DIY Throwback: Glitter Skulls

Hey, all. It’s two days before Halloween and because we’re still potentially preparing to maybe sell our house and have put a ban on all New Stuff, I’ve not done a single DIY project. The weight of the emptiness is crushing my soul. I’ve attempted to channel my extra creative energy into cooking, which has been fun, but I still really miss my spray paint.

In the absence of something new to share, I thought it’d be fun to look back at the very first DIY project I ever posted on Glitter & Goat Cheese. Can you believe these glitter skulls are from more than three years ago?

DIY glitter skulls (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

DIY gold glitter skull (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)
Get the instructions here.

In the original post, I vowed to keep my glitter skulls out past Halloween, and I’ve been true to my word. Those little guys are still on display in my living room, along with my very precious ceramic gold skull (which Z Gallerie still sells, by the way!).

Gold Morton Skull from Z Gallerie (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

Have any of you done any fabulous Halloween DIYs? Please, share them and let me live vicariously through you.

Kale Salad with Chicken, Bacon and Israeli Couscous

I don’t mean to brag, but I really love kale. I know – what an asshole. So many people struggle to eat enough of the bitter superfood, and I just happen to totally dig it. It’s downright obnoxious, but I promise, I don’t take this blessing for granted.

Because I love it and know how healthy it is, I try to eat kale as often as possible – in smoothies, in pasta, in soup – any way I can. My very favorite way to eat kale, though, is salad. My husband always makes fun of me because I’ll make a meal out of any ingredients I like, whether they go together or not, but I think the ingredients in this salad are extremely well-matched, despite the fact that I cobbled them together from whatever I could find in my kitchen.

I always start with a big bowl of regular kale. None of that baby kale crap. I remove most of the bigger ribs.

A big bowl of kale (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

Right off the bat, I drizzle it with a little olive oil, a healthy helping of fresh lemon juice and some sea salt.

Kale drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

Then, I massage the kale for two to three minutes, until it’s softened and a bit wilted.

See how much it’s reduced?
Softening kale with olive oil lemon juice and sea salt (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

Once that process is complete, I set the kale aside to continue soaking up the oily-lemony-salty goodness while I prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Whole wheat Israeli couscous (or pearl couscous) is another one of my very favorite things. It’s more versatile than the teeny couscous, in my opinion – much better in salads. My grocery store carries one by RiceSelect, but I’ve seen a few other brands. Trust me, it’s worth the search! Just one tip: like many whole wheat pastas, it can be a little bland-tasting on its own, so I always cook mine in chicken broth.

For this salad, I make about 3/4 cup of couscous, and I cut up a whole pint of grape tomatoes.

Halved grape tomatoes (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

For my protein, I tear four slices of turkey bacon into little bite-sized pieces, and I use whatever chicken breast is left over in my fridge. (For this particular salad, I used some that Brad had made for shawarma the night before, but the nutmeg was an odd fit – I might not recommend it.) If I’m grilling the chicken specifically for this salad, I just mix up some extra lemon mustard vinaigrette to marinate it with.

Making salad dressing is an art in my kitchen, not a science. Every time I try to use exact measurements, I just screw it up. This is my best guess, though: 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, one tablespoon lemon juice, one tablespoon dijon mustard, one teaspoon minced garlic. Add to small bowl and whisk. Salt and pepper to taste.

Lemon mustard vinaigrette dressing to go with kale salad (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

I toss all the ingredients and dressing together with my softened kale …

Kale salad with lemon mustard vinaigrette, chicken breast, bacon and Israeli couscous (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

And I serve it with a very generous helping of shaved parmesan.

Kale, chicken, bacon and Israeli couscous salad with lemon mustard vinaigrette (via Glitter and Goat Cheese)

Let’s be honest – everything in life needs a generous helping of shaved parmesan.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Kale salad with bacon chicken Israeli couscous and lemon mustard vinaigrette

Side note: If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I recently chipped my front tooth while enthusiastically trying to lick the last bit of Israeli couscous off a bowl. Yes, this is that Israeli couscous, and the mixing bowl you see in this post is the bone-breaking culprit. While I would recommend using utensils to eat this salad like a civilized human being, I’m hoping my tale of woe tells you just how delicious this salad is. I mean, I wanted to finish it so badly that I smashed a bowl into my face. So, uh … give it a try. Go kale!

A Woman’s Right to Choose Her Face

About five years ago, my right eyelid started to droop. It probably happened gradually, but one day, I looked in the mirror and it was all I could see. Before long, it was the first thing I spotted in every photo. I looked tired, or drunk, or stoned, or just plain weird. Most people in my life assured me it wasn’t noticeable, but to me, it was my most prominent feature.

For a while, I tried to just accept myself the way I was, just like we women are supposed to. But as time passed, I found myself stepping aside when a camera was pointed in my direction. I kept cute group shots stored on my phone instead of posting them on Facebook. I avoided looking in the mirror later in the day, when the droop was at its worst. (And for the record, I’m a person who used to love being photographed and looking in the mirror. No shame.)

Before you tell me you’ve never noticed it, please consider the fact that I’ve made every effort to hide it from you – for example, posting the selfie on the left instead of the one on the right when I wanted to show off my new haircolor…
Glitter and Goat Cheese - Hiding ptosis in selfies
And only posting a tiny version of this photo in a larger collage …
Glitter and Goat Cheese - More ptosis in a photo with my husband
Those are nowhere near the worst – I still can’t bring myself to post a photo where the droop is really bad.

Finally, last spring, I was at my annual optometrist appointment, and my doctor noticed my eyelid. He said, “I see you have ptosis in your right eye. Had you had it checked out?”

Ptosis. The scourge upon my self image was a real thing, and it had a name. It wasn’t in my imagination and it wasn’t just a cosmetic imperfection to be accepted and ignored.

My eye doctor sent me to a surgeon, who did some tests. She determined that my ptosis was affecting my vision and that repairing it would most likely be partially covered by my insurance.

Even so, I felt ashamed to even consider it. I mean, I can see. My vision is fairly decent when I’m wearing my contacts or glasses, and I’d most likely need them regardless of the droopy eyelid. Though ptosis is a medical condition, the procedure would certainly be elective. And as women, we’re told that elective procedures to change our appearance make us vain, and shallow, and inauthentic.

So, when the surgeon ordered blood work to rule out a few potential causes for the ptosis, I took it as an excuse to drop the whole thing. Having blood drawn has always made me nervous; I once nearly passed out at a blood drive. Avoiding that kind of situation seemed to be a valid excuse.

But over the past year and a half, I haven’t found myself any closer to accepting my facial asymmetry. I still cringe when I see myself, and I’m starting to realize that it’s not OK to feel that way. This isn’t an issue with my inherent self-esteem or self-worth. I’ve been to therapy – this isn’t the kind of thing we discuss. This isn’t a problem with my mind. It’s a problem with my face, and I can fix it. So I’m going to.

There’s been a lot of discussion about altering one’s natural appearance lately. Maria Del Russo at Refinery29 has written about whether #NoMakeupSelfies are throwing shade at women who choose to wear cosmetics and followed up with a piece on makeup bullying. BuzzFeed recently posted two social experiments: one that featured an editor going sans makeup for a week, and another with a usually natural staff member trying the opposite. Both posts had mixed responses, with readers criticizing both sides. And of course, we’ve all got something to say about Renee Zellwegger’s new face.

Personally, I love makeup. Every morning, I apply my HAC like warpaint, following up with a filled-in brow, perhaps a subtle smokey eye, maybe a bold new lipstick shade. It’s one of my favorite daily rituals, and when I miss it, it affects me deeply.

This isn’t because society has taught me that I have to be aesthetically perfect (or as close to it as possible) to be a worthwhile person. I don’t have poor self-esteem when it comes to my physical appearance in general – in fact, I rather like my face (minus the droopy eyelid). I just like it more with makeup on. When I’ve done a good job on my makeup, I feel like the best version of myself. And when I feel like that, it makes everything else a little easier.

I’ve seen the studies that say both men and woman prefer a more natural look on others. The problematic implication is that women should consider how other people will respond to their face before they decide what to do with it. Similarly, after I got married, I had several male coworkers ask me why I still put so much effort into my appearance, since I’d already snared a man. I won’t even get into how vastly offensive that sentiment is.

The fact is, there are many women who wear makeup or style their hair or dress up for themselves. For the most part, I’m one of them. I want to like what I see when I look in the mirror. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love my husband and his opinion matters to me. But I don’t wear makeup for him. I do it for me.

Every woman should have the right to choose the best version of herself. Whether that version colors her hair purple or lets her gray roots show, goes bare-faced or piles on three coats of mascara, embraces her wrinkles or plumps them up with Botox – it’s her business. It’s about what makes her happy.

For the record, I think Renee Zellwegger looks nice. But I doubt she cares about my opinion. Her face – whatever she’s done to it or not done to it – isn’t for me or for any other blogger or Bridget Jones fan. It’s for her.

This week, I should get my blood work back and will hopefully move onto the next step toward getting my droopy eyelid repaired. I’ve already been told by several people that I’m crazy and my face looks “fine.” Honestly, I don’t really care. It’s not for them. It’s for me.

Penne alla Vodka with Prosciutto & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I’m very lucky to have an Italian husband. I’m even luckier to have an Italian husband whose mother taught him to cook. And it’s a good thing, because when I met Brad, I knew how to make three things: scrambled eggs, stove-popped popcorn and stir fry. Lord knows what we’d be eating if he hadn’t shared his skills with me.

I think I’m a decent cook now, but Brad’s the sauce master of the family, so when it came time to celebrate National Pasta Month, I begged him to make his famous vodka sauce so that I could share it here on the blog. And obviously, so that I could eat it.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Penne alla Vodka with Prosciutto and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Of course, the internet has no shortage of vodka sauce recipes, so I suggested we set it apart by adding prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes. We were both skeptical when we saw how chunky the sauce looked, but in the end … oh, mama. This stuff is what dreams are made of.

Like so many dreamy things, Brad’s vodka sauce starts with extra virgin olive oil. He sauteed the onion first, then added the prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes. The minced garlic went in last.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Sauteed onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto

Next, he added canned San Marzano tomatoes, tomato paste, vodka and fresh oregano.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Cooking vodka sauce with prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes

After simmering the sauce and allowing it to thicken, he stirred in heavy cream. By the way: I never promised this recipe would be healthy.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Adding cream to vodka sauce

The sauce then simmered and thickened some more while we cooked the penne. Yum.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - Vodka sauce with prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes

We served the pasta with some parmesan and fresh basil. And we each ate two giant bowlfuls because enjoying good vodka sauce is much more important than being able to fit into your pants.

Penne alla vodka with sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto - by Glitter and Goat Cheese

Vodka Sauce with Prosciutto & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Serves 4
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Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion (we used sweet)
  3. 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and coarsely chopped
  4. 8 ounces prosciutto, cut into half-inch ribbons
  5. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  6. 1 (28-ounce) can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  7. 1 (6-ounce) can of tomato paste
  8. 1/2 cup vodka
  9. 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped OR 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  10. 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
Instructions
  1. 1. Coat large, heavy pan with olive oil and heat to medium-high. Add onions and saute about 3 minutes, or until slightly softened.
  2. 2. Add sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. 3. Add garlic and saute until it has just begun to turn golden brown, about 1 minute.
  4. 4. Stir in the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, vodka and fresh oregano. Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer 20-25 minutes, until thickened.
  5. 5. Stir in the heavy cream (make sure it's at room temperature). Continue to simmer 15-20 minutes.
  6. Serve over your desired pasta and add salt and pepper to taste.
Notes
  1. This sauce is very thick and chunky. If you'd prefer it to be thinner, use 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes and 4 oz. prosciutto instead (or just leave them out entirely).
glitter & goat cheese http://www.glitterandgoatcheese.com/

My Favorite Modern DIY Light Fixtures

Since we started thinking about moving to Brooklyn, I’ve been reading a lot about how to personalize a rental apartment. We’ve rented in the past, but after a few years of beefing up our home improvement experience, I feel like we’re much better equipped to make changes now.

One update that can be quick and easy (assuming that the wiring isn’t a total mess) is swapping out a light fixture. It made a huge difference in our kitchen, and we’d definitely consider doing it again. So, I’ve been gathering a few of my favorite DIY light fixtures. I’m especially digging the recent influx of modern geometric pieces. Check out my faaaves.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - DIY modern light fixtures

1. Black Chandelier with Gold-Dipped Bulbs by Sarah M. Dorsey Designs
Sarah M Dorsey Designs - DIY modern chandelier with gold-dipped bulbs
This light fixture was inspired by a $3300 chandelier and only cost $100 to make. Plus, those bulbs! Get more information.

2. Wall Sconce Task Light by Vintage Revivals
Vintage Revivals - DIY Wall Sconce Task Light
Mandi made this out a Target lamp, wooden dowels and a few copper elbows. Get the tutorial.

3. Lindsey Adelman “You Make It” Chandelier
Lindsey Adelman You Make It Chandelier
Lindsey Adelman‘s chandeliers are amazing. They’re also very expensive. Luckily, she created a DIY-able version. Tons of brave bloggers have created their own, and you could be next! See photos of completed kits here, get the instructions here, and buy a kit with all the parts here.

4. Lindsey Adelman You Make It Mobile
Lindsey Adelman - You Make It Mobile
Our angel Lindsey Adelman didn’t stop at chandeliers – she also provided instructions for this mobile. See photos here, and click “PRICING” for links to buy parts. Get the instructions here.

5. DIY Woven Wood Veneer Pendant by Poppytalk
Poppy Talk Blog - DIY Wood Globe Light Fixture
Make this pendant with wood veneer strips and an Ikea Hemma cord set.

6. Geometric Brass Pendant by Weekdaycarnival
Weekdaycarnival - DIY brass geometric pendant
This one is easier than it looks – just buy some brass tubes, tie them together with twine and bend them into your desired shape(s). The link to the concrete lamp kit doesn’t go anywhere right now, but I think it’d look just as good using a plain base. Get more information here.

7. Pipe Light Fixture by The Gathered Home
The Gathered Home - DIY Pipe Light Fixture
For something just a little more traditional, I like this simple pipe chandelier. See the tutorial.

8. Multi-faceted Geometric Light Fixture from Style Me Pretty
Style Me Pretty - Geometric Gold Light Fixture DIY
Think this one’s made with more brass tubes? NOPE. IT’S STRAWS. And the whole project only cost $10. Get the instructions here.

9. Statement Pendant by Sarah M. Dorsey Designs
Sarah M Dorsey Designs - Fluorescent Diffuser Statement Light Fixture DIY
I’m not gonna lie: this one intimidates me. The cool shapes that surround the bulbs are made fluorescent light diffuser and plaster of paris. Looks pretty amazing though, right? Here’s the tutorial.

10. Hanging Bulb Chandelier by Love & Renovations
Love and Renovations - DIY chandelier with glass globe bulbs
My old wedding blogging buddy Amanda and her husband made this mind-blowing chandelier a couple years ago, and I still marvel at it. Get the instructions.

11. Hammered Metal Pendant by Precious Me
Preciously Me - Black and Gold Hammered Pendant DIY
This is another oldie-but-a-goodie, and it’s super simple. It’s made with that hammered Ikea bowl you always pass in the garden section and think “I love that, but do I need another bowl?” You do, because this one is meant to be a pendant light. Here’s the tutorial.

12. Arrow Light Fixture from Design*Sponge
Design Sponge - Arrow light fixture DIY
The decorative arrows set this one apart from the brass light fixture pack. Get the instructions.

13. Dodecahedron Pendant Light by View Along the Way
View Along the Way - DIY dodecahedron pendant light
The tutorial for this one hurts my brain – it requires a digital protractor, and I barely know what a protractor is – but if you’re feeling courageous, get it, girl. Here are the instructions.

14. Embroidery Hoop Pendant by Dear Emmeline
Dear Emmeline - Embroidery hoop DIY light fixture
I’ve seen a lot of DIY orb lights made out of metal, but I like the warmer tone of this wood version made with embroidery hoops. Get the tutorial.

15. Gold Sunburst Flushmount Fixture by Simple Details
Simple Details - DIY gold sunburst flushmount light fixture
Uh, genius. This is just a cheap flushmount fixture mounted inside of a sunburst mirror frame. Get the instructions.

16. Wood and Brass Hanging Hoop Pendant by Vintage Revivals
Vintage Revivals - DIY wood and brass hanging hoop pendant
Wood and brass. Yesssssssss. Make a bunch and cluster them together! Here’s the tutorial.

17. Hanging Pendant Sconce from One Kings Lane
One Kings Lane - DIY hanging light bulb sconce
This one’s super simple, but what’s great about it is that it doesn’t require hard-wiring – it just mounts on the wall with a couple screws and then plugs into an outlet. Perfect for renters. Get the tutorial.

18. Copper Pipe Icosahedron Light Fixture by The Gathered Home
The Gathered Home - DIY copper pipe icosahedron light fixture
Geometry is involved in this. But it looks like it’s worth the effort. Here are the instructions.

19. Gold Branch Light by Little Green Notebook
Little Green Notebook - DIY gold branch light
This one has shorter arms (legs?) than some of the others, which makes it a little subtler and lower-profile. I’m into it. Get the tutorial.

20. Copper and Wood Hanging Chandelier by Vintage Revivals
Vintage Revivals - Copper and wood chandelier DIY
This guy’s made from a wood utensil caddy and bowl from Target, plus some copper pipes and stuff, and it’s SO. GOOD. Get the instructions.

21. Brass Chandelier from One Kings Lane
One Kings Lane - Brass chandelier DIY
This brass chandelier kind of reminds me of a baby mobile, except way more glam and awesome. Does anyone else see it? Here’s the tutorial.

So, you gonna give one a try? I think I might!