Jul 31, 2010

Jewelery as art

I have been dying to get this project done for months now, and finally!  It's done!  And it only took five minutes!
My jewelery box looked like this:

Uh.  Yeah.
I wanted to be able to see everything I had, and since so many pairs would end up separated from each other, I had to do something else. I had come across this idea a while back of using an old frame and some window screening.  Yesterday we went to a rummage sale, and I found this:

Yup.  An old window screen.  For a dollar.
I washed it thoroughly, let it dry, and then went on to this:

I had this frame doing it's usual job for a long time, but then it found itself in a closet, unused.  I liked all the detail on it and thought it would make a nice jewelery holder!
The next thing I did was this:

And then came the time to attach it to the frame.  I grabbed my handy dandy staple gun and holding it taut so that it wouldn't sag, I went around the inside edge like this:


And voila!  A pretty and artsy way to display all my earrings together!
Five minutes and under $5 to make.
Here's the same concept I used for my necklaces and brooches.  The only difference is I used a piece of velvet and kept the cardboard backing from the original frame. The pushpins go through to hold the necklaces on the board.




And, just for fun, I also found this neat old trunk at the rummage sale yesterday.  Once I clean it up it's going in my craft room to hold extra fabric.  Don't you just love the old travel stickers?



Hope your weekend is full of fun!


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Jul 30, 2010

Frogmore Stew and a story

First of all, let me say that there are no frog legs in this dish.  From my understanding (aka internet research) the name comes from it's origin- South Carolina, from the county of Frogmore. I discovered this recipe when I was reading an issue of Cooking Light.  It looked safe enough, and I'd never tried it.  I'm always up for trying a new recipe, so I did. I tried it out on some friends of mine, and it is now an annual summer event! Here's the recipe, and if you'll humor me, a story about the friends to follow.
Frogmore Stew:
You will need a very large cooking pot- either that or split the ingredients evenly to 2 big pots. I used a 10 qt. and a 12 qt.

For 8 people:
  • 20 cups of water
  • 3/4 cup of Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 lbs red potatoes
  • 10 ears of corn, cut into 3" cob pieces
  • 3 lbs large shrimp- deveined, shelled
  • 2 1/2 lbs. of andouille or spicy sausage, cut into 2" pieces

 Bring water and Old Bay Seasoning to boil in stockpot.  Add in potatoes and cook for 15 minutes.  Next, add in sausage and cook for 5 minutes.  Add corn and cook for another 5 minutes.  Last, add in shrimp and cook for 5 minutes or until pink.  When shrimp is done cooking, pour all ingredients into large colander and drain.  You can either put it on a large serving platter, or traditionally, serve on a table covered in newspaper (as long as your table won't get ruined from the heat!) I opted for the platter  :)
You can serve this with cocktail sauce, lemons, whatever you'd like, but the seasoning that everything is boiled in, really flavors it well.

We had a great time that evening. Here's some pictures and the story behind some of the crazy people you'll see here:
the menu for the night

getting ready to cook!

we had an Italian soda station for the kids

The appetizers: some Caprese skewers- fresh mozzerella with basil leaves and cherry tomatoes- so yummy and easy!

dinner alfresco


digging in to the great food!


we had a Candy Bar Lineup for the kids (sound familar? ...the theme was inspired by a Seinfeld episode...)
we picked out a few random candy bars and let the kids do taste tests, then revealed the wrappers.
We had a fantastic night eating, laughing, and playing games.

Now for the story.
The friends that came over for Fromore Stew have a long history together. 
First, there were four boys. They grew up in church together, and some of them went to school together.  Eventually, they all ended up at colleges in the L.A. and San Diego area.  These four boys went on to meet 4 pretty girls and got married.
Here's a picture of the couples from a vacation in 2008:

L to R: Mark, Tiffany, me, Jon, Brian, Janie, Rex, Lois

It all started after these four boys brought their brides back to their hometown.
The newlyweds wanted to connect with other young married folk and have some accountability and maybe even have some fun together.  So they started a Bible study at one of the couples homes, and started meeting together weekly.  Shortly after they started meeting they decided to let each person have a night- sort of a get to know you time- so we posed one question to each person. 
What Has Made You Who You Are Today?
We got to know each other pretty well from that one question.  It was sort of therapeutic. Like Group Therapy we joked.  And so the name stuck.  The friends became known to each other as Group Therapy, or Group.
What we didn't realized was what this friendship would lead us to in our 17 years together.  These people have seen me at my worst, my best, my most vulnerable and painful moments. They have shared in my joys and my growing up adult years.  We've been through just about everything you can imagine- first homes, infertility, adoptions, the death of a firstborn, miracle pregnancies, holiday celebrations, vacations together, working together, cancer, two of the couples moving away; and eventually moving back, youth work, a near fatal car rollover, starting businesses, job changes, and of course, nights like this.  We have an annual wine tasting party in the fall, and now, summer Frogmore Stew.  They are celebrations of what we have as friends and the making of more wonderful memories. 
Isn't that what home is all about?


Jul 29, 2010

A Dear John letter

Dear Hyde Coffee Table,
You're good looking, a bit rugged; popular- all the girls love you. I've had my eye on you for a long, long time. Maybe you don't know this, but I look at your picture and imagine us together.  I've even seen you once in a store.
But it's over. I've found a new love. One that was right here all along, and requires much less commitment. I don't know how I missed my new love all this time, but we're together now.  Our eyes met- past the ugly yellow polyester couch, and I knew...we had to be together.  And I still got a good looking table with great legs.
Sincerely,
Thrift Shopper lover

Meet my new love:

just brought home- ready to be cleaned up

in the family room

This piece wasn't much to look at with a ratty old turntable sitting on it, and a broken 80's lamp nearby, but I knew the color and scale were exactly what I was looking for!  Previously, we had a way too small wooden chest as our table, it was really loved on and needed to be retired.  The only work I plan to do on this one is touch up some of the scratches!  If it wasn't already the perfect color for our space, it would look great in a shabby creamy white, or maybe even an apple green... a laquered black or red....that would look great!  But for now, it's staying as is.  And I got it for about one less zero than I would've paid through a catalog!  :)
Happy day!

Jul 28, 2010

Ingenious!

I just adore this outdoor space.  The photo was originally from the now defunct Cottage Living magazine. I was seriously depressed when they stopped printing it; but, onto the photo!
I love how you could use this same concept if you were in a rental, or wanted to add an extra bit of flair without a painting project.  Instant gratification!  And since these rugs are usually fairly inexpensive and easy to clean, they are a great option for outdoor wall art.  The comfy cushions, extra large plants and the paper parasol just make you want to grab a fruity drink and relax!

~Denise

Jul 27, 2010

My dining room

This has been one of my favorite transformations, and the vision I had in my head when we moved in is NOTHING like the (almost) finished room.  Here is what it looked like pre-move in:
When I started decorating, we had 0 (read that as zero) furniture.  So we were starting from scratch.  I thought what I'd like was a BIG framed cork board filled with all the guests and fun times to come in this dining room....hm.  It didn't have quite the look I was going for. (this picture below is from our last wine tasting party, but you can see the 'before')

And then I found a hutch at one of my favorite places....yep, you guessed it- Aunt Bee's! I think finding this piece really helped form the room. 

We switched out the chandelier that came with the house- it was much too small for the space, and wasn't fitting the look of the room.  Here's the new chandelier:

We added the ceiling medallion as well.

Here's the 'after' picture! It's still not finished, but it's pretty much there.  I plan on making a fun and nearly free project with my hanging birdcage in the corner there.....
The curtains have some great tie backs- I love ball fringe!! I found this trim on Etsy, and thought they'd add some life, fun, and color to the silk curtains.  I don't take decorating too seriously! :)  I have ball fringe scattered throughout our house.  It's my signature.  To me, it says vintage, fun, playful.
The details / accessories get changed around periodically, but here's the rest of the room:

I found this statue at a local antiques store years ago for $18!!   I know!!
It's also very similar to a statue we had next to our guest book at our wedding.
It's one of my favorite pieces.

the top of the hutch. The picnic basket was a wedding gift; the globe has the punch of turquoise I love and is representative of our hopes of traveling the globe soon; and the wine corks are from various get togethers in our home. 

Blue hydrangeas from our yard.  The candle vases were formerly on our wall sconces (see picture #2). I filled them with some sand and seashells.  The green plates on the wall are from Z Gallerie.

These little vintage salt and pepper shakers are one of my favorite things in this room.  They were a gift from my grandmother and her second husband.  It makes me smile every time I see them.

The vintage rose picture is from another favorite local shop- Serendipity.  My mom found this old creamer and gave it to me for Christmas one year. It has an inscription on it that reads Edelweiss Cafe.  Love it!

Thanks for touring my dining room! 
This room started out with absolutely nothing when we moved in, in 2008.  Some of the items were splurges- the chandlelier, and the dining set- but everything else was found at sales, was handmade, moved from other rooms around the house or items collected /saved/ cherished over the years. 

My next plans for this room are an area rug (see My Wishlist at top of the blog- Dash & Albert- Framboise Stripe), hopefully some cream slipcovers for the end chairs at the dining table, and some comfy chair pads for the wood chairs.  I keep looking, but so far haven't found the right ones! 

Have fun with your decor- make it personal, and something that brings a smile to your face everyday.

Jul 25, 2010

My weekend so far....

we enjoyed an annual dinner event with some good friends-
I went for a walk through one of my favorite neighborhoods... did some admiring of some of the beautiful homes there.
<>
I enjoyed my yard

Jul 23, 2010

Restaurant style chicken tacos

This is a new favorite for our family. We L-O-V-E-D it!!! It was a recipe I'd seen recently from Rocco DiSpirito. Salty, crunchy, creamy, just a wee bit spicy....can you feel the love? The first time we made the recipe, we followed the original plan of chicken with the avocado tomato salsa on top. We ooed and ahhed over every bite, and then we thought- wouldn't it be even MORE fabulous with homemade flour tortillas??!!!! Oh mama.
Super fast and yummy. Company worthy. And a few tips I'll throw in at the end.
Here's the recipe, I won't torture you any longer.



4 chicken cutlets (or two boneless, skinless breasts, halved)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 medium red onion, cut in thin strips
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges


Cooking DirectionsPreheat grill pan over high heat.
Coat chicken with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Add to grill pan; cook 2 to 3 minutes each side or until no pink remains.
Meanwhile, in large bowl combine avocados, tomato, onion, jalapeno, lime juice, and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with chicken.
Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges. Makes 4 servings.


Here's what I did- we went to our local favorite Mexican restaurant and ordered some homemade tortillas. For six of them, it was a couple bucks, and well worth it. We grilled the chicken on the BBQ, because we like the charred bits. This tastes every bit as good as tacos you'd eat in your favorite restaurant- and if you opt for no tortillas, still an amazing dish. This one is going to make the regular rotation at our house!


Have a great weekend!

~Denise

Jul 22, 2010

The birdfeeder is open for business

It's finally up! I haven't seen any feathered friends yet, but I just put the seed in last night, so hopefully today we'll see some new neighbors. There are some gorgeous finches in the area- they have a bright yellow front (you can tell I'm really into birdwatching! LOL) that makes them look like canaries!
I am so happy to have something like this in the yard- it really adds some personality. I couldn't resisit adding a set of house numbers to the feeder. Here's are some tips on how to hand paint from an easy stencil- I use all the time when I make signs or other fun things...
I use a clipart program that has a ton of fonts (yes, I know this is ancient software, but it still works for me!) and start with a blank page. You could use any program that allows access to fonts and the ability to size them.

Put whatever you are wanting to use as a stencil on the screen, in my case, the house numbers. I used the font, Garamond. It had a nice vintage look to it. I beefed it up a bit by hitting the bold tab- those thin little lines can be hard to paint! If you're new to this, you might want to try something a little thicker than what I used here just to get some practice. Either that, or size your lettering BIG.

Make sure that whatever you are going to be using the lettering is sized appropriately for the space you will be using it for. Print it, cut it out, and grab a pencil. Flip the paper over so the backside is up.



Begin tracing around the edges of the letters or numbers, carefully.


Tape your lettering /numbers, right side up onto what you will be painting- just enough to hold it on there for the next step. The pencil marked side needs to be touching the side you will be painting. Make sure it is straight!


Next, color over the edges of the letters or numbers- you don't have to be exact, just so you're getting the edges of the font.



Peel off the paper and tape, and the pencil marks will have traced themselves onto your piece! Voila! If you find you didn't get it on there straight, you can erase it and start over, but it's always easier to measure twice, draw once. ;)




Last, paint away to your hearts content. This project was tough, because it was already mounted when my idea for the numbers popped into my head. It would have been easier to do it inside where I could lay it down to do all this, but hey, it worked!
I added in the dots on either side with the end of my paint brush. It' so cute, I just love it.


Tomorrow is Foodie Friday- I will post the most yummy chicken taco recipe!
And last but not least, if you love quilting or fiber arts, please visit my friend Janae's website. She is ultra talented, teaches all kinds of quilting, bag making and fun projects- she even taught me to knit this last year! http://www.janaeking.com/
~Denise