Pinterest Challenge – Week 1 & Introduction

So, if you’re like me and the other 200 million people who use Pinterest regularly, you probably have a TON of pins that you’ve forgotten about since you first started pinning back in 2010 (yes, Pinterest is already 8 years old!). Pinterest is a fantastic place to get inspired with motivational quotes, find creative DIY ideas to spruce up your house, pretend you’re a chef and try out new recipes, get crafty, find great travel guides, and so much more. What do you mainly use Pinterest for?

However, it is also a place where you might find yourself scrolling and pinning aimlessly for hours on end, perhaps while you’re waiting in line, on the bus, or lying in bed and getting ready to get to sleep (Or is that just me…?). And what’s the point of it all? That one day you’ll go back and actually use it? How often does that really happen?

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I recently decided to purge my Pinterest account a bit. I got rid of some old, useless/broken pins, reorganized my categories, and now I’m back at pinning with a ferocity. Now that I’ve had more time recently as well, I’ve been trying out a lot of new recipes, exploring a lot of new travel blogs, and trying to get back into my crafty, artsy-fartsy old self.

 

But some weeks are better than others. I want to make sure my Pinterest account is full of interesting, legitimately useful pins that I can reference in the future. Too many times I try a recipe, forget about it for awhile, then try to go back and find it to no avail. Or even worse – I try a recipe or DIY, it turns out awfully, and then I forget to delete it and stupidly try it again months later.

I finally decided that I’ve had enough of it, and I’m ready to do something about it. But what?

…drum roll, please!…

Was that a bit too much? I do have a tendency to be quite cheesy. I apologize. What were we talking about?

Oh, that’s right. Pinterest! I’ve decided to create a weekly challenge for myself (and if any of you want to join in with me, feel free!). Each week, I will try out 5 new pins from my boards. They could be related to food, crafts, DIY, beauty, travel, whatever! I will share how each one goes, if I change anything about the process, my results, and a final rating – approved or rejected? Those that are rejected will be purged from my Pinterest boards.

If you have a great pin that you’d like me to try out, send it my way! Or if you’ve tried one of your pins recently, share with me your results and I’d be happy to share it on one of my future posts!

What do you think? Great idea? Silly? Impossible? I suppose we shall see! So, without further ado… Let the games begin!

SeasonedTravelr Pinterest Challenge – Week 1

For this first edition of the Pinterest Challenge, I’ve included 3 recipes, 1 travel guide and a DIY beauty concoction. The idea of this post series struck me after I had already made two of the recipes, so get ready for some major food porn (I hope you’re not reading this hungry). In future posts, I will try to vary up the 5 weekly pins! You’ll forgive me since this is the first edition, right?

1. Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce by The Food Charlatan

On Tuesday, the heat was really affecting my motivation levels, plus I have been stuck with an annoying cough for a couple of weeks now. However, chores must be done and dinner must be made, am I right? So I decided to turn to my trusty ol’ slow cooker for a recipe, so that I could just set it and forget it until dinnertime (if you want my complete list full of  slow cooker recipes, you can follow me here).  I have my usual go-to’s with the slow cooker, but my husband is currently on a special diet which involves no milk, eggs, seafood, nuts, or beans of any type (which basically takes away all of my favorites). So I decided to try something new, and I found this:

My husband and I both love curry, and I happened to have some chicken defrosting in the fridge. Plus the picture looks just scrumptious, don’t you agree? It was a match made in heaven.

When I read the recipe though, I slowly realized that I would have to modify a couple things. For one, I had chicken breasts and not thighs, as the recipe recommends. I don’t buy thighs often because I don’t like to mess with the bones and other bits, thighs just seem easier. I read through some of the comments, though, and saw that some other people had substituted breasts as well, so I breathed a sigh of relief and continued on.

The recipe also calls for jalapeño, which happens to be surprisingly difficult to find in Catalan markets. I had the pickled variety on hand, but I was worried that with the slow cooking process, it might ruin the overall flavor, so I decided to go without. My husband got lucky on this one – I’m obsessed with spicy food (Mexican cuisine is my all-time favorite), but him and pretty much every other Catalan person I know can’t handle the heat. Like at all. Read about my experience cooking Mexican food for my Catalan friends here (spoiler alert: it did not go well).

One other small thing – this isn’t just a dump-and-go recipe. You have to prepare the chicken, especially if you are using thighs as instructed, by seasoning and browning them a bit on both sides. Sure, this isn’t a super involved step, but it is still time. And in general, when I’m in a slow cooker mood, I would really prefer not to bother.

But anyways, I followed the instructions and browned the chicken and then added it into the slow cooker with the coconut milk, basil, curry, onions, and garlic. Then I set the timer for 5 hours and went off about my business (let’s be honest, it consisted of mostly pinning some more, sitting in front of the fan trying to survive the heatwave, and posting some things on Instagram).

I must say, the smell that emanated from the slow cooker all day long was incredible. I found myself dreaming about this chicken curry, and I was convinced it would be an absolute winner. How could it not be with such a heavenly smell?

When the timer went off and my husband arrived home, I followed the last couple steps: I added some ginger, shredded the chicken, and then made one other small, itty bitty modification… instead of the recommended corn starch (which I’ve actually never used in my life, and can’t find anywhere in Spain), I added in about a tablespoon of flour to help thicken up the sauce a bit. I always get nervous when adding in flour because I worry that it’ll clump up, so I added it in gradually as I stirred.

I served the chicken with a generous serving of its juices on top of Basmati rice.

The Verdict

I had super high hopes for this recipe, especially after being taunted all day by its amazing smell. However, I was a bit underwhelmed. The sauce was good, but there was no “wow” factor. All of the flavors kind of blended together, and the chicken didn’t have any special texture, either – which made me wonder if the browning step was even worth it.

My husband said he liked it, and even that he would put it on our imaginary “repeat list.” But I still wasn’t convinced, even after eating the leftovers the next day. I felt like something was missing, perhaps some vegetables or lime squeezed on top. Plus, I noticed that every time I ate it (the recipe serves 6-8 people, so it became our lunch for the next couple days), I felt a bit of acid reflux, perhaps from the garlic (a whopping 8 cloves), which rarely ever happens to me. I’m a huge garlic fan, but perhaps that large quantity was just a bit too much.

However, this is not going on my purge list. I made quite a few modifications, so that wouldn’t be fair. I want to go back and try this again one day, following the recipe word for word. So this will stay on my Pinterest board until that day comes (which will probably be in another 10 years when I go through all of my pins again – ha!).

2. 4 Days in Prague Itinerary: Complete Guide for First-Timers by The Invisible Tourist

So, I thought it would be important when doing this challenge that I don’t just showcase food – I absolutely love cooking, but this site is about travel too, am I right? And while I can’t always be traveling, I can always get my wanderlust on. On Pinterest, I often save travel guides to my boards for future trips. But how can I judge a pin to be worthy or not if it is based on a travel guide?

My initial idea is that I’ll go through the guides of places where I’ve actually visited, read through them, and compare them to my personal experiences. I’ll say whether or not I think the guide is all-inclusive, has good tips, photos, etc. What do you think? (Forgive me, it seems I’m talking to myself again)

Two years ago, I had the awesome experience of visiting Prague with my then-boyfriend, now-husband. We were coming from Dresden in Germany, and it was early January so it was freezing cold. My husband had been once before, but it was my first time. Unfortunately, we were only there for a grand total of 2 days. This guide recommends at least 4, to which I would agree. While we had an amazing time, there was still so much that I wanted to see. Take that advice to heart!

This post also gives a visual of the locations recommended on a map, along with a recommendation for accommodations in the city center. It then goes on to explain attractions, in detail, to see on each day, and why they’re interesting. Reading through this post was a pleasure and a bit of torture at the same time – while I had seen many of these things, there were definitely some that I missed while on my trip (such as the Astronomical Tower at Klementinum). Some great recommendations!

The Verdict

This is a fantastic and complete guide showcasing the best of Prague, including some lesser-known sights! I highly recommend it to anyone who is going to visit Prague. It is very informative and witty, and an absolute pleasure to read through. This will definitely stay on my boards for future reference!

Although mentioned in the post, I thought it would be good to reiterate here – in Prague, they do not accept the euro, but rather the Czech Koruna. The conversion rates can be super difficult to wrap your head around, and some locals take advantage of that fact. I remember our first day in Prague, we went to a winter market and decided to get some roast meat and vegetables that they were cooking in the square – it smelled heavenly. I walked up to the vendor and meekly asked “Do you speak English?” in Czech, to which he just laughed in my face and said “of course.” I then ordered the food, and he told us the price – but it seemed like an astronomical amount. My husband and I kind of just looked at each other uncomfortably, because honestly we had no idea how much that really was. The vendor kind of rushed us so we handed the money over, took our food, and left. We then went and did a conversion on our phone and found out that the guy had charged us the equivalent of over 40 euros for a small plate of meat and vegetables. Not a great way to start the trip. I’d highly recommend downloading an offline currency converter on your phone while you’re there, so you can quickly check the conversion before paying and not have a similar experience.

The only small thing that I thought was missing from this guide was a bar that I had a lot of fun in – an Absintherie not too far from the main square in the city center. The bartenders were super friendly and helpful, and helped us order a concoction that we would like. It is also awesome to see them light the drink on fire! Absinthe has a very unique flavor, but if you’re only going to try it once in your life, you should definitely try it here!

But, to finish, if you’re visiting Prague – definitely check out this guide, and have an awesome time!

3. Garlic Balsamic Brown Sugar Steaks by Wildflour’s Cottage Kitchen

I had some beef that I wanted to cook up, but I wanted to make it more interesting than just on the grill. I decided to look up a marinade and found this recipe which caught my eye (I’m not very good at just keeping things simple).

This recipe is very simple, and basically just calls for marinating the steaks a couple hours ahead of time and then grilling them. So I gathered together all of the marinade ingredients (butter, oil, garlic, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, worcestershire sauce, sriracha, cayenne, salt & pepper), lathered them onto my steaks, and set them back in the fridge for 3 hours.

I made two small changes to the recipe. First, I used thin cut steaks instead of the thick-cut New York Strips recommended, because it is what I had on hand, and I figured I’d just cook it for less time than instructed. Second, I left out the cajun seasoning because I just don’t have that available in Spain.

After marinating, I put the steaks on my electric grill (okay, okay, I suppose that is kind of like 3 modifications – it is no substitute for the real thing) on high, and let them grill for about a minute on each side (much less than instructed since mine were a lot thinner and cooked much faster).

I served the steak with a small salad and a baked potato. The recipe also mentions using the leftover marinade to make a syrupy sauce, but I ended up getting lazy and didn’t try that part.

The Verdict

The steak was definitely flavorful, with a little bit of a kick from the Sriracha. It makes me wonder how it’d taste using the thick-cut stucks! I love me a good, medium steak (ours were more well-done due to how thin they were). My husband enjoyed it, too! I’m going to keep this one on my board for future use.

4. 3-Ingredient Rose Petal Sugar Scrub by Happiness is Homemade

I recently received a bouquet of flowers, and I remembered having pinned this DIY scrub, so I decided it was meant to be. Plus, with only 3 ingredients, even I couldn’t screw it up! So I gathered it all together – dried rose petals (which was a first for me, doing by hand – took longer than I thought!), sugar, and coconut oil. I also added the optional ingredient of lavender essential oil. I must say, the entire process of making this was absolutely heavenly, the smells were incredible!

Just like in the pictures, after mixing it all together I put the mixture into some mason jars and topped it with fabric and ribbon.

The Verdict

These turned out super cute! I ended up giving them to my mother and grandmother as gifts, and they loved them. I kept a little bit for myself as well to try. The sugar and coconut oil are fantastic for the skin, and the aromas are lovely while you’re taking a shower or a bath.

However, the rose petals don’t dissolve (well, duh I suppose, but it didn’t actually occur to me until I tried) so many of the little pieces get stuck to the sides of the tub, and it worries me that it might clog. Furthermore, after a few days, the petals start to get a little soggy and change color, so they no longer look that pretty in the jar.

Although this was a really cute gift, I didn’t find it practical. Perhaps it could be nice in super small mason jars as a 1-time scrub to be used immediately, or for a girl’s night, but leaving it out for much longer doesn’t work well in my experience. I’m going to keep this on my boards only for the basic recipe minus the petals, plus the cute decoration idea.

5. Tender Pork Marsala by Self Proclaimed Foodie

My husband was finally able to incorporate milk into his diet again, so I wanted to create something special to suit the occasion. I had some pork tenderloin on hand, so I went searching on Pinterest and came across this beauty:

It involves marinating the pork for a couple hours in olive oil, herbes de provence, and garlic. Super simple, right? I wasn’t convinced that it’d be enough to cover the pork, or give enough flavor (spoiler alert: I was wrong). I didn’t have a ready-made mix of herbes de provence, so I went to trusty Google and found a quick recipe that you can find here if you’re stuck in the same boat as me, with some minor modifications (I didn’t add fennel, marjoram, or lavender because they weren’t on hand).

Then, you brown the pork quickly on both sides, put them aside, and then sauté the shallots (I substituted for an onion), garlic, and mushrooms in the same pan. You add some flour, Marsala wine and chicken broth (I didn’t have wine, so I just substituted the wine for more chicken broth) and let it cook for a bit, then stir in some heavy cream and parsley. You add the pork back into the pan, and voilà – you’re set! I served this over pasta.

The Verdict

This was delicious! Probably my favorite recipe out of all the ones I’ve tried this week (and last week). Even with my modifications, it turned out amazing. The one minor thing that I’d change for next time is that I’d perhaps add in some more flour. I always get worried about adding too much, but it would’ve been good to have a bit of a thicker sauce that would stick to the noodles better. Also, the recipe says to just cut the pork into medallions, but I decided that since it’d be over pasta, I’d make it easier by just cutting the pork into small strips. I can’t wait to have the leftovers tomorrow, don’t hesitate in trying this!

Have you tried any of your pins recently? How did they turn out? Share your results with us below! If you have any pins that you’d like me to give a try, send them my way 🙂

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Let us know what you think!

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