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 ;)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bad, Bad Blogger!

Yeah, hmmmm, four months since I've posted anything. I'm hanging my head in shame. I am in the midst of lots of new projects though so I'll be back soon.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Off with their doors!

In theory, I like our white cabinets. They're easy to keep clean, they keep the kitchen looking bright and airy and I don't have to worry about the cabinet stain clashing with the wood (ok, laminate) floor stain. But the downside is those cabinets are a sea of white. With no suble variations in color/texture like wood, all that white gets to be a bit dull.

While browsing some wonderful blogs the other evening, I came across this kitchen update. In her third picture, you can see an open cabinet above the microwave. Perfect! A lovely and inexpensive way to break up all that white.

So the cabinet doors came off this morning. One problem though. The huge cord from the microwave.

It's not really finished yet but I think I like the concept. I stuck some things from around the house up there to get an idea of which I like better - decorative things or baskets. I'm leaning towards the baskets since they get bonus points because they would really hide the microwave cord. I need to measure the space though and get a couple that actually fit. I also like the idea of still having the storage space while bringing in some color and texture. Once I get it finalized, I'll post an update.


Yeah, I hate brass, can you tell? ;). But, despite my feelings towards the "maybe someone will think it's gold" finish, our house is loaded with it. Brass doorknobs, brass hinges, brass light fixtures in the halls, laundry room, walk-in closet and panty. And one big, old brassy light fixture in the kitchen. I hated it so much that just a few months after moving in and several times banging my head on it, we swagged it off to the side, about as close to the ceiling as we could get it. Sadly the "out of sight, out of mind" trick never really worked. It just looked even worse hanging in such a weird position. So, almost nine years later, in the interest of making some thrifty changes and learning to love what we have, we start another ode to spray paint.

First slip on some shades and look at the "before". (Confession - this isn't really our fixture. I had to snag it off of a building supply site. I was so swept up in the moment of changing this thing that I forgot to snap a proper before shot. Bad blogger!)
It's Brasstacular isn't it?
Now take a look at what a can of oil rubbed bronze spray paint can do. Oh my gosh, it's a hundred times better. I think I could make it look even less builder grade if I switch out the ribbed glass shades (are they called shades?) for something different.

Now I just have eight brass ceiling fixtures to spray paint from the halls, pantry, laundry room, etc. And then there's the little matter of the chrome (yeah, chrome, not brass) "hollywood vanity" lights in the bathrooms. No amount of spray paint can help those things . . .

Sunday, May 24, 2009

a changing table with a new identity

Oh I so love paint. It's wonderful how a few coats can take a former bland changing table (which technically was originally sold as a kitchen cart and has spent the last few years stuck in a closet storing odds and ends) . . .

A cabinet that has tons of practical storage potential . . .

To something much, much better looking and oh so useful for some additional kitchen storage.

Beside the paint, I changed out the wooden knobs for silver ones stamped with a fan pattern for the sweet price of $7.16 from the wonderful land of Target. Since I already had the black paint, this transformation only cost me a couple of hours of time (spread out over three days) and the cost of the knobs.

Yep, I definately love paint :)

***Oops, I should probably mention that in addition to painting, I did sand the heck out of this thing. I guess I'm so thrilled with the finished version, I forgot about that extra work that went in to it. So make that a couple of hours painting and a couple of hours sanding.

Monday, May 18, 2009

With a little help from some spray paint

You know how sometimes you find a decorative item and love the shape/design/price but the color is wrong? Yeah, I do that a lot. I found this over the weekend. $2.99, only in white. It's pretty enough but I wanted it in black.

No problem with a can of spray paint. I used Fusion spray paint for plastic. It promised no need for sanding or priming. Yep, less steps and instant gradification - sign me up! I even got it at a craft store with a half-off coupon.
So here it is after painting. What's that? The shape changed? Yeah well it's possible that this originally white piece, also $2.99, fell in to my hands at the store along with that first piece ;) Gotta love a bargin.

So what do you think? Should I add some metallic to it? I've heard wonderful things about Rub-n-Buff. A little silver or a toned down gold on the highlights might be just the thing to finish these off.

Framed keys

When Ben's grandma was moving, she gave me these keys. She said they had belonged to Ben's grandpa. I just love old keys so I was happy to have them. Having a story behind them makes them even better.

It took a while to figure out exactly what to do with them though. They've hung on nails, been tucked in an apothecary jar for a bit, but mostly they've just been shuffled around for the past year. Not anymore though. The frame is double matted so it's deep enough for the keys, the background is a sheet of scrapbook paper and the keys themselves are attached to a scrapbook journaling card using foam adhesive squares. And I used things I already had in the house so it took no time at all to put together.

How did I not know about unbleached cotton?

I have a sweet table that's been passed along to us. If I remember correctly, at some point it was Ben's grandma's. It's definately showing it's age and is fairly beaten up and could use some painting or refinishing. Depite of that, I like it's shape and detail and it fills an empty spot in our living room nicely. Some day I'd like to rework it but the "to do" list is so long already.

To cover up some of the damage, I started out looking for burlap to make something like this. But then I spotted unbleached cotton. So casual and I love the texture of it. For $2.48 a yard, it was perfect.

So here's the sneaky part of the project - no sewing, just an iron and some hem tape. How easy is that!

So this runner cost a grand total of $3. I think I'm going to add a ribbon boarder to the ends. I'd love to add some fringe but the cat would chew it right off. It does cover some of the damage but you can see how uneven the finish is and some of the dings. It also looks like it's in desperate need of dusting - not sure what's up with that. I do dust. I swear :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Road Trip!

Nothing says summer better than a good road trip. Some snacks, a cooler full of soda and a few mixed tap . . . errr, an ipod loaded up with some great songs. Ben and I have been trying to come up with a few fun places to head off to this summer to introduce Miss J to the joys of hours on end in the car.

This little tool on TripAdvisor is a great place to find ideas for a road trip. Just plug in your area code or city and select a full, half or quarter tank of gas.

Happy traveling!

Magenta is that you?

There are so many other things I should be doing with my time but I can't stop snickering over this outfit. And yes, I did indeed pause the tv and proceed to take a picture of the tv screen - oh DVR, how I love thee . . .

Ok, so what in the world is she wearing? Was there not one crew member that was kind enough to pull her over and whisper that perhaps the alien look was a bit over the top? Or maybe Lady GaGa was her guest stylist for the day - although if that was the case, I doubt she would have been wearing jeans, or pants for that matter. And of course she'd need to be carrying an open umbrella in the house.

I think I figured it out though. During filming breaks, the entire crew was playing "Rocky Horror Picture Show"! The host was obviously playing the roll of Magenta.

"It's just a jump to the left. And then a step to the right . . ."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rub-on magic

I snagged these little metal containers at Hobby Lobby yesterday. Half off - yeah Hobby Lobby! If you look close, they say "Coffee" and "Sugar". Of course the bottom said "not food safe" so these two are for decorative purposes only. They'll probably end up holding pens and a little notepad.

So since I don't have a need for faux coffee and sugar in the living room, I turned them around. Still cute but they're needing a little something. Que the scrapbook rub-ons . . .

And voila! How cute is that little tin now? All dressed up with a "M" for our last name. Now I'm thinking the larger one needs a number on it. Maybe our house number. Or a "3" since there's three of us.

If you haven't used rub-ons, they're so easy to use and come in hundreds of styles, colors and sizes. The only trick is making sure that you rub them long enough to transfer the whole image. Good lighting and looking at it on at angle can help you see where the rub-on has seperated from the backing paper. Easy, peasy :)

What to do with the foyer

To say it's not very welcoming would be an understatement. I've thought about painting the inside of the front door black to dress it up some. There's something about black doors that makes the space seem so warm and inviting. At the very least, the door is screaming for a wreath.

The hall to the guest bath and the laundry room is right off the foyer, you can see the entry there on the left side. Since there's no room in the actual foyer for a table, I found this tiny piece at HomeGoods to serve as our landing space for keys, the mail, cell phones, etc. Don't look to close at the bottom shelf, if you do, you'll notice that the reason this little table was so cheap is because the bottom shelf is put on backwards. The basket hides that little flaw just fine though. And it's a great spot for storing things that need to go out to the car with us.

The white, square bowl holds our keys and the vase will get dressed up with some flowers from the yard. Until they start blooming, I might have to snag some branches off of our flowering shrubs. And there's a deep drawer that's already storing our sunscreen, sun glasses and other daily use items.

Monday, May 11, 2009

This sums it all up

I was indulging Miss J's current obsession with Taylor Swift this weekend and one of her songs includes the line "I don't know how it gets better than this."

Oh, that is so perfect for right now. Sure we have the daily drama of medical bills (thank goodness for insurance), having a hundred things on the to do list and just the general drama of life but all and all, it's all so good right now. We've got a roof over our head, enough to feed the family, Ben's getting stronger every day and Miss J seems to be overcoming the issues that cropped up during Ben's transplant and recovery.

Yeah, I don't know how it gets better than this :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

It's green, it's modern and I think the Jetsons would be right at home

How cool is this? Clayton Homes has introduced the i-house. A very modern take on the traditional manufactured home.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Ben and I have been wanting to redo our bedroom for about a year. Ok, technically it's more me that's interested in this project - Ben doesn't much care what a bedroom looks like, if left up to him, we'd probably be sleeping on an air mattress with a Yankees bedspread and crates for nightstands. I'm joking . . . kind of . . . yeah, not really ;)

Today, I wandered in to Bed, Bath and Beyond and found this Nicole Miller bedspread. It's the perfect grey color and the best part is it was on clearence. It's even the right size for our king size mattress that's apparently deeper than a normal king. Add in my 20% off coupon and I got a steal. Oh, it's even machine washable and will actually fit in our washer. Yahoo!

Then since I was so inspired, I had to stop by Lowe's and get a paint sample. I've got the paint color narrowed down to two choices. Both are silvery, grey colors. We have black nightstands and a black dresser. The tv has a silver frame and the lamps are also silver. The plan is silver, grey and black with another color to punch it up. I'm thinking an apple green color for summer and then maybe a purple for winter. I'd keep the color to a pillow or two and a couple of inexpensive accessories. I'm also going to do some black and white prints on the walls. I want something very relaxing and calm. It seems like our bedroom has become a storage area and a forgotten space. How sad is that?
Bye, bye messy, unloved bedroom. Hello pretty, lux space :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Window shopping

Miss J is sick and was home from school today. After she told me "Momma, I only feel kind of better when you sit next to me" that sealed it. I was on the couch with her for most of the day. Thank goodness for my favorite new toy - a Dell Mini9. Nothing like spending some time browsing for some decorating ideas.

I'm wondering how these panels would look on my patio door and large kitchen window. I need something there, especially in the winter.

Or there's the valance option. No draft stopping power with that tiny amount of fabric though.

I'm thinking this bookcase could be a perfect spot for all of my used bookshop finds. What I save on books, I could spend on this (or as Ben would point out, I could just pass on the $1 sale books. Boys are so silly.)
This is just lovely. No idea where I'd put it, but I'm sure it would look great where ever it landed.

And if I had room for it, I would love to have this in my foyer. Just enough storage in those two drawers and plenty of space on top for a cute basket for keys and sunglasses and some framed photos.