Homemade Sunflower Seeds

This past weekend I went and spent some time at the boyfriend’s parent’s house. I love going out there because his mom always has some kind of new project or recipe for us to take on. This time it was harvesting sunflower seeds!

I’ve snacked on countless bags of sunflower seeds on road trips and at the beach, but I can’t say I’d ever given much thought to where they actually came from. I mean, obviously they come from sunflowers, hence the name, but when you look at a sunflower you don’t really see the seeds. So this little project was a learning experience for me.

I forgot to snap a photo of the huge sunflowers they have in their yard so this stock photo will have to do to show the “before”.

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We cut down five flowers and wiped the centers off to get to the seeds. Getting the seeds out of their little pockets proved to be more difficult than we expected (even causing blisters)! We then had to sort through the batch to pick out all the bits of flower and the rotted/holed seeds. Afterward, we soaked the seeds overnight in saline water. The next morning we set them out on racks and paper towels to dry for a few hours. Before roasting them, we mixed one batch with a tablespoon of honey for a different flavor.

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300 degrees for 30 minutes and voila! Honey roasted on the left and salted on the right. Yum!!

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June Birchbox for the Jetsetter

This month’s Birchbox theme was perfect for my two upcoming summer vacations so I’m just going to jump right into it:

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Comodynes Self-Tanning Intensive. This was the first time I have tried a tanning towelette and I say I’d give it a one thumb up. When I first pulled it out of the package I was surprised that it smelled pretty good and not like typical tanning products. I was also surprised that it was a white towelette and therefore went on clear. Initially, it felt like I was just wiping down with a baby wipe. A few hours later though, I noticed the tan beginning to appear and the tanning product smell emerging (I’ve decided it’s impossible to get away from that smell with any self-tanning product). I liked the tan the towelette gave but the only problem was that because it went on clear it was hard to tell whether or not it would streak. Overall it went on fairly evenly, but I noticed a few streaks on the underside of my arms. I’d use these for a trip, but for week to week tanning I will stick with my Body Drench Quick Tan lotion.

Eyeko Fat Eye Stick. My first try with this eye shadow I wasn’t too crazy about it because it seemed a bit dark for my day to day makeup. I usually use palettes of powder eye shadow so I honestly wasn’t sure how to use this creamy shadow. However, on Saturday night I decided to try it again before going out and now I really like it! Instead of spreading the color evenly on my whole lid like before, I used it as dark as it would go just as I typically apply my black eye liner and then dotted it and blended it in with some gold powder shadow lightly on the rest of my lid. It really brought out my eyes this way… Two thumbs up.

Likewise Facial Moisturizer + Sun Protectant SPF 50. This is perfect for traveling because my normal face cream with SPF is in a large container. It has the slight smell of sunscreen unlike my other face cream, but I actually enjoy the smell of sunscreen so it doesn’t bother me. It didn’t leave my face feeling oily after letting it dry before applying makeup either. Definitely an essential to have face cream with SPF, especially for my trips to the beach house on the Outer Banks and Puerto Rico this summer!

theBalm cosmetics Stainiac in Beauty Queen. Despite trying this on two separate occasions on both my lips and cheeks, I just can’t seem to like it. This is a two-in-one lip and cheek gel stain. Although it does leave a nice color to both, it left my lips feeling dry and putting gel on my face just felt weird. I much prefer to stick with my powder blush and chapstick.

Lifestyle Extra: tili Bag. As silly and simple as this extra was, it’s totally useable for me! It will be great to put my toiletries in to go through airport security with my carry on. It’s so much cuter than a normal Ziploc bag too!

Man Extra: John Varvatos Star USA. I was super excited to get this man extra cologne in my box this month to share with the boyfriend. It’s described as a “blend of ginger, juniper berries and vetiver.” I’m interested to see how it smells once he tries it out, so I’ll update on this.

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Up-Cycled Denim Shorts

Denim shorts are a summer wardrobe staple. But, if you’re anything like me, you have several pairs that sit at the bottom of your drawer while others get the majority of your attention. After a little inspiration from Pinterest, as usual, I decided I wanted to up-cycle a couple of those older pairs I never wore. Whether you feel your pair is out of style or a bit too short now, with a few “upgrades”, I almost guarantee they will be your new go-to item!

I’m still new at this whole sewing machine thing, so although these super sassy, high-slit lace shorts were my original inspiration, I decided to take a bit simpler route for my first go-around with this project. After loving how my new shorts came out, I’ll eventually get around to tackling the side-lace look!

I told my best friend, Val, about wanting to do this project. She is my craftiest friend, and we enjoy trying new projects together so it was easy to get her on board. She even suggested another twist she saw online — to add patched pockets! I did a quick Pinterest search and found this tutorial if you are interested in trying this project for yourself.

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I decided to sew this pair over the hemmed edge instead of on the inside for a more dramatic look.

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I seam ripped the fold, pressed and sewed the double layered lace from the inside. Frayed the fabric a little and added the two patches on the pockets, with a little embroidery thread design. I love how these came out!

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Mine and Val’s twinzie shorts!

Dining in the Heights

I will rank tonight’s family dinner among the top of the list. My mom chose Zelko Bistro in the Heights and it did not disappoint.

It is a fairly small establishment but there was a small parking lot behind the restaurant and plenty of room to park on the street, which was convenient enough. It is an old converted house that probably sits about 50 people max inside. But, they also have a pretty good size covered patio area for some extra space. They do not take reservations and I wouldn’t suggest going with more than four people.

On first impression, the tight space between tables kind of turned me off but after being seated and taking in my surroundings I realized that the atmosphere was neighborly. Looking around I saw people who were genuinely enjoying themselves, in food and company. Although some may view the tight seating as a con, I think the intimate atmosphere added significantly to the experience.

After reading through many delicious sounding dishes on the menu I was having trouble choosing between the fish tacos, the blue crab cake or the shrimp and grits. Ultimately, I decided on the fish tacos because they came topped with queso fresco and mango salsa with a side of fried plantains. My mom ordered the Captin’s chicken and Billy ordered the Rueben sandwich with parmesan fries. We decided to take the advice of some Yelp reviews and ordered the fried pickles to start. They came in a deceiving bowl that seemed kind of small but ended up being more than plenty. The pickles weren’t chips, but mini halves that were piping hot, salty and crunchy with a refreshing homemade ranch dip. The food was all very fresh and flavorful. We had to save room for dessert because their options seemed too good to pass up, so we ordered the lemon icebox cake. It was the perfect creamy, tangy finish to the meal.

Typically when I hear “bistro” I think of high-end prices for less-than-filling plates. This was not the case at Zelko; the serving sizes were not overwhelming but certainly not stingy.

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The wait staff was friendly and we even got to speak to the owner for a bit, who was also very sweet. Although we didn’t take advantage of their great wine selection and pairing, Zelko is definitely a place I’d recommend to any fellow foodie.

It seems as though they change the menu seasonally, but I will definitely be back to try some of their other menu items. Too bad the boyfriend is currently 1,400 miles away because this is a perfect place for a date! Overall, 4.5 stars in my book!