life

Hey, 2016!

Happy New Year

Hope you’re kicking off the new year however you like best! For me, that means I’m home, in lounge mode, with snacks plus Anderson Cooper & Kathy Griffin on CNN. Anderson’s embarrassed giggles are the best.

Here’s my #2015bestnine from Instagram this year:

@sarahblackstock's #2015bestnine from Instagram

Happy 2016!

life

Reminders & Tips for Life

One of the absolute best parts of being an adult for me has been knowing myself so well, fully accepting who I am, and being happy about it. It’s awesome. There’s no reason to worry about what someone else is thinking about me and I’ve got zero hours to dedicate to not doing exactly what I want to be doing. This has gotten even easier in my thirties.

So, here’s my quick & simple advice for living a great life, being cool with who you are, and finding your slice of happiness:

I don't have any weaknesses gifFirst, stop thinking and saying negative things about yourself. Guilty pleasures? You don’t have any! There’s no reason to have guilt over watching a long-running TV drama or reading regency romance or whatever you prefer.

You like what you like & that’s awesome. (Hi, I still watch Grey’s Anatomy. Also, I’ve read dozens of romance novels this year and they’re fantastic.)

Also, basically always do this:

And say what you want:

Nicki Minaj speak your mind gif

Bitch? Please, like you care if some jerk calls you that. Pfft. Never be silenced.

And take Tina Belcher’s advice:

Believe you're beautiful Tina Belcher gif

Think great things about yourself. That totally makes them true! You’ve got a life to live… no time for making yourself feel bad.

Also, sometimes boys are great (if you’re into that sort of thing), but…

It’s best to be good at being alone and taking care of yourself rather than waiting around for a dude to validate your life. (This is easier when you’ve got an awesome BFF, so find your platonic life partner ASAP. It’s a game changer.)

And ALWAYS THIS:

Nicki Minaj winning is my protocol gif

Work hard, make things happen, ask for help when you need it, be positive, don’t hate on yourself, never give up, and WIN AT LIFE. It’s protocol.

pop culture, technology & web

Wintertime Tip: Up Your Netflix Game

Watch TV All Day gif

You’ve got Netflix, right? I know I’m not the only one who watches something on there basically every day. I should really offer to pay them more based solely on the number of times I’ve re-watched Buffy. It’s pretty straight-forward and easy to figure out, but there are a few adjustments that might make your viewing experience even better.

First, make sure you’re rating everything you can. That’s pretty obvious and I still forget to do it sometimes, but it really will make a difference and your recommendations will seriously improve. Once you’ve got your ratings situation down, up your game and try out some of the options listed below.

Seven Ways to Improve Your Netflix Experience:

  1. Add IMDB & Rotten Tomatoes ratings to your account with Chrome extension, Netflix Enhancer. In addition to ratings, it’ll link you to the matching page on each site for quickly checking out reviews.
  2. Make sure you’re really watching in HD! Click Your Account, then Playback Settings, then High. Done! (Ah, that’s better!)
  3. Change your subtitle settings if the default yellow ones just aren’t working out. Click Your Account, then Subtitle appearance, then change the color, font, and size to whatever works best for you or what you’re watching at the moment.
  4. Turn your smartphone or tablet into a remote control. If your Playstation & mobile device are both logged into the same WiFi network, many of them (including iPhone and iPad) will let you select something to watch then give you the option to watch through your PS3 or PS4, instead of just on your tiny screen. And if you have a Roku, they have an app that’ll let you play & pause, at least.
  5. Watch with faraway friends using rabb.it. Fire up a room, invite someone to join, and start watching. It’ll play on both ends, so you can watch together and be at the same spot in the video. (They can do more than Netflix too: there’s Hulu, HBOGo, YouTube videos, and more.)
  6. Delete stuff from your history. Go ahead and remove every trace of that time your niece watched Dora the Explorer on your profile constantly and totally ruined your recommendations. (Just me?) Click on Your Account, then Viewing activity, then hit the X next to anything you want to erase. While you’re adjusting settings, add a “Guest” profile for next time, too.
  7. Stop scrolling incessantly through your queue! Get a better grasp of what’s new and/or popular on InstantWatcher, and see what’s going away soon.

Now that your Netflix account is handled, what’re you going to watch?! Might I suggest Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls Religion Lifestyle gif

…or Friday Night Lights, because:

FNL coach taylor wink gif

THAT WINK, Y’ALL.

food, recipe

Recipe: Simple Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Making Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce from a can is a travesty (A TRAVESTY!) and doesn’t deserve a spot on your holiday table. The only way to go is with fresh cranberries and about 15 minutes of hands-on prep time. It’ll look beautiful and be a great companion to your turkey. (I love it with cornbread dressing!) I never realized I liked cranberry sauce until I tried this one. The canned stuff just really doesn’t do cranberries justice.

Making Cranberry Sauce

Simple Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Combine orange juice & sugar in a pot over medium-low heat.
  2. Dissolve the sugar in the juice, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add cranberries and stir.
  4. Heat cranberries until at least half pop & the sauce thickens. (10-15 minutes)
  5. Remove from heat & pour in a dish to cool.
  6. Let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

from: sarahblackstock.com

That’s it! Super simple and you can dress it up with other things (like orange zest!) if you want to be a bit fancy. It’s best to make it the day before and pull it out a while before serving to take the chill off.

My Thanksgiving Dinner, featuring homemade cranberry sauce

Happy holidays!

my house

Dining Table Surprise

We ordered a dining table back in September (when we decided to convert our front “formal” living room into a big ol’ dining/project room, instead) and it’s hereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee:

diningtable
Instagram

I had to move it closer to the wall than it actually belongs to be able to fit it all in one photo because IT’S SEVEN FEET LONG! We can eat dinner on one end without disturbing a board-game-in-progress on the other end. (I have priorities, people.)

Also, now that it’s in the room, I’m really glad we got the legs painted instead of stained to break up the wood & wood & more wood look. (We’re not putting a rug under it, so that would’ve been very brown!)

diningtable-top
Instagram

It’s lovely this way though. Now we just need some chairs…

More room details soon.

food, recipe

Single-Serving Chocolate Chip Cookies

Single-Serving Chocolate Chip Cookie
Instagram

Sometimes I really, really want homemade chocolate chip cookies, but lately two things have stopped me from having them: (1) our wall oven broke several months ago and we’re relying on a fancy toaster oven until we remodel our kitchen in a few more months, and (2) I’d love to eat a whole bunch of them but really probably shouldn’t.

Well, problem solved!

Because: (1) My toaster oven (the Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven) is actually really good at being an oven and handles all sorts of things (from these cookies to whole dinners) fantastically well, and (2) baking only two cookies at a time means they’re always fresh out of the oven when I eat one and also that there won’t be a pile of them sitting around ruining my attempt at eating remotely healthy on weekdays.

These cookies will take you about a total of 15 minutes and one bowl, so they’re totally worth the tiny bit of trouble.

Two Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Yield: 2 large cookies. You decide if that means one or two servings. 😉

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar, firmly packed
Pinch of kosher salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, warm butter until it’s softened.
  3. Mix butter, sugars, salt, and vanilla by hand in bowl.
  4. Add egg yolk into mixture and stir.
  5. Add baking soda and flour, then combine.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Divide dough into two balls and place a few inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 8 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.

Notes:

  • Once removed from oven, bang baking sheet firmly to deflate a bit.
  • Cool for a few minutes before using a spatula to move to a plate.
  • Want to bake in a toaster oven? Go for it! That’s how I did mine. Watch the baking time and/or consider using the cookie or convection setting, if yours has those.

Enjoy! 

my house

Front of the House: To Do

We’re in the process of renovating our living room & dining room, and plan to finish up our entryway and hallway soon too. Basically, the whole (interior) front of the house will be fixed up, except the kitchen, which we’re saving for sometime in 2016.

So, to better keep track of it all while we finish up, I’m posting a list so I can cross things off and keep track of everything. (Yes, this list seems really long since we’ve already made some big changes, but… well, there’s more to do!)

Living Room:

  • Add sectional. (Delivery should be soon!)
  • Finish up & paint built-in bookcases white.
  • Touch up grey paint on fireplace around mantel.
  • Install & paint trim around small doorway.
  • Paint & install baseboards.
  • Add new rug + rug pad.
  • Move coffee table & TV stand back into living room.
  • Set up TV stuff & surrounded sound.
  • Move books onto bookcases.
  • Decorate the fireplace/mantel.
  • Setup fireplace stuff (tools & log storage).
  • Add sliding barn doors at large doorway (or trim only — still deciding.)
  • Plan/shop for/hang wall art.
  • Install curtains/panels at sliding door.
  • Shop for console table & an end table.
  • Shop for chair for near sliding door/fireplace corner.

Entryway:

  • Pick out tile & have installed, along with baseboards.
  • Paint & install new coat closet door, including new hinges & knob.
  • Have painters minimize texture/repair, then paint.
  • Clean out & organize closet.
  • Replace overhead light.
  • Hang mirror or artwork.
  • Update light switches.

Dining Room:

  • Move out the temporary living room setup, so it can be a dining room.
  • Add dining table. (Delivery later this month!)
  • Order dining chairs.
  • Create coffee bar. (This will require its own to do list soon.)
  • Hire electrician to move overhead light & add outlets.
  • Install two curtain rods & hang two layers of new curtains.
  • Move sideboard into room & setup.
  • Plan/shop for wall art.

Hallway:

  • Have painters repair texture where needed & paint.
  • Paint new linen closet doors & add knobs.
  • Replace all doors, including hinges & knobs.
  • Hang gallery wall of photos.
  • Replace overhead light.
  • Replace doorbell.
  • Update light switches.

Whew. We’ve got work to do, but it’s going to be great.

Once we’ve got lots of these things handled (and before we move onto the kitchen), we’re going to get to work on remodeling the master bathroom and finishing up the master bedroom. So, stay tuned! 😀