants, to clipping & sorting fresh flowers to make arrangements, and even as an outdoor buffet table when we eat outside. It’s been so convenient! And it took him ONE DAY to make! If you have Kreg tools & want to make your own, here are the instructions.

DIY potting bench using a Kreg jig (link for instructions).