Friday, December 21, 2012

What I'm Reading Now - No Angel


Here we are days from Christmas (and hours until I am on a plane back home for the holidays!) and I'm going to review a dark non-fiction book!

This is Jay Dobyns story of infiltrating The Hells Angels on behalf of the ATF.  He talks about the struggle of balancing his job family and his real family.  Of wanting to gather more evidence, bring more people down.  Of the awe of meeting and hanging out with some key Hells Angels leaders.  About the comradery that is found within the organization as well as the crime, violence, drug use and level of despair.

This story was interesting.  From how he went about the operation, how things fell into place, how he avoided drugs and performing violent crimes.  How he tried to stay ahead of the "game" and not consumed by it.  I enjoyed the book - but it is filled with a lot of words I skimmed ;-)

Friday, December 14, 2012

What I'm Reading Now - The Chaperone


Another historical fiction book ;-)

This follows 15 year-old Louise Brooks (who became a silent film actress) as she moves from Kansas to New York City for a summer dance class.  Given the era - she needs a chaperone.  Thirty-six Cora volunteers for the job even though she does't know the girl...she has her own reasons for going to NY.  The story follows these two as they explore the city, form a relationship and navigate their lives as they are changing.

I enjoyed this story.  Both story lines reveal to be kinda sad for different reasons.  There is some "adult content"  and a lot of things in this story that made me wonder how much "wow" factor the author was really trying for!  But the story works - you especially get involved in Cora's life as she is the narrator of the story.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What's Cookin' Wednesday


Chocolate Chip Snack Cake (from Light & Tasty June/July 2007)

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 egg whites
1 cup (8oz) reduced-fat sour cream
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

Topping:  
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (I used more)

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until crumbly, about 2 minutes.  Add egg, then egg whites, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the sour cream, applesauce and vanilla (mixture will appear curdled). Combine the flours, baking powder, salt & baking soda; stir into butter mixture just until blended.

Pour half the batter into a 13x9x2 baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle half over the batter.  Top with half the chocolate chips.

Gently top with remaining batter; spread evenly.  Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar and chips.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

This was good.  Good texture and kinda good for you (cake is 15 servings: each serving is 215 calories, 7g fat, 194 mg sodium, 2g fiber).  Next time I'd skip the cinnamon on the top...but that's because I like the more chocolate flavor ;-)

Friday, December 7, 2012

What I'm Reading Now - Guest of Honor


I'm a sucker for historical fiction!  While I've read lots of fiction (and non-fiction) about the 1920's - 1950's, I haven't read a lot focused on time before that.

This book follows the two gentlemen as they are growing up.  One in the South and one in New York.  As they begin to create their path's in life.  The similarities and differences - and the same (bull headed?) drive.  And then Roosevelt invites Booker T. to dinner at the White House.  The book - and our historical angle now - makes the reader think this is completely normal.  The two men want what is best for the country, both have strong ideas & ideals and both have no issues with creating waves.

The story is interesting and well written.  I feel like I know much more about both of these men and the part they played in our country's history.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What's Cookin Wednesday


Broccoli & Mushroom Salad (from Real Simple November 2012)

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
salt & pepper
1 head broccoli, cut into florets and stems peeled and sliced
1 pound button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbl chopped fresh dill
3 Tbl chopped fresh basil
1 Tbl chopped fresh tarragon
1 clove garlic, chopped

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, canola oil, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper.

Add the broccoli, mushrooms, onion, dill, basil, tarragon and garlic - toss to combine.  Refrigerate, covered, tossing occasionally until the vegetables are tender, at least 8 hours.

Tips that came with the recipe: don't use only olive oil - it will overwhelm the flavors of the vegs.   Make a day ahead to let the vegetables marinate more.

This was delicious!  Loved all the flavors.  And they were right - it was even better the next day!

Friday, November 30, 2012

What I'm Reading Now - No Easy Day


This is the story of a Navy Seal.  Yes, the story climaxes with the attack on Bin Laden's compound, but the book is much more.  Owen's tells his story; how he had always wanted to be a Seal and the work it took to get there.  He takes the reader on various high profile missions and on other low profile missions in Iraq.  As the book goes on you sense his frustration with the politics that are keeping him from doing his job.

This book was interesting to me.  From the training that it takes to be a Seal to the excitement of being in the helicopter as it approached Bin Laden's compound.  It held my interest the entire time I was reading it and I wanted to read more.  It did have me question some tactics within the Bin Laden compound...but mainly because I wanted there to be more empathy and maybe that's too much to ask soldiers in the midst of a stressful mission....?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What's Cookin Wednesday


Creamy Chicken & Spinach Pasta (from Real Simple December 2012)

So before I start this, I must admit that I've had some cooked shredded chicken in my freezer for....awhile.  So I was looking for a way to use it up.

3/4 pound gemelli, penne or another short pasta
1 cup frozen peas
1 Tbl unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (2 - 2 1/2 pound bird)
5 oz baby spinach (about 6 cups)
Salt, pepper, grated Parmesan, for serving

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the peas during the last minute of cooking.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Drain the pasta and peas and reserve the pot.

Melt the butter in the pasta pot (I skipped this and did it in a large skillet) over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the cream, chicken, spinach, and 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper to the pot and cook until the chicken is warmed through and the spinach is wilted, 2-3 minutes.  Add the pasta and peas and toss to combine (add 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water if the pasta seems dry).  Serve with Parmesan.

YUM!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Surprise! let's have a party

I was home last weekend to help host two parties - both for my sisters.  One sister is due with her first baby in January - the other was hitting the big 3-0 milestone.  We decided to have a surprise party for her...because we knew that she'd love nothing more then all her friends in one place.  Keeping it a secret was a challenge and we were worried that my mom might slip up.  But wouldn't you know it was me that kept saying things?  (that's what you get when you plan two parties days apart!)  Overall I would say she was definitely surprised and enjoyed hanging out with folks.

We started with a banner.  Sister #3 and I went back and forth about what kind of banner to get and settled on this one....because we knew that every single year it will be hung up - and it will make her laugh!

 Given that we bought a banner with primary colors that set the tone for the rest of the decor.  I saw a pretty cool use of streamers on pinterest and thought I'd put my own spin on it.  Could it have been fuller?  Sure - but my aunts and I sure did have fun makin this a 3 person job..we were efficient!
My mom picked out all the pictures for her display and sister #3 borrow some frames from work.  Everyone enjoyed the pictures and commented on how the picture on the left looked just like my niece (the poor kid thought it WAS a picture of her when we showed it to her!).

We didn't have a lot of food as this was a Sunday afternoon party and we knew that most of the folks there would have just hand lunch (I actually had to leave my family lunch to get all the decorations going!).  We had some of her favorites:  chips & cheese and cupcakes and then some salad and vegetable platters thrown in for good measure.
This is my niece - and she very clearly likes cake! (or at least icing...)


Friday, November 23, 2012

What I'm Reading Now - Mudhouse Sabbath


It's good for me to read books like these every once in awhile because it gives me another view of faith and practices and every day life.  Lauren Winner takes the practices and rituals of the Jewish faith that she grew up with and injects them into the Christian faith she adopted in adulthood (converted to?).

I like that she took specific Jewish traditions & practices and talks about how we as Christians can do these same things.  I think that every chapter had something practical that I thought I could use in my daily life.  (and it was a small book so it was a quick read!)

Friday, November 16, 2012

What I'm Reading Now - The Yellow Birds



This book is set during the Iraq war.  The story is told in first person by Pvt John Bartle.  He and his fellow soldier (and friend) Pvt Murphy are the main characters in the story.  It follows them as they are deployed to Iraq.  As they are leaving Pvt Bartle promises Mrs. Murphy that he'll make sure her son gets home safe....he then tells the reader that this was a promise he would break.

The story follows the 2 and their platoon as they battle in the cold and rain and dark.  As they hear of fellow soldiers being killed and wonder when it will be their turn.  And then Pvt Murphy dies - it's a bit hazy as to exactly what happens (at least it was to me!).

Upon his return to the US Pvt Bartle struggles with depression and trying to figure out where he fits in with his mother, his friends and within his hometown.

I struggled with this book - alot.  I almost quit reading it a few times.  I'm not sure if it was the subject matter or the way it was written, but it was a hard book for me to read.  Knowing that this was written by a former soldier who fought in the Iraq war makes it even harder to grasp - even knowing that it's fiction.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A little nursery art

I'm totally a vintage girl at heart, as you know. The good thing, so is my husband. :-) So when it came to thinking about what we wanted to put up in our future little one's room, we went vintage again.
 
One of the things we sell (and sell a LOT of) are vintage patterns. they range anywhere from the 30s-70s in style. I love getting new (to me) ones and looking through them and then seeing what people pick out. The pictures on them are so neat, and they really show how style (and prices) have changed through the years.
 
When we found out this little one was most likely going to be a girl, I knew I wanted to frame vintage patterns.
 
 
So I pulled out my trusty paint and painted five different style frames white. Then I got matte boards from the local craft store to fit the frames. I taped the patterns into the frames, positioning them how I wanted, and there we had it.
 
 
The patterns are still usable, as I left all the paper inside of them. I tried to choose a mixture of style, colors, and ages of those in the pictures.
 
 
That's OK, they will look great against the yellow walls! I am in love with the charm. :-)



Friday, November 9, 2012

What I'm Reading Now - Love Leadership


Funny story - I was recommended this book by a fellow passenger on a flight to Indiana.  The author had just spoken at his company that day and he had bought the book.

The story follows John Hope Bryant as he grows up and starts a non-profit.  This is a man that has a take charge attitude and wants to see things change financially within the African American community.  He's tired of loan sharks and bad budgeting setting the tone for life in his California neighborhood.  I like his theory,  I like his ideas - I think he's on to and doing what needs to be done to end the cycle of poverty.

The book - well, that isn't anything special.  Bryant writes things that (hopefully) most leaders know: that you get further loving people than being a bully.

The man has a great story and he has a great vision.  He sprinkles in some real life leadership stories and has a book!  This is a good read - not a a great read - but there's always something to be learned from a book like this.

Friday, November 2, 2012

What I'm Reading Now - Trapeze



Somehow I've gotten into a group of "war" books - and each one different from the other.  This story revolves around an English girl who is chosen to become an undercover "agent" to France during World War II.  She's single, she's young and she's told that she can't tell anyone about what she is really doing - that she must be vague.  Can you imagine being female at that time and telling your parents that you aren't sure where you are going or what you'll be doing, but it's all for the war effort?

The story follows her through training, as she jumps out of a plane, as she goes into Paris in search of a family friend and as she becomes an adult quickly during war times.

I enjoyed this book for the most part.  There were some "sexual scenes" that seemed awkward (maybe because the girl is feeling awkward) and not needed to make a good story.  Some language and innuendos  That's my warning!  I thought the book captured pretty well what a girl that age must be thinking.  To want to do her part, to want to help and the thrill of being taught to jump out of a plane and actually shoot someone.  But also the emotions that would go with that (and for some reason must be easier to tell from a woman's view then a man's?).

I was reading this one afternoon at the bar and someone started to speak to me.  I turned and said "Give me 5 minutes - I HAVE TO GET THESE PEOPLE OUT OF FRANCE!"  hehe.  I didn't see the end coming until it was right there in front of me!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nevermore

 
Sorry it has been so long for me. This update is quick and painless. Its another cabinet door! This one we found in the trash. Why would people throw such things away?
 
So it got sanded and painted.
 
I wanted to go slightly creepy in keeping with the monthly theme (OCT). However, I also have always found this poem by Edgar Allen Poe fascinating. My sister loves him as an author, but he was a bit too out there for me with most of his writings. I prefer lighthearted Jane Austen.


This one is a mix of paint and paper actually. I am not that good of an artist...unfortunately. So, its cut outs using modge podge on the door; some cut free handed, some printed. This is great if painting may be a bit much for you, but you enjoy creating something.

Lets hope it sells at the show this week. Last show of the season!

Friday, September 21, 2012

What I'm Reading Now - It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership





When I was in college I grabbed this book before a mission trip to NY.  
Knowing that I'd have 24 hours on a bus made me think I could read the huge thing...and I did.  I totally enjoyed the book.

Fast forward to this year when I heard that Gen Powell had written another book (somehow I missed the book between these two) AND about leadership - I knew I had to read it!

The book has some great nuggets about leadership that anyone can read and apply.  There are a LOT of references to the Army, but given that sector was his life for so long doesn't make that too surprising, but it did get a little old.

This is a good leadership read.  Is it one I'll buy for my bookshelf?  Probably not.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What's Cookin Wednesday




This meal started with another "What's in the fridge & freezer" kind of conversation.

Here's what I used:

1/2 cup quinoa (already cooked)
1 cup black beans with chili powder (already cooked)
4 LARGE mushrooms, sliced
3 handfuls of fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 link chicken apple sausage
6 grape tomatoes - cut in half.


I put a bit of olive oil in a skillet and let it heat up. Add the sausage, mushrooms, onions and spinach and let them sautee for a bit.  Add quinoa and black beans and cooked until warmed through.  Add the grape tomatoes and stir until blended.

Spoon into bowls and eat warm.

This won't win any awards, but I enjoyed it!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pin to Check - No Bake Energy Bites

If you hang out in the blog world you've by now heard of Pinterest...maybe even already spent too much time on Pinterest!  If you're like me you pin lots of things to "do later".  Well - there's not time like the present to do things!  So I'll be taking things from a pin to a check mark off the to do list.

I'll be trying to post something bi-weekly that I've found and done on Pinterest.  Some (maybe most?) will be food, but some will be DIY, crafts and things we'll use at The P.

So for my first submission I tried making a cookie that some called a healthy no-bake.  Well, if you know me you know that a no-bake cookie is one of my favorite cookies - so I had to try it!

Original post is here:  http://gimmesomeoven.com/no-bake-energy-bites/  so give her some love.


Here are my ingredients (minus a bag of in-flight peanuts I found in the cabinet after I snapped this photo)

1 cup Quick Oats
1 tsp Vanilla (yes, I know it's imitation...I think I lost the real stuff in the house move)
1/3 cup Honey
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Flax
1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter

Mix it all together in a bowl (get creative and add other stuff too: dried fruit, nuts, coconut).  Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.  Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like.  Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.



These were yummy!  I had some issues with them staying together so I'll add more honey next time.  Since I rarely have milk in my house (a main ingredient to no bakes) I'll make these again.  Since I don't need many sweets...I won't be making them often ;-)

Friday, September 14, 2012

What I'm Reading Now - Whistling in the Dark



This is the story of Sally O'Malley and her family.  Her family includes her sister Troo, older sister Nell, her mother, stepfather, grandmother and uncle.

From the book:
Sally O'Malley made a promise to her daddy before he died. She swore she'd look after her sister, Troo. Keep her safe. But like her Granny always said-actions speak louder than words. Now, during the summer of 1959, the girls' mother is hospitalized, their stepfather has abandoned them for a six pack, and their big sister, Nell, is too busy making out with her boyfriend to notice that Sally and Troo are on the Loose. And so is a murderer and molester.

Highly imaginative Sally is pretty sure of two things. Who the killer is. And that she's next on his list. Now she has no choice but to protect herself and Troo as best she can, relying on her own courage and the kindness of her neighbors.

I didn't like this book and I think it was mainly because of the subject matter.  I got the book and started it - then had to return it to the library - and got it again.  I spent the entire book just feeling sorry for the girl.  She's got her sister/best friend and is trying to form relationships with adults, but there is no one there to help her navigate life.  I will say that this book had twists that I didn't expect and ends differently than I thought it would....but it was a hard read for me (even though it was fiction!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What's Cookin Wednesday - Quinoa Burrito Bowls



I can't remember if this started with a "pin" or an email, but here's where I got the inspiration:  http://theshiksa.com/2012/05/01/quinoa-black-bean-burrito-bowls/

You can see her recipe following that link - below is how I made it.

INGREDIENTS

      
1 cup
 quinoa        1 clove garlic, minced
        2 cans (15 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained
        
1/4 tsp chili powder (mild)

TOPPINGS      
        Plain Yogurt        Mixed Greens        Grape Tomatoes        Guacamole
        Red Onion

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a mesh strainer or sieve, drain.




  • I make my quinoa in the rice cooker.  Usually 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water....SOOOOO easy! (here are stove directions: Pour quinoa
  • into a saucepan along with 2 cups of water. Bring the quinoa to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover the pot. Let the quinoa simmer for about 20 minutes till it becomes tender and all the liquid has been absorbed.)


  • Put a smidge of olive oil in a skillet - add the minced garlic to the pot and let it saute for 1-2 minutes longer till aromatic.
  • Add the black beans to the pot of garlic along with 1/2 cup water and chili powder . Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Let the beans simmer for 15 minutes till the liquid is mostly evaporated. 
  • When the quinoa is fully cooked, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. 
  • Assemble your burrito bowls. Divide the quinoa between four bowls.
  • Top each portion of quinoa with 1/4 cup of mixed green.
  • Top each portion of lettuce with simmered black beans.
  • Top the black beans with the rest of the toppings
  • Serve warm.

  • Servings: 4

    I ate this for dinner the night I made it, warm...it was good.  I ate it the next day for lunch, cold....it was good.  I'll def be making this again.  So easy and so easy to just throw in whatever you have available (hello corn!  how did I forget you?!)

    Friday, September 7, 2012

    What I'm Reading Now - Born to Rise


    I admit - I am intrigued by our educational system and I love NYC.  So combine the two and your book becomes a must read!

    Deborah Kenny decides to open a charter school in NYC - I think her main goal was to allow teachers to really teach.  Not to the test and not with every class having the same curriculum, but using their own style and motivation to help kids excel (at one point during recruiting she says she's looking for the "All-Stars").  She decides to start in Harlem and actually visits Geoffrey Canada's school.  But her main source of inspiration and encouragement comes from heads of charter schools around the country.  She talks about the legal hoops she jumps through and about working in her living room with her 3 kids helping her.  She talks about the politics of the entire school system (NYC & beyond) as well as the politics it takes to get grants.

    She gives a lot of focus to teachers and letting them kinda guide both the school and the classroom.  So while there are rules and expectations of the kids when they come into the school - a lot of what the emphasis would be was decided on by the teachers.

    She doesn't talk a lot about parent involvement (until the teachers push to keep the parents more informed about what's going on with their children) or about community involvement (except when then Pres Bush came to visit).

    An interesting view on education from a teacher driven standpoint.  From this book I don't feel like she focuses on the whole picture (good thing her teachers help round it out!), but I think there is nothing negative about making sure kids know how to read and behave when they graduate!

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    What's Cooking Wednesday - Fried Rice


    Fried Rice!

    For some reason - I have a lot of mystery meat in my freezer.  I think the reason is that I made stuff in the crockpot, but it was too much for one person to eat and so I froze it.  So I've been pulling it out of the freezer and trying to decipher what it is and use it.  I also seem to have a lot of rice that I must have bought at one time for "fancy dishes".  So what does one do when they have random rice and meat?  Make fried rice! (but you already knew that didn't you?)  Seriously - I think that as long as your rice is prepped ahead fried rice is one of the easiest dishes to make...and help you clean out your fridge/freezer.

    I used 3 cups of cooked and cooled rice, 1 egg, 1 cup of "mystery meat" and random veggies in my fridge in freezer (I just eyeballed this, no exact measurements).

    I started by scrambling the egg in the skillet.  I then moved it to the side and added sesame oil (you could use veg oil as well, but I like the taste of sesame oil) and the rice.  I cooked the rice until it was kinda crispy (see the bottom right of the above pic?....oops) and then added the veggies & meat and brought the egg back into the mix.  Cooked it until the veggies & meat were heated through.  I added dark soy sauce (cause that's what I had on hand!) and it made the rice brown ;-)

    Turns out the mystery meat was some SPICY beef.  Once I tasted it I remembered making it.  It worked for this dish though.

    Overall, fried rice is a go to dish for me.  It might even surpass pasta as the made in a hurry dish for me....we'll see.

    Friday, August 31, 2012

    What I'm Reading Now - Little Cenutry


    The story starts with Esther's arrival in Oregon via train from Chicago.  Esther is 18 years old and her mother has passed away - forcing her to move to Oregon with her distant cousin.  It's the time when the train is talking about expanding, when homesteading is happening and cattle ranchers are fighting with sheep ranchers for grass to feed their herds.

    We meet buckaroos on the ranch as well as an assortment of town folk (teacher, preacher, store keeper, newspaper presser...presser?).  Each character is given enough time to become a character of interest, but more time is given to Esther's inner-circle.

    There is a murder, there is "random" violence, there is a love story.  Can you ask for anything more in a story?!  I enjoyed this book - I flew through it as I read, but overall really, really liked it.

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    What I'm Reading Now - Mrs. Kennedy and Me


    First a confession:  I thought this book was going to be a "tell all" with tons of scandal and the such, but I gave it a try because I am slightly intrigued by Mrs. Kennedy & I was hoping for a bunch of pictures :-D

    This book starts with Clint Hill getting the assignment to be one of Mrs. Kennedy's Secret Service Agents.  At the time of the appointment he was assigned to President Eisenhower - so he sees this as a bit of a demotion.  He talked about how he would miss all the traveling he got to do with the President (who knew that he would be away from DC much more with Mrs. Kennedy!).  He offers a great view of Mrs. K's struggle with being in the White House, raising (and losing) children and overall being in the limelight.

    I thought the book was very interesting.  He held my interest the entire time I was reading it.  Reading his memories of the day that Jackie delivered and lost Patrick and the day that JFK died brought me to tears (not that I think that's an incredible feat ;-))  While my one complaint would be that it was written like a guy (hello, he never talks about her outfits!), I think I liked that he stuck to the story - which was all about how she took her role as first lady.  The book did make it seem like she didn't spend much time at all at The White House.  Maybe that's true... I need to do more research.

    Overall this was a great read if you are interested in Jackie Kennedy.  It doesn't give you a ton of insight into what the secret service does - but it does show you how she lived her life as the First Lady.

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    It only took me two years...



    This bathroom, our only bathroom, has been a fun challenge from the start. Its one that has needed just about everything changed, but we are taking it slow. So far we have a new tub/shower and toilet. Oh, and a new fan/vent. In almost 2 years... Another 5 and we should have it done. :-) With only one bathroom, it take a lot longer.

    But last month, I got industrious and broke out some paint! I was going for grey, and it came out a lot more blue.


    Good thing everything else is white! Next up: vanity, sink, medacine cabinet and light fixture. At some point, but dont hold your breath for pictures soon.

    Monday, July 30, 2012

    Black Beauty


    Getting back to the basics right? Our bread and butter?

    D was out on his evening run one night, and bursts in the door about 5 minutes after heading out. "I need help!" he shouted. Thankfully, we had someone else with us, and I was able to stay home anticipating what could be happening. (Considering by the time I got my shoes on and was out the door our truck was halfway down our road...oh darn.)

    He comes back with a GIANT chest of drawers (its 5 ft long!) that someone had put in their trash. It was a very distressed cherry finish with missing knobs and a few giant scratches.

    So what do we do to it? Transform it to a sleek black number with flashy white pulls.

    Monday, July 23, 2012

    Dipped Furniture


    Sorry for the summer slump! So much has been happening, and I have not been able to
    document the furniture changes like I have meant to. I apologize if you are one of those who enjoys looking forward to this, and hope you will enjoy all that comes in the future. I have been working on a secret project which will debut in January. Its going to take a long time to finish it. 
    D and I have been working extra hard on things, but I also had to take a break on painting until I got myself a cool mask (so that I now look like a bug when I paint.) Its awesome. :-) And it was under $30!

    Anyway, this is something new I am trying. I have seen it on old furniture before and it is kinda making a comeback. So, I have tried it out on these chairs. We shall see if someone else likes them as much as I do. Adding a little personality to make them stand out!

    Hope you enjoy the change. Let me know if not though, cause I like opinions!

    Friday, June 22, 2012

    What I'm Reading Now - NOTHING! (darn you Bachelorette!)


    Because, I admit, I've been catching up on this show on Hulu!  I haven't watched the bachelor....since the first season, I think.  The cattiness of the women DRIVES ME CRAZY!  Usually the guys are much more chill (although this season is challenging that in my opinion).

    But let me share some things that have me intrigued:
     - how do you pack to be in North Carolina, Bermuda, London (wherever else they go) IN ONE BAG?  This goes for the guys because I notice they don't show what Emily is packing!  I need to pay more attention to what they are wearing to see how they mix and match.....

     - these dudes wear a lot of v-neck t-shirts.  One scene has 2 in regular t-shirts and everyone else is wearing a v.  Not knocking - I like the look.  Just interesting (maybe guys have less choices in necklines?!)

     - I have heard more country song in the first 4 episodes of this season than I have heard in maybe the last year....

     - "We were on the beach and nothing."  Exactly how many guys does she want to kiss in one night?  Just sayin.

     - Life experience is different for everyone.  But I also agree that everyone that is over 30 knows that life is way different between 20 & 25 and 25 & 30.  It's a fact - no need to ruffle feathers.

    I've just finished the Bermuda episode and I'm 90% sure of the guys that aren't going to make it to the final four.  I am less unsure of who will be the final 2....give me an episode or two more ;-)

    Who's your favorite?  Anyone surprised by the apparent "change" in Ryan (or has he been like this and it's just editing?)  Who do you think has the best "connection"?

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012

    What's Cooking Wednesday - Superfood Salad!



    This recipe had a bunch of modifications by me.  So below is how I found the recipe and I'll outline my changes after.

    1/2 cup dry quinoa
    1/3 cup red onion, chopped
    1 orange, peeled and segments chopped
    1 avocado, chopped
    1 cup canned black beans, rinsed & drained
    1 cup pomegranate arils (about 1 pomegranate worth)
    1 cup frozen corn, thawed
    1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
    salt & pepper

    For the Lemon Vinaigrette:
    2 lemons, juiced (1/4 cup)
    2 garlic cloves, microplaned or finely minced
    dash of sweetener
    salt & pepper
    6 Tbl extra virgin olive oil

    Cook quinoa according to package directions.  Set aside to cool.

    Combine all the ingredients for the lemon vinaigrette in a jar and shake.  Or add everything but the oil into a bowl and whisk the oil in.

    Combine cooled quinoa with red onion, orange segments, avocado, beans, pomegranate arils, corn, cilantro, salt and pepper.  Pour lemon vinaigrette over the salad and stir to combine.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

    I skipped the orange (allergy) & the pomegranate (cheap).  When I got home from the grocery store I discovered that I was actually out of black beans - so I substituted chick peas.   I didn't add any salt or sweetener.

    This was delish!  I'd make it again and maybe serve with some lettuce to make it a main dish.  mmmmm - good summer salad!

    Friday, June 15, 2012

    What I'm Reading Now - The Provence Cure



    This book starts in Florida (but it took me 3/4 of the book to figure that out...for some reason I thought they were in Boston!), but quickly moves to France...in the summer.   Is there a better time to read a book about southern France than in the summer?! (Def on my list of places I still need to go).  The book follows a woman named...Heidi...so it was a little weird to read at first.  Luckily it was written in first person so her name is not used often!  Heidi is working through the grief of losing her husband years ago so her mother thinks it a good idea to send Heidi & her son to the family house in France to rebuild it.  A fire had destroyed the kitchen.  The traveling group also includes Heidi's 16 year old step-niece (is that a term?).

    They spend some time touring Paris before going to southern France and the small village/town that the house is in.  This book is about healing, it's about coming together as a family, it's about accepting things as they are now while not forgetting the past.

    This was a semi-quick read for me.  I enjoyed the book - it made me want to go to Southern France!  But it also made me stop and think about life now - about letting go of some of the things in the past, about embracing the here and now and about living in each moment.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    What's Cooking Wednesday - Salmon, Tomatoes & Chickpeas

    I found this recipe on LaaLoosh.  While not on Weight Watchers, I enjoy seeing what she comes up with.  And since her picture is so much better than mine, click the link above to go to the picture and her thoughts on the dish.



    Ingredients

    • 1lb skinless salmon filets
    • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
    • 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • Sprinkle of red pepper flakes
    • Salt and pepper

    Instructions

    1. Rub salmon with salt, pepper and paprika, and set aside.
    2. Spray a large, nonstick skillet with non-fat cooking spray.
    3. Sauté garlic until softened , about 2-3 minutes.
    4. Add in salmon, then top with remaining ingredients.
    5. Cover and let simmer on med-low heat for about 15-20 minutes or until salmon is cooked through.
    Preparation time: 5 minute(s)
    Cooking time: 20 minute(s)


    I thought this was a great way to cook salmon (and kept the fishy smell down too!).  I cut the cumin as I didn't have any, but everything else was there.  For some reason mine turned out a bit more soupy than hers (maybe because patience is not a strong suit?).  I'd def make it again, but I might through in some zucchini or spinach to make it a one-pot meal of sorts!

    Monday, June 4, 2012

    Im the Third...and I am an anglophile.



    What do you do with a used cabinet door that you bought at a thrift store for $1?

    There was only one, so unfortunately, I cannot replace the cabinet doors in my kitchen.

    At first, I thought I would paint it, distress it and paint some crazy sign to sell at the Antique Show.

    But then, I thought I had one more space on my wall that I could use a sign.

    I am an anglophile. I love most all things British (though in fairness, I also love the Irish. I also consider "British" in this sense to include Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.) I have visited many times and can never get enough. And yes, I think often of visiting my pals in Northern Ireland. I enjoy the traditional music, the culture, the people, the food, the styles, many of the authors, and the ease of travel (with or without a car).
    So lots of sanding took place!

     And what is better than using my favorite phrase while showing some British love at the same time?

    I started with the white background and added a red stripe.

    Can I just say, thank God for painter's tape? :-)


    Then I added some fun blue stripe and added and antique knob.

    Then came the fun part. Stenciling on the phrase!

    For those of you that know me: "Keep calm and carry on" is often my go to phrase. I like to repeat it to myself as a comfort in stressfull situations. As an event planner, it comes in handy.

    The stenciling phase saw me stenciling one letter at a time, whiping it off if it didnt look right or letting it dry if it was straight. Then, moving on the the next letter.


    It shows up better in person than here in the pic, but it is really a nice little thing to have. Many of you may notice a missing crown that goes above the phrase in most prints. I do not have one for two reasons: 1. I could not find a stencil of a crown that looked right and was the right size. 2. I tried to make one and it failed. I tried to hand paint it, and I failed. :-)

    I still love it as it is.

    Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Building Glass Storage

    When we first opened the restaurant we had nothing to put glasses on for storage (you'll see exactly how crucial that was when you get to the last picture). I found 2 bookshelves in a matter of days opening weekend, but couldn't find something I really liked. About a month into opening 2 of the 2-cube storage units were bought from the local hardware store. I HATED them. Thought they looked like 2-cube storage units from a local hardware store! Then one day while perusing Pinterest I saw "homemade wine glass storage" options. And then the wheels started turning. I would literally stand in the raw wood aisles at Lowes and Home Depot and try to build a wine glass rack in my mind. I even bought a premade one and while I was checking out the cashier told me he thought I could build that (what else was I buying that made him think that?!). But that's all the encouragement I needed. I took that box back to work and studied the picture for over an hour and then came up with a plan to make those 2-cube storage units look like a custom piece! (totally in my head, I'm really bad about drawing plans....that will come into play later)

    First I had to gather my supplies.  Don't judge - Diet Coke IS a building supply!

    Then I made the actual glass holder. If I made this again, the short part of the T would be thinner wood, but at this point I had tried some things and didn't want to go back and buy more wood! (this picture will also show how I like to freehand as opposed to measuring....also something that will come into play later)

    I had to test it out WITH glasses before I permanently attached it! (at this point my kitchen staff was coming up with lists of things I could do to fix up their houses - ha!) Ignore all the crazy screws - I used what I had because I knew they would be hidden in the finished product...which I still hadn't formulated completely in my mind.

    Fast forward one paint job and a week later:

    I then had to figure out how to attach it and bring the 2-cube storage units together. And this is where it would have been good to draw/write things out. You can see here that I take the "sides" off the glass rack because I realize that I can use the side of the storage units instead. (and yes, orange cones, a broken mop handle, a piece of slate, 2 vents and a pickle bucket ARE necessary in the work space....hey, you work with what you have!)

    Which then left a void when I attached it to the connecting piece of wood! Also I attached the side pieces by measuring once (always measure twice!). When I took them off and reattached them they started to crack. Fixed with a bit of gorilla glue, but as my staff will tell you - they're still a bit off.

    I covered that front void with a bit of molding. Painted the molding and visible parts of the connecting piece of wood and installed it!

    This is what it looks like with all it's glasses on it...and all the other glass things that are on that long counter!  The tall white piece on the right has been moved to a different place and I'm trying to find something to put in that space.  One of my staff asked if I was going to make something to connect it to the wine glass piece....nah

    Friday, May 18, 2012

    What I'm Reading Now - Calico Joe

    John Grisham shifts his focus to baseball! The story centers around Paul Tracey, the son of Warren Tracey a Mets pitcher in the early 70's. Warren throws a pitch that changes the career of a rookie player that Paul really admires. This is a story of Paul righting that wrong. The story has lots of baseball terminology, but at the root of it is a boy's (man) making peace with who his parent is. Summer = baseball, ice cream, eating on the back porch and road trips. This book has 3 of those 4 elements. An easy summer/beach read for sure!

    Monday, May 7, 2012

    Three is the loneliest number

    After
    Before

    Lets face it. Three is really the loneliest number for so many reasons. Only two people fit on an amusement park ride at a time, most of the time. Only two people can sit in the front seat, unless it is a truck (and NO ONE in their right mind truly wants that middle seat). "Third wheel" is a term on purpose. Three is especially awkward for chairs. Who only wants THREE?

    I am not even sure where these chairs were from, but D is good about bringing home other people's junk. And thankfully, he believes in me. :-)

    You know what I did first right? Sand, sand, sand. These chairs were peeling black, yellow, maroon and metal. Not really a great color combination all together. So after sanding it down, I painted them black.

    These were the seats it came with (not the cushion, just the board.) I added cushions, which I had left over from the settee project. Then I used leftover indoor/outdoor material and recovered them.
    Not too shabby. We took them to Burlington, but got no takers. Again, who wants three? So we put them up on our second outlet individually prices. Sold two of them the next week. :-) Now, these are cute enough for someone to buy one. And no, it wont be lonely.