Amazing Lower-Carb Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup (with Shirataki Noodles)

Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup

When it’s cold, we always make more soup, and one of our favorites is Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup. By substituting Shirataki Angel Hair Noodles for the real thing, we enjoy a more low-carb version of our favorite cold day treat.


  • 48 oz Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1/3 cup Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 3/8 cup (6 tbsp.) Brown Sugar
  • Sriracha – We use 2 tbsp., but I recommend starting at 1 and seasoning up based on how you like it.
  • 1 Medium Lime – the juice & the zest
  • 2 Chicken Breasts, cut into strips
  • 2, 7 oz. packages of Shirataki Angel Hair Noodles, rinsed in cold water and drained (We use these from Amazon, because I subscribe to them!)
  • 2 tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 1 cup Sliced Mushrooms (Any kind will do, I used Portobello in the picture, because that’s what we had in the fridge. Shiitake might be the best choice for this asian-inspired dish.)
  • 1/2 cup Grape Tomatoes (I usually quarter these.)
  • Fresh Cilantro (2-3 tbsp.)

  1. Combine chicken broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, Sriracha, lime juice, lime zest, and bring to a boil.
  2. Toss chicken strips in corn starch
  3. When broth mixture boils, add chicken, mushrooms, and Shirataki noodles.
  4. Let the soup simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from heat. Stir in the tomatoes and cilantro.
  6. Let the soup cool 2-3 minutes before serving


Handmade Christmas Wreath from Christmas Cards Past

I have a problem throwing away things, especially paper remembrances – ticket stubs, cards, programs. There is no logical reason to hold onto the Phantom of the Opera program from my high school orchestra trip or the autographed Penn & Teller program from their performance at Duke, but I still have them. I have quite a stack of holiday cards, and I was trying to brainstorm a way to incorporate the cards into a new wreath. (Our previous wreath was nice, but a very plain wreath of greenery with a simple red bow.)

Interior Shot of Wreath

I can’t say that I thought of this idea all alone; my inspiration was a DIY Clock from Junk Mail that I saw on Apartment Therapy. To make the wreath, my only materials were items from the dollar store, old holiday cards, and a few Christmas catalogs to fill in the spaces. (I only had cards for about half of the spokes.) I made a 3″ wide base for the wreath by cutting it out of foamcore with my x-acto. The interior circle was large enough to feature the star ornament; the outer circle was just 3″ larger than the interior. I used my handy compasses from grad school drafting to get the circles right, but a piece of string could also be used to measure the radii. After I had the wreath shape, I stacked foam to about 1.5″ and hot-glued that to the back of the wreath shape in 4 places to give the wreath some depth. Then I covered the whole frame with ribbon. You can see the back here:
Back View of Wreath

The next step was to roll up the holiday cards. I used the entire card for each spoke and started rolling from the plain side, so the end product would have the most color. And I used a dowel to get the initial shape and help keep the rolling even. In my wreath there are 58 spokes; 29 of these spokes are from Christmas cards. The remaining spokes are pages from the West Elm and Blissliving holiday catalogs cut down to a similar size. I wasn’t worried about the spokes being the same length, but it could be easily controlled if precision spokes are your thing.

The last steps were to hot glue the spokes to the base in a radial pattern, add gold ribbon for hanging, add a gold bow, hang the gold dollar store ornament in the middle, and finally I added some bells to up the holiday-ness of the wreath. I thought it was important to keep the wreath accents in the same color (gold), because the rest of the wreath could be pretty busy.
Wreath Hanging on the Door

Now we have a wreath that is inexpensive AND is made from the love and kindness of our friends and family. It’s perfect. As we get more holiday cards over the years. I will probably just replace the catalog pages with real cards.

Flower-Shaped Paper Ornaments

Variety of Ornaments
In preparation for the holiday season, I’ve been making paper ornaments. These ornaments are perfect for wreaths, trees, garlands, or as my favorite use — a gorgeous substitution for a traditional bow when you wrap a gift. It’s amazing how pretty folded & cut paper can be!

Variety of Packages

Today, I’m going to just post some pictures of the ornaments I’ve made (along with a link to my Etsy shop where these ornaments can be purchased). AND tomorrow, I’m going to post a tutorial where you can learn to make these ornaments yourself. The ornaments are infinitely customizable — like snowflakes, but they remind me more of flowers in their execution.

I’ve made the paper ornaments out of patterned & solid colored papers,
Star Shaped Ornament

Cream Colored Ornament

but my favorite ornaments are made from catalog paper! (In this case West Elm & Free People; such pretty colors!)
Recycled Paper Star Ornament

Recycled Paper Heart Ornament

They’re a lot of fun to make; they’re pretty easy to make; and they can be used for so many things! If you’d like to purchase a set of these, just check out my Etsy shop here: on Etsy!

Halloween Wreath

Semi-Homemade Halloween Wreath

This past weekend, we had a lot of fun getting in the spirit of the season and decorating for Halloween. In an effort to better document my Halloween exploits, I’m going to try to post a project each day.

One of the oldest projects on my Halloween to-do list was to make a wreath. Last year, I bought a spooky-ish (but plain) black wreath from CVS on 60% clearance the week after Halloween was over. The wreath sat in our Halloween bins in the attic all year. I got it out this past weekend and decided to spice it up with some dollar store items: Centipedes, roaches, a fly, spiders, a ghoul, and the dollar store spooky gray cloth. Total budget for this wreath ended up being about $5, and we’re pretty pleased with the effect.

Deviled Eggs – with Bacon!

There’s only one kind of deviled egg recipe in the world that I’ll eat, and it’s this one. I grew up on these deviled eggs, first from my grandma, then my mother. Now I’m sharing the recipe because there are entirely too many deviled eggs recipes on the internets that don’t have bacon!
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Butterscotch Bird’s Nest No-Bake Cookies

When I was a kid, I used to love the Butterscotch Haystacks. This recipe modifies the traditional haystack recipe by shaping it like a bird’s nest and adding eggs to create a really cute (and tasty) spring dessert recipe. (I was totally inspired by the No Bake Easter Nest Cookie Recipe at Prudent Baby.)The other best thing is that it’s super easy to make.
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Changing the Curtains for Spring

Our front door has a big decorative glass window in it. To give us the feeling of privacy in the evening, we hung a curtain on the door. At night, we go into “lockdown.” This process simply entails pulling the curtains on the front door and kitchen window that looks out onto our front porch.

In the fall, I hang a gray velvet curtain (matches our couch) from Anthropologie –the Viceroy Velvet Curtain. (One of my splurges with our house). I found a matching gray curtain at TJMaxx and used the iron-on hem tape to shorten it to fit our kitchen window. (There was no way I was going to buy another Viceroy Velvet and massacre it.)

Viceroy Velvet Curtain

Viceroy Velvet Curtain Closed

Viceroy Velvet Curtain Open

Viceroy Velvet Curtain Open

Gray Curtain in Kitchen Closed

Gray Curtain in Kitchen Closed

Gray Curtain in Kitchen Opened

Gray Curtain in Kitchen Opened

When Spring comes, I switch out these gray velvet curtains for something , lighter, friendlier, and more colorful. I found two curtains at Pier One on sale when we first moved in; I loved the colors and snatched them up. I hung the one in the kitchen from it’s bottom hem instead of using the loops (again using the iron-on hem tape to shorten the curtain to fit).

Curtain at Front Door Closed

Curtain at Front Door Closed (Plus Cat)

Curtain at Front Door Opened

Curtain at Front Door Opened (Plus Cat)

Curtain at Kitchen Closed

Curtain at Kitchen Closed

Curtain at Kitchen Open

Curtain at Kitchen Open

Sorry for the poor quality of all the open curtain images; I couldn’t get my lighting settings right when I was taking pictures.

Spring Wreath (plus how-to)

Spring has definitely sprung. This weekend, Rob and I began our spring update to our home and yard. The first item of business was replacing the Winter Yarn Wreath I made in January with an updated spring wreath! I made our new wreath with a straw wreath, yarn, bias tape, paper flowers, and colorful buttons.
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Flower-Shaped Treat Box How-To

One of the blogs that I read everyday is Prudent Baby. They have really cute projects and generally inspiring posts. They also have lots of contests for various prizes, but I usually don’t enter because their contests are usually sewing-related (and I am not a sewer–yet). However, on March 17th they announced a, “Sweet on Paper Contest,” to win an 11×17 Brother Printer. I really need a new printer, so I developed this flower-shaped box as my entry. The azaleas that are starting to bloom around our yard to signal the start of spring were an excellent source of inspiration.
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Mouthwash 2 (Revolution in Mouthwash Dispensing)

Yesterday’s news of the upcoming iPad 2 release may have overshadowed an equally important announcement — the development of Mouthwash 2. This is not an evolution in mouthwash dispensing; it is a revolution.
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Winter Yarn Wreath (with little owl friend)

I love outside Christmas decorations. We actually start our outdoor decorating in October for Halloween, use our non-carved pumpkins & add some scarecrows for Thanksgiving, then take down all the autumn and put up pretty lights and a wreath. (If it was up to me, I’d leave our Christmas lights up year-round, but Rob thinks it might make the neighbors think that we’re just too lazy to take them down…) Read more

Our Fra Diavolo Spaghetti Sauce (Yummy! Spicy!)

I think everyone craves hearty, warm foods in the winter. At our house, we usually cook a lot more curry, stew, and chili. One thing we love to make is our spaghetti sauce; Rob and I both like hot, so this is a pretty hot dish. However, this dish only uses cayenne and crushed red pepper flakes because we generally have that on hand. (lots of it) When we recently made this spaghetti, we served it with Tracy’s Killer Garlic Bread. That bread was awesome, amazing, words cannot describe the joy…

Spicy Spaghetti Sauce


  • 1 pound ground hot sausage
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium-sized chopped onion
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes (14.5 oz can)
  • 29 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 2 cans of tomato paste (6 oz. can)
  • 2 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. parsley
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes*
  • 1 tbsp Cayenne Pepper*

*Adjust to your liking; we love spicy!

In a large skillet, brown sausage and beef on medium heat. When they’re no longer pink, add in the onion to brown also. Stir frequently. When the meat is browned to your liking and the onions are tender, spoon out most of the remaining oil from the meat. Add all the other ingredients, cover, and cook for two hours on medium-low heat (stirring occasionally). Serve over pasta and top with some good grated parmesan (or skip the parm if you’re my cheese-hating husband). Yummy!

Spicy Spaghetti Sauce

Tinseled Pompom Garland

There have been a lot of really cute garlands around this holiday season. I’ve been especially drawn to the felted ball garlands, like this one at Anthropologie:
Anthropologie Garland

or this one at Branch:Branch Garland

And, I think this Christmas ornament garland from Crate & Barrel is also pretty cute:
Crate and Barrel Garland

I set about doing some research investigating what kind of garland cost would fit into our budget. (I already suspected a DIY solution would be required.) Using the garlands previously mentioned, their prices per linear foot are $11.66, $8.00, and $1.55 (in the order in which they appear). Using ribbon twirled around our tree, I calculated that we need approximately 50 feet of garland. This would make the cost $583, $400, and $77.50, respectively. The Crate and Barrel garland cost isn’t too bad, but the Anthropologie and Branch garlands were way out of our price range. But I still preferred the felted wool balls (especially the continuous ring of balls like the one from Branch).

A visit to Walmart’s craft department gave me an idea–a garland from Tinseled Pompoms. Tinseled pompoms are not the same as the felted wool balls, but they’re still pretty cute. (And they sparkle!) I figured an experiment was in order to check out the cost. I assembled my materials: 1 Bag of Tinseled Pompoms (75 per bag), Clear Fishing Line, and a Needle.
The Materials

I used a pretty big needle and just pushed it through the center of each of the pompoms.
Needle through the Pompom

When I was through with the bag (about 15 minutes), I had 3 feet of garland.

The pompoms are $2.97 per bag; one linear foot of garland costs about $1.00. To finish up the entire garland, it will cost $50.00 (give or take). This is the most affordable garland! And I’m really pleased with the end result. I love the size variation and the tinsel.
On the tree

I will post a better picture when we’re through decorating the tree. Making this garland can be a bit time-consuming, but it’s an easy activity to do when you’re chilling out watching a movie; the whole family can get involved. And the end product can be used again and again!

Semi-Homemade Christmas Stockings

When it came time to make some Christmas stockings for my husband and me, I was limited by the fact that I can’t sew. (I know this is a severe character flaw that I will begin to remedy in the new year via sewing classes from my mother.) I had no idea what I wanted our stockings to look like, but I love patterns and texture. And I can embroider.

Christmas Stockings 1
I purchased some ready-made, extra large (we love things in our stockings and the nuts, candies, and fruit take up a lot of space) stockings for cheap. I went to my fabric craft reserve and picked out some vintage fabrics and a set of green striped sheets. The stockings had white furry cuffs at the top, so I removed the cuffs and used the size as a general guide for the new green-striped cuffs I added.

Embellishment was a difficult choice, but I decided to use a winter/Christmas theme–snowflakes for me, Christmas trees for Rob. If we ever need to make some more stockings in the future (ie – if we ever have kids), I’ll probably do one with presents, or stars, or gingerbread men shapes; the possibilities are endless! I cut snowflakes and trees out of the vintage fabrics and tacked them on with some glue and embroidery – french knots and running stitches. I used my laptop to lay out our names in a script font and then traced the names through the green-striped sheet using a fabric pen and relying on the light of my laptop for the tracing. I embroidered our names with a crewel yarn to give them some oomph.

Detail Shot 1

Detail Shot 2

The last step was sewing the new cuffs on to the stockings. I did it all with very simple stitches (by hand), but they are surprisingly sturdy. The overall product is pretty rustic, but I’m really pleased with them. The fabrics are so pretty, and I love the green striped cuffs with the red stockings. I’ve saved the sheets & vintage fabrics in a special box, so if we do ever have kids I can use the same method to make new ones! (Or if I ever feel like doing stockings for all the animals!)

Christmas Stockings 2