Friday, December 23, 2011

A New Appetizer

I saw this new appetizer on Pinterest. Since it was so pretty, and I am a sucker for pretty colors on a plate, I wanted to try it. I had also seen another appetizer pin that was sweet potato cubes with a Cilantro-Jalapeno Aioli. I tried that, but we didn't love the combination though we did like the aioli. When I saw this one, and it was just a photo with no recipe,I thought I could use the dipping sauce with fresh veggies. This is the inspiration photo from Martha Stewart.

Here's how I did it: I bought a long, skinny French baguette. Around here, we can only get white, plain ones, but it would be pretty to have different kinds of bread. So, I began by cutting an end off the loaf; then I made a diagonal cut about 1" on the short end and about 2" on the long sides. Then, the next cut would be straight across, which would result in another 1"-2" piece. I think you can see what I am talking about in the picture. Every other cut would be diagonal. I then set each piece on the flat end with the short side facing me. I gently pinched out some of the interior bread of each piece. You want to leave the very bottom intact, but you want enough room to stick in the veggies and to hold the dip. On a couple of pieces, I accidentally went all the way through. No problem,I just put a very thin slice of butter in the "bread cup" to cover the hole. That worked great. Then, I put about 4 sticks of veggies--red, yellow, orange, green peppers, and celery down in the bread cup and added the dip, which helped to hold up the veggie sticks.

Cilantro-Jalapeno Aioli

1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise (we really like the Trader’s Joe brand)
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 jalapeno chiles, seeded (if you like it less spicy) and chopped
Juice of one lime, plus more to taste
Salt, to taste

This is really good. However, with reduced fat mayo, it is a littly runny. Next time, I might add a tablespoon or two of cream cheese to give it a little more body so it will stay in the cup. Isn't it pretty!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Bookcase: From Drab to Darling!

I'm working from a new computer. Hard drive crashed on the old one, so now we are a two-computer household again. Dell laptops; we'll see how they perform.

Anyway, I worked on a project several weeks ago, but I couldn't download the photos until recently. This old bookcase has been around a long time. It wasn't really mistreated; it just looked--you know--dull! Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) to the rescue!

I didn't do anything to the bookcase except wipe it down to get rid of the dust and spider webs and such, and I did a once-over light sanding. I painted on a layer of Old White and a layer of Duck Egg Blue on the outside surfaces only. I sanded through to the white and brown layers in a couple of places, but I really like it like it is. I didn't even use the wax. I may go back and add that at some point, but I was anxious to put it in use Our master bedroom is neutral with lots of white and a few turquoise touches, so this piece looks great. Don't you think?

Here's the before:

And the after:

And a little detail:

There is no shortage of projects around here. I still have three great chairs to update!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Chair--Another Before and After

I guess the play kitchen awakened something inside me. During my career, I had little time to pursue projects around the house, except in the kitchen. I love to cook and entertain, and I always found time for that. Now, however, in retirement, I see so many things I would like to try.

Slipcovers and upholstery have always fascinated me, and I decided I wanted to try my hand at it. So, when I picked up the entertainment center for the play kitchen, I also saw a chair for $5. It was an ugly thing. I bought it and thought I could practice on it. Here's how it looked:

I bought a $6 drop cloth, and found some white paint in stock. After painting it, I washed and dried the drop cloth, but I did not bleach it like some recommend. I started with the easy part, basically following the existing pieces.

I practiced making double welting; then I worked on covering the arms:

I used the seat cushion cover as a pattern for the new cover. I even made and installed the welting and a zipper--first one of those I had done in a long time.
Here's the finished product. We found a place in our master bathroom for it:

What do you think?

Furniture Feature Fridays

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Play Kitchen gets me back to Blogland!

Well, hello again. It's been about two and a half years since my last post. I lost interest, I guess, and Life happened. I got busier; our family grew, and my mother was in declining health. But here I am today, older and wiser, and changed. My sweet mother died in 2009; I retired in 2010; and we are trying to adjust to the changes.

My life is a little more orderly and a little more slowly paced now, and I am learning to enjoy every minute of every day. We are busier than ever, but now it is busy with our own interests. We have time to pursue hobbies and learn new things and take care of ourselves and read and enjoy our children and grandchildren. Life is good. That about sums up the last two and a half years. So, on to the new stuff.

I am so excited about a project Tom and I have been working on--a play kitchen for our granddaughter, Anna Kate. She was born just after I stopped blogging in 2009, and she followed the three precious little grandsons that we enjoyed so before her arrival. Now, we have that precious little girl to love as we do Brooks, Alexander, and Christian who came before her.

Anyway, every little girl needs a play kitchen, doesn't she? Even though I was an inactive blogger for more than two years, I have continued to enjoy numerous blogs written by creative women who have inspired me with their shelter, design, and cooking postings. And in the course of reading them, I ran across several play kitchens that inspired me. The Busy Bug Life posted this inspiration. Then, Bonne Nouvelle posted this one. And Fresh Cut Flowers inspired me with this one. So, Granddaddy and YaYa found an entertainment center on Craigslist. It was this one:

You have seen these at yard sales and almost everyday on Craigslist because the new-style televisions do not fit them. Anyway, we brought it to the farm where we began to reconfigure it. We maintained the frame as it was, 54" wide by 48" tall, but we really redesigned the layout. We primed and painted; we nailed and hammered; we made a few purchases and used a little creativity. After lots of hours of work, here's what we came up with:

As you can see, she has a stove and oven on the left side, a sink in the middle, and a pantry on the right. She has a chalkboard door on the front and another framed chalkboard on the right outside, along with a hook for her apron. It was a labor of love. Tom tried out some new tools, and I reached waaaay down inside to get creative. We used a dog bowl for the sink, jar lids painted black for the cooktop burners, and wooden wheels from the hobby shop for burner controls. The curtains are reconfigured from some old ones I found in a trunk at the farmhouse where her granddaddy was born and grew up and now shares with all of us. They belonged either to Tom's mother or his grandmother. For the window, we blew up a photo of our farm, a place that Anna Kate knows, so she would have a familiar sight as she looks "out the window". Anna Kate is too young to know it now, but that little kitchen has some of her history in it. An artist friend of ours recommended that we sign and date the piece and take a picture of AK now and as she grows with it, so we will plan to do that.

Well, we delivered and installed it today---big hit! Though Miss Anna Kate was tired and a tad ornery, we knew she would love it. Big brother, Brooks, was all over it, so we think they will enjoy it together. We hope they have hours of fun pretending in the kitchen.

And, the apple pie will be ready shortly!

Furniture Feature Fridays

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I Love My Dressing Room

This probably sounds like a crazy post for a new year. But don't we get in a cleaning up-throwing out-creating order sort of mood in a new year? Well, that's what I've done today. I have a wonderful dressing room; it is spacious, well-designed, and a really lovely place--when it is in order. Believe me, it was not very orderly this morning. My suitcase was not unpacked afrom the Tampa trip; the remains of Christmas wrapping were everywhere;clothes were strewn about; and I could hardly get in the door. This dressing room serves as my closet, but it is sort of Grand Central for Kay. It holds bed linens, table linens, wrapping paper and ribbons, old photos and memorabilia, my sewing box, clothes and shoes and hats, my Harley gear, my evening bags, decorating fabrics, Christmas decorations, scarves, gifts in stock, and more than a few keepsakes. Here are some photos:

Well, now it is in better order. Not perfect you understand, but much better. One of the reasons it is better is because I discovered a tip on another blog about hanging ribbon on a pants hangar. I have a big drawer full of ribbons of all sizes and colors, so I was in need of a tip. I found an unused pants hangar, and I put just a few of my ribbons on it. This is what it looks like.

Isn't that clever?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ten Days of Pleasure

We returned today from ten days in Tampa to help out on the occasion of our third grandson's birth. Christian Thomas Guimaraes Castro debuted on Dec. 11. He is tiny, 6.10, but he is perfect in every way. And, since Mom has more milk than Publix, he is thriving.

Ten days is a long time to visit, but we served as baby sitter for big brother Alexander while his family was in the hospital and housekeeper, cook, chaffeur, nanny, handyman, menu planner,etc. after dad went back to work. We loved helping out, and most of all we loved having such quality time with our daughter.

Her birthday is the day after Christian's, and we were reminded of all the activity when she was born in mid December. A new baby means busy times anyway; add Christmas, and things get hectic. It was our pleasure to help out and to enjoy wonderful times with both her sons.

Pictures? Of course.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Birth and a Birthday

What a wonderful week for us! Elizabeth's Christian was born yesterday, weighing in at 6 pounds, 10 ounces and measuring 20.25 inches long. He is precious and beautiful. And on top of that, Elizabeth's birthday is today. She is precious and beautiful, too, just as she was thirty six years ago.