Thursday, February 23, 2012

First Signs of Spring

The strawberries that are beginning to show up in local markets have been so delicious and remind us that spring is just around the corner.   I picked these up yesterday and they are so sweet and juicy that we didn't have to add any sugar to them.   They were also so pretty that I wanted to take a few photos of them in this cute little container I picked up at Anthropologie.  I love little containers like this to hold fresh produce and can't wait to use it to harvest our cherry tomatoes from the garden this summer.
On another note, hubby and I had so much fun celebrating our anniversary yesterday.  The weather was gorgeous, we shared lunch together outside and he brought me beautiful tulips, my favorite.  Nothing fancy but the absolute perfect day with my man.
I hope everyone has a beautiful day today.  I am home sick in bed with whatever strep/fever/sore throat virus my children have been passing around since Christmas.  So I'm going to treat myself to some movie watching as I stare out the window at the beautiful weather.  
But at least I have my beautiful tulips to cheer me up.  
I'd love to know, what do you all like to do with fresh strawberries?  Do share!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Handmade With Love - Happy Anniversary

Twenty years ago today, my man and I were married.  Wow!  It really seems like it was just yesterday.  I can't even begin to describe how much I adore this man.  Before we start celebrating, I wanted to share with you the special gift I made him.

He has been asking me for a while to make him a drive in theatre sign whenever I had time.  So, I thought it would be really cool to make a sign inspired by the drive in theatre in his favorite movie, Grease.  I got to work and this is what I came up with.
I built a simple frame with 1 x 2's and then attached lattice strips to the front of it with a nail gun.  Then I stained it with Minwax Special Walnut and printed a few stencils off the computer.  I just used plain white for the words and then, to give "Drive-In Theatre" some pizazz, I took a pencil and dipped the eraser end in black paint and added dots in the words to resemble lights.
That's it! 
I always like to give my hubby something made from my heart.  I know those things are more important to him than anything I could buy and I know this will mean so much to him.

Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Vintage Dental Cart/Table

Happy Monday!  Last week my hubby purchased the contents of an old home and while a lot of it was junk, we did find a few goodies, one of which was a very cool vintage metal cart/table.  I immediately remembered seeing something similar at Pottery Barn, so, 
I was pretty happy that this was among all the junk.
We thought this was the perfect space for it.  And I thought it would be great to use as a snack or drink cart for our own kiddos or when we have guests over since this is usually the room we entertain in.  
 Another special little find was this set of glasses with a "G" on them, perfect for our family.  I almost didn't find them as they were in the bottom of a box covered in ick.  But after a couple of hand washes and a go through the dishwasher, they are like new.
The cart is metal with castors and the shelves are heavy porcelain, maybe?  I'm not really sure, but they are very heavy.  I didn't have to do anything to it other than give it a good cleaning.
We also found this cute little silver bowl that I filled with pumpkin seeds,
one of our favorite snacks.
We're just crazy about this nifty little table and think it fits in perfectly with the rest of the room.
I love little surprises like that.  What do you think?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Dessert Ideas

We aren't huge chocolate fans around our house so I usually make desserts without it for Valentines Day.  One of our favorites, Sticky Toffee Pudding.  However, I make my own version and turn it into individual trifles.  It somehow seems easier that way and I'm all about giving everyone their own little individual container with their own little dessert.  It just makes it more special.
This recipe is pretty easy and uses ingredients that you probably already have, with maybe an 
exception to the dates.  Start by chopping 3/4 cup of pitted dates into fine pieces and throwing them into a small bowl with 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
Pour 1 1/4 cups of boiling water over them and set aside.  Next, in another bowl, combine 1 cup + 1 TBS all purpose flour and 1 tsp baking powder, combine and set aside.
While those sit, combine 1/4 cup room temperature unsalted butter and 3/4 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand mixer) and mix until light and fluffy.
Add one egg and 1 tsp vanilla and mix until combined.
Slowly add flour mixture and mix only until combined.  Do not overmix here.
Here's what it should look like.
Pour in your dates/boiling water mixture and carefully fold it into the butter mixture.  It will be very thin when you are finished, looking like this.
Pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes until it looks like this (and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center).
Yum!  While that cools completely, whip up some fresh cream.  Take 1 cup of heavy cream, 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla and mix until stiff but before you turn it into butter.  I completely forgot to take a pic here, sorry!  Set that aside and make your toffee sauce.  Grab a stick of butter, 1 cup of light brown sugar and 1/2 cup of heavy cream and put into a small heavy saucepan.  
Heat to boiling, reduce heat and gently boil on medium low, while stirring for about 8 minutes.  It will look like this when done and you will want to drink it straight from the pan.
Let this cool and thicken.  Next take your cake and flip onto a piece of parchment paper and 
cut into squares.
Take your little serving dish, I used stemless wine glasses, and layer starting with the cake, then the toffee sauce and fresh whipped cream, repeat ending with the cream.  Drizzle a little toffee sauce over the top and you are done.  This dessert is so good!  Don't make it too far in advance or your toffee sauce will get to thick.  You could make your cake and cream a day in advance and make the toffee sauce and assemble the dessert a couple of hours before you plan to serve.  Try it!  I'm tellin' ya, you'll love it and so will your sweeties!
Have a great day!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Valentine's Dinner Ideas For Your Sweeties

I happen to love the month of February.  It's a whole month of love for us, not just Valentine's Day but our anniversary happens in February along with a couple of our kiddos birthdays, so, it feels like we celebrate our family the entire month, which I just love.
On Valentine's Day, I like to go all out at dinnertime and make something for my man and kiddos that we don't eat on a regular basis, just to make them feel extra special.  Around our house, that is homemade Fettuccine Alfredo with fresh pasta.  I just don't think there is anything better than a rich creamy pasta dish eaten with those you love on Valentine's Day.  

This recipe is really simple for those that think homemade alfredo sauce is hard to make, like I used to.  It's not.  And it tastes so much better than the jarred variety.  I wouldn't say it's healthier, loaded with heavy cream, cheese and butter, but at least you know what's going into it.  And there is nothing wrong with enjoying a rich dish like this on a special occasion every now and then.

 To make the fresh fettuccine, I followed the same pasta recipe that I use here, then use my Kitchenaid attachment for fettuccine to cut the pasta.  After it's all cut, toss it with a tiny bit of flour and this pile of golden goodness is what you have.
While your pasta rests, put your salted water on to boil and grab a fry pan.  
Throw in 4 TBS of unsalted butter.
Melt completely and add 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and 1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Simmer until it begins to bubble, whisking the entire time.  After bubbles appear on top, turn off the heat and continue whisking a minute or so until thick.
It should look like this.  Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.
Set aside and add your fresh pasta to your boiling water.  Remember that fresh pasta doesn't take as long to cook as dried so it should be ready in a few minutes.  After the fettuccine is done, drain and toss it with the alfredo sauce.
Oh. My. Word.  Look at that creamy goodness!  Traditionally, nutmeg is grated over this dish but we don't like nutmeg in our family so I leave it out, but feel free to add it if you like it.  Oh. Yes.  Dinner is ready.  It's really quick to make if you prepare your pasta ahead of time.  Or you could just buy dried pasta or prepared refrigerated fresh pasta.  It's so good!  Top it with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  I also like to sprinkle a bit of smoked paprika over the top.  It really adds a special flavor to the pasta and I happen to love smoked paprika.
Add a simple leafy green salad with a light vinaigrette, some crusty bread and a nice bottle of wine (for the grown ups) and you have yourself a pretty special Valentine's dinner. 
I thought it would be fun this week before Valentine's Day to share some fun ideas for making a fabulous dinner/evening for the special people in your life.  So stay tuned for some yummy dessert ideas, some cozy decorating ideas, and some fun little goody bags for school parties.

Have a Happy Monday!  And for all those that have emailed asking, I just listed more bread boards, finally!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dining Room Finds

Hey there!  Happy first day of the LOVE month!  Speaking of love, my amazing man brought home more loot this past week from his picking adventures and put it in storage.  I was able to go check it out over the weekend and pick what I wanted out of it.  I came across this huge wood frame that I HAD to have.   As soon as I stumbled across it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.
Yes, I know, chalkboards are everywhere but I really don't care and this thing makes me so happy.  Plus, I am so inspired by this quote from one of my cookbooks.  I have this quote on another chalkboard at our shop to inspire me while I work on bread boards.
I also picked out this vintage wood cutlery tray and silver tray.  I didn't get a good shot of the silver tray but I love it and that sucker is so heavy.  And it goes perfectly with our vintage silver flatware.
I think this might just be my favorite corner of the house. 
To make the chalkboard, I simply attached a piece of plywood that I had painted with chalkboard paint to the back of the frame and stapled.  Voila.
Getting ready to give the kids rooms an overhaul and I. Can't. Wait.  
Still working on the stairs, too.  I loved all of your suggestions on our stair project, thank you!  I think we've decided to stain the treads a dark color and paint the risers a decorators white.  But that's not a done deal yet.  Stay tuned!
Have a lovely day!