presto, pesto!

Yes! My first ever recipe! Yay for me! If you know me,  you probably know that I am not the greatest cook. It isn’t that I don’t like cooking, I just get overwhelmed at the organization process that comes along with cooking and the clean up afterwards. Also, it gets expensive buying ingredients when you are only cooking for one…but someone once told me the only way to get better is to keep trying (and clean as you go). I was inspired by the picture on the cover of a recent Bon Appetit magazine of a delicious and fresh looking pesto pasta:

oOoOoooooh…my mouth was watering just glancing at the cover. I figured pesto pasta could be a good one for me to try because pasta reheats well, I’m a pasta girl and it’s relatively healthy (hence the green color!). What I really liked was that Bon Appetit’s pesto recipe used cilantro (which I LOVE) instead of basil or spinach (which is a little on the bland side for my taste buds) and almonds instead of pine nuts. So, needless to say, I was sold. I ended up tweaking the recipe quite a bit and served it to a group of 15 friends who loved it. One of my pesto pasta tasters, Shana Draugelis, who runs the AMAZING and inspiring blog Ain’t No Mom Jeans, suggested I put the recipe on my blog as a place to share it with friends. So here it is…if you try it let me know what you think, if you changed it or tweaked it or send me pics @ sunlightistheirfashionblog@hotmail.com!
Serves 6 
Ingredients: 
-1 lb spaghetti or linguini noodles
-1 lb chicken (chopped into cubes)
-2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
-2 cups chopped fresh flat leaved parsley leaves
-3/4 cup chopped fresh chives
– 3/4 cup unsalted, roasted almonds
– 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 cup finely grated parmesan 
– 1 lemon
– kosher salt
– freshly ground pepper 
– 2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (if you like a bit of extra spice!) 
– 4 or 5 large garlic cloves (or less if you don’t care for as much garlic) 
– optional and for the daring…sriracha hot sauce goes amazingly on top of the finished product. 
Directions: (This is the way I have gone about doing it that works best for me and is the fastest)
1. Heat a large pot of water until boiling and in a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 or 2 chopped garlic cloves on med to high heat. 
2. Once the skillet is heated, add the chopped chicken cubes. While the chicken is cooking, squeeze 1/2 of the lemon over the chicken and add salt and pepper. (I also added 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper). 
3.  The water should be boiling by now, so add the pasta and boil on med heat for appx. 6-8 minutes. Once cooked, drain the pasta and set to the side. 
4. In a food processor or blender (food processor works much better at blending!) add the cilantro, parsley, chives, almonds, olive oil, 3-4 garlic cloves, the juice from the other half of the lemon and salt and pepper and blend until the pesto consistency somewhat smooth and paste-like. 
5. In a large bowl serving bowl mix the cooked pasta, the chicken and the pesto together. Top with fresh parmesan cheese and a little sriracha for a kick! 
You will most likely have left over pesto sauce which freezes well and goes great on top of toast,with sliced avacado and fried egg (another idea I stole from Shana!) or throw some on a chicken or turkey sandwich. 
Pesto for days and days! I hope you enjoy, let me know what you think if you tried it and any suggestions for improvement! Hope everyone is having a splendid summer! 

Simple DIY planters Idea

Since Spring has sprung, I have been feeling like my house is in need of some life and so I decided to buy some house plants. ( I went with Cacti because I figured they needed the least amount of attention) I searched and searched for the perfect planters and couldn’t find them. So naturally, I decided to make my own. I bought this set of three wooden planters at Michael’s craft and chose three colors. Right now, I am really into the corally orange-ish red color, so I got that, a lime green and a turqouise. (also a darker blue for an accent color).

 I repainted them about three times until I kind of got something I liked- I still wasn’t sure about them until I put the cacti in the planters and then I thought the simple and rustic designs kind of went well with the cacti. Painting the cacti planters made me want to branch out a little. So, I bought another plant (this one requires more attention- so we will see how long it lasts 😦 )

diy recycled wall decor

This is my take on a recycled magazine pages wall decor project that I saw the other day when passing by the window display at J. Crew. These are my favorite projects to do because they are CHEAP (well, basically free!) colorful AND green! A big BANG for a little bitty price. 
Here is J. Crew’s current window display that inspired me: 

Of course, they have done about a MILLION, so I have a LOOONG way to go until mine looks like that…and let’s just be honest…I probably will get bored of doing these, or find something else I want to do before I get enough to make a wall decoration!

All you need are some old magazines, rip out the colorful pages and accordian fold them. I used a glue gun to insure they would stay glued and to give it some rigidness.

I would love to see any pics of any diy art projects you have done lately around your house!

fun and easy art activity for kids

I love melted rocks. Melted rocks rock. I did this art activity with two 6 and 7 year old boys and I think I enjoyed it more than they did (probably because I wouldn’t let them touch the hot rocks…and you know how boys are…they only want to do what they aren’t allowed to do:) ).  Something about the simplicity of the activity and watching the crayon melt and mix and swirl with the other colors is so relaxing.

You will need:

  • smooth rocks- pick out some rocks from your garden (preferably smooth rocks with flattened tops) or you can buy a bag of river rocks from a craft supply store for fairly cheap. 
  • crayons- The Crayola brand work perfectly fine…I had some oil pastels I also tried using…a few of them worked, the more thicker and more expensive they were, the LESS they worked because they didn’t melt as easy and didn’t mix with the other crayons. ALTHOUGH, saying that, one gold oil pastel I had from Blicks art store turned out to be the best. So, try a few different types and experiment. 
  • an oven- or access to one. 
  • An oven mitts (those babies come out of the oven hot) 
  • Foil paper
  • a large (and preferably old and well used) baking tray
Instructions: 
  •  Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit 
  • Wash off and dry the rocks if you grabbed them from the garden
  • Peel the paper off the crayons you want to use 
  • Put foil paper on the oven tray (to keep any melted crayons from getting on the tray)
  • Place the rocks on the tray and put them in the oven for at least 15 minutes (the hotter they are the better) 
  • Take the rocks out using the oven mitt (if you are doing this with children make sure to warn them NOT to place their hands directly onto the rock because they will born themselves) and place them on paper plates or foil sheets
  • Put the crayon onto the surface of the rock and push down firmly for a few moments. Use several different colors to get a colorful effect. 
  • Let them cool. 

and WHALAAA! Glorious- beautimus rocks!

Felt-tastic Necklaces


Happy New Years!!!! I hope everyone had a fantastically memorable New Years Eve. Mine was definitely memorable but not so much fantastic.  We listened to a really horrible 70’s cover band (in TIGHT COSTUMES!) and watched a bunch of surprisingly limber, but incredibly inappropriate drunk old women dance.  Next year, I’m not even going to try. I will be at my house, with my husband and my dog; which is always what I wish I was doing when I am out on New Years Eve.

Anyways. Back to felt. fantastic felt! felt-tastic.

Felt. I love this stuff! I’ve been hearing a lot about felting crafts in the past few years- it seems to be what all the cool kids are crafting these days- but,  as usual, I am running a little bit behind with the “trends” and have only just fallen in love with felt! And fell hard! 
So I thought I would share this felt flower necklace craft that I’ve adapted from a couple of different crafters….I love Martha Stewart’s fabric flower necklace and have unsucsessfully attempted it several times but my flowers don’t look anything like Martha’s. And I KNOW for a fact that I picked up the felt flowers from some creative and inspiring crafter on the internet but I cannot find the website for the life of me! I’ll add the links in when I find them.  
Making the felt flowers are super easy. All you need are felt squares, which come in so many different bright and fun colors (Michael’s has them for $.29 per 8 x 11″ sheet), permanant marker, craft scissors, tacky glue (the clear kind works the best) and random circular objects of various sizes!  They come in so many bright and fun colors too.  Just trace various sized circular objects and cut them out. 

 The next step is cutting the felt circle by cutting in a circular spiralliing motion. Then, starting from the inside, with the smallest circle, overlap the layers to create wider and wider circles. Dab some clear tacky glue every once in a while on sections of the felt and then a dab of clue and the ending tip to keep it together.

Once you have a good amount of completed felt flowers, (as you can tell from the above pictures of my felt flowers, I got a little OCD and made way more felt flowers than is needed), then you need to make the base of the necklace. I’ve used a kidney bean shape to create a curve around the neck, but you can do anything really. 

 Using needle and thread, arrange the flowers and sew them onto the backing. I also threw in some

colorful beads. 
Thanks to my beautiful friend Mary who was nice enough to be my felt-tastic model!

salt paintings art project.

I just finished another fun and easy art project with the program members at work. Like alot of the other art projects that have been wildly successful with my students, I found this one by scavenging through the internet. This one had all of the things I look for when trying to find a good art project: fun, easy and cheap. Here is where I found the project if you want to check it out:http://jojoebi.blogspot.com/2010/02/salt-painting.html
I’ve included my own set of directions and some hints and tips I found after doing the project several times. Have fun!
All you need is:
-kosher salt (the bigger the granules the better)
– glue sticks
– water colors & paint brushes
– craft paper
1) The first step is to create a design using the glue stick (I found that the purple colored glue sticks work well b.c. you can see your design better)
2) As soon as you have created the design with the glue stick, quickly pour the salt over the design …and be generous with the salt (If you are helping younger students or your children I usually stand by as they are creating the design and as soon as they are done, I pour the salt…this way more salt sticks to the glue before it has a chance to dry)
3) After letting the salt dry into the glue for a couple of moments (it dries pretty quickly and doesn’t have to be completely dry to start)…the fun can begin!
Dip your paintbrush into your chosen watercolor and a nice dip into a cup of water, then gently tap the top of the paint brush onto the salt design and watch the color absorb into the salt crystals!
tips and hints: Just a couple of things I found that help you make the best out of the project..
-the more colors you use, the more beautiful I think the salt art turns out.
– Also, it is important to tell your students, or those youa re working with, to just gently tap the edge of the brush onto the salt for the best outcome. Some of my students pushed their brushes down onto the salt with a lot of pressure and pushed the salt around with their brushes.
-Finally, it takes a little practice to find the right balance of color and water. If you put too much water onto the salt design it will just become soppy salt soup and if you use too little the color wont spread into the salt crystals.

easy and beautiful leaf pressings.

I love Autumn and the changing colors of the leaves and have always collected leaves that I have thought were especially beautiful and stuck them in between pages of my books or journals, or shoved them in my bag.

The only problem is that more often than not, they end up as a crumpled pile of mess in the bottom of my bag or slip out of the pages of my books only to be eaten by my dog (who will eat ANYTHING).

Well, a couple of days ago, I stumbled on to http://www.artfulparent.typepad.com/ and found this Stained Glass Leaf Rubbings project. They are so simple, easy to do, require only paper, crayons and watercolors, and best of all, each one is unique and beautiful.

this colorful little guy on the bottom of the pic is my favorite, one of my favorite students who has autism had the great idea to use mulitple colors.

What I also really like about this project is that ANYONE can do it! The individuals with development disabilities that I work with often have a difficult time doing some more detailed art projects and can become frusturated. The leaf rubbings though is hands on but even those who don’t possess great fine motor skills, have little to no problems with the watercolors and the rubbings (although they may need a little guidance at the beginning).

Now, I can’t stop making them! I am trying to figure out what to do with them…I’m thinking of stringing them up or hanging them from branches…

You can visit here to view directions on how to create the leaf pressings: www.artfulparent.typepad.com/artfulparent/2010/06/stained-glass-leaves.html

…have fun!