Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fall Decor

I thought before I went packing things away I should probably share a few pics of our fall decorations with you all! Better late than never, right? If you look at the walls closely you can also see our new paint color. It's Valspar's Churchhill Hotel Ecru. It's a very subtle tan with gray undertones and it's amazing the warmth it adds to our living room. I'm very pleased!

Here's our tablescape before we added placemats. I really wanted a pretty orange tablecloth but of all the stores we looked at not a single place had square ones. Go figure! Although it sounds odd, I used chickpeas to fill the votives and I love how they turned out. They are surprisingly autumn-looking beans!
I picked up these metal pumpkins at Michael's. The basket was a Goodwill find ($1!) and the filler items were also from Michael's.
I liked the chickpeas so much that I used them in tall vases to fill the awkward space above our coat closet too. I used raffia to tie ribbons around the vases and then scattered some glittery baby pumpkins up there as well. I sorta love glitter :)

My favorite decorated spot was our mantel, mostly because I'm in love with the old window I found while browsing a local antique store. My darling husband actually did most of the decorating here! He was very proud of his contribution of scattering leaves and placing the little artifacts up there...he's adorable ;) I got the set of 3 metal haystacks from Cracker Barrel, the Autumn leaf sign from Ross, the candle holders from Dollar Tree, and the owl oil burner from Bath & Body Works. I've decided I love the owl, so I think he's going to stick around and find a home in another area of the house.

I can't wait to share my Christmas decor with you next and see all the beautiful things going up in your house!

Tasty Tuesday-Sweet Holiday Ham

This Thanksgiving we had the pleasure of hosting dinner at our new house. It was such a great feeling to be able to have loved ones over to see our place and prepare a meal all by ourselves :) The hubs and I have three separate Thanksgiving dinners and let me tell ya...turkey gets old. So for our dinner I resorted to my tried and true holiday ham recipe. We hardly ever have leftovers if that tells you how delicious this thing is! I thought I'd share the recipe in case any of you would be interested in a great way to cook your Christmas ham.

You'll need:

1 12 pound fully cooked bone-in ham

1 cup maple syrup

1 cup orange juice

1 cup ginger ale

1 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together maple syrup, orange juice, ginger ale, pineapple juice, honey, and brown sugar. Score outer edge of ham with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern. Cuts should be about 1/4 inch deep allowing ham to soak up juice. Place ham in an oven bag and pour juice mixture over it. Tie the end of the bag closed with ties provided, place in a roasting pan, and cut a few slits in the top of the bag. Bake the ham for two hours, then remove and place on a serving plate waiting ten minutes before carving.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesday-Tortellini Carbonara

It's been awhile since I posted a pasta recipe on here, so how about a delicious and cheesy choice for today's Tasty Tuesday? This is the type of recipe that will be ready and on the table in less than 20 minutes, and those are my favorite kinds of recipes!

You'll need:

1 9 oz. package refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini

4 bacon slices

1 garlic clove

1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/4 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Cook tortellini in a pot with lid according to package directions. Drain tortellini then set aside. Cook bacon until crisp, then remove and lay on paper towels, reserving 1 1/2 tablespoons drippings in pan. Crumble the bacon. Cook garlic in reserved bacon drippings for half a minute. Mix with tortellini, add crumbled bacon, parmesan cheese, whipping cream, pepper, and fresh parsley. Toss gently then serve immediately.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cappuccino Cake...in a crock pot!

Tasty Tuesday didn't pan out this week, so here's a little recipe just in time for the weekend that's pretty much effortless. It's cake made in a slow cooker! Bet you never thought of that, huh?

You'll need:

1 box of devil's food super moist cake mix

1 1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon instant coffee

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 egg whites

1/2 cup applesauce

Preheat slow cooker for 10 minutes on high. Spray the inside with cooking spray. In a medium bowl beat all ingredients on low speed for 1 minute, scraping bowl constantly. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker, putting a paper towel over the top then covering with the lid. Cook for 2 hours on high or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes then turn the slow cooker upside down to remove the cake. Ice with desired frosting and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations review

By now I think everyone has heard of this product. It's advertised as an easy way refinish cabinets and it's honey oak's worst nightmare. Everything you need to successfully paint your cabinets is included in a kit that you can purchase at any home improvement store. I used this product recently to update the cabinets in my laundry room and thought I'd share my experience here. The picture below is what my cabinets looked like before.

I taped the edges of the cabinets so I wouldn't get white paint all over my newly painted yellow walls, then I taped off the corners of the shelving since I wouldn't be painting those (the kit doesn't include enough paint to cover the interior of the cabinet so that also explains why I didn't bother taking stuff out of my cabinets).

I didn't take a picture of the first step in the process which was deglossing (oops!). The deglosser worked great though. It took off all the sheen to prep the surface without requiring any sanding. I love that. The pamphlet calls the next step the "bond coat" which would make it sound like it's primer, but it's really just your first coat of color. I chose Pure White for our color. This is what the cabinets looked like after one coat: Pretty streaky, so I did another coat as instructed. This is the most time consuming part. You have to paint the cabinet frame and the back of the cabinet door, then wait 3 hours, then paint the front of the cabinet door, wait 3 hours, then repeat the process for the second coat. Only a second coat didn't work for me. As you can see it was still streaky.
I was aware that some wood grain was supposed to show through when I bought this product, but the original wood color was also still showing through as well, so I went back for round three. The picture below is the result of three coats. Definitely better than two, but still not the coverage I wanted. I think I decided halfway through this project that in this particular room I just wanted cabinets that had that factory-finished white look since our beadboard was that way.

So I broke down and used regular ol' white paint. I didn't plan on using the optional glaze anyway so I figured it wouldn't hurt anything. This got me the look I wanted and I was still able to use the clear top coat from the Rustoleum kit. The clearcoat is a necessity as it helps protect the cabinet from dings and anything else that would ruin the finish, but it can also be a pain in the butt. The best advice I can give for this step is get less clearcoat on your brush than you think you need. It can be hard to smooth it around the cabinet edges without it glopping up. Here is the end result after all my hours of hard work:I love how it turned out even though I had to invest in some regular paint and stray from the instructions a little to achieve the results I got. I don't want this to discourage anyone from trying Cabinet Transformations though. It's a great all-in-one kit, and I think when I do my kitchen cabinets and actually want more wood look showing through it will work just fine without needing any outside paint formula. To prove my point check out the picture below. A friend of mine also used Pure White but with the glaze on top, and her cabinets turned out beautiful! It created a nice, natural, textured look which is exactly what I want when we renovate our kitchen. I plan on refinishing all the cabinets in our house including in our upstairs bathrooms and they'll all be different colors, so I'll be showing off all the before and afters here for your educational benefit :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

We're cheating

When it comes to decorating and renovating my hubby and I are usually all about doing things ourselves. This is because A) We consider ourselves perfectly capable of tackling most projects and take pride in finishing a job on our own, and B) because we're notoriously frugal. That's why it's hard for me to believe that we've hired contractors for our next big project. But because that project is painting our entire downstairs, here we are about to pay a crew of three professionals to come in to do work that I wish we could be doing ourselves. It's not that we couldn't paint it ourselves (after all we have done the entire upstairs including removing all the wallpaper), it's just that we want it done before the holidays and lately it's been hard to find time for even the littlest tasks much less a huge project like this. I'm still bummed that I'm going against my typical DIY mindset, but I'm sure once it's all done I'll be thankful that in two days the pros will have finished something that would've taken me and my husband weeks to do with our lack of free time! As for the process of getting this accomplished, the picture below is the current state of my living room.

Nice, huh? It looks like an abandoned house except for the leftover Halloween candy on the table. The kitchen is worse. It's in complete disarray and for the most part unusable at the moment. My oven is in my dining room.

It's gotta get worse before it can get better, right? Right? Just answer yes so I can have hope that some order will be restored to my home soon, k? At least the fugly wallpaper in the kitchen is gone, and I look forward to when the sterile white is gone for good too. I'll post pics after the drop cloths have been taken away and all our furniture is moved back to the usual spots :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tasty Tuesday-Sweet Carrot Salad

Is it really Tuesday already? Where the heck did this last week go? I guess I've been busier than I thought! I've been so busy in fact that I've started eating fast food a little too regularly since it seems I'm always on the go. I am not okay with this! I've made a commitment to start pre-packing snacks and lunches that are healthier so that my very full schedule doesn't start affecting my waistline. In honor of that here is a new recipe that I made the other night for lunch. I think you're gonna enjoy it!

You'll need:
1 1/2 cups shredded raw carrots
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup almond slivers
Fresh cilantro

Grate carrots into long, even shreds. Measure the mustard and honey into a shallow bowl, then mix in the lemon juice. Sprinkle ginger into the mixture. Stir in the grated carrots until it is evenly coated in dressing. Sprinkle almonds over salad and top with cilantro last.