The Pin Junkie: January 2013

Friday Link Party #2

Oh my gosh everybody!  I'm so thrilled with all the people who participated, linked up their posts, followed, and left such nice comments in last week's link party!  THANK YOU!  I didn't get to post as much as I wanted to this week (my job gets in the way of my blogging!) I think my first link party was a great success and I'm hoping this week will be even better!

Here are the fantastic features from last week's party:

thrifted sweater made into skirt
Refashioned thrifted sweater
by Lynaea at Every Day Bloom

rustic industrial mantle
Rustic Industrial Mantle
by Kim at Too Much Time on My Hands

copy-cat chick-fil-a nuggets
 Copy Cat Chick-Fil-A Nuggets
by Mandy at Mandy's Recipe Box

homemade bath salts
Homemade Bath Salts
from Amy at Pounds 4 Pennies

If you were featured grab a button and show it off!

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Improving our Home's Energy Efficiency

Today's post is less of a Pinterest inspired project (sorry guys) and more of a home improvement project.  (I do have some home improvement projects inspired by Pinterest coming soon.  I just need to get them finished.  I can't wait to share them with you, so I hope you'll stay tuned!) 

Our house is 30 years old and not very energy efficient.  We've lived in this house for 8 years with cold spots and drafts every winter and finally decided to do something about it by improving the insulation in our attic.  The house had insulation, but only R-15.  We upgraded the insulation to R-38 and sealed up many places where there were leaks.  This is what our attic over the garage looked like after the insulation was blown in.  Before this there was NONE!  That's right - no insulation over the garage!  It was freezing cold in the winter and hot in the summer and always affected the temperature in the rest of the house.

So, putting insulation in the attic meant I had to spend a weekend helping to pull all this stuff down out of the attic and putting it in the garage. 

Not exactly how I wanted to spend my weekend, but I was glad I didn't have to be up in the attic putting in plywood decking.  Believe it or not, all this stuff was resting on flattened cardboard boxes laid over the joists in the attic!  The plywood decking is replacing the cardboard to provide more stable storage. 

Now our attic is insulated, more energy efficient, and it's easier to store things.

Now I just have to spend another weekend putting all that stuff in the garage back up in the attic!

Chocolate Pie

chocolate pie recipe

My husband's birthday was Saturday.  His grandmother usually makes a chocolate pie for him on his birthday or for other special occasions.  Her chocolate pie is delicious and everyone looks forward to enjoying a slice.

Chocolate Pie

She wasn't able to make one for him this year, so I searched Pinterest to see if I could find something.  Sure enough, I found a chocolate pie recipe pinned from Recipe Girl that looked good.  Her step by step directions and pictures were very helpful since I'd never made this pie before.  I thought it would be very difficult, but it turns out a chocolate pie is very quick and easy to make.

Chocolate Pie

This is when I wish I was a professional food blogger or had some excellent photography skills.  My pictures just don't do this pie justice or convey to you how rich, smooth, creamy, and chocolatey this pie is!  The pie was absolutely delicious and tasted just like his grandmother's!

This would be a great thing to make for your sweetheart on Valentine's Day.

Happy Hour #3: Spiked Blueberry Lemonade

It's been three weeks back at work and it feels like three months.  I think I'm also wishing for spring and warmer weather.  I'm noticing that I'm really craving meals with fresh ingredients like the Chickpea Salad and the Zesty Bean Salad I made last week.  I've also noticed I've been pinning more ideas for gardening. 

What about you?  Are you wishing for warmer weather?  This drink would be perfect on a warm summer afternoon and I plan on making it again.  It's spiked blueberry lemonade and the recipe is from Veggie Belly.

This is a simple cocktail to make and you could easily make a big pitcher for a party.  Its just lemon juice, sugar and water to make lemonade.  When you add the blueberries, it makes the drink turn a real pretty pink.  My husband enjoys participaing in the Friday night Pin Junkie happy hour as well.  He commented on the pink, girly frou-frou color of the drink and the fruit in it and said he would never drink this in public.  I think he liked it though, since he finished it off pretty quick. 
If you need a girly pink drink or if you need a reminder that warmer weather is just around the corner, here's the recipe for spiked blueberry lemonade.  Enjoy and happy weekend!

(makes 8 cups)
1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice (I used bottled)
6 cups water
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Place all ingredients in a pitcher and stir till sugar dissolves. Muddle the blueberries a little using the back of a wooden spoon to release their juices and color. Taste and adjust sugar if needed. Serve chilled.

Friday Link Party

Not only am I challenging myself to try new things from Pinterest, I'm also challenging myself to learn as much as I can about blogging.  When I started blogging just a few months ago, I knew absolutely nothing about it.  In just a few months, I feel like I've really learned a lot.   There's always something more to learn however, and this week I'm learning how to set up my own link party.  Today is the very first link party so if there are glitches, I apologize and if you let me know I'll do my best to fix them right away.

Speaking of link parties, which do you think is better - Inlinks or Linky Tools?  I'm using Inlinks for this party to try it out, but I'm not committed yet.  I'd love to hear your opinion so feel free to leave a comment! 

Now on to the link party.  What have you made this week?  Here's your chance to show it off. 

Thirteenth Annual Weblog Awards

I have a big favor to ask of you.


I'm asking for your vote to nominate The Pin Junkie blog in the Thirteenth Annual Weblog Awards.

I think I have the best chance at the "Best New Blog" (scroll all the way down to the bottom of the nomination page to fill out the form)  but, if you think my blog fits in a better category, go for it!

I started blogging in October 2012 knowing absolutely NOTHING about blogging.  I'm learning something new everyday and loving it!  

In just four months, here's what I've accomplished:
     I've been featured 34 times!
     My blog has gained 100 new followers!
     I have 1,054 Pinterest followers!
     The Pin Junkie has had over 20,000  page views.
     I've tried 23 new recipes.
     I've made 28 projects and crafts.
     I've read and reviewed 3 books.

Even if I don't win (or even get nominated) I'm really proud of myself!  I'm also having a whole lot of fun blogging and hope that you'll continue to follow me on my pinning, crafting, blogging adventure!

You will need to nominate three blogs in one category.  (vote for me and two others!)
Nominations close on Sunday, January, 27 so please hurry!

Thanks bunches!

The Pin Junkie

Southwest Chicken Soup

chicken soup southwest recipe

This recipe, from Rachel Ray, is a delicious twist on traditional chicken soup.

It's also another recipe with cilantro.  Last week I made Zesty Bean Salad and Chickpea Salad and both salads had cilantro in them.  I absolutely love cilantro.  I love the smell and the taste of it, but some people say it tastes like soap.  (My son is one of those people.)  You can leave the cilantro out and this soup will still be good. 

Southwest Chicken Soup

I also changed the recipe a bit.  Go here for the complete recipe.  I left out the chipotle chiles in adobo sauce because I didn't have any and I'm too lazy to go to the store.  Plus I really hate grocery shipping.  I used a can of green chile instead.  Where I live, green chile goes on everything.  I used mild chile, but you can make it as spicy as you'd like.

Not only do I love the cilantro, but I love avocado and I love it in this soup.  The cool, creamy avocado is such a yummy contrast to the hot, spicy soup.

If you really want to go the extra mile, you can make your own tortilla chips to garnish the soup.  Just get some corn tortillas, cut them into one inch wide strips and cook them in a skillet with hot oil for a few minutes. Take the tortilla strips out of the hot oil and drain.  Let them cool and serve with the soup.  You'll be glad you did!  


 Mark your calendars!  The very fist Pin Junkie Link Party will be this Friday!

Chickpea Salad

chickpea salad recipe
Chickpea Salad

This recipe from Kitchen Confidante is similar to the zesty bean salad I made last week, but I think this one is even better.  It has some of the same ingredients like onions, tomatoes, and cilantro (I really love cilantro!) but it has a fantastic mustard and vinegar dressing.  It tastes as good as it looks and reminds me of summer!

I left out some of the the ingredients like the jalapeno, mint, and basil.  Go here for the full recipe.

Mark your calendars!  The very fist Pin Junkie Link Party will be this Friday!

Happy Hour #2: Island Girl Cocktail

I hope you had a good week!  Let's kick off the weekend with Pin Junkie Happy Hour #2.  This week's drink is the Island Girl.  It's very similar to a Cape Cod or a Cosmopolitan.  Last week, I tried a Vodka Gimlet which was just too sour for me.  I like sweeter mixed drinks and this one gets some sweet from the ginger ale.

This was pinned from Coastal Living

8 ounces (1 cup) cranberry juice cocktail (just used cranberry juice)
8 ounces (1 cup) vodka
4 ounces (½ cup) ginger ale
2 ounces (¼ cup) fresh lime juice in a large pitcher
Pour into ice-filled glasses, and garnish with lime wedges. Makes 4 servings.

Zesty Bean Salad

bean salad recipe

I found this recipe in two different places.  Iowa Girl Eats calls it Beanis Dip and I Love Food calls it Texas Caviar.  Both recipes are exactly the same.  I love this salad because it has cilantro in it.  I know not everybody likes cilantro, so you can leave it out.  I think next time I make this though, I might leave out the jalepeno pepper.

This is really delicious by itself as a salad and it's also good with corn chips.

Zesty Bean Salad

Here's the recipe:

1 can of black beans
1 can of corn
1 can of petite diced tomatoes     (I used 3 fresh tomatoes)
1 Tbsp of minced garlic
1 small red onion chopped     (I used half an onion)
1 green pepper chopped
2 jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped     (only used 1 jalapeno)
1 8oz bottle of zesty Italian dressing     (I just used 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
1 bunch of cilantro chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper

Drain and rinse black beans and corn.
Chop everything up.
Mix in a bowl.

Beef & Broccoli

beef and broccoli recipe

Beef & broccoli is one of my favorite dishes to get when ordering Chinese food.  Honestly, this recipe is even better than Chinese take out!  Restaurants often over-cook the broccoli  so it ends up mushy and sometimes the food is just drowning in too much sauce.  Since you're doing the cooking, you get to decide when the broccoli is done (I like my broccoli a little on the crunchy side) and this recipe makes just the right amount of sauce. 

Beef & Broccoli

I've made beef and broccoli before, but I like this recipe better than the recipe I've been using.  My beef and broccoli is usually too salty.  This recipe uses 1/2 cup of soy sauce.  I thought that sounded like a lot, but when I read the ingredients a little more carefully, I realized that you need to use reduced sodium soy sauce.  I didn't have any so I just used 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1/4 cup water and hoped for the best. 

This got thumbs up from the whole family and I will certainly be making it again.

Hang Items on Brick Without Drilling

hang items on brick without drilling
My brick fireplace was looking very bare and pathetic after all the decorations from the holidays were taken down and put away.

My mantle is difficult to decorate because the ledge is very narrow and slightly curved.  I don't want to drill into the brick so I'm limited to finding things that will fit on this narrow curved ledge.

I found out about this little gizmo on Pinterest. It's a brick hook and you can find it in the hardware section of just about any home improvement store.   

Hang Items On Brick Without Drilling
It fits right in between the bricks and lets you hang things without having to drill into the brick.  Amazing!

Hang Items On Brick Without Drilling
I saw these beautiful floral wreaths at Target during the holidays but didn't want to pay $40.00 for them.   I know, I'm cheap, but I hate paying full price for something at Target when I know it will be on sale later.  Sure enough, right after Christmas the topiaries were half off. sweetened the deal with a $10.00 gift card with any online order of $50.00 or more.  So I got my wreath, had an excellent excuse to buy a cute new pair of shoes to bring the total up to $50.00, and got a gift card!

Hang Items On Brick Without Drilling
Now I can hang my new wreath (which I love) and my mantle looks so much prettier!

Hang Items On Brick Without Drilling

bathroom makeover

laundry room makeover

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

stuffed portobello mushrooms recipe

I love mushrooms, but the rest of my family does not.  They don't even like the heavenly aroma  of mushrooms drenched in butter frying in a skillet.  (Crazy!)  So one Saturday afternoon, while they were out of the house, I made stuffed Portobello mushrooms for my lunch and didn't have to hear "That's disgusting!  How can you eat that?" even once!

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

This is a "pizza recipe" from a health and fitness site.  I'm assuming that when you have a craving for pizza you're supposed to eat this as a healthier substitute.  I don't know if I would go so far as to say this tasted exactly like pizza, but it was delicious!  

Here' the recipe if you'd like to try it (Assuming you are someone who likes mushrooms of course!)

2 tomatoes, diced
2 large Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
4 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 onion, diced
fresh basil
Parmesan cheese
fresh parsley
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  In 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cook the diced onion until tender.
3.  Add the tomatoes, garlic, and pinch of salt to the onions. Sauté the ingredients until the tomatoes are soft (about 3-5 minutes)
4.  Spoon tomato mixture into mushrooms.
5.  Sprinkle with basil and top with grated cheese.
6.  Place mushrooms on foil lined baking dish or cookie sheet.
7.  Cook at 400 degrees for 12 minutes.

I made a few changes to the recipe.  I halved it, left out some of the ingredients like the leeks, lemon juice, parsley and salt and I used dried basil instead of fresh.  Go here if you want the original and complete recipe.