Treats: Homemade Salsa

Modified from this recipe, I used these 8 ingredients to make a homemade salsa. I skipped onion, but added garlic salt.

  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Black Beans
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup of corn
  • 2-3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
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Such a simple recipe – only 8 ingredients!
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My chopping skills could use some work. I never really know which knife to use!
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Starting to combine ingredients.
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The finished product!

Let it chill for 1 hr and then indulge! This would be an amazing and easy dish to bring to a party, tailgate or any other kind of gathering. I love how simple but good this is – and fresh! You could take it a step further and dice your own tomatoes. Maybe when I learn more about knives I’ll give that a shot 🙂

Gifts: Personalized Activity Jars

So much of today’s entertainment comes from digital media – iPads, iPhones, TV, Netflix, etc., and sometimes it’s nice to remind ourselves that the simple things are still fun!

My sisters are both young teenagers and a) are always looking for things to do and b) sometimes feeling the pressure of adolescence (lots of changes!), so I set out to solve both of these scenarios with two very simple jars – Emergency Compliments and the Bored Jar.

Things to do jar
Things to do jar (Yia Yia = grandma in Greek)

What you’ll need:

  • Empty Jar (I used pasta sauce and an old candle jar)
  • Twine, ribbon, fabric or other decorative aspects for the outside
  • Sharpies!
  • A tag or label for the jar
  • Popsicle sticks and corresponding content for each

There is a site for emergency compliments that originally sparked the idea, and it looks like since this craft, they’ve launched a book. I have to say, some of them are pretty funny. I also included some serious compliments in there, not just silly ones.

Emergency Compliments Jar
When life gets tough, grab an emergency compliment!

What kind of activity jar would you create? Try it and let me know what you think!

Gifts: Wine Cork DIYs

 

Yesterday, someone asked me about making a cork wreath, and since I have made a few in my day, I thought I would share my methods and see if that helps anyone out who is an avid wine lover (like me) or looking for a fun and easy holiday gift (also, like me – and yes, they’re coming!)

So, for starters, you need a LOT of corks. Seriously – a lot of them. Since I was living by myself at the time I endeavored to make these, I called up my favorite restaurant and wine bar (Quartino’s in Chicago – you’re not living if you haven’t eaten there) and asked them to save some corks for me. When I turned up for dinner a couple of weeks later, this is what I got:

Wine cork DIY

Other supplies you’ll need:

  • Foam wreath core (or other floral type core)
  • Acrylic or spray paint, or some type of wrap to disguise the green floral foam (you could get a straw wreath and shortcut here)
  • Hot glue gun and LOTS of glue sticks
  • Any beads, ribbon or embellishment you’d like + to hang it with.

First, I separated all of the synthetic corks from the real corks because I wanted the wreath to be all real, but what I ended up doing is using all of the synthetics as the base around the foam core and then started gluing on the real corks once I had my baseline down.

It takes a lot of layers so I would recommend having a hefty supply of both corks and glue, as well as a work surface to protect your surroundings from the web of hot glue you’re about to weave.

Here’s what my end product looked like. Read on to learn some of the things I would do differently next time!

Wine cork wreath DIY

Lessons Learned in Wine Cork Crafting:

  • It’s addicting. I made 2 wreaths, a tray, and 3 ornaments at least. I had enough corks to fill a cork cage left over.
  • Asking a restaurant for their corks is safer, healthier and 1,000x faster than trying to drink them yourself. (Although it would make a better story, I’m sure)
  • Cutting corks (for the tray) is really hard. Research accordingly if you plan to do this.
  • Have a lot of time! It takes a while to glue all of the corks on, and if you paint your foam core, you’ll have to wait for that to dry as well.
  • Don’t expect perfection. I had a photo of what I wanted mine to look like, and it doesn’t look like that, but it’s still beautiful.
  • Hot glue is kind of flimsy. I would recommend putting your hanger on the wreath’s base before gluing on the corks, so it is secured beneath your wine cork masterpiece and easy to install.
  • Don’t take your cork wreath on Amtrak 🙂 It’s a disaster waiting to happen. Corks everywhere! If you must, bring your hot glue gun to perform a quick fix when you arrive to your destination.
Wine cork tray DIY
The tray I made – started with an unfinished wood tray from Michael’s and hot glued the corks to the bottom.

Do you plan to try any wine cork crafts this year? Share pictures and your lessons learned below!

Gestures: Girls’ Weekend

 

Today marks one year until my wedding, which means the countdown officially begins!

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Earlier this summer, all of my bridesmaids got together in Chicago and had a girls weekend. Even though it’s not quite time for a bachelorette bash, I knew it was important that they all got to know each other, bond, and most importantly – celebrate! (and drink a lot of wine)IMG_9307

I discovered these really cute little bags from Alf and Noop on Etsy, which I had customized for my bridesmaids weekend. I then filled them with splits of prosecco, because what better way is there to celebrate?

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What do you think of this idea for bridesmaids, or any type of girls weekend? Let me know in the comments or on twitter @mandyresh 🙂

Gifts: Sand Jars and S’mores

So, not to seem like I’m weirdly obsessed with s’mores (I might be, but I think it’s because I live in the city where they’re harder to come by!), here’s a great gift idea that serves double duty – long after it’s delicious contents have gone.

This part may be a little bit suspect to some of you, but living in downtown Chicago means that I sometimes find fun gifts in unsuspecting places. I got these jars from CVS (yep – the pharmacy) and conveniently, I was also able to fill them up in the same spot.

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The kit came with sand and tea light candles to use as in the second photo below. I chose to stock each jar with s’mores ingredients, as it was a hostess gift for a summer barbecue, and then included the alternative fillers (sand, candles, additional s’mores supplies) in the gift bag. Fun AND functional. The sand and tea lights make for great outdoor centerpieces or add a little relaxing vibe to your home.

You could DIY this with some empty pasta jars, mason jars or any other type of glass jar and any kind of treat. How would you fill yours? What do you think of this idea?  Let me know in the comments or tweet me @mandyresh

Treats: Easy as Pie

As somewhat of a linguistics nerd, I do wonder where some of these phrases come from. “Easy as pie,” what exactly does that even mean? Pies are not especially easy to make, my mother’s secret Apple Pie recipe is proof of that. But this pie – this s’mores pie – is seriously easy and seriously delicious! However, it is not at all scientific, so it can be as marshmallow-y or chocolatey as you want.

What you’ll need:

  • Graham Cracker Pie Crust
  • Marshmallow Creme
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Bars
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Regular Pie Crust

I kind of cheated on this recipe and bought the pre-made graham cracker crust because of time constraints, but it was amazing, so I’m sticking with it. Preheat your oven according to the crust’s directions.

Fill the bottom of the pie crust with your marshmallow creme. You can use as much or as little as you want. Some recipes call for all 8oz but I probably used about 5 or 6.

Break apart your Hershey’s chocolate bars and arrange the pieces on top of the marshmallow creme, forming a layer of chocolate. Be careful – the crust may break if you press them down too hard.

Sprinkle mini marshmallows on top of your chocolate layer. As many as you want! I also added more chocolate pieces once I got to my desired level of marshmallowness.

Then, roll out one pie crust to fit around the circumference of your pie pan. Cover the pan with your pie crust and fold around the edges as you wish. I kind of twisted mine so that it had a braided effect.

Taking a handful of chocolate chips, press them into the pie crust. You can be a tad aggressive with it – I wanted my crust to be extra cracked so that the marshmallow could kind of ooze out and make it feel like a real campfire treat. Again, as many choco chips as you want!

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. This is what came out of my oven (along with some delectable smells):

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I would highly recommend serving it warm, maybe with some ice cream? I think next time I make this, I will add some type of peanut butter element 🙂

If you decide to make one, share pics and your tips below!

Treats and Treasures

Hey there!

I’m taking Little Wonders in a new direction and I hope you are along for the ride. I’ve been thinking for a long time about what ‘little wonders’ really means to me – and it may sound obvious, but it’s all of the little things that make life wonderful. In 2011 when this little project started, I was hoping to hop on the fashion blogging bandwagon, but it wasn’t feeling right. I was looking for my hook, my edge, and I think I have finally found it.

From now on, you can come to Little Wonders and expect to find a few different things:

  • Treats: baked goods, recipes and other goodies
  • Treasures: memories, miscellaneous finds and places
  • Gifts: carefully curated ideas for unique gift-giving
  • Gestures: housewarming, cards, ways to #treatyourself, etc.

Keep an eye out as I have some posts coming that are not only easy, but fun and sometimes even delicious! Follow along and let me know what you think.

– Amanda