Saturday, July 30, 2011

no 246

Ok - I have to start out by saying that downtown Decatur is starting to get a reputation for it's restaurants. A GREAT reputation. I should also say that I am usually very reluctant to spend money on a meal...

So at the urging of a new friend - who knew one of the bartenders, I went to 246. Can I start off by saying this reminded me so much of why I wanted to name P-mark by it's building number?! Ok off tangent...

We started with the Heirloom tomatoes & fried pardon peppers:

Heirloom tomatoes were good - def not hot house tomatoes, but also something I felt like I could make at home (score!). The peppers were very yummy! And to quote my dining companion "you can't go wrong with butter!" (although I think they were actually fried)

Next we moved on to Ken's wild mushroom pie (recommended by our server) and lemon roasted beets:

Pizza was GREAT! They cut it into 4 pieces, but we only ate half the pizza (MAYBE because we had so much other food?....) I loved the wood oven baked crust - it was a wee bit burnt. But it was light - almost like a pita texture. Different and yummy. The sauce was just like a like it - a very simple fresh tomato sauce! And the rest was good (I'm going for the broccoli rabe next time, which was my first choice). And the beets were yummy! I don't know what they did to them - probably couldn't do it at home until the chef told me what he did, but I loved them!

And I just realized that I didn't take a picture of our dessert! We had Blueberry croustade with creme fraiche and lemon balm. Ok - didn't know until reading the menu that it had the lemon balm, I knew it had something that was genius in cutting the sweet of the blueberries, but didn't know what it was. Honestly - I was so stuffed by this point that I had one bite of dessert. So while I know it was good, I didn't eat enough to describe it to you!

This place was fun to experience. It's pretty industrial in it's design and I always like picking up decorating tips to implement. They also had all their fruit garnishes in canning jars....cute touch. It was a pretty happening place and I'll def return to at least try that pizza...and maybe one of the fancy drinks that I was watching the bartenders make.

Friday, July 29, 2011

What I'm Reading Now

This book was good. Different then what I expected - which was also good. I think the word Homelessness brings up different thoughts for different folks.
The story is frank - especially in describing the author's childhood - but not explicit. She develops the characters around her as they become more involved with her life...maybe one a bit too much.

But this is her story - her life and I will not speak too much against that. An interesting read that opens your eyes a bit more to the current issues in our country that lead to homelessness.

If you read it I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday

Zucchini Salad with Mint

When it starts out like this you know it's gonna end good!

Thanks to my Aunt & Uncle in Charlotte I had a LARGE homegrown zucchini to start with! And thanks to a co-worker I had fresh mint!

3 medium sized zucchini, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite sized pieces
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp freshly grated lemon rind
1 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Place a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat.
Add in the oil and garlic. Cook for about 45 seconds (stirring so it doesn't burn!)
Add in the onion, bell peppers and zucchini and saute, stirring occasionally until veggies are slightly tender, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add in lemon rind, lemon juice, mint, and salt & pepper; toss well to combine. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

This one didn't get much Heidi tweeking:
- Didn't use the lemon rind. being slightly allergic to citrus I usually avoid adding rinds - hope that I didn't miss out on too much flavor with that!
- I used 1 LARGE zucchini instead of 3 small.
- I like to eat this cold.

Won't change anything for the next time around!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Robin's Egg Blue

What color is more vibrant, calming, and fun all mixed into one? For me, it is a bright robin's egg blue. It can be a statement color, and accent color, or whatever you want it to be.

I have to give my boy the credit for finding this chest sometime last year. I apologize I didnt really get a "before" picture. The chest was painted brown. Why you would ever really paint wood brown, is beyond me. Especially this chest. It is a cedar chest, smells wonderful and has beautiful, rich natural wood. I sanded this one down, because I wanted to salvage the beauty. However, even then, the brown paint remained in the carvings on the front and in the grooves of the legs.

I would have saved that beautiful wood too, but you already know I did not. Why did I not, you may ask? (Especially when I keep going on and on and on about the wood...)

Because of this. The top. Sigh. The pictures dont really do it justice, but there are grooves going opposite the grain, making it look scratched. And, the most important: it is a different wood. So, in order to keep it, I would have to stain it to match.

In the end, I decided against it, since the brown was in the grooves anyway.

So, I began mixing some paints and formulating a plan (yes, in about that order!)

I painted the top, sides and then feet. I didnt saturate the wood with a layer of paint, cause I still wanted it to look a little old and rustic. The pictures, again, dont show it that well. Im still learning this whole camera thing too...

Then I had to decide on the detailing. As you can see, I opted for black. It is classic, timeless, and hot right now. Lets face it, I was pretty sure I was going to sell it on. I wanted something marketable.

Then came three layers of our friend poly, after I sanded the chest down. I always sand first, because poly likes a smooth layer, in order for it not to produce bumps and even sometimes sharp edges.

A few coats later I had this beauty!

I was so enamored with it, that I just kept taking pictures. I can't help it. It looks like it would fit in a home now or 85 years ago, which is at least how old it is. I love being able to take such a masterfully made piece and sprucing it up so people look twice!

Let me know what you think of this lovely little thing! I love hearing back from you. (Oh and yes, it has already sold by the way.) Props to my love for seeing the potential in this!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream

For Ice Cream!

My bro's first visit to ATL consisted of more driving and less eating than we ever did in NYC or Philly! But one of the places that we tried out was Morelli's. Morelli's opened a new location in my hood and so we decided that we had to try it!

Mine was a scoop of banana strawberry (ok) & a scoop of salted caramel (um, yum!). The bro had chocolate bourbon & pecan praline (pretty sure he loved both of them).

Check out the flavor list on their web-site - I will be back to try some of the more unique flavors!

Most reviewers on yelp are complaining about the price. I didn't think it was that bad for a treat (G actually finished mine as it was too much for me) - but maybe Brooklyn made me jaded...

Friday, July 22, 2011

What I'm Reading Now

Man - this book was HARD to read! It goes against everything I think about marriage, but provides insight into what is going on...even though I hope not on the scale she reports...

Some quotes from the book:
"One in three babies is born to a single mother today. While the number of unwed births among teens has decreased steadily, it has risen just as steadily among college-educated women in their mid-thirties and forties."

"A study in 2008, cited after Tiger Wood's prodigious infidelity confessions, found that a vast majority of husbands (more than 85%) and a large majority of wives (65%) would have affairs if they could definitely get away with it."

"British data from 2009 revealed that no fewer than 1 in 5 divorce petitions that year mentioned Facebook" (she was talking about how Facebook has made it easier to get in touch with old flames and rekindle or look at with rose colored glass those relationships)

"Maybe like a suspension bridge, marriage can maintain its integrity and relevance by swaying with the strong winds, and letting new attitudes and rules in rather than by bracing rigidly against them." (discussing open marriages/polyamory).

Like I said - hard to read. The first part had me not ever wanting kids - due to the change/trauma she says they bring to a marriage. The rest of the book had me rethinking if I ever wanted to get married - due to the statistical numbers she gave for infidelity and argument for monogamous marriages being archaic. Overall I felt like it was a depressing look at marriage in America today. And yet, if all of her data is true, it was very insightful about marriages in America today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday

Sorry that this has been missing for awhile. I had visitors in town for a week and didn't cook a lot. And then did a week of salads and free lunches at work!

White Bean & Roasted Chicken Salad

2 cups coarsely chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup sliced fresh basil
2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced

To prepare salad, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir gently to combine.
To prepare dressing, combine vinegar and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over salad, tossing gently to coat.

So like most things I cook - this one got a little tweeked:

- I didn't feel like buying a rotisserie chicken, so I used a chicken breast cooked on the George Foreman.
- Realized when I got home I didn't have a full cup's worth of tomatoes (oops), so I used what I had.
- Used dried basil.
- Didn't cook my dried beans long enough (this is no surprise to those that know my patience level!) and I used Great Northern Beans.
- didn't have enough lemon juice so I used lime (I do this ALL the time!)

Things I would change when I make this again:

- add some seasoning to the chicken. Normally I like it straight off the GF, but this needed some extra "umph"
- use fresh basil. I think this would have made a big taste difference
- cook the beans ;-)
- I'd probably add a green veggie (squash, green pepper) cause this was tooo bland white in color.

Overall, I liked it. And I'd make it again!

Makes 5 servings (1 1/4 cups): (as written) 389 calories, 10.1g fat, 9.6g fiber, 342mg sodium

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bold, yet subtle

Hello all!

I really love how this turned out and wish I had a little boy so I could decorate his room around this piece. Unfortunately, the little boy I have (my husband) is in a room I have to sleep in too and I already have that one decorated to my taste. Alas, with small houses, you cant have/keep everything! BUT, that just gives me the pleasure of selling, er, I mean sharing it.

This is how she started off. My little boy looked at me askanse when I raised my hand to bid on this dresser. "Really?" his eyes asked me. But I saw something beyond the messed up exterior and mismatched drawer pulls. So I raised my hand for that $1 bid. I saw those 1940 style legs and I wanted to renew the life of this dresser!

I started off with sanding her down. Alot. Some would recommend stripping, but if I am going to paint anyway, I skip that step. Basically, I want the new paint to adhere to the surface, so I have to rough up the original paint job and sand down the scratches.

Then, I had to flip it over and fix the legs. A little wood glue worked that out. (Sneak peak at another piece I did at the same time!) I then painted the whole thing white. Twice. :-) After drying...

I taped it off! I am currently a big fan of patterns. Understated, yet patterns nevertheless. So, I opted for STRIPES! Stripes are fun and vibrant. Why not? The whole dresser measured 32in wide. I devided that by 8 and got 4. So, I would have eight 4in stripes. 4 white and 4 tbd (I didnt know yet).

However, I had a blue batch of paint. It was BRIGHT! So I added a bit to my white paint, until I got a color I liked. I didnt want a huge contrast, but I wanted enough of one to make it stand out.

I missed the next step in a picture, sorry. I basically filled in the "wide" batches of tape to paint the stripes blue. Then after two coats, I let it dry and then pulled the tape off. I was really digging it!

After love comes marriage, after painting comes poly. Poly who? Polyurethane. I use water based poly for the furniture I work with, and I roll most of it on with a foam roller. I use a paint brush for more detailed areas. You want a very thin coat of poly. Thicker coats will dry uneavenly and maybe even leave areas where it conglomerates and leaves a huge glop. (Is glop a word?) Doesnt matter. I let it dry according to directions and then gave it a second thin coat.

Knobs: Sorry, no picture there either. Im just getting started in this blogging thing, give me a bit of slack. There were only seven knobs that matched. They were brass and all chippy. Yet, I went on search of a match. The closest one was not a match at all and it was $5.61. For ONE. I vetoed that and went in search of eight new pulls. I could have gone all funky, but I wanted to save money and get something that was functional. I found wodden pulls at Lowes. Two for $1.50. That I could do! So, I spent another $6 for new drawer pulls. I painted and put poly on them and waited (impatiently) to let them dry. I wanted to see the finished product!

The instructions on poly says to let it cure for 48 hours. I waited 24 before putting the pulls on. Yeah, I got impatient. But, I do really like how it turned out! Let me know what you think!

Friday, July 15, 2011

What I'm reading now

I knew this could be a tough read - the story is set at Ft. Hood, TX. The writer writes a couple short stories that are only related by the fact that they soldiers are stationed at Ft. Hood and most of them are deployed.

It was a fast read - and interesting for sure. To read not only the spouse "left behind's" thoughts, but also some of the deployed spouse's. Some of the stories were really sad, some explored the marriage relationship, some explored how war can change someone. Since all were short stories none got too deep.

I enjoyed the book - knowing it was fiction, but based on things this woman knew from being an Army Wife.

Interesting snapshot into a world that intrigues me!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Adding Machine Cake

What type of cake do you give a graduating accountant? Why an adding machine/printing calculator cake of course! A friend of mine text me asking me to make one for her husband's graduation party and I accepted the challenge! I was very nervous, as this was my first sculpted cake!
The night before I started working on the cake I cut the keys out of fondant. Because I wanted to make it to scale, I used a photo of an actually printing calculator. And then used the algebra my momma taught me! :) The width of almost all of my keys is 5/8 of an inch. I then cut a 2" wide strip of gum paste approximately 6" long and laid it over a quart jar overnight to dry.

The next day I started by making 2 9"x13" cakes and placing one on top of the other and shaping the top one (actually only using about 1/3 of it) to make the top of the calculator! I apologize I have no photos, this was a pre-blog cake. Then came butter cream in between the layers and covering the cake!

I rolled out the fondant to 17"x23" to ensure it covered the entire cake then placed it atop. Fondant must be smoothed from the inside outward to ensure no air is trapped, then smooth around the sides and trip the excess.

I cut black 2"x9" piece of fondant for the screen and dusted it with Moonstone luster dust. This was my first experience with luster dust as well and you have to be VERY careful not to put too much (because it will literally change the color of your fondant, like you have painted it) I put too much and ended up kneading it in which worked fine!

I used a black AmeriColor Gourmet Food Writer to put the numbers and or letters and to write the message on the gum paste "tape".

I used gum glue (1/4 t gum paste dissolved in 1 T of water) to affix everything to the cake. Toothpicks were needed to support the "tape". I piped the words onto the screen (the green numbers were made from a mixture of 2 parts piping gel and 1 part butter cream and then I tinted it green).

And there you have it! The calculator graduation cake!

Monday, July 11, 2011

For all your sewing notions... (before and after)

This is your two for the price of one! I get to show you two redos today. How fun is that?!

This first would be a cute little find that I brought home a few weeks ago. I have a think for anything that you could attach the words vintage, antique, furniture, etc. Especially if it relates to life at a simpler time. (I know, not everyone would consider life simple over 50 years ago. I do not in any way mean easy. I just mean less cluttered.) Anyway, I am getting off topic.

Here it is. Know what it is? It is an old sewing box. It is easy to transport depending on what room you may be working in (thanks to the handle) and lightweight, but also very functional. This little piece originally would have had a tray, but somehow over time, it has gotten lost.

It came to me rather beat up, with the finish coming off and several scratches. What is a girl to do? As much as I paint in all these posts, I actually have mostly naked wood in my house. However, this was past just refinishing.

So, I opted to paint. And paint I did. I may have gone a bit crazy. After painting it white, I decided it needed something else: color, pattern, I dont know. I just started and eventually ended. It sure was fun!

I am not really a very talented painter when it comes to details, but I think this one turned out rather cute. Not great, but it is cute.

So here we are, with a new paint job!

The top needed some decoration too, so I went for a needle/thread!

Inside I put scrapbook paper. It had blue and green buttons on it. Im sorry, but it was perfect and I wanted a surprise when you looked inside! Now to see if we can sell it next weekend @ Burlington.

I may really like buttons too. This is a picture of the pin I made for my dress last week. I glued several buttons together that matched the dress, then added the blue for a contrast. Put a pin on the back and voila!

I either wear it to pin the back, or as a decoration for the top.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What I'm reading now

Hey - it's summer! And this is a good summer read. It moves quickly, isn't too deep and is entertaining.

The story follows a girl who's boyfriend of 7 years abruptly breaks up with her to pursue another realationship. 7 months later she's married and moving cross-country!

Like I said, cute, light - good summer read....and predictable. So pour a glass of lemonade, grab this book and head for a hammock!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Flag Cake

It's official! My first ever blog post!
As a disclaimer the ideas I used for the cake are not original! :) I used 3 different designs and put them together to make my own!
First we start with the base: The Cake!
This design takes 2 boxes of cake mix. Be forewarned you will have a little less than 1 cake box of cake left over. Make the cake as directed however make 2 8" round cakes dyed red and 1 8" round cake dyed blue in total you will have
1 - white 8" round
1 - blue 8" round
2 - red 8" rounds
Next slice the two red cakes in half horizontally so you will not have 4 red rounds. You make set one of these rounds to the size (you will not use it for this cake) Next cut a 4" circle out one of the remaining red rounds (I used a small pyrex bowl as my guide and simply cut around it).
Next slice the white cake in half horizontally, as you did the red cakes. Cut a 4" circle out of one of the rounds.
Finally cut a 4" circle out of the middle of the blue cake - don't worry if it is not exactly in the middle!
In total you should have
2 - red 8" rounds
1 - white 8" round
1 - red 4" round
1 - white 4" round
1 - blue with a 4" round cut in the middle

*There are too many red rounds in this picture! :)

I always start my cakes by putting a small amount of frosting on the plate or cake board in order to ensure that the cake won't more while during icing.
Then you can start assembling the cake! Start with one of the red rounds then put a thin layer of icing then add the white round, then another this layer of icing, topped with the other red round. Add another this layer of icing and then put the blue round on. Ice the inside of the round and place the white 4" round, ice with another thin layer of icing and then place the red 4" round into the whole.
At this point your cake should look something like this:

Then I iced the entire cake in white buttercream, the sides I put a pretty thin layer of icing, because of the design I planned to use!

Second: Flags around the outside!
Using Tip 12 I piped a flagpole at the quarter marks of the cake (and put a ball on the top of each)
I then marked an outer edge for the blue field for each flag (approximately 2.5")
Then with Tip 18 I piped a row of red stars around the bottom of the cake, followed by a row of white also with an 18 tip. Alternate red and white (putting 6 rows total before the marked blue field) then finish the alternating pattern to the right of the "blue field". There should be a total of 13 red and white lines.
Then I used the 18 tip to fill in the "marked field" with Blue stars.
Next I used a 16 tip to pipe white stars onto the blue field
I should have taken a picture during this process but I didn't (first blog!)

Finally: Fireworks on the top!
Using tip 233 I piped a circle of blue, followed by a circle of white, started within the blue and finished with red in the middle giving the effect of fireworks!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Flowers galore and an easy dress!

(What a goofball, trying to figure out the timer on the camera and a storm is blowing in!)


I saw a dress that a friend had made in her Facebook pictures. I thought "I could make that!" Being almost 6ft, it is nice to be able to make my own clothes now and again, especially dresses. Most of what i find in the store is either too short in the skirt, making me look like I am wearing a mini, or too short in the torso, and then everthing looks wrong. It takes a LOT of trying things on and rejecting before finding a hit.

She sent me to a site that had a mock up of it and instructions. Loose instructions. Pictures did it for me! Especially since I dont have internet at home and end up surfing during my lunch break. I tried to remember what I could when doing mine last week. It had been a few weeks since I saw it, but no instructions and no patterns to really look at = FUN!

Have I told you I am cheap? Some like to say thrifty, and yes that would be true. I dont like to pay full price for anything and I like to make a dollar go far!

I got this tank top at Old Navy like 5 years ago for $0.75. That is right, seventy-five cents. I got this material from an old sheet that was in with a box of things for $1.

So I cut off a 48 in section long ways and then folded it over. (Normally this would be a yard and a half or more of fabric. Fabric always comes folded over already, so you would jut need a yard and a half. I chose a sheet so I could make it a little longer (aka, skirt goes down to my knees).

I folded it in half again and pinned it so I could make a seam. I then sewed it together.

The next part was a little tricky. I had to change the tension on my needle, to make it very loose and I couldnt back stitch. Normally, my setting is on 1, I changed it to 11. This inables you to move the fabric and bunch it up. After you bunch it, try it on to make sure you didnt bunch it so tight it wont fit you! Always try it on. Stitches are not permanent, and you can always rip them out and start over.

Turn your tension back to normal. Then you cut your tank to the size you want it, and put it together with you skirt. Now, you have to turn both inside out and put the shirt inside, like it the picture. I had to check it several times after I pinned it together to make sure the tag wouldnt be on the wrong side when I turned it the right way. Sew it together.

Then turn it right side out and try it on! (If it isnt right, just pull out the threads. Sewing a piece does not mean it is permanent if there is a mistake. Cutting however...)

You arent quite done yet though, unless that was enough for you. You can embelish the middle with a belt or ribbon of a different fabric, or you can use some leftover fabric (if you have any) to make a belt. Just use a long piece and sew it up the side and ends. Bunch it up, tie it (or pin it) and away you go!

I pinned mine. Next Monday I will show you the pin I made for it. Wore this ensemble to a wedding on Saturday!