Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies

Hands down, these are my favorite Christmas cookies. I usually only make them once a year because there isn't a single healthy thing about these gems. Today I'm breaking my rule though and busting these out for Thanksgiving.

Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies
2 cups butter, softened (real, honest to goodness butter - no fake stuff!)
6 oz. cream cheese, softened (and not the light stuff)
2 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract (say it with me everyone, "the real stuff")
4 1/2 cups flour (I use a bit more or less depending on how my dough forms that day)
1 tsp. salt

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and beat till light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, and vanilla. Gradually add the flour and salt. About half way through, you'll have to stir it in by hand unless you're using a Kitchen Aid type mixer.

Using a cookie press, press on to cool, ungreased cookie sheets and bake 12 - 15 minutes.

**Some hints that might help. 1. Use a huge mixing bowl. 2. Fill the cookie press and then stick it in the fridge for a while so the dough can firm up. 3. You could also add some lemon or orange zest for a different flavor. Drizzling them with chocolate would be amazing too.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trying my hand at a mistreatment

I'm so excited. I made my first window mistreatment just like Nester showcases here. That woman is the queen of mistreating windows and they all look fabulous. Before finding her blog, I actually thought I was doomed to whatever selection I could find at my local Target or Penny's. I had no idea something so easy could look so fabulous.

In planning my mistreatment for our small treadmill room/bonus room, I checked out the fabrics at Hancock Fabrics. Nothing seemed just right until I found the remnant table. Mounds of fabric for $7 a yard and it was on sale for half off. Perfect! For $3.50 I got a yard of this fabric.

Lovely isn't it? It's actual drapery fabric and had a nice weight to it without being too heavy. A must since I was hanging the mistreatment with tacks.

Did you think I was kidding? That's the beauty of a mistreatment. It's all tacks and glue and pins and yet it looks darn good up there on the window. And for those of us that have zero attention span, this is the perfect technique.

So I'll admit, my first try didn't look so great up there. In fact, it looked about what you would expect a rectangle of fabric tacked to the wall to look like. No problem though, just pop the tacks out of the wall and start over.

Ahhh, much better don't you think? It still needs some adjustments but considering the wonky ceiling angle and the lack of space on the right hand side of the window, I think it's working pretty well. I'm going to add some trim to the bottom too.

***People with real sewing skills turn away now***

Are they gone? Good. So where was I? Oh yes, the trim. It'll be hot glued on of course. I think it'll cover the straight pins serving as the fabric hem nicely.

Curses, it looks really uneven there doesn't it? I don't think it really is but there's definately something wrong with the way the edges are hanging. Must work on that . . .

And thus we finish with my final problem. The bench that I so lovingly recovered for our bedroom. It fits in that little nook perfectly. Doesn't this look like the most wonderful place to curl up with a book and a snuggly blanket? But it also looks soooo good at the end of our bed. I think the faux window seat look is going to win though. Sorry bedroom. Maybe there will be another bench for you someday.

It takes a lot to get ready for the day

Ok, so maybe this isn't exactly what I use each morning - I don't think I have any wrinkles that require spackle just yet.

Can you guess which project I'm tackling now? Yep, the master bathroom. After doing a half a$$ job painting it eight years ago, it's time for a redo. I'm still not sure why I lived with the drab green for all these years, never mind the fact that I never did finish the trim work. If I had to admit it, it probably has something to do with my fondness of taking a tiny project like painting and turning it in to a much larger project. So far this paint job has spurred a "to-do" list that includes a new window treatment, new shower curtain, replacing the builder grade "Slab-O-Wall-Mirror" (which is huge by the way - who in the world needs mirrors this big? The top of the mirror is a good 7 feet tall and it's 5 feet wide.), a new light fixture, painting the cabinets, adding knobs and hopefully next summer, new sink faucets. Oh and replacing the carpet (yes, I know, all kinds of gross in a bathroom but it's only in the main area of the bathroom, not the "water closet" area.) with vinyl or tile. Whew.

See how that works in my mind? One tiny project becomes a whole crazy mess. I'm sure it all ties in to my perfectionist and OCD quirks. Love me, love my quirks I always say :) (More so that's what I tell my husband when he's giving me that "have you lost your mind?" look.)

Stay tuned for the official bathroom tour in a couple of weeks.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Making over the master bedroom

Last year I decided it was time to paint the master bedroom. It took me ages to find a paint color that I liked. After painting the room grey-which-turned-out-to-be-baby-blue, my husband ended up picking this brown color. I'm not going to say that I should have let him pick the color a year ago but darn, I do love this color. It's dark and warm and oh so wonderful looking. These pictures don't do it justice.

The curtain are a steel blue color, found at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I like that they are lined and they have an additional fleece interlining to help block out light. They should keep the room a bit warmer this winter too. Personally, they remind me a bit of a big poofy prom dress when they're pulled back like that. They definately have some fullness to them.

The decorative pillows were found at Home Goods. For the sake of peace, I'm keeping the pillows to a minimum. I would like to add two or three Euro pillows though. I think they'd be great for leaning against while watching tv.

Needs a headboard doesn't it? My plan is to make one. I just have to find a fabric I like. Have you priced king size fabric covered headboards? Good grief, it's insane. I'm positive I can make one myself and then we can do some other project with the money saved.

New lamp shades are on the to-do list too. Or I might just recover those myself too. For now the standard white will have to do.

Still working on the top of the dresser. I would like to find another lamp to place to the right of the tv. The room definately could use the extra light and it would help soften the edge of the tv.

So, that's the redo so far. I still have an entire huge wall to find/make artwork for. And then there's the matter of the strange little alcove area behind the door. Regardless of those things, I am in love with this room. I've gone from wishing our bedroom was just a bit bigger to feeling like it's my favorite room in the house. Gotta love a great paint and some fabric - it can work wonders for a room.

Instant collection

I have a fondness for white dishes and Fenton hobnail milk glass ranks pretty high on my wish list. Lucky for me, Ben's grandma had a lot of it and I was fortunate enough to get to give it a new home. After spending several hours unpacking, inspecting and washing it, here's my new collection.*Swoon*

I found several interesting pieces. This I've learned is called a Banana Bowl. I'm pretty sure no bananas will ever be stored in it at our house. Maybe a few ornaments at Christmas though.

And then there's this three sided bowl. I haven't been able to find anything out about it yet. It does have three short feet on it so it's definately unique.

I found this one refered to as a violet pot.

And it has a taller steamed version. No info on that one yet.

See that clear rim on this one? It's from a line called Silvercrest. Originally there would have been a lid to the dish and it was designed as a candy dish. This one is missing the lid but I love it just the same.

If you know anything about milk glass or have any website that would be helpful, please let me know. I find this stuff so charming and I'd love to know the names of each piece.

Monday, October 26, 2009

From green, to blue, to brown

I can't wait to show off the update to our master bedroom. I am so in love with this room. For now, here's a tease. I ended up painting the room not once, but twice. The grey wasn't grey at all in our room. It dried to a baby boy blue. I'm assuming it has to do with the room facing west and the high ceiling and such because on the paint chip, it was simply grey, no blue to it. Oh well, at least painting is great exercise and Ben loved the color and is using it in his bathroom and the extra gallon will be used to repaint the 4th bedroom/treadmill room.

Easy, peasy, mac & cheesy

Wow, how's that for a dorky title?

Bad titles aside, recovering your chairs is a crazy easy project that makes such a huge difference. For my project, I took our country chairs to a much less country look. I think a coat of black paint over the table and chairs would be the perfect way to match the more contemporary style that our house has evolved to. I'm slightly terrified of painting the table though. I'm sure I'll get over that though and it won't be long before I'm posting about my latest painting project.

So to start, I checked out the fabric at Jo-Ann's. I wanted something dark and heavy weight. And at a price that wouldn't make me feel like I was sinking too much in to furniture that we only use two or three times a year. I found this beautiful fabric for 50% off. I ended up using three yards for a total price of $45. Having finished the project, I can say I could have used slightly less fabric had I carefully measured but honestly, I don't have the attention span for that sort of preplanning. I also wanted to make sure that there was plenty of overlap so that the fabric would be secure. (As if the 30 staples I sunk in to each chair wasn't enough to secure it.)

Enough with the story, let's get going. First remove the chair seat. On my chairs, the seat is held on with four screws. Lay the chair down and remove those screws. Once it was off, I put the screws back in the seat holes to ensure they wouldn't be covered by the fabric. As an added bonus, it kept me from losing them while I worked.

This next step is where you carefully lay out your seat and measure the fabric before cutting it. If I was Martha Stewart, that's how I would do it. I however live on the edge. I just slapped the seat down on the spread out fabric and cut a square out that was larger than the seat. Daring aren't I?

Now you get out your staple gun, spend several minutes trying to figure out how to load it, give yourself a pep talk that you are infact smart enough to figure out how to load the stupid staple gun, google the directions for loading the stupid staple gun and then finally come to the conclution that the staples you found out in the garage do not fit in the still stupid staple gun in your hand. The next day you find the correct size staples at Target, come home, load the thing and it takes all of five seconds to do. Seriously, the staple issue was the most difficult part.

With staple gun in hand, fold one side of the fabric up over the edge of the seat. I staple in the middle of each side to keep the fabric from shifting on me. Continue with the staple gun all around the sides. Leave the corners for last. When I got to the corners, I tried the fabric out a couple of different ways to see which method I liked best. In the end, I pulled the corner in, stapled it and the "rounded" the corners by pulling in small sections and then stapling them down. I'm sure there's a much better method but I was only worried about how the top of the seat would look and didn't really care what the underside would end up looking like. (So if you come over and feel the need to scope out the underside of my dining chairs, be warned, it's a mess under there. Smoke and mirrors baby. Smoke and mirrors.)

Gasp! It almost looks done doesn't it? Not so fast. If you used my tape-measure-be-darned method, you have some extra fabric under there that can be cut off. Just cut around the fabric, staying about 1/4 of an inch out past the staples. You should also notch out where the screws are. Otherwise you end up trying to screw through the thick fabric instead of just poking right in to the pre drilled hole.

All trimmed up, time to put your chair back together. Screw the seat back on, set the chair up and marvel at how great it looks. Easy, peasy, mac and cheesy ;)