Paint it Black : Press Play and Party

summer night party inspired by The Rolling Stones 'Paint it Black'I’m SO ready for summer!!  I mean, we really didn’t have a winter this year but still.  Don’t long, warm days sound fantastic?  There is something about a warm, sunny day that makes me immediately turn on classic rock.  I think I grew up in the wrong time period.    Gah, the music and fashion?!  LOVE!  So as I was sitting on the computer the other day, as close to a window as I could without actually being outside so I could still see the computer screen, The Rolling Stones ‘Paint it Black’ came on.  Boom.  Such a good song (is that a sitar?  One of my kids is probably going to have to learn how to play that).  A little dark maybe but perfect for outdoor entertaining at dusk.  All you need is a rustic wood table, some great vintage glassware, simple flowers and candles and pretty girls in hippie clothes.  I think my summer entertaining is going to be all about ease and going with the flow.  No stress.  Last minute invites to keep myself from over thinking everything.  Maybe trying out new cocktails or recipes but not getting worked up if they don’t work out.  Anyone think I can pull that off?  Maybe with a lot of rose…

Gorg lowball glass  .  pretty white flowers  .  rustic wood table  .  candles and flowers  .  girl in the desert

Salami and Peperoncini Pizza

I’d like to just take a second to acknowledge the fact that this is my 1,000th post.  Wow!  Do they make a card for that?  I’d also like to say Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

I took my favorite sandwich and turned it in to a sandwich.  Salami and pepperoncini with a garlic butter sauce.  Make it. I’ve been meaning to post this Salami and Peperoncini pizza recipe for a while now.  I basically took my favorite sandwich, that my grandmother used to make for us, and turned it in to a pizza.  So I would keep buying the ingredients, and then my family would eat them all up, in sandwich form, before I could try this out!  The nerve.  But I finally timed it just right so I could actually give it a try.

This pizza is super simple and super tasty. Haters gonna hate but I love Boboli.  It is the perfect way to make making homemade pizzas even easier.  I love that it never gets soggy.  I love the flavor and I love that it lets me be sort of lazy.  And I also love that it is a little breadier than others which I think works perfect in this case since this is based on a sandwich anyway.  The only real prep work I had to do for this was cut the onion which is optional anyway.

This store-bought garlic butter makes a perfect base for a nontraditional pizza.I looked around online trying to find a garlic-buttery sauce to make for the base.  But then I saw the garlic and herb flavor Saute Express when I was at the store and decided to give that a shot.  It worked perfectly.  (This is not in any way sponsored.  I just think this was a great addition to the pizza.  It is also the only way I have ever used this product so I can’t vouch for how it works the way it was intended).

I heart pre made pizza crusts.  They are perfect for easy weeknight meals.  I just melted the garlic and herb butter and spread it on the crust.

A fun twist on pizza night.  Salami and pepper pizza with garlic butter. And then I layered on the ingredients.  I used an Italian cheese mix that included provolone (which is what the sandwiches are usually made with).  The peperoncinis were pre-sliced, I just drained them a second on a paper towel.  And then I added the sliced red onion to half the pizza so I could try it with and without.  The onions are the one ingredient that I would sometimes leave off my sandwich and sometimes leave on.  On this particular day I was pretty indifferent to them.  But I tell you what, I ate that whole pizza.  On a side note I think I have a minor food allergy to onions.  Self diagnosed of course.  But if I have a minor headache and then eat onions it never goes away no matter what I take.  And sometimes I think they give me a headache.  WTF onions?

Salami and pepper pizza with garlic butter sauce.Would you ever try this?  Or are you a pizza purist?  I am totally in to nontraditional pizzas but the rest of my family…not so much.  In the future I should probably make this on the individual sized crusts so I don’t end up in a carb coma.

Salami and Pepperoncini pizza.  So good! This is good.  Real good.  I will be making this again.

FYI, this recipe is super vague.

Salami and Peperoncini Pizza

Ingredients

  • One pizza crust (I used Boboli but can be homemade or another brand of pre-made crust)
  • One cube Garlic and Herb flavored Saute Express (or homemade garlic butter sauce - find your own dang recipe...)
  • Package of sliced Salami (I use the prepackaged kind but your deli counter will also have some)
  • Up to 2 cups of shredded Italian cheese mix with provolone (the mix usually also includes mozzarella, and asiago plus one or two others)
  • Sliced peperoncinis (Found by the pickles - the ones I use are by Mezzetta and say "Deli-Sliced Golden Greek Peperoncini
  • Red onion, thinly sliced.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 ish degrees (as per instructions on your pizza crust. If you are making a homemade crust I might par bake it before putting on the toppings.)
  2. Melt one cube of Garlic and Herb flavored Saute Express.
  3. Brush or spoon garlic butter on to pizza crust.
  4. Top with Italian cheese mix (up to 2 cups - your preference)
  5. Top with salami slices, sliced peperoncini and red onion if you are using.
  6. Bake until melty and golden in spots.
http://www.cupcakesandcutlery.com/salami-and-peperoncini-pizza/

 

A Perfect Instagram Moment

dirty-side-of-blogging-logoA beautifully styled instagram post by A Fabulous FeteI am SO happy to have Lauren on the blog today.  You see that perfectly perfect, styled photo above?  Lauren puts out the most gorgeous Instagram photos.  Style just comes so naturally to her.  But guess what is just outside even her perfect shot…

This is what is just outside of a perfectly styled instagram photo by A Fabulous Fete.See the red shoes on top of  the white dresser below the window?  That is the beginning stages of a perfectly lovely shoe shot.  I totally appreciate Lauren sharing this with me.  I love that we can all keep it really real.

Do any of you have photos of your dirty side of blogging?  I’m taking submissions!  Email me!  cupcakesandcutlery at gmail dot com.

 

5 Blogging Rules I am Breaking

Some rules are made to be broken.  Especially when they stress you out and make you compare yourself to others. I recently came to a conclusion about my blogging career.  It stresses me out too much.  I feel like there are a ton of us out there in this same exact stage.  We have decided to take our “hobby” and turn it in to a business.  But for a lot of us, it isn’t easy.  What once was my creative outlet is now a chore.  And while some of the “rules” are self-imposed (especially since I am my own boss – and trust me, I can be a total bitch), the to-do list to achieve success is never-ending.  After a few months of really spinning my wheels I decided to look long and hard at what the heck I’m doing here.  Things needed to change.  Here are the rules I am currently breaking.  In the name of happiness, I encourage you to do the same.

Sometimes your notebook stays empty a long time when you are deciding on what you want to do with your blog.Your Brand Identity is Everything.

I struggle with the branding for my blog and how to best get across who I am and what I am all about to the readers.  The branding leaders within the blogging realm will tell you that everything needs to be cohesive and well-defined and blanket all media channels.  Each and every thing you post, utter, share should perfectly reflect your brand.  People blog for different reasons.  And all of them are right.  For me, I blog because I enjoy sharing the things I like and what I am experiencing.  I just can’t commit to the idea that when I am on Pinterest I am only supposed to pin the things that perfectly reflect my brand aesthetics.  Guess what?  Not every super delicious sounding recipe comes with a great image.  Of course I want my boards to look nice but I like what I like and I’m not afraid to show it.  Especially for Pinterest, I am breaking this rule.  What “brand” has two thumbs and a home to manage?  This gal.  So if I want to pin a toilet bowl cleaning tip, I’m going to.  If that makes someone not want to learn more about me than so be it.  But guess who’s toilet is going to be cleaner…(Oh! and I found this great article that breaks down the difference between your brand and your identity.)

summer vacation.  girl's trip.  leopard and tans.Pick a Blog Category

It has been said that readers have a hard time following lifestyle bloggers because they really don’t know what to expect in the way of posting topics from day-to-day.  I totally understand that.  But this gal is in to a lot of different things.  All of which I want to share with you.  I get that all of you don’t enjoy Abe Lincoln as much as I do but this is my place to share my love of him.  Some days I want to share what my kids are doing.  Some days I want to talk about cocktails.  And I think that is ok.  I don’t think I have to pick just one avenue.  I realize that may hinder me in some respects (I’m guessing a lot of food companies would love to work with food bloggers).  And maybe a wine company doesn’t want me to post about their wine and then my kids the next day (truth: they go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong).  But I am ok with that.

Fabric floral tassels with gold fringeAnalyze your Analytics

I look at my blog traffic numbers once a day.  And then I don’t do anything with them.  If I stressed about hitting certain numbers I think it would take me so far away from what I want to do that I would eventually hate blogging and want to fight it in an alley.  So I take my numbers with a grain of salt.  While my traffic has gotten me more in the way of  affirmation from other bloggers and more notice from brands, it is not everything to me.  I need to create content that I enjoy.  If I followed what my analytics said were my readers favorite posts, I would be doing crafts all day.  My kids do not allow for many craft DIY style posts.  They are too time consuming and require a lot of pieces and work.  I would much prefer to make a cocktail.  Or something I can eat right when it is done being photographed.  Of course I want to keep my readers happy but I need to be happy too.  The times when I have really focused on my traffic I have been able to grow it.  Then I get burnt out and take a break and they go back down.  What really is the point?

Sometimes we get so caught up in blogging that the world literally passes us by.Blogging is all About the Money

Sometimes you make money from blogging.  Sometimes you pay an awful lot of money to keep your blog going.  When I decided to make a push towards turning it in to more of a job, money was a big bench mark for my success.  Given the number of usable hours I have in a day (I’m useless before the hours of 5 am and after 8 pm plus whatever time my family needs my attention) I found that I couldn’t do it all.  Either I created good content, or pitched new business or updated a social media platform.  I have to choose.  And right now I have to be ok with that.  Those two little boys above are not going to wait for my blogging world to get sorted out.  I literally started to feel like the world was just passing me by.  It can’t just be about the money.  It has to be fulfilling too (in whatever way you deem it so).  At my blogging level, we are encouraged to never work for free, never take a free product without further compensation and ask for triple what you have been getting.  I think it needs to be up to each person to decide what is right for them.  I was on a high horse about this for about a month and then realized I was being stupid.  Once I figured that out the heart palpitations stopped and I felt some creativity coming back.  A few day drinks to help celebrate a friend’s birthday helped too.

a mess of brightly colored macarons.Put your Best Photos Forward

I have loved photography since I was in high school.  I think it is an amazing way to tell a story and is an artistic medium that I feel pretty comfortable with.   But sometimes I think we get so stuck on the fact that something isn’t a “good enough” photo that we don’t want to share it.  The other night I was making a yummy shrimp recipe.  I had already started cooking it when I decided it would be something I thought my readers might enjoy.  With a styled photo shoot out of the question, I took some simple photos of it on my plate – my normal dinner plate not one from my prop closet.  But they aren’t the prettiest.  Do I share them knowing that some folks wouldn’t find them pinnable?  The amount of time it would take me to set up that recipe just isn’t worth it.  Especially since the recipe is a quick meal!  I’m going to share it.  Maybe next week.  It would be dumb for me not to share it because it isn’t styled as pretty as some of my other posts.  That is not a choice that all bloggers will make but for me I think it is right.  I don’t see it as putting out a lower quality post.  I see it as being practical and real.  It would be awesome if all my posts could look perfect.  It just isn’t always possible.

Thanks for letting me share this with you.  I have been really stressing about it for a while and feel like talking about it has let some of the tension go.  Are you willing to break “the rules” to be happier?

Layering Home Accessories

Layering accessories in your living room

 

I’m doing it.  I am legitimately sort of making over my living room.  I am not buying all new furniture or anything like that but I am trying to make it more homey and also fit my husband’s and my style better.  I was over at Lauren’s house last week and it is so easy to shoot blog photos there.  The reason is because there are little styled vignettes all around her house.  I am certain that such styled areas would not work in my house thanks to 4 very busy little boy hands, but I think that is key to having a house feel more lived in. It is also a way to showcase your style.  The items above would totally make my living room feel like “me”.  Trust me, my husband will be represented too.  He likes all this stuff.  He just doesn’t know it yet.  Wink.

The thing I noticed about Lauren’s house is that she layers different textures and colors and it appears effortless.  A stack of books is the perfect vase for a tray topped with a picture frame and candle.  A mix of throw blankets make the couch seem super inviting.  And plants.  She usually has fresh flowers or succulents in and around her living room.  I love how it feels (although all of my stuff is going to be fake since I have a black thumb and flower allergies.)

Tiered stand with succulents  .  Voluspa Candle  .  Michelle Armas art canvas  .  Abe Lincoln bust  .  Bleached picture frame  . Fashionable Selby  .   Fleur Wood – Food Fashion and Friends  .  Ikat fleece throw  .  Gold splatter acrylic box  .  Black faceted tray

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