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Our Favorite Holiday Recipes and Crafts
Happy Christmas Eve! Well after a car service, shuttle, taxi, three security check points, two planes, and one more car service, I finally made it back home to Indiana to celebrate Christmas with my family. Suffice it to say, I was one cranky mcgee by the time I reached my beloved Hoosier state. But now I am here, fully rested, and well stuffed from my mom's homemade blueberry pancakes and am ready to enjoy Christmas with my giant Greek family. My sisters and I have our Christmas movies cued up (I'm hoping to sneak in Home Alone, before Hillary can put on White Christmas), our wine poured, and our wrapping stations prepped. It's go-time at the Stanley-Dunn residence and I for one could not be happier.
Colleen and I will be taking the next week off and will be back January 2nd full of fresh ideas to take on the new year.
But before we take off, here are a few of our favorite holiday recipes and crafts to bring you a little Christmas cheer.
Merry Christmas and a very happy new year!
(my personal favorite!)
Teen Angst and Finally Finished Projects
As you've maybe heard us mention, this year we're celebrating a few of us Thursday girls turning 30 (!!!) and thinking back on our Thursday night dinner tradition over the last ten years. As of two years ago, I returned to my roots and moved back to Louisville, KY after ten years of bouncing around from Bloomington, IN to New Brunswick, NJ to Brooklyn, NY. It's so lovely to be back in this charming southernly midwestern town, and to do Thursday night dinners with Emily and Kate again, two girls whom I've known for a very long time and who were a couple of the original Thursday girls in college. A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to Kate, my oldest friend. And so, here's Emily.
Look at that photo of us from our sophomore year in high school! When Emily and I saw this photo again recently we were both like, "aww, we were so round!" But just look how happy those angtsy teens are.
When I moved from NYC back home I found a bunch of letters and mementos I've been hanging onto for years that I keep and look at every once in a while when I want to make myself smile. Some of the most adorable little notes in that box are from Emily. I found a letter that she sent me upon our graduation from high school and its innocence and total clulessness of what's really ahead of us is so charming.
These days Emily and I only get to see each other every couple of weeks, not every day like when we were in high school. We've both gone through so much over the last 15 years and obviously we've both changed (in good ways, I like to think), but when we get together it still somehow always feels just like it did in those days in high school when we'd sit around in oversized hoodies writing brooding poetry while listening to Tori Amos. It's so nice to have people around you who have been making you smile since you were kids. Emily is one of the most creative and free-spirited people that I know.
Whenever I embark on a new creative project, I always ask Emily for her input. She's the best at helping you think of alternate ways to accomplish something. And she's the best to show your project to because she always acts really excited about it and like it's the most beautiful thing she's seen. I'm sure she'll be happy to know I finally got this one finished.
Handmade Canvas Art
by colleen reilly
I started this project in the middle of the summer, and it's finally finished and hung! And I only missed my goal of having it done by the fall by one day. I found this project here. It's really not very difficult, it just took me a long time because I bought the canvases at Hobby Lobby and I could only buy one at a time because I was using my 40% off coupon. (And I may or may not have messed two of them up a couple of times.) But now I want to make some more.
Letting Go and a Bathroom Makeover
Last Friday I went to my first yoga class in nearly a year. Caitlin has been trying to get me to go quite literally since the day I moved back, but at the time the thought of stillness sent shivers down my back. I just wasn't ready and anyway running is more my thing. So when Caitlin texted and asked me to come to her class, I finally agreed to go! I dusted off my yoga mat, hopped on the Q train, and made my way to Yoga Vida. About half way through the class we got to one of my least favorite positions, the lizard pose. Even now, just thinking about it makes me have this automatic scrunched up "yuck" facial expression. It’s just so painful and the worst part about it is when I'm kneeling over just making it to my elbows and breathing more deeply than I do after multiple counts of lunges, everyone else is just lying flat with their arms reaching out easily draped along the floor appearing to be completely at ease. As usual in this moment, I was coaching myself to stay focused, breathe it out Steph, don't feel competitive, which is when the yoga instructor (who by the way is gorgeous...no wonder it's Caitlin's favorite class) started repeating “let go, let go, let go”. And I realized in that moment that this theme has been coming up in my life a lot recently.
Let go. It's a concept that I tend to avoid like the plague. Letting go means taking a risk and permitting yourself to be vulnerable. It often means accepting and embracing change; All things that have not historically been my strong suit. I typically hold things so tightly to my chest. Don't show weakness. Have control. It can be a helpful coping mechanism, but not exactly the most healthy way of living my life. Yet, despite all of this, it has become a reoccurring theme in many conversations. Colleen and I had multiple discussions about whether or not to change our approach and go personal with our blog posts. Should we take down the wall and let people in? Then there was the big question of whether or not I should finally put myself out there again and sign up for online dating. What if everyone is crazy? What if I go on 100 dates and still not meet anyone? Then, of course, it has been letting go of expectations I set long ago, reevaluating, readjusting, and really going for it in my career. And then the ever so daunting task of letting go to really and truly be with another person. It's not easy being in your late 20's and I stubbornly chose to take a particularly long way of getting to where I now have total faith that I will be one day. But nevertheless, letting go is still a challenge that I face in one way or the other on a daily basis. It's become my personal mantra.
In this process of accepting and embracing change, my apartment has gone through almost a complete transformation. My roommates thought it would be funny to paint the bathroom a Pepto-Bismol pink a few years back and after a few laughs we decided that perhaps a bathroom should feel more serene and less like someone puked up my old Barbie clothes.
Photo: My darling assistant, Ophelia.
To balance out the hectic white and blue tile, I painted the bathroom a marshmallow white. I chose to accent the room with pale yellows and simple grey stripes. I’m still on the hunt for a typography poster. Right now, I’m leaning towards this one.
Tonight Caitlin and I are going to take it easy. We had a big Thursdays last week and I'll be working until 8 tonight, so it looks like we're going to go for pizza from Graziella, wine, and a good ol' fashioned girl-time hangout. Perhaps I'll even finish off Meredith's bracelet.
What's happening with you? What's your mantra?
TND: DIY Home and Last Minute Meals
Happy Thursday Night Dinner (TND)!
I must admit I'm a little amazed it's already Thursday. Yay, for fast weeks! This week was a little strange-- Thursday girl Emily had something for work on Thursday night, so we did Thursday on Tuesday. Because of this, our meal was a bit of a concoction because our planning time was cut in half, but it turned out really good! And it reminded me of my roommate in gradschool who was the queen of making delicious food concoctions. See recipe (?) below.
And in the crafting portion of my life, my husband has told me I can't quit my job to do my Pinterest projects full time, so I've decided to try and tackle at least one every week for the rest of the summer. I finally got around to making a couple of those (what I call) dotted up vases that I keep seeing everywhere online. Now, of course I've made a few because they're quick and easy and add a nice little touch to your room. They make a perfect craft for DIY Home week. You should definitely try making one.
by colleen reilly and emily ross
What to do:
Now, I know that this photo kind of makes this meal look like an unappetizing mess of food, but trust me, it was so delicious!
Basically, it was a pile up of mashed red potatoes, homemade black bean burgers and roasted beets. Next time, we're going to make an avocado aioli to top the whole thing (but as the meal was a little last minute, I was out of mayonnaise and eggs). So we opted to top with avocados and loads of Siracha hot sauce.
Mashed potatoes directions: boil red potatoes under they are fork tender. Mash up with a hand masher. Add butter, milk and salt and pepper to taste.
Veggie Burgers: Follow this recipe. We also added chopped fresh jalapenos, which was an EXCELLENT addition. We didn't use cheese.
Roasted beets: Follow this recipe for roasting beets, minus the walnuts and goat cheese.
Dotted Up Vase
What you need:
- Clear jar or vase
- Spray paint, color of your choosing
- Elmer's glue
- Tarp or newspaper
- Wax paper
What you do:
Cut out a heart from a piece of paper or print one from the computer. Write the word "love" on a piece of paper or print off from the computer. Tape the piece of paper inside the jar, so that you can trace the shape. Squirt a dime sized amount of glue onto a piece of paper, paint tray, etc. Stick the end of the toothpick in glue and begin tracing your shape or word with little glue dots. Allow the first set of dots to dry and then go over the dots two more times to make them more prominent. Allow to dry.
Wash and thoroughly dry your vase or jar (I usually get my jars at thrift stores or the Dollar Tree for a dollar or less). Lay out tarp or newspaper on the ground (spray paint outside or in your unfinished basement like I do). Place large square of wax paper on top of tarp or newspapers-- this will keep your jar from sticking after you paint it. Sit vase or jar on top of wax paper. Holding spray paint can 6-8" away from jar begin spraying jar evenly in a thin coat. Let dry and repeat spraying in thin coats until there aren't any clear spots left. I spray in thin layers to help prevent dripping.
TND: Mason Jar Cooking & Crafting
Happy, happy Thursday! I am officially back in Brooklyn and could not be more excited to catch up with the ladies. I had a lovely trip to Saugatuck and then was able to hang at home for an extra couple of days. It's always difficult leaving Indiana. I tend to get a little anxious the night before knowing that I won’t see my family for a bit, but once I get settled back into my apartment I remember why I chose to move here six years ago. I love it here. The energy, the museums, the samples sales, the Brooklyn Flea have all become what makes this place home for me and now for my little Ophelia. We may be NY transplants, but I think it’s safe to say that we are New Yorkers.
In honor of my little trip home and Mason Jar Week, I thought that I would share this homemade strawberry jam recipe that my mom and sister made together (a special thank you to Mer for using her superb photo skills!). There are dozens of ways to pair this jam but a few of my favorites are on pancakes, spread on a slice of toasted sourdough bread, or mixed in plain Greek yogurt.
For the craft this week, I'm sharing this lace gold mason jar that we made for a fun DIY gifts guest post with Casa Sugar awhile back.
Homemade Strawberry Jam
by Pam Christy and Meredith Stanley (taken from Ball recipes)
What you need:
- 5 cups crushed strawberries (we crushed them with a wooden spoon in a larger mixing bowl)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 6 tbsp Ball RealFruit Classic Pectin
- 7 cups granulated sugar
- 8 (8oz) half pint preserving jars with lids and bands (we found our mason jars at Target)
What you do:
Boil a medium sized pot of water. Reduce water to a simmer and add jars and lids to heat until ready for use. In a separate pot add strawberries and lemon juice at medium - high heat. Stir to mix. Increase heat to high and gradually stir in pectin. Bring to boil. Add sugar mixture and leave at high heat for one minute, making sure to stir constantly. Skim foam if necessary.
Carefully ladle hot jam into hot jars (make sure to leave about 1/4" headspace. Keep water simmering for later use. Wipe rim of jar clean and tightly apply lid and band.
Add closed jars back to simmering water. Increase the heat to high and boil canned jars for ten minutes. Carefully remove jars and let them cool to room temperature.
After 24 hours, check lid seal. It should not flex up or down if done correctly.
Gold and Lace Mason Jar Utensil Holder
What you need:
- mason jar
- lace (cut to wrap around mason jar evenly)
- gold metallic spray paint (or color of your choosing)
- Mod Podge matte glue
- paintbrush for glue
What you do:
Lay down newspaper on a flat, open surface. Turn your mason jar lid side down (with lid off) and place on newspapered surface. Carefully spray an even coat of paint on the jar. I found it's easiest for me to move around the jar to cover the entire surface area, versus physically turning the jar. If you accidentally apply too much paint to an area and it begins to clump or heavily drip, simply wipe the area with a paper towel and lightly spray again.
Let paint dry for about an hour. When jar is completely dry, it's time to glue on the lace. I found it was easiest to glue and wrap a little bit at a time. Take the lace and add a thin layer of glue to one edge and carefully apply it to the mason jar (make sure your applying the lace so that it's going to wrap around the direction you would like and where you would like the seam to be placed). Press down so that the lace is firmly glued onto the mason jar. Continue adding a little bit of glue at a time to the more condensed parts of the lace (so that you don't see the glue when it dries), press firmly down to glue firmly and continue until you fully cover the mason jar. Cut off any access lace and glue final edge down. Let dry for 15 minutes and it's good to go!
TND: Hamptons Style Dinner and DIY Striped Watercolor Cards
Happy happy Thursday! Ophelia and I have had quite a string of adventures these last few weeks. After my trip to Colorado, Ophelia and I joined my stepsister and her husband in the fabulous Hamptons. This was my very first time in the Hamptons and let me just say that it is indeed all it's cracked up to be. It's just so spacious full of big yards, vineyards, and corn fields as far as the eye can see. It's one of those places that makes me question why on earth I live in a city where I can see directly into our neighbors windows and actually see what they're cooking for dinner. Ophelia and I were both very excited once we finally arrived at the house. Ophelia ran straight outside and kept running and running and before she knew it had landed smack-dab in the middle of the pool. And that's how Ophelia learned to swim. It took a bit of coaxing the rest of the weekend to get her back in, but by Saturday afternoon Ophelia was leaping into the pool chasing after her toys.
Throughout the weekend we ate like queens. We grilled juicy burgers, picked up fresh jalapeno and bacon scones from the bakery each morning, and Saturday night we had a very special treat, lobster. We picked up already boiled and served it with fries and asparagus.
In light of our Gluten Free Week, I suggest serving this very cute tomato mozzarella salad idea I picked up from the very talented graphic designer, Sarah Mangerson, last weekend.
For the craft this week, I have been working on making DIY striped watercolor thank you cards. There is just something about receiving a handmade card that makes a thank you even more special, don't you think?
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad Appetizer
What you need:
- grape tomatoes
- fresh mozzarella balls
- fresh basil
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
What you do:
Layer one tomato, one leaf of fresh basil, and one mozzarella ball onto a skewer. Repeat until you have the desired quantity of appetizers. Place on a serving platter and lightly drizzle olive oil over the stacked skewers. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
DIY Striped Watercolor Cards
What you need:
- white card stock paper (cut down to desired size)
- watercolor paint
- thin paintbrush
- cup of water (for paint)
- paper towels
What you do:
Cut down card stock to desired size. I chose a square format, but these stripes will work well for a rectangular card too. Choose your paint color(s). I experimented a bit with different shades. I used one that was all a bright orange, the second one I made was red and bright orange, and the third was a bright blue. Using the ruler and pencil make a mark on both sides for every 1/2". This will help you make straight lines. Use a scrap piece of card stock and line up the straight edge of card stock under the first set of markings (like you would a ruler to draw a straight line). Paint a thin line straight across. Carefully lift up the scrap card stock and line it up to the next set of markings and paint another line. I experimented quite a bit here using more or less water with the paint to make lighter and darker shades of the same hue. Once you reach the end you should have thin unpainted stripes. Go down again either using the same color or a different color and paint another set of stripes over the unpainted parts using your scrap card stock to keep your straight lines. Let the paint dry for 15 minutes before writing on the inside.
If you want a complete set of stationary go ahead and paint the inside flap of the envelope one solid shade. Send away!
A Greek Tradition for an American Holiday
Happy Thursday! Can you believe that Thanksgiving is only one week away?! Its officially time to buckle down and finalize our menu. As Greeks we always make sure to have a few traditional Greek dishes to side with our turkey and oyster stuffing. One of my favorites is my yiayia's spanakopita. I don't know what it is, but I have never had better spanakopita than my yiayia's. I love it. What is amazing about my yiayia is that she wasn't always a Greek, but you would never really know (except perhaps for her fair complexion) She actually came from an English background with a last name of Champion, but once she married my papou her lessons in Greek tradition began. Now she can roast a lamb with the best of them, uses only Greek oregano, attends Greek Orthodox church every Sunday, and has even learned how to speak a bit of Greek herself. Try this recipe out. I promise it will be better than anything you've had at any American Greek restaurant.
The craft this week is inspired by these mixing bowls I saw down in New Orleans at my favorite jewelry/home product designer's shop, Mignon Faget.
Photo: Mignon Faget
Mignon Faget is based out of New Orleans and is always on our list of places to visit when we go down there. I love the idea of making a cute set of mixing bowls with porcelain paints as a holiday gift for someone. I'm going to try something more on the graphic side like these bowls, but I'll bet they would look really beautiful with a more Italian pottery design too.
Happy cooking and crafting!
by Nancy Christy and Penelope Kookootsedes
What you need:
- 2 Lbs fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 1 Cup cottage cheese
- 4 Slices feta cheese, 1” thick
- 6 Eggs
- ¼ Cup water
- ¼ Cup Wesson oil
- 1 Stick margarine, melted
- 1 Stick butter, melted
- 1 Lb filo
- ¼ Tsp cinnamon
- 1 Pinch salt
- 1 Pinch pepper
What to do:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium skillet, sauté onion in water and Wesson oil until onion is golden brown.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs. Next add spinach, cottage cheese, and crumbled feta cheese. Mix for a minute. Add onion with oil and water slowly, mixing under low speed. Add cinnamon and mix.
Combine butter and margarine in small bowl. Paint the bottom of a 9” x 13” pan with butter and margarine. Carefully add one sheet of filo to pan and paint butter on top. Add enough spinach mixture to cover the sheet of filo. Then do 10 layers of filo/spinach. Make sure to butter the filo each layer. Cut in 2” squares. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then 350 degrees for one hour.
Pretty Painted Plates and Glasses
Last Sunday we hosted our second crafting workshop with Spacecraft. Not surprisingly we had a totally rad group of ladies that came to do a little eating, drinking, crafting, and chatting. For this workshop we used special porcelain and glass paints to decorate plates and wine glasses. I took forever trying to decide what to paint, but some of the other ladies jumped right in and knew exactly where they were going with their designs. I was quite impressed!
check out these super cute wine glasses!
The group designed everything from Crate & Barrel inspired flowered plates to initialed wine glasses to dragonflies. We were quite the crafters! We served yummy BLT dip (thanks to my dear friend Sandra) and one of my favorite desserts, Doctored Up Low-Fat Brownies. It was quite the success! We are already looking forward to our October workshop. Stay tuned for details over the next few weeks!
My lasso plate...
These guys are going to be perfect for all of our fall entertaining over the upcoming months!!!
Happy cooking and crafting!
Kid Week: Crafts and Recipes
Hello! Since it's Kid Week here at THURSDAYS, I'd like to share some fun activities to keep those kiddos' hands busy. I found so many great crafts, and managed to narrow it down to three of my favorites. I hope these ideas will capture the imagination of not only the kids in our lives, but us as well! Happy Crafting!
Ice Cube Painting.
Painting on fabric with ice cubes seems like the perfect end-of-summer activity for kids! I came across this fun idea on Share & Remember and I love how beautifully the fabric turned out. It's as simple as adding watercolor paint to water in ice cube trays, freezing them, and heading outdoors for some fun!
Images via Share & Remember
Images via Mini-eco
Natural dye for homemade playdough.
I had to include one more craft from Mini-eco! In this post, Kate shares a great recipe for natural playdough, including how to add color from natural dyes extracted from strawberries, tumeric, oak tree bark, rose petals and others.
Images via Mini-eco
Ode to Our Moms
Today is Friday (whoop! whoop!) and it is officially time to prepare for Mother's Day. Colleen and I very fortunate to have two of the greatest moms ever, so we are dedicating today's blog to our moms, Essie Reilly and Pam Christy. Thank you for always encouraging us to work hard and to follow our dreams. Without you there would be no Colleen and Stephania and therefore no Thursdays (and then where would the world be? :)
Now if you are anything like me, the term 'procrastinator' may ring a bell. I keep this daily calendar by my desk to write down my 'to-do-list' each day and I can't tell you how often I have to rewrite the tasks from the day before on the present day. It typically gets to the point where I'm highlighting and boxing the task I've been pushing off to the side with permanent marker, making it impossible to ignore for another day. Over the years, I've found that there are a few ways to get around this little procrastination issue. Colleen and I, for example, have set up a lovely system where we give each other our birthday presents around four to six months after our birthdays. I'm a big fan of our agreement because I always end up getting something super cool when I least expect it. However, when it comes to Mother's Day procrastination just doesn't fly. Thankfully, I have two younger sisters that initiate the present buying responsibilities for the year. We email each other different links until we find something that we are sure our mom will just love.
When the big day arrives my mom is thrilled about her new outfit and then comes my mom's annual tradition of family yard work. Does anyone else have this tradition where their moms? Helping my mom out with her garden for the day is her real present. We all get on our 'yard work' clothes on and my mom hands out gardening gloves, spades, and bulbs. She directs us to our designated spot in the yard and we plant away all afternoon long. By the end of the day our yard looks fantastic and my mom is quite pleased with herself and her yard.
Since I can't make it to Indy to be with my mom's for Mother's Day this year, I've decided to make her garden related gifts. I'll be making her fabric garden markers and our Pretty Pretty Flower Pot. I first saw the idea of fabric garden markers on Design Sponge awhile back and thought I would try my own version of them. I'm so happy with the way they turned out, that I'll be making a few more over the weekend. These garden markers are actually pretty simple to make and are a great project for using some of your scrap fabric. I suggest mixing and matching the fabric to have an assortment of flags.
Happy Mother's Day!
Stephania & Colleen
Fabric Garden Markers
by Stephania Stanley
What you need:
- 1'x1' scrap fabric
- 1'x1' Pellon's Craft-Fuse (iron on fusible interfacing)
- fabric pencil
- fabric scissors
- 1 8.5"x11" iron-on transfer sheet
- 1 3/16" x 38" dowel rod
- fabric glue
- ruler (optional)
What to do:
Using a ruler and fabric pencil draw 6 equally shaped triangles onto the Craft-Fuse. Next, draw a rectangle on each flat side of the triangle that is about 1/2" wide; This will be the part that will wrap around the dowel rod. Next cut out the triangles (with the extra rectangles) and following the directions on the Pellon package iron the Craft-Fuse onto the backside of the fabric. Next cut the triangular shapes out. Now following the directions on the iron-on transfer package, print off your garden labels and iron them onto your flags. Cut the dowel rod down to 6" pieces. Spread a thin strip of glue (about the width of a pencil eraser) on the rectangular portion of the backside of the flag and carefully wrap the rectangular flap around. If the corners of the flap show on the sides of the triangle, simply trim them off. Secure the flag onto the dowel rod by sewing one vertical line down the side (close to the dowel rod). Let them dry for about ten minutes and then they are ready to go!
Boys Like Thursdays Too
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DIY Hosting Decor
DIY Interior Design
Textile and Sewing Projects
Boys Like Thursdays Too
Our Favorite Things