Thursday, June 7, 2018

Recipe: Delicious Dinner - Easy One Pot Pasta Puttanesca

So ... I haven't posted in awhile. 

That's because, we decided somewhat impulsively to put our house on the market. 




And ... we think it's sold.  Fingers crossed.  (Inspections pending).




More on that in a future post, once everything clears. 

Anyway, for those of you who haven't had to sell a house before, just know that you have to keep EVERYTHING in 100% clean, pristine condition at all times.  I call it museum house - pretty to look at, but don't touch. 

Imagine owning a museum house with a 2 year old toddler.  It's loads of fun.  Especially when I'm trying to still cook somewhat healthy meals for our family and avoid eating out as much as possible.

Needless to say, finding options to cook in the house that:

     (1) don't make too much mess
          -or-
     (2) don't smell up the house

... it's been challenging. 

Thankfully, I found this recipe, quite by accident actually (some page on Facebook I follow posted it or something, I don't recall).  Internet to the rescue!

I improvised the above recipe somewhat, as I prefer not to use store bought pasta sauce.  And if I don't say so myself, the end result was quite good. 

Fair warning: my dish ended up a little more saucy than some might prefer, but I like a saucier dish.  If you prefer something with less sauce, try using the smaller size of tomato sauce (12-18oz) rather than the larger (24ish ounces). I would also recommend starting with 1.5 cans of chicken stock, and then adding the remaining 1/2 can as needed.

Enjoy!


-----


Easy One Pot Pasta Puttanesca



*photo per the original link above, below recipe is my amended version




Ingredients
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion (smaller, 12-18 oz size)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning (smaller, 12-18 oz size)
  • 1 can plain tomato sauce (larger, 24oz+/- size)
  • 1 can tomato paste (smaller, 5-6oz size)
  • 2 cans reduced sodium chicken stock (smaller, 12-18 oz size)
  • 1 box whole wheat pasta, any style (I used rotini, 13-14 oz size)
  • 1 can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 8 oz pitted and halved kalamata olives
  • 2-3 tablespoons capers
  • crushed red pepper and garlic to taste

Directions

Place uncooked pasta in large pot.  Cover with chicken stock, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes (do not drain diced tomatoes).

Continue to add in remaining ingredients, being careful to ensure pasta stays covered with liquid.  I gently placed the artichokes, tomato paste, olives, capers, etc on top and chose not to stir until the base liquid began to simmer.

When simmering begins, gently stir every 1-2 minutes. 

Cook until pasta is desired texture, typically 8-10 minutes.  Serve as is, topped with your favorite cheese, or with a side of meatballs or Italian chicken.

Makes a very large dish.  Will feed 4-6 hungry adults, likely with leftovers to spare.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Visiting NOLA - Days 3&4

Each year, around my birthday, I make an effort to plan an adventure of sorts.

In years past, I've done such things as go to see Britney Spears and the Grand Canyon in Vegas, or run Bay to Breakers in San Francisco and then tour the city afterwards.  Typically, my adventures involve going somewhere and doing something dumb. And without a doubt, costuming and shenanigans are involved whenever possible.


 

 


Of course, 2018 was no exception.  With nothing in mind, though, when planning this year's adventure I basically licked my finger and threw it to the wind, waiting to see what would fall into my lap.  After lots of thought and some digging around (such as pricing airfare with frequent flyer miles and buy one get one free coupons), I found a pretty sweet deal and decided to check off another bucket list item - a visit to New Orleans.  

Yes, I chose New Orleans despite the fact that I'm by no means a spring chicken anymore, and have basically exhausted my liver having gone to UW-Madison - a consistently rated top 10 party school from the 90s to today.  I full well realized prior to booking my trip that NOLA is known for it's debauchery and drinking culture.  HOWEVER, it is also known for it's unique creole heritage, long established history, and many other things.  Those "many other things" have drawn my curiosity for years.  And finally, this was the year for me to seek them out!

Today's post below is part 3 of my New Orleans travel recap.  You can read day one here and day two here.

---

Days Three & Four - More Touring & Sunshine!

After two busy days of travel and touring the French Quarter, Friday morning seemed like a good time to leave the city and see more outside of New Orleans.

In fact, prior to even leaving Minneapolis I had anticipated we'd be ready to go see other things by this point in the trip, so months prior I had asked my husband to book us a rental car for the day.  Meanwhile I had researched things to do within driving distance of the city and settled on a swamp tour in the morning, and a plantation visit in the afternoon.

Again relying on internet reviews, I settled on Cajun Encounters swap tours for our morning outing.  And again, my choice did not disappoint.

Just as our ticket advised, we arrived at 9 am and were on a boat departing shore by 9:30 am - right on time, if not early.  I have to admit, I started the tour a bit disappointed because the tour guide stated that Louisiana was having a late (cold) spring, which means few alligator sightings since most stay in hibernation until the temps hit a certain level.

But I kid you not ... he barely got that sentence out and:




Now granted, that was a pretty tiny gator.  But I was ok with that once I realized how high out of the water those things could jump.  Honestly, if an adult sized gator had been jumping out of the water that close to my son, I likely would have shat myself.

Aside from gators, the tour featured other natural wildlife in the swamps like birds, wild boars, and raccoons:




After seeing about all the wildlife we could, the tour swung by an area where a few dozen or so shanty shack type dwellings stood.




There, the guide explained the squatters rights these people had attained over the course of time (we're talking 50-100 years ago these families started living on the water), and the lifestyle they have had to adjust into as a result of Katrina.  I myself looked at the lifestyle they were leading and immediately knew it was not for me - just from a flood perspective alone!

As the tour wound down, our guide recommended some lunch options in the town nearby, and helped us unload from the boat.  Taking his suggestion, we headed to Peck's seafood, where we learned what southern style portions really meant:





That, my friends, is a side order of fried pickle chips for $6.99.  Seriously, the plate was bigger than my head, and it was meant to be served along with the sandwich I ordered.

No, I did not even come close to finishing.  Heh.  I don't think I even made a sizable dent in it at all, as it still looked like a full serving when I walked away!

After lunch, while I endured a brief fried food coma, my husband started us off on another drive to our next destination which was about 1 to 1.5 hours away - Oak Alley Plantation.




For me, choosing a plantation tour in this area was somewhat difficult, partially due to historical/political reasons.  As much as I hate to see it, many people today still want to hide the truth about what plantations stood for - meaning: glossing over what it took to make a plantation work ... slavery.  I myself wanted to see an accurate portrayal of everything related to plantation life, owners and slaves alike, and didn't want to pretend that some huge mansion was there just for rich white people to live their fancy lives.

Finding a plantation that offered the entire picture of plantation life, and not just the "white washed owner's life" was difficult.  But, on the other end of the spectrum, I also discovered there is at least one plantation in Louisiana that only tells the story from the slave's perspective.  Neither polarized perspective was what I was looking for, since I wanted to see what life inside both the "big house" and the "small houses" was like.

Since I was being choosy, I spent quite a bit of time prior to my visit reading reviews from several plantation sites.  Eventually I settled on Oak Alley, as they seemed to offer the closest to a full spectrum display that I could get.  I was hesitant on my choice, because even Oak Alley didn't have the greatest of reviews.  And to be fair, after visiting, I could see why some of the reviews called Oak Alley too "simple" or "basic", as they did not go into very in-depth into anything - owner or slave alike.  However, given my options, and my overall experience at Oak Alley, I was happy I went.

My son, after taking a nice nap in the car, also enjoyed this part of the trip - we let him be a free range toddler in the "Oak Alley", which he thought was pretty fantastic ... until we said it was time to go and he threw a hissy fit on the walkway.




Ah!  The terrible twos are here, for sure.

The real reason my son was sad to go was because the root bases of these trees were amazing, and he was fascinated with walking around every tree, trying to conquer walking around the roots without falling down.




Actually - the trees proved to be a good exercise in dexterity for him, and a good exercise in not noping out and leaving my kid behind for me.  I say this because, shortly after posing for a cute photo, I discovered the tree I was playing by with my son had a snake crawling down from higher branches.  It took just about everything in me to not scream and run away, leaving my son in the dust.  LOL!  Let's just say, after that, I was much more concerned about which tree my son was by and why!

Once we left the plantation, we drove a little out of the way to have dinner at a unique restaurant called The Cabin.  I had heard that this place was actually built in what used to be slave quarters as well, so I thought it would be some sort of experience. Unfortunately, while the food was OK and service was good, the overall experience was not any more notable than being at a TGIFriday's or some other sort of chain establishment.  As a result, I was a little sad I "wasted" my last dinner in New Orleans there.  Honestly, though, it was probably for the best that we ate at The Cabin, as my son's patience over the ongoing three days of traveling had worn thin and he was done - the staff did an excellent job of noticing his situation and accommodating us with quick food service.

Thankfully, our remaining journey to return our rental car and taxi back to the hotel was uneventful, and after getting my son to bed I enjoyed the balcony of my hotel room quite extensively for one last night in the French Quarter.

Speaking of, it was officially Friday night in New Orleans, which meant Bourbon Street was bustling.  I couldn't help but be amazed by the constant flow of people we could see walking up and down Bourbon from our balcony (as well as the occasional visit by an ambulance or police car).  That influx of people continued to exponentially increase over the next 8-10 hours, and we quickly noticed the easy going New Orleans we had experienced for the bulk of our trip had quickly degraded into shoulder to shoulder crowds and long lines everywhere.

Shopping areas like the French Market and the side streets in the French Quarter, which were peaceful and pleasant strolls just a day or two earlier, had turned into absolute chaos come Saturday by 10 am.  Even Cafe Du Monde had a line of easily 100 people by 9 am that morning!

I couldn't believe the shift that took place in such a short time frame.  Certianly, I was glad that we had booked our trip during an off period so as to miss most of the crowd that was now taking over the streets.

In fact, after a short morning and an early nap for my son, rather than continuing to fight the crowds in an area that we had already seen anyway, we decided to "cut 'em loose".  By noon, we had checked out of our hotel and boarded a cab back to the airport.

Thankfully, this time, our flight was actually EARLY returning home, and we were all grateful to be home for a truly peaceful night's sleep once again.





Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Visiting NOLA - Day 2

Each year, around my birthday, I make an effort to plan an adventure of sorts.

In years past, I've done such things as go to see Britney Spears and the Grand Canyon in Vegas, or run Bay to Breakers in San Francisco and then tour the city afterwards.  Typically, my adventures involve going somewhere and doing something dumb. And without a doubt, costuming and shenanigans are involved whenever possible.


 

 


Of course, 2018 was no exception.  With nothing in mind, though, when planning this year's adventure I basically licked my finger and threw it to the wind, waiting to see what would fall into my lap.  After lots of thought and some digging around (such as pricing airfare with frequent flyer miles and buy one get one free coupons), I found a pretty sweet deal and decided to check off another bucket list item - a visit to New Orleans.  

Yes, I chose New Orleans despite the fact that I'm by no means a spring chicken anymore, and have basically exhausted my liver having gone to UW-Madison - a consistently rated top 10 party school from the 90s to today.  I full well realized prior to booking my trip that NOLA is known for it's debauchery and drinking culture.  HOWEVER, it is also known for it's unique creole heritage, long established history, and many other things.  Those "many other things" have drawn my curiosity for years.  And finally, this was the year for me to seek them out!

Today's post below is part 2 of my New Orleans travel recap.  You can read day one here.  In the future, after they post, you can read day days three & four here.

---

Day Two - More Touring & Sunshine!

Since we had booked a room at the Omni Royal, we were blessed to be staying somewhat off the beaten path and away from the higher traffic areas of the French Quarter in New Orleans.  This helped with obtaining a somewhat peaceful night's sleep, although I almost never sleep well on my first night of traveling (does anyone, really?).

This is not to say that I was rearing to go when my son started stirring at 6:30 am ... but, at least I can say I did get some sleep.  I'm sure many others in the French Quarter that morning couldn't say the same *ahem - Burbon Street partiers - ahem*.

Taking advantage of an early wake-up call, we headed straight to Cafe Du Monde for breakfast.




I had heard that the lines here can be obscene, but being that we were traveling to the city AFTER Mardi Gras, and ready to eat around 8 am on a Thursday morning, getting a table was no issue at all.  In fact, we had our pick of several empty spots.

Fair warning - the menu here is simple, the servers expect you to be ready to order as soon as you sit, and the payment is CASH ONLY.  Be prepared when you visit.




And also ... be prepared for some seriously delicious, but seriously messy, beignets.  I heard the pro tip is not to wear black when you go there, so I dressed accordingly.  LOL!




Despite the guilt you may feel eating only fried dough for breakfast, one bite into these guys and any reservations you have about breaking your diet will be gone.  Guaranteed.  My only word of advise is to request your coffee in a to-go cup, simply so that you are able to take your coffee when you're done eating ... and so you're not tempted to hang around and order a second round of beignets - heh!

Tacking on to our early morning advantage, I had scheduled a 9 am horse drawn carriage tour (ok, ok - technically MULE drawn) of the French Quarter and St. Louis Cemetery #1.




Prior to our visit I had done some research, and learned that Royal Carriage was highly recommended.  I have to say after my experience, I agree with my initial research.  Not only were the booking agents incredibly friendly and helpful, the tour guide we had was excellent as well.

Our tour started with a carriage ride through the French Quarter, which my son was enthralled with to say the least.  As we rode, our driver served as a guide, speaking to historical facts as we passed various buildings.  About 10 minutes or so later, we arrived St. Louis Cemetery #1.




A brief intro regarding this cemetery - New Orleans is famous for the above ground tombs (they cannot bury below ground due to the high water table), the most famous "resident" in this cemetery  is the so-called "Voodoo Queen" Marie Laveau, and this cemetery is private so you must have a certified tour guide with you in order to enter (due to ongoing vandalism issues).

Having started our carriage ride at 9 am, even with the short journey to the cemetery we were still the first visitors to arrive that day, which was ideal.  Without anyone in our way, we were free to roam and have a very relaxing tour.  Not to mention, the heat of the day hadn't picked up yet, so the temperature was amazingly perfect.  Even our tour guide was in awe with our luck; he remarked that he didn't think he had ever been in there when he was the only one visiting, especially on such a beautiful day.

For some people, having no one else in the way would be ideal due to photo opportunities inside the cemetery.  Out of respect to those buried, I chose not to take any pictures posing at tombstones myself.

However, I would like to point out that Nicolas Cage purchased a 3 plot wide burial site here that is incredibly garish and unoccupied (which makes me feel less guilty about posting a picture of it) ... and somehow people have decided to kiss the damn thing; when we walked by there were lipstick prints all over the front marker.




This kissing business was particularly disgusting to me because just a few minutes prior, the tour guide had explained the "natural cremation" process that occurs in these tombs.  It had never occurred to me that with New Orleans being so hot, burying a body inside a cement tomb would essentially "cremate" a dead body within a year's time.  So basically, all those tombs serve as body cookers.  Then, whenever the next family member is due to be buried inside (as long as 1 year has passed), they push what's left of your remains into the back cavern of the tomb.  This is how they continue making room for the next burial in this cemetery, which is around 300 years old.

I think the exact quote of our tour guide was "I sure would like to be here, seeing what the tour guide says that makes these ladies kiss that tomb ... because it just seems like a good way to get sick if you ask me."

Not going to lie, I kind of loved our tour guide after that.

I loved him even more so when I realized I could get a more honest narration from him, and asked him his thoughts on Delphine LaLaurie - meaning, how much of her story that we heard on the previous night's ghost tour was true, and how much of it was sensationalism in his opinion.  The Royal Carriage tour guide was obviously more versed in the true history of New Orleans, and confirmed my suspicions.  (Side note: after the ghost tour, I had discovered that the current LaLaurie mansion in New Orleans isn't even the original building, as the "real" one burned down in the late 1800's - so, many of the stories where ghost tour guides say "X" happened in this or that room are simply not true.)  The Royal Carriage tour guide said that essentially: the most reliable historical documents stated that Delphine owned a handful of slaves that tattle-tailed on her for being abusive, and in a round about way they were all removed from her possession but rewarded back to her care.  In the end, she locked all of said slaves into a private room and left them to basically starve/dehydrate to death as payback.  Though her actions were obviously still incredibly wrong and cruel, it is much less horrific than the rumored abuses of sheer torture and abomination that many of the ghost stories folks like to tell.

Anyway - after a cemetery tour, which our guide politely asked if we would like to cut short based on my son starting to get antsy (I was much appreciative of his observation and adaptability) - we finished the second half of our carriage ride and headed off to an early lunch at Johnny's Po-Boys.




FYI - this establishment is also cash only.  Apparently New Orleans likes its paper.  Either way, I recommend this as a cheap, down and dirty, homestyle lunch.

Also, another side note before I move on - I would highly recommend Royal Carriages for a tour, with one caveat: take a carriage tour and a cemetery tour separately.  Obviously, booking a mule and a tour guide together is much more expensive, so you may as well benefit from both for the entire duration of your tour ... and THEN take a foot guided cemetery tour before/after.

Moving on.

With a full belly after lunch, my son laid down to nap.  Meanwhile, what else was there to do for me?  When in New Orleans ... get drunk on hurricanes at Pat O'Brian's and then wander around the French Quarter window shopping, of course!








Yes, that is in fact (1) a balcony of skeleton revelers throwing beads, (2) a shop selling sexy mer-men and various other sexy man-creatures as Christmas ornaments, and (3) a shop selling a taxidermed feline in roller skates and a tutu.

And you thought I was weird?!

After nap, we decided to venture out of New Orleans' French Quarter just a tad, and hopped on the public street car to check out Frey's Smoked Meat.  I had found this place via some sort of "nation's best XYZ" article ... I don't recall if it was a Food Network promo or what.  Either way, the menu looked good, so I thought it was worth a chance, and it was easy enough to get to via a 20 minute ride and a short walk.

The outside of Frey's is unsuspecting, so I was worried I might have made a bad choice - or even lead us to a defunct business.





But I have to say - once inside, I was pleasantly surprised.  The food was really good!  Obviously they knew how to BBQ, and I had zero complaints about the sides I had ordered: Brussels sprouts and mac & cheese.

My son on the other hand, couldn't have been happier at the end of the meal.




Cookie Monster - nom nom nom!  (Don't worry, we all shared the shake - he basically just had a few bites of the cupcake and that was it.)

Then, a quick street car ride later, and with big plans for an excursion the next day, we were back in our hotel once again for an early night's sleep.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Visiting NOLA - Day 1

Each year, around my birthday, I make an effort to plan an adventure of sorts.

In years past, I've done such things as go to see Britney Spears and the Grand Canyon in Vegas, or run Bay to Breakers in San Francisco and then tour the city afterwards.  Typically, my adventures involve going somewhere and doing something dumb. And without a doubt, costuming and shenanigans are involved whenever possible.


 

 


Of course, 2018 was no exception.  With nothing in mind, though, when planning this year's adventure I basically licked my finger and threw it to the wind, waiting to see what would fall into my lap.  After lots of thought and some digging around (such as pricing airfare with frequent flyer miles and buy one get one free coupons), I found a pretty sweet deal and decided to check off another bucket list item - a visit to New Orleans.  

Yes, I chose New Orleans despite the fact that I'm by no means a spring chicken anymore, and have basically exhausted my liver having gone to UW-Madison - a consistently rated top 10 party school from the 90s to today.  I full well realized prior to booking my trip that NOLA is known for it's debauchery and drinking culture.  HOWEVER, it is also known for it's unique creole heritage, long established history, and many other things.  Those "many other things" have drawn my curiosity for years.  And finally, this was the year for me to seek them out!

Today's post below is part 1 of my New Orleans travel recap.  In the future, after they post, you can read day two here and days three & four here.

---

Day One - Travel, Travel and More Travel!

Visiting New Orleans from Minneapolis is somewhat tricky, since Delta currently has a limited offering of direct flights in and out of my city.  To make matters more challenging, as I mentioned, I booked my trip with various ticket cost reduction promos.  The end result of all this meant travel during a somewhat off period - flying out of Minneapolis Wednesday for an arrival to New Orleans around 1 pm, and departing New Orleans Saturday for an arrival back to Minneapolis around 7 pm.

In theory, we were supposed to board our plane out of Minneapolis at 10 am and arrive New Orleans just in time for a late lunch.

In reality, our plane was scheduled to start it's day in Sioux Falls, SD - which was currently having a snow storm -  and then transfer it's load in Minneapolis and head south.

I'm sure you can imagine where this is going.

After a 3 hour snow delay in Sioux Falls, our plane finally arrived Minneapolis for what was roughly a 1 pm departure.  I know three hours doesn't sound like much.  But what I haven't said up to this point was that I was traveling with my son in tow.  So ... imagine trying to keep a 2 year old entertained at an airport through a 3 hour flight delay ... and then trying to put him onto a 2 and 1/2 hour flight.  

Our long day got even longer when he refused to nap on the plane, and even longer yet when the luggage hatch was jammed on the plane and we could not get our stroller and luggage from the airport claim areas for another half an hour.

On the upside, though, we arrived to our hotel well after the approved check in time, so our room was available without any special arrangements required.  And we had just enough time to change for our dinner reservation, which we didn't miss despite all the flight delays.  So, at least there were a few small wins in there.

With most of the day burned up on travel, our first day in New Orleans was largely spent eating at Mr. B's Bistro.  




There, we started the meal by sharing some fried green tomatoes among our table, which I thought were quite good (we later learned that the serving was really only intended for one person, but there were enough slices that it still worked to share).  I followed with a cup of gumbo ya-ya, which I thought was ok but not fantastic.  It was much better, however, with some hot sauce thrown in.




My main was the garlic chicken, which I thought was actually quite good.  And I finished with a pecan pie slice, which again was ok but not fantastic.




To be fair, my general reception of Mr. B's may be a bit subdued because my husband and I enjoy cooking and eating unique meals.  So, for us, creole style cooking is actually a part of our mainstay diet - I love things like jambalaya, spicy foods, and beans and rice based cooking.  Therefore, while I think the food here was good ... maybe I'm a little spoiled on "good creole" because I've had similar dishes plenty of times myself?

Also, I think my reception of Mr. B's was also a bit jaded by our service.  Unfortunately for our table, the server that started our meal did not carry though and finish.  After we placed our initial meal order, he disappeared.  Thankfully, another server realized the gaffe and stepped in ... but only after we were visably unsettled awaiting proper service responses.

To further complicate the end of the meal, my son - who was a trooper up to this point, having had no nap - was pretty much done.  I felt like a terrible mom when, just before our dessert arrived, he laid his head down on the table and closed his eyes.  Ugh.  At least I can highly praise him for being so good the rest of the day after a long day of travel.  And yes, we ate dessert very promptly so we could get him straight to bed.  (Side note, he did perk up considerably when the "yummies" arrived and he realized he could have a few bites, lol.)

After getting my son settled in bed, I took off on a guided foot tour offered by none other than the Voodoo Bone Lady:




Actually, my tour was lead by a geeky white guy who was waaaaay too enthusiastic about cheesy ghost and vampire stories.  But the tour was entertaining none the less, and a fun (and safe) way to get a tour of New Orleans at night.  If you don't mind chipping $25 into the till for a 2 hour walking tour, this one wasn't too bad!

As an added bonus, we had a pit stop at an ice cream and fried food place that offered quite the hot sauce collection:




The tour was scheduled to run from 8 to 10 pm, which after a long day of travel for me, was plenty.  Exhausted, I headed back to my hotel and called it a night.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

St. Pat's Extra Mom

With nothing new to talk about these days, I suppose I could talk about being an extra mom on St. Pat's.  I mean, it kind of goes along with a healthy lifestyle ... being a green themed holiday and all, right?!




If you haven't read any of my "extra mom" posts yet, just to get you up to speed: I've mentioned in a few previous posts that I try to send fun things to daycare for the staff that takes care of my son - most recently, that meant sending year of the dog themed gift bags for Lunar New Year and heart in a bottle necklaces for Valentines Day.

Since those two holidays were kind of a big gift day from a financial perspective, and being that I was somewhat uninspired for St. Pat's (due not wanting to send the staff a bunch of junk food), I decided to keep this gift simple and go handmade.

Having no idea what to make, somehow I settled on paracord knot tying.  Don't ask me why.

Yes - I do mean these things ... that may or may not have already gone out of style.  But ... I promise my version was cute, ok?!




First, using this YouTube tutorial, I made some green paracord bracelets with shamrock charms.  FYI - the shamrock charms I used are sized for a knock of Pandora bracelet, in case you're interested in using them for other applications.





To save the cost of typical plastic snap closures, and to avoid fit/sizing issues, I adapted the bracelets I made to be a bangle style with a knot and loop closure.  If you want to try making this bracelet yourself - since I had trouble with the globe shaped knot in that first video link, this tutorial may be helpful for you as well. 

Although I forgot to take a nice picture of the finished product, you can get a general idea of how the bracelet turned out here ... even though I hadn't trimmed and sealed the stray ends yet.





As you can see, I likely erred on the side of too large with my bracelet.  Whoops.  Though it looked cute stacked over my watch, it was too large alone.  I would recommend going slightly smaller and more fitted on the wrist to anyone trying this themselves.

Anyway - of course, just a bracelet would never be enough of a gift for me.  Hahaha.  Trying to come across somewhat St. Patrick's themed, I wrapped each bracelet in a small piece of shinny gold tissue paper to make it look like a sack of gold, and tied each to a bottle of strawberry kiwi ice.




Like I said, I didn't remember to take finished pics this time ... so you'll have to use your imagination a bit for this post.  But I promise, the end result was cute enough to meet my usual standards.

So there you have it ... if you want to get rope burns on your fingers and break a few nails in the name of a non-relevant holiday, now you have some inspiration!  So go hop to it!