Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Favs 6

Happy Labor Day weekend!  Here's some awesome things that I'm excited about this week :)

Fav #1
Freshline Illustration. Colleen at Freshline Illustration creates adorable and whimsical rubber stamps, notecards and artistic prints.  Not only that, but she is wonderful to work with and completely willing to create custom pieces to meet her customers' needs.  I have two of her kitchen art prints and they add so much color and fun!  You need to check out Freshline Illsutration's website to see all her fab products, but here are some of my favorites to get you started.

 Adorable nursery art!
This would be such a cheerful way to greet guests on a porch or in a foyer!

How useful is this?! I love it.
Fav #2
Justin Timberlake's performance and reunion with N'Sync on the VMA's.  I squealed like a 13 year old girl the. entire. time. Each of the four times I watched it :)
Fav #3
This mantle.  I don't have any words, other than GORGEOUS.
Fav #4
This fabulous coffee table.  It has been sold, but is good inspiration for when it comes time to replace ours (which I hope is very soon)! See it here.
Fav #5
My GurglePot.  I love these! I received one as a gift a few years ago, and still get excited to see it on our dining room shelves.  They come in a bunch of fun colors (I have Kiwi), and are a whimsical touch and a great container for fresh flowers (which is what I used it for this week). If you are looking for a unique gift, this is IT! Check them out here.
Have a wonderful weekend!  I'm excited to sleep in, and hopefully work on some blog projects!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Paint It Black

I really want to paint all of our interior doors black.  Wouldn't that be fabulous?! 

Not convinced?  Here are some of the things that convinced me.  I'm pretty sure you'll agree that it's the right thing to do! I submit for your consideration...

Carmel's front door on Our Fifth House.  It's so dramatic and gorgeous!
Check out Jennifer's doors at Dimples and Tangles.  Her hallway paint is a similar color to ours, and the black door looks great.  Further proof....
And this inspiration from Soul Style
I especially love Emily's black doors at A Well Dressed Home because she started with flat doors and added molding to bring in some architectural interest. We would need to do that as well, since our interior doors are flat and boring. Hers turned out beautifully!

I'm guessing that most of you have seen the light and agree that painting our doors black would be amazing.  Now could someone convince my husband??

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What We Ate {Caramel Corn}

A few weeks ago, out of the blue, Mr. M. decided that he simply HAD to make caramel corn. What?!  Kinda weird, right?  His mom had a recipe for it while he was growing up and, once he got the recipe from her, I came home one random weeknight to find him whipping up a batch in the kitchen.

Now caramel corn is not really my thing, and not something that I would ever decide to make myself.  But this stuff was pretty awesome.  I could have eaten all of it, so I was happy when he took the container to work the next day to share with his co-workers.   Out of sight, out of mind, right? 

Wrong.  A few days later, he must have wished that he hadn't given it all away, because he asked if I would give it a go and make some to take to a Game Night that we were invited to that night.  I needed to make something to take anyway, and the recipe didn't look very hard.  After a few pointers from him, I was willing to give it a shot.  So I took some pics while I worked so that I could share the goodness with all of you. Once again, it was a good thing we took it somewhere for other people to eat.  Because the stuff is addictive!

I'm not sure what occasion in your life is ever going to call for you to make Caramel Corn.  But if and when that day comes, now you'll be prepared :)

Caramel Corn
5 quarts popped popcorn
1 cup butter or magarine
2 cups light brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Pop corn in an air popper and pop 5 quarts.

I adore plain air popped popcorn, I could have eaten the whole bowl!

  Place popped corn in oven at 250 degrees to keep warm.

Meanwhile, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt in a 2 quart saucepan. 
Cook until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil and cook (stirring frequently) until what is called 'firm ball stage', when a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees F.  Stir baking soda in to mixture.
Now we don't own a candy thermometer, so don't worry if you don't have one either. In order to know when the caramel is at the proper temperature without a candy thermometer, keep a bowl of cold water next to the stove.  Once the caramel reaches a rolling boil, it will thicken.  When that happens, put a few drops of the caramel into the bowl of cold water.  If you can reach into the water and form that caramel into a little ball with your fingers (almost like wax), then you're good to go.  If the caramel remains liquid in the bowl of water, keep cooking. This part intimidated me, but it was super easy.

Caramel begins to get thicker and bubbly when it is ready. 

Pour caramel over popped corn and mix.  Return popcorn to oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  Cool and place in airtight container before caramel hardens completely. 

   Make sure you take it somewhere to share!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Evolution of Our Home: Hall Bathroom Edition

Oh the bathrooms in our house.  So much to.....wish I could change.  Seriously guys, I try to find things to love, build upon, and design a room around when it comes to updating our house.  Take the family room, for instance.  The stain on those built-ins is not even close to what I would choose.  But they're really well-built, in great shape, and have a ton of storage that works for us.  So instead of replacing or even painting them, we worked on choosing materials that would compliment them.  Make them the best they can be.  And for most rooms, this results in a room that I love without major renovation. 

But I just can't find much to love about the bathrooms.  They're small, they have carpet, and the tiled walls and colored fixtures make it difficult to easily change the look of the rooms.  Here's some before shots of the hall bathroom. (Warning: they're terrible pictures, taken way before the blog.)

Pretty sweet wallpaper, right??
But, as per usual, I sought to identify what I LIKED about the room and build upon that.  Well.....I like the pendant lights that are hung at two different heights (the pictures don't really show that, but one is higher than the other).  I like that I can turn on a heating vent with a switch on the wall (wonderful for cold mornings!).  And I like the large, distressed-looking mirror.  And I like.......well, that's about it.
Well, the mirror felt sort of coastal to me, and so many of the colors in our house are very dark and pigmented, so I decided I wanted a light room that just felt...fresh.  I decided to paint the walls a pale blue, add in plenty of white, and just create a room that felt clean and spa-like.

So I chose what I thought was a very light blue.  It seemed light to me (remember, I tend to gravitate toward darker, more dramatic colors), but when I got it on the walls, I ended up with......this.

I knew from the first brush stroke that it was bad.  But I convinced myself to keep going and thought that maybe if I just painted the whole room, that it would suddenly not be so bright. Wrong.  So wrong. I felt like I was Under the Sea.

So the next day (literally the next day, I couldn't stand it any longer), I brought the paint cards home again and chose a blue that was almost next to white.  And painted the bathroom for the second time in two days.  Yup, if you're keeping count, that is the second time that I have had to paint a room twice because the first color I chose sucked. Awesome.  But the second color was much better....

We changed out the window shade for one made of a natural material, and swapped the old drawer pulls and handles with brushed nickel hardware.  Though I wanted the bathroom to have a fresh, coastal feel, I did NOT want it to be theme-y.  I chose my accessories very carefully, selecting a lot of natural materials and avoiding anything beachy.  The only exception that I made was the artwork, where I just framed scraps of fabric that I found in the clearance bin at Joann's Fabric.  It is gray and white with touches of yellow, and had various sea creatures on it.  It was just too fun to pass up, and since it was yellow and only small parts of the pattern peek through the windows of the pictures frames, I thought it wasn't too beachy. Does that make sense?  It did to me!

This tray holds hand towels and a bowl where I stash my jewelry while I wash my face, shower, paint stuff, etc.  It's one of my favorite moments in the room, because it is functional and pretty.  And I never have to worry about where my wedding rings are.  If I'm not wearing them, I know they are in the bowl!

The shower curtain is mostly white, with tan threads running through it.  There are tiny sequins scattered through the threads, giving it just a little sparkle.  It's from Homegoods, and the pictures don't do it justice.  It's gorgeous!  I kind of want to hunt down a spare, just in case something happens to this one!

As usual, I have a wish-list for this room.  In a dream world, I'd love to tear it all out and replace everything.  But that's not realistic right now, so here's the list of things that I want to do that actually might happen in the near future:

To Do List
-Replace carpeting with tile (ASAP).
-Repaint trim
- Paint vanity (black???)
- Swap out toilet and sink for non-blue options
-Swap the hinges on the door and drawers for brushed nickel options
-Swap out light switches for ones that aren't yellowed (finding one to incorporate that heating switch has been problematic).

Oh yeah, and then there was that time that a candle that I left burning in the bathroom burned dark black soot for about an hour before I noticed and left me this on the ceiling.  Which wouldn't wipe off.  So I had to paint the ceiling too.  One more tally in the re-painting column!

But it was worth it to get the bathroom back to good. 

So that's where we are at!!  What rooms in your home do you find to be challenging?

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Favs 5

Heyyy!  Happy Friday!! Before we get to the favorites, just one note.  The winner of the Olive Leaf Stencil giveaway was chosen and emailed earlier this week. However, they have not yet claimed their prize.  The winner has until the end of the day to email me to claim their prize, otherwise another winner will be chosen.  So double check those inboxes and junk folders! are some things I'm loving on this week!

Fav #1
HGTV magazine.  How can it be that I don't subscribe to this yet?  I've bought each of the last three issues, and they are all far better than most of what I subscribe to.  I don't know why I'm surprised, I love HGTV.  Two of my magazine subscriptions are about to run out, and I know what they are going to be replaced with...ooh and they have a Kindle edition.  Perfect. 

Fav #2

This. Coffee. Cup.  Enough said. And I thought coffee couldn't get any better? Find it here.
Fav #3
3D Carving's fabulous Etsy shop.  3D Carving offers personalized laser engraved items that make really meaningful gifts.  Each order is custom made, and I can say firsthand that their service is excellent.  They offer a lot of cool products (bamboo utensils, picture frames, drum sticks), but my absolute favorites are the laser engraved cutting boards with customer's handwritten recipes. Imagine giving someone a cutting board with their mom's or grandmother's handwritten recipe actually engraved on it? Awesome.  We gave one of these as a gift to my mother in law (with her mom's handwritten recipe) last Christmas, and I have to say it was one of my favorite gifts we've ever given.  Seriously, check them out!!  And speaking of Christmas shopping.....
Fav #4
Stationary and notecards from Papyrus. They would make a wonderful gift for anyone! I love their boxed blank notecards so much!  Unfortunately there is not a store near my tiny town, so I only get to peruse the stores in person when I'm on vacation.  Most recently, I bought the Chloe Boxed Notes and they are gorgeous!  I prefer to buy notecards that are blank on the inside, so that they can used in any situation.  I can't tell you how often I am so grateful to have these adorable, blank notes on hand to use as a thank, get well, or thinking of you card.  But my favorite product is the Graphic Sea Life assortment of note cards.  I find myself buying this set over and over.   I even have a few set aside that I plan to frame in a kid's bedroom someday.  They are offering free shipping on orders $30 or more through Monday with the code HELLO!
 Chloe Boxed Notes
 Graphic Sea Life Assorted Notes
Thanks for reading, and have a fabulous weekend!  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What We Ate {Chicken Imperial}

Chicken Imperial the ultimate in comfort food (don't we all need that from time to time?), and is nice for weekends because it takes a long time to cook, but you don't have to tend to it AT ALL. Which frees you up for all of the home improvement I know you guys are doing!! I've never tried it in the crockpot, but I'm sure it would be great in there, making it a possible weeknight meal too!  The recipe calls for dried beef, but we ate it with dried venison when I was growing up.  Either way, its delicious.

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 oz of dried beef
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/3 cup sour cream
Brown Rice

Please ignore the dried Italian dressing in this pictures.  I didn't realize that it didn't go in this recipe until later, when it was too late to recreate this picture :)
Preheat oven to 275.  Place chicken in baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Season chicken with black pepper or other seasonings to taste (the dried beef has plenty of sodium, so I wouldn't recommend salt). Lay dried beef on top of chicken breasts.

Mix cream of mushroom soup and sour cream together. Pour on top of dried beef. 
Cover and bake at 275 degrees for 3 hours. 
Serve over hot cooked rice with a side salad.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Office Refresher

I mentioned last Friday that I'm back to work as a school counselor following summer break.  Summer is a great time to reflect on the previous year and work on making changes for the next year, and one thing that I decided to re-conceptualize over summer break was my office.  Here are some shots of my office from a few years ago, to give you an idea of where I started.. 

Definitely nothing wrong with it.  It just wasn't very inspiring or welcoming.

Setting up my office at work is always a challenge for me.  I spend a lot of time in there, so I want to make it as welcoming as possible, but I don't really want to spend a ton of money to do so. Also, my re-decorating time is limited to how much I'm able to stay after work or willing to come in on days off.  So getting large blocks of time to make progress is also a challenge.   But over the last few summers, I've been making some progress.

I started the ball rolling last summer, when I re-covered my desk chair and the other two chairs in my office with new fabric.  All it took were some tools to take the chairs apart and a staple gun. 

I realize that the back would have looked better if I had sewn actually covers.  But I don't know how to do that, and the back of the chair is up against the wall.  So I decided it worked well enough for me! 

And then this summer, I decided to 'shop my attic' to find things that I'm not using at home that might work in my office, and spent some time updating these items at home.  This was a total score, as I have a ton of things that I'm no longer using at home.  They are destined to end up in the yard sale or the donation pile, so why not try to re-purpose them in my office?
First up,  is this rug that we used to have in our family room.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, but we needed two rugs to fit the space in our family room and I couldn't find another identical rug. 

The problem was, the colors in the rug were not the colors I wanted to use in my office.....So I painted it.
Before you think I'm completely weird, let me argue my point. While I wanted an area rug in my office, there was absolutely  no way I was going to buy one because there was no way I was going to find a 5x7 area rug that I liked at a price that I was willing to spend for my office (which was $25 or less).  A rug in my office at work does not have to be soft or plush.  No one is going to be taking a nap on it, no one is even going to be walking on it without shoes.  So it doesn't matter if the rug is plush or soft.  And if I ruined it....well, the rug wasn't being used anyway.  So I went for it.  I decided which areas of the rug I wanted to keep (the beige and the black and green stripes) and then carefully painted primer over the rest.  Then I used acrylic paint in coral and gold on the areas I wanted to cover up.  While it is not perfect, it's not bad and certainly better than no area rug at all. 
The curtains that you can see in the picture (and the curtain rod that you can't see) also came from 'shopping our house' for things we are no longer using.  Plus, I found two white throw pillows on the futon in our spare bedroom, and they were really only there because we had no where else to put them.  So I brought those in as well.....and I also painted them :)
Using the same coral and gold acrylic paint that I used on the rug, I painted one pillow using inspiration from my confetti vase. I used a foam pouncer dipped in paint to create the dots.
And for this one, I taped off a design using painter's tape, and painted the rest using the coral paint. Once that was dry, I used plastic cups painted in gold paint to create the rings. The goal was for it to look perfectly imperfect, which I think I achieved. 
I covered some of the drawers to my filing cabinet, as well as four canvases that I  bought at Target on clearance a few years ago, with contact paper that I picked up at Marshall's last year. I added a wooden M that I had on hand and painted with my coral craft paint to the canvases. I thought some twigs painted the same color might also look good glued on top of the blank canvases, in order to add some texture. Maybe I'll do that once the trees drop their leaves.

Then, I came across the idea of rope-wrapped and painted terra cotta pots while reading House by Hoff, so I made a set for myself to use with my succulents.  April's blog is fabulous, so I'll let you check out her tutorial rather than writing my own. Be prepared, you'll probably get lost in her blog for awhile!
 Combined with some items I already had in the office that I spray painted gold,  and some of my books, they make a nice vignette in on my windowsill. 

I covered my bulletin board in burlap....
...spray painted my diploma frames, and some other items around the room...
...and hung some tissue paper poms for some vertical interest...


...and that's my stopping point for right now.  I still have some empty walls to fill, and I'm sure that I'll come up with ideas for them eventually. 
Supplies Purchased with price estimates, as I didn't write it all down along the way)
2 yards of white fabric for chairs (~$10)
1 yard patterned fabric for desk chair (~$10)
3 yards burlap ($8 with coupon)
1 roll burlap ribbon (~ $3)
1 package chevron contact paper ($6)
4 bottles acrylic craft paint ($5)
1 can gold spray paint ($4)
2 packs of tissue paper ($4)
3 small terra cotta pots ($3)
Round pouncers ($4)
All other supplies were things that I already owned, so the whole "office refresh" project took less than $60 over the course of 2 years.  I'm pleased with that, and feel like I reached my goal of perking up the office without spending much money.
 So now, I'll start the school year with a more welcoming space and a completely clean desk.  Let's hope the welcoming vibe lasts, because the clean desk surely won't ;)
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