Friday, November 21, 2014

Over on eHow: DIY Himmeli Christmas Tree Star Topper

If you keep up with us on Instagram, you might already know my Sunday night consisted of sock weather, a lit fireplace and a pile of Slurpee straws as I worked out a prototype for this year's Christmas tree topper. Little did Tim know it would mean he'd need to climb up into the cold attic to retrieve one of our faux Christmas tree topiaries for a little early holiday staging, ha!

Himmeli-style decorations originated in Finland, are typically crafted from straws and hang as ornaments or mobiles. I'd gotten hooked on the Himmeli process for making geometric sculptures when tackling these diamond mobile shapes to use a decorations for a good friend's baby shower over the summer. We took the same basic concept and turned it up a notch by using brass metal tubing to construct a more durable and permanent decoration.

We're both really happy with how it turned out. I made it using brass tubes and wire from the hardware store, and was able to detail out the full process, which can be found in our latest project post for eHow.

During the off-season, this star design could work just as well as a modern geometric sculpture to display on a desk, mantle or entryway.

Head on over to eHow to see more pictures of how this Himmeli star turned out with step by step instructions for making one of your own.

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Jalapeño & Chorizo: Kicked Up Grilled Macaroni and Cheese Sandwich

Ever since stumbling across this grilled macaroni and cheese sandwich a couple weeks back, we haven't been able to get the idea out of our minds. Yep, a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with macaroni and cheese — we went there.

Last week while developing a kicked up jalapeño-chorizo mac and cheese recipe for Aftertaste, I ended up making way more than we could eat in a single serving to fill the casserole (#foodbloggerproblems), so as you can probably guess, I knew our own variation of this sandwich had to follow.

Once the mac was made, the sandwich was simple to put together with the reheated leftovers. In classic grilled cheese style, it's a matter of buttering a single side of two bread slices, and melting a tbsp of butter in a frying pan before laying one of the bread slices in, buttered side down. Top with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese before layering on a healthy scoop of the reheated mac and cheese. Cover mac and cheese with another slice of the sharp cheddar before laying the final slice of bread on top, buttered side up. Carefully flip and cook until each side is golden brown and the cheese is melty.

Slice and serve while hot and melty. The sandwich had a slight kick from the chorizo and jalapeño — definitely adding to the overall decadence of the dish.

This is certainly a "once every so often" kind of sandwich. It's pretty over the top, so we ended up splitting it...and enjoying every last guilty bite.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Best Bully Sticks Giveaway

Today we're excited to be hosting a giveaway for a complete Hearty & Healthy Box from Best Bully Sticks:

 Image courtesy of Best Bully Sticks

Best Bully Sticks is an all-natural dog treat company based out of Richmond, Virginia (yay for local!). While they have an extensive line of all sorts of dog products, they're known best for their specialty in all natural bully sticks made with 100% beef of free range, grass fed bulls with no added chemicals or preservatives.

Image courtesy of Best Bully Sticks

The Hearty & Healthy Box is part of Best Bully Sticks' new line of variety boxes. It contains a collection of chews and treats that offer healthy alternatives to bigger box brands. This treat collection would make a great holiday gift idea for any of the pups in your life and will come ready for gifting in this adorable holiday box:

 Image courtesy of Best Bully Sticks

Basil's a big fan of the Bully Sticks and Bully Flakes. You might remember we used the Bully Flakes to create Basil's new favorite dog treats:

Find the full collection of dog treat offerings from Best Bully Sticks in their online dog supply shop. Keep up with new products, natural recipes, news and promotions by following their blog, Facebook and Twitter pages.

- + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + Giveaway Details + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + -

One of our readers will win the complete Hearty & Healthy dog treat collection from Best Bully Sticks featured in today's giveaway. To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter form below — there are several options for you to choose from for entry. Feel free to use a few or all for more chances to win. For those unfamiliar with Rafflecopter, you fill in the fields using your choice of Facebook or your email, which is only used to contact the randomly selected winner (no spam) — it's that simple.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Our friends at Best Bully Sticks generously provided us with Hearty & Healthy dog treat collection for one lucky reader included in today's giveaway. All the thoughts and opinions are (as always) our own — thank you so much for supporting the partners that make 17 Apart possible.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Natural Dog Treat Recipe: Peanut Butter Protein Bites

While recently dreaming up new recipe ideas for homemade dog treats (that's a thing, right?), it dawned on me that I could use our mini muffin mold to make little bite sized "tarts" with a peanut butter filling.

Perhaps the question is, why was I dreaming up new treat recipes? In nutshell — Bully Flakes.

We'd recently cracked open a bag of these bully flakes from our friends at Best Bully Sticks. We're big fans of their Bully Sticks (you might remember when Basil first tried them in this post), so upon opening up the bag of flakes, weren't quite sure what to do with them outside of sprinkling them overtop his dry food.

The flakes are made from the same grass-fed, free-range beef as the sticks, are 100% digestible, high in protein and are typically used as a tasty food topper to help older or choosy dogs eat. As soon as we opened the bag, Basil came trotting into the kitchen to investigate what he was smelling.

The bully flakes look like sprinkles, which set off the lightbulb — they'd make a perfect topping for these little peanut butter tarts. The mini tarts turned out really well, so we're excited to share the recipe here for all the other dog lovers out there!

The recipe calls for minimal and all-natural ingredients and while these treats turn out looking pretty fancy, they are so simple to put together.

Please Note: as with all treats, it's best to let your pups enjoy while under your supervision. Different dogs react differently to ingredients, so keep a running list of your pup's allergies, avoiding those ingredients when making homemade treats.

Ingredients (makes 15 mini tarts):

  • 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup whole grain oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water
Combine crust ingredients in a mixing bowl, kneading with hands until forming a dough ball. Add additional water or flour as needed if dough feels overly sticky or dry. I just love the way you can see the oats and chunks of peanuts peeking through the dough.

Pinch and roll hunks from the dough ball to form smaller dough balls, eyeballing for fit in the mini muffin tin. Form tart crusts by pressing dough balls with your thumb, shaping to form around sides.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until tart crusts are dry and crispy.

Melt peanut butter in a microwave-safe dish for 20 seconds to make for easier pouring. Gently fill each tart shell with a spoonful of peanut butter — Basil say's don't be bashful! 

While the peanut butter is still a more liquid consistency, sprinkle bully flakes overtop each tart. Doing so will help the flakes stick to the finished tarts:

Chill in freezer for at least one hour to solidify the peanut butter and you're ready for the first taste test! I'm sure you'll have a little tail wagger eagerly standing by to get the first try :)

Store treats in a freezer-safe zipper bag for up to 2 weeks (if they last that long). The cool temps will help the peanut butter stay in solid form, which actually helps our vacuum, I mean quick-eater, savor them a bit longer.

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Sweet Potato & Oats Natural Dog Treats | All Dog Treat Recipes

Our friends at Best Bully Sticks generously provided us with the bully flakes used in today's dog treat recipe. The recipe, and thoughts on the flakes are (as always) our own — thank you so much for supporting the partners that make 17 Apart possible. Keep a lookout for a giveaway from Best Bully Sticks coming up soon!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fancy That!

Original image by Tori Watson, Marvelous Things Photography

Today we're back again, sharing all the smaller things we're into (or fancying, hence the series name) that might not fit into a single post for one reason or another. Sometimes there might be a long list of randomness, other times it might be a single gem — whatever the case, here's what we're into right now.

- Instagram to follow: Textile designer, woodworker, painter and general maker of things, Amelie Aancini.

- 8 cocktails for the holiday season

- Everything about this "window" headboard has my head spinning — would be fun to find some salvaged windows to recreate this architectural look.

- Enjoyed this recent post from Joanna Goddard on "dating older." I've always loved how she speaks candidly about the 13 year age difference in her marriage, and had a good laugh at the similarities we share surrounding those funny times the age gap does pop up.

- Now this is an amazing floor.

- Weekend project: DIY copper wall hooks

- Food network star, Alton Brown, recently made his way through Richmond and the road eats he tried along the way were all good ones to put on the try-list if your ever in #rva.

We're hanging around the house today since the Richmond Marathon road closures box us in each day this year. We do love living on the 8k route (1 block from the full route) and look forward to waking up to the sounds of runners passing through — this morning we snapped this shot of the view from our balcony looking down. Hope you're having a great weekend!

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Over on eHow: DIY Closet Door Gift Wrapping Station

We're getting on top of our organization game this holiday season, especially with the addition of this latest gift-wrapping storage system we installed along the interior closet door in Brandon's room.

The whole system was made using double curtain rod brackets and wooden dowels; all the project details are newly published in our latest project post for eHow. The curtain rod brackets are so great for a space like this since they extend out from the door and the double holes allow for twice the amount of rolls and ribbon (which makes Mary happy).

It might sound odd to install something like this in a bedroom, but the truth is, this room is more of a multi-functional space we use as Brandon's room when he comes to visit from college, a guest room and more regularly a makeshift office supply space, since we use the closet to hold office supplies. It works for us!

While our house has ample square footage, the storage space is deceptively lacking and we've had to come up with several creative solutions since moving in. Older homes like ours just weren't built with a ton of closet space or added storage — life must have been simpler and more furniture used for these sorts of things.

One thing's for sure — our downstairs hall closet (aka, dumping ground) is thanking us for this new bit of breathing room now that all of the gifting supplies have found a tidy new home upstairs.

Head on over to eHow to see more pictures of our new wrapping station with step by step instructions for making one of your own.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Third Annual 2014 Ledbury Quail Hunt

Saturday we spent the better part of the afternoon soaking in the crisp fall air and early sunset at Ledbury's 3rd annual Quail Hunt gathering.

For those unfamiliar, Ledbury is a luxury menswear brand rooted locally here in Richmond, but garnering global attention. I've had the chance to work with them on a recipe collaboration this past year, and was excited to attend this annual gathering.

While we didn't participate in the actual quail hunt, we had fun taking in the scenery at Orapax Hunting Preserve, where the event and reception took place. Orapax is located just outside Richmond in Goochland, Virginia — it's a plantation neither Mary nor I had been to before, so it was a lot of fun walking around the old barns and exploring the fields on the grounds.

Mary wanted to walk all around, and who am I kidding — I'd follow this gal anywhere...

Just beyond the Orapax barn and siloh sat the humble clubhouse, filled and surrounded by guys fresh from the hunt, recounting the ups and downs from their day.

Just beyond the clubhouse opened up into an almost indescribable view of open fields and woods, which was the setting for the Ledbury gathering to welcome the huntsman back from their pursuit. Bright flecks of neon would catch our eyes underneath the beautiful strands of string lights, signifying the hunters among all of us in the crowd.

There were picnic tables, hay bales and wooden adirondack chairs scattered around the grounds, but most attendees were on their feet, eager to partake in the handcrafted cocktails from local RVA bartenders:

For our first round, Mary opted for "The Winchester" while I went with "The Woodsman" — hey, if there's scotch involved, it's a no brainer for me.

We were greeted by blues tunes belted out by Josh Small and Andrew Alli. Mary loved the fact they were sitting atop a spread of Hudson Bay blankets (it's the details!):

Further off, there was a cleaning station where the quails from the hunt were prepared, and just along the waterfront was a freshly built bonfire setting that would later light up the early evening:

A few steps over we found chef Owen Lane and his wife, Tiffany, of The Magpie cooking up quite the southern spread over a makeshift kitchen of cinder blocks and a stainless steel sheet:

By the looks of the menu, I'm sure you can gather that everyone enjoyed this fall spread!


Guess who enjoyed the pumpkin custard the most?

To wrap up the afternoon, the bonfire was lit to the sounds of live music while roasted marshmallows over an open flame:

It was an incredible way to spend the crisp fall afternoon — we had such a great time and hope to go back again next year.

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