Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happiness is a bowl of cherries

I ventured into Liberty Lake yesterday to hit up the local Farmer's Market. There is something so beautiful about racks of fresh produce. Liberty Lake's Farmer's Market isn't huge by any means but they definitely hold their own. Their hours of operation are on Saturday's between 9am and 1pm (May-October); they are located at 1421 North Meadowwood Lane, Liberty Square Building. This is behind the Starbucks about a block and a half.

They have booth after booth of fresh produce, whatever is in season at that time. Every booth owner is very knowledgeable on their produce and products. They are more than generous to share their tips for using the produce.

This market not only carries produce but they have booths of herbs, garden variety plants, flowers and much more. There are booths of pastries, artisan breads, salmon (yes fish!), homemade gifts like soap and lotions and honey. Yesterday there were people making pizza, the crepe booth (phenomenal) and live music. I even saw a booth selling dog bones; there truly is something for everyone.

As I strolled through the booths and took in the sights and smells I saw a booth that two young guys were running and they had a beautiful bin of cherries. So I bought a pound and continued my way through the booths. I believe this will be a Saturday morning ritual for me.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thinking inside the box

It's almost summer! I know, technically, summer doesn't officially kick off until June 21st but the weekend of Memorial Day is the known starting point of summer for most. As the weather gets warmer we tend to spend more time outdoors but who doesn't. We also enjoy having company over and preparing a meal for someone else is my idea of fun. However, when we entertain outside it seems like it's much more work to carry the plates, utensils etc to the deck and back in. Well not any more; I converted this fruit box (I first told you about it here) into a storage container to hold all of our outdoor entertaining items.

First I gave the entire box a little sanding by hand. I still want this to look "vintage" so I didn't spend too much time sanding. It may be the fact that I am lazy or my hand cramps (maybe) but I am sticking to my vintage story as my reason.

Next I grabbed my Rustoleum 'Heirloom White' spray paint. These pictures are not of the highest quality. The lighting in the barn (see the hay in the background) is absolutely terrible. I attempted to add light to the pictures with Picasa. It did a wonderful job considering the original product it had to work with.

I gave the box one coat of paint; I believe it will require at least two for me to be satisfied.

And since I am the pillar of patience-NOT, please don't do what I do and try to hurry up the process of spray paint. It will never work, you will always lose and you will be very disappointed. I attempted again because lets face it I'm not good at taking directions, even if they are my own.

See it will pool up or drip and that isn't pretty. Luckily though, in my case, this mess up is on the bottom. No one will ever know...except for ya'll. With spray painting you must have a steady hand and even coating.

After the second coat of spray paint I drilled two holes on each end of the box (4 total) so that I could attach handles to make this easier to carry.

I love how this box still has some of the character showing through, like the scratch marks and the knots. Once I was done attaching the handles I decided to line the inside with come country looking fabric I found at Joanne's. It was only $2.79 a yard and I only purchased 1 yard. Woohoo! I made sure that the fabric overlapped the top just a bit. Then I added brown ribbon that I purchased forever ago. It was intended for another project but I just never got around to it. At the time it was only .92 cents a yard so I picked up 3 yards.

To adhere the fabric and the ribbon to the box I just grabbed my trusty hot glue gun and went to work.

I love it; it is super cute, crazy handy for our family and entertaining needs and it's totally country chic. What a great addition; I couldn't be more happy.


I grabbed some of our outdoor entertaining items and added them to the box. Like our fiesta ware that my MIL bought us. The Hubs loves these plates and glasses. He has wanted them for such a long time. And isn't the matching pitcher super adorable!


Monday, May 24, 2010

Simple bathroom update

You know what I find absolutely absurd...not having towel racks or rings in the bathrooms of a brand new house. I know, crazy right!?! Well in all honesty we had one; it was above the toilet (EWWW) in the master and it was that funky junky, painted silver plastic but made to look like metal bar. Who in their right mind would put a hand towel above the toilet to dry their hands off. I mean SERIOSULY folks; this doesn't work for three reasons.
1.) The way my bathroom is set up; with two sinks and a half wall where the shower is sort of hiding the toilet from the sink closest to the door.
2.) The toilet and the floor leading up to it would be wet. There is nothing worse then stepping or touching something wet, especially if it's not expected

I was going to make my own towel rack and holder but the idea I had wasn't going to work with the overall aesthetic of the bathroom or house for that matter. My idea was more country chic/cottage style and our house is more traditional. So what is a girl to do; I went to TJ Maxx. Oh heck ya! They have some really amazing items for really cheap.

Towel rings were only $7.99 and the towel bar (24inch) was only $9.99. Score!
All you do is put the drywall screws into the wall; I pounded them in with a rubber hammer (you can see one end of the hammer in the picture above-Ha as well as some toes. Too funny).

It's a good thing this kit came with these because where I wanted them to go there wasn't a stud. Then I screwed them all the way in, flush with the wall, with the cordless drill. As you can see from the above picture I had already traced out the circle so I could eyeball the rest and it would be close to center as possible. Then you put the metal bracket on there (it also has directions that say which way is up-idiot proof which is great sometimes when I'm doing a project). Then you mount your fixture on the metal bracket and there is a tiny screw (see below pic) that you tighten to make sure it stays.

I am sure you have all done this and I am just now joining civilization but I was pretty happy that I made my world (or bathrooms that is) a little bit brighter. Now I don't have to put some random hand towel on the counter when guests come over; how ghetto is that. HA!

I have one towel bar and two hand towel rings (one for each sink) in the master bath. *We/I want to paint the master bedroom and bathroom again. It needs to be lighter and brighter but that is another project for another day.

And then one towel ring in the guest bath. There isn't a ton of space, this bathroom is itsy-bitsy so just enough room for a ring. Total cost of the project was around $37.00.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Copy cat: Snazzy Stemware

When Centsational Girl posted about a trip where she discovered these hurricanes and wine glasses decorated with beads I knew that she would find a way to duplicate. If you haven't visited her blog then I urge you to drop everything you're doing and take a gander. She is truly amazing and has the most beautiful posts.

Yesterday I decided to make my own wine glasses. I will most likely keep them for a fun dinner party or small event but they would make great gifts for birthdays, anniversarys, weddings or any occasion.

First I found beads at Michael's for about $10.00. As Centsational Girl says, you can use any material you want from beads, to shells to charms etc.

I used an old necklace as well that I never wear and cut the pearl beads from it. I put all the beads into a tupperware container (except for the small glass beads) so that they would be handy and all in one place. Then I grabbed my glasses (already owned-free!) and the silicone (about $4.00) and put them on newspaper to be sure that a mess wasn't created on our dining room table. I do most crafts at this table until I can get a desk in my office. I used glass silicone that I found at Home Depot (since I was already there for other items and didn't want to go to yet another store) in a squeezable bottle.

Be sure to wear latex gloves. Centsational Girl wasn't kidding when she said this stuff was stinky, although she used a different brand I can imagine they smelled similar. Have you ever had your hair permed or walked into a salon when they were conducting a perm? Yah, it smells something like that mixed with finger nail polish remover. Yummy, not so much.

Once the silicone is spread evenly onto the base of your wine glasses I removed my gloves. I found that it helped with stability when working with the beads and I also didn't want to get any residual silicone from the gloves onto the beads. I then just started putting the larger beads onto the base and pushed them in to make sure they were going to adhere. Then I filled in the gaps with the small white glass beads.

The silicone says it dries in 3 hours but to be extra safe I let it dry for 24 hours like Centsational Girl had stated in her post.

Voila! A beautiful addition to any entertaining set. The crate you see in the picture below was a gift for our wedding last July. I believe the buyer found it at Pottery Barn; I'm not positive that they still have them but it's worth checking out. They are super cute and handy!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

With Mother's Day right around the corner I wanted to give the "moms" in my life something special and homemade. The moms deserve a little something to show appreciation for all that they do day after day. They watch our kids so we can have time to ourselves or with our spouses, they help with little league practice, piano lessons, ballet recitals; they come over to help with gardening and cooking too. They know just what to do when you feel sick, had a rough day or when you are so happy you just can't contain it. My gift, small in comparison to what they have given us, needed to be bright and cheerful so instantly I thought of yellow, a fav of mine, and knew right away it would involve lemons.

I've never made Lemon Curd but it looked divine on magazine pages, recipe cards and cookbooks. I had these extra jars from this post and they would work wonderfully for this recipe.

4 large lemons
6 large egg yolks
1 1/4 C sugar
6 Tbsp butter, cold
*makes about 2 1/2 cups

First take your lemons and roll them around to get the juices flowing.

Then you slice them and juice them to get about 3/4 cups of juice. You can use a juicer or you can do what I did and squeeze it into my hand and use my fingers as strainers. Be careful not to get any seeds into the juice; if you do then just be sure to spoon them out.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until smooth

 Stir in the lemon juice

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and over medium heat bring it to a simmer. Once it is simmering then you reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat and pour into a glass bowl. I use my Pampered Chef batter bowl because it has a nice spout, making it easier to pour. Then you add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, and mix it in. I poured the mix into my jars and let them cool at room tempature. Once cooled I then put them into the fridge. They can keep up to a week, sometimes week and a half in the fridge.

I have a little left over because I doubled the recipe in order to make all three jars of curd. I also tasted it when it was still warm and on the back of the spoon. It tastes so bright and fresh; a good mix of tart and sweet. If you like citrus you will love this!!

Now onto preparing the Mother's Day gifts. I found beautiful, decorative mixing bowls at JC Penny's for 60% off regular price. They were fantastic and just what I was looking for.

I filled them with brown paper filler that I got at the Dollar Store. I bought 2 bags, one for each bowl.

Then I arranged a pint of raspberries, the lemon curd and a white mixing spoon into the mixing bowl. I printed up 2 recipes (this one and this one) that you would use lemon curd in (there are many but these were simple and involved the raspberries too). I cut the recipes to size and taped them onto yellow card stock (leftover from the wedding). I then included the recipe cards in with the other items.
Simple, sweet and homemade!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! Enjoy your day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Margaritas & Senioritas plus cheesecake

Happy belated Cinco de Mayo people!!!  I had every intention of coming home from the party and posting this but due to a slight injury to the knee the other day (nothing major-no need to worry) I just wanted to lay in bed and ice it before quickly sawing logs. I know, I know...priorities! :)

Every now and then a group of my girlfriends get together for "Girls Night Out"; we usually hit our usual spot, Twigs. If you have never been I highly recommend it; they have fabulous food and amazing martini's! With the downturn of the economy and budget contraints we decided on "Girls Night In" this go around. My friend Melissa offered up her house to host the festivities and we would plan a potluck sort of event. Melissa, like me, loves themes and what better theme then a fiesta on Cinco de Mayo!

We all jumped on the bandwagon and coordinated our dishes with the theme. There was so much food, way too much for 6 ladies but isn't that way it always is. We had chicken tortilla soup, spanish rice, steak fajita's, corn and pepper salad, 7 layer dip with chips, homemade guacamole and all the fixins. There was also Corona with lime (but of course) and mango margaritas (oh yeah, they were tasty and much needed after a long day of work).

Since I absolutley love to bake I opted to make a "dulce de leche" cheesecake. We seldom have room for dessert after partaking in Girls Night Out at Twigs but I was in the mood for something sweet and I had hoped the gals were too.

Poor Man's Cheesecake
(slight modification with caramel)

2 packages of cream cheese; room temp
1 egg
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
store bought graham cracker crust

Beat cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Pour mix into your store bought crust. *Modification: I added caramel ice cream topping to the top of the cheesecake mix and took a knife and swirled it through to create a "marble" look. Be careful not to puncture the crust. *I am a little psycho particular when it comes to my crust. I could easily spend a good 20 minutes going through each crust at the store to be sure it isn't cracked or broken before making my purchase. I have maybe also been known to shoot daggers from my eyes at someone (The Hubs, the unknowing clerk etc) if they packeaged it wrong or carried it wrong. Yah, I am that crazy lunatic in the store that you secretly dart pass without making eye contact, for fear of the daggers I am sure :) *

Bake cheesecake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, just until the top is golden brown.

Serve with the extra caramel topping on the side and Cool Whip.

The great thing about the base recipe is that you can add any modification you want from fruit to nuts to chocolate or cookies. Also most folks have eggs, vanilla and sugar on hand in their fridge and pantry so this is extremely cheap, hence the title of the recipe. Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Do you go all out with decorations or just a nod to the holiday by whipping up a Mexican dish?