Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Obsessions....

Black doors and white trim..
Silver Furniture with studs....
Avocado with salmon and purple onion
Black and gold accessories
For cute it this?

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Stripping and Staining Furniture

I talk a lot about painting furniture.  I've received quite a few emails about finishing wood furniture.  So I want to lay aside all your fears and show you how easy it is to strip and refinish wood.  This is especially handy if you want to keep a wood top and paint the bottom.
I have this pretty antique desk that I've wanted to refinish for awhile now.  It has great lines and is in good shape, but it is a red mahogany that just doesn't work for me.  It's almost orange.  The top had a lot of water marks and wasn't in the best shape. So I decided to paint the bottom of this piece and strip the top and keep the wood.  Stripping wood is not hard to do.  It's actually pretty easy.  Stripping paint is a little more involved from a time perspective but it's not that hard either.  So don't fret.

Enter Citristrip.
This is a really nice stripping product that isn't too harsh and actually smells pretty nice.  They say you can do this inside, but unless you have a workroom or basement, I would do this outside as stripping can be a little messy (not horribly) but you don't want this on your floors.  Pour a generous amount on your wood and use an old chippy brush to spread it all over your piece.  All over.  Don't leave any wood that you are stripping without this. Leave this on for an hour or so, maybe longer if you have lots of paint layers.  I went to the grocery store and came back and about an hour and a half later.  I took at scraping tool and my safety goggles and just scraped it off.  This will work with paint and with varnish.  Scrape all the gunk into an old can.  I think I used a shoe box...... and let your piece dry. Give it a good 24 hours.  Then sand.

Make sure you sand off all of the stain and any paint left on the piece.  Wear a mask if you are sanding old paint and always wear your safety goggles.  You will have a beautiful unstained piece of wood underneath.  
Now you are ready to stain.  Buy a can of Pre-stain.  This will solve lots of little problems that could be a me on this one.  It's like conditioner for your hair.  It treats the wood and preps it so the stain will take evenly. You only have to wait about 15 min and you can begin staining.
I chose a Minwax stain in walnut. Following the grain of the wood, paint your stain on the section you are finishing.  If you are doing a whole piece, work in sections (top, sides, face) and keep stain on for the same amount of time for each section.  I was just doing the top so I put the stain on and left it for a few minutes. 

 Take a clean rag and just wipe it off.  Just wipe.  The longer you keep the stain on the more it penetrates.  But DON'T let it dry.  Wipe it off and you will have a beautiful stained piece of wood.  Pat yourself on the back cuz stained wood is sooo pretty!
I forgot to take a picture but the wood on the right is a nice deep walnut brown.  Now leave your piece for 24 hours. I know, if you are like me you want to be done now.  But the wood needs to dry, or you are going to have water marks under your finish.  

I will continue and show you the next step of how to finish your piece - easily on Monday.

Let me know if you have questions.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Best Pumpkin Apple Pie

Ok.....this might be one of the best apple pumpkin pies ever.  And if you have not ventured into putting apple and pumpkin together - try it.  It might just become a family favorite.  I made this pie years ago and it has been on the holiday table ever since.

If you are having people over for the holidays or you are invited to someone's house for the holidays, bring this. Your pie will be talked about for a long time.  Hahaha....  :)  

I know I say "it's so easy to make" a lot, but this really is easy to make.  I was thinking about what to post yesterday and decided to make this and show you.  It was in the oven in less than 20 minutes.  

There is an apple mixture you put into the pie shell first. 

Then there is a pumpkin mixture you put on top of that.

Then you finish it with a crumb topping. What is not to like?


Apples -
2 Granny Smith apples - cut up
1/4 cup of sugar
2 tsp of flour
2 tsp of lemon juice
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 unbaked pie crust

Pumpkin Mixture
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of pumpkin (I use canned)
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
3/4 tsp of cinnamon
1/8 tsp of nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Crumb topping*
1/2 cup of flour
1/3 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
4 tbsp of butter
*put the dry ingredients in a bowl and cut in the butter

Put the apples in the bottom of your unbaked pie crust.  Pour the pumpkin over this and bake at 375 for 30 min.  Take out and sprinkle the crumb topping over the pie.  Bake another 20 min.

Let cool.  Enjoy!  If you want to add a bit of real whipped cream, you will forever be talked about at holiday dinners.  :)


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ceramic Fruits Of Your Labor

Ya can really paint just about anything today.  My friend found these large ceramic clay fruits at an estate sale (each of them is almost as big as a basketball).  They aren't very attractive, but she has a great eye for finding cast away things knowing that they can become something awesome.  So she gave them to me and said to do something with them that would work in her kitchen.  Hmmm....what do I do with large ugly fruit?  :)

Painting clay and ceramics can be tricky because the paint needs to adhere to the surface.  When in doubt, you should seal the surface with a product like Ceramcoat.

You can see the Ceramcoat on the two fruit on the right.  It seals them and gives your paint something to grab on to.  

With a little paint and your imagination you can take anything and turn it into something fun and whimsical. Who'd have thought these ugly fruit would turn out to be so darn pretty?  

Do you have something that isn't quite working for you as is?  Go get some paint, recreate and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Happy Tuesday.


Linking with:
Ivy and Elephants
Savvy Southern Style
The Dedicated House
Worthing Court
Dwelling In Happiness
A Stroll Thru Life

Monday, October 27, 2014

Give Thanks and Promote Kindness

Hard to believe that I have been blogging for almost a year now.  I have learned so much through this process and am thankful for all of it. I am amazed at how you can find the answers to almost any "how to" question through bloggers and I'm amazed at the warmth and willingness to share throughout the blog community.  But what has been the most rewarding part of this experience has been the support and encouragement that I have received from fellow bloggers and from my readers. I am thankful for all of your thoughts, questions and suggestions.  It has been such a great environment to create, learn and inspire.  It really should be a model for our home communities.

I want to share an adorable creation that came my way last week.

I received the sweetest little package from a reader in Midlothian, Virginia.  She sent me these adorable little felt acorns that she makes for her friends.  Aren't they just the cutest things ever?

I am touched by the kindness of my new friend in Virginia and hope to continue to pass this kindness along to others.

In a world where competition is so prevalent, I am inspired by kindness and those willing to share their experiences and creations with others.

          “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

Have a great week!


Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Obsessions....

Tassle Necklaces..

Vintage Painted Furniture
Pumpkin Spiced Lattes
Neutral Cable Throws

Quiet Places....

Thank you for all of your encouraging sweet messages this week!  Have a great weekend.


Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Option Of Love

"Faced with problems and disappointments, many people will try to escape from their responsibility: escape in selfishness, escape in sexual pleasure, escape in violence, escape in indifference and cynical attitudes.

But today, I propose to you the option of LOVE, which is the opposite of escape."

                                                  ~Saint John Paul II

I read this this morning and thought how much better the world would be if we all would just choose love.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Skirt Steak......Yes!

The other night, we had tacos for dinner.  Good ones.  I grilled up the meat, made homemade guac, fresh homemade salsa had all the fixings....and my daughter walks in and says "oh, tacos again?"  Then a few nights later, I made a fresh batch of spaghetti sauce and my son walked in and said "having spaghetti again?"  You get the picture here.....

Trying to come up with interesting and yummy dinners every night is hard.  And trust me, my kids get a variety of good dinners.  But after awhile, it's hard not to run out of ideas.  

As I stood in front of the meat counter the other day....I just couldn't bring myself to buy another pack of chicken breasts or another pork tenderloin.  I almost left...slightly depressed and unsure of what to cook for dinner.

Enter the skirt steak.  I've always passed on this cut of meat, cuz it just doesn't look so great in the package.   I had just seen a show where they grilled up the steak and it seemed so easy. Since it's thin, it cooks up quickly (bonus).  I saw this recipe the other night and wanted to give it a try.  I love pretty much anything with a chimichurri sauce.  If you are looking for a new quick meat option - try this.  You and your taste buds will be happy!

Cilantro-lime Steak Marinade:
Inspired by: Feasting at Home
1 lb skirt steak
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 limes juiced
3 garlic cloves
handful of cilantro
pinch of sugar
dash of red pepper flakes

1. combine all ingredients in a bowl
2. put steak in ziploc bag, add marinade
3. refrigerate for up to 4 hours, taking steak out of the fridge approximately 30 minutes before grilling to bring to room temp
4. grill steak on medium high to desired doneness [ours was a bit chewy, it is very thin & doesn't need to be cooked long!]

handful parsley
handful cilantro
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 onion
2 limes juiced
1 clove garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 jalapeno seeds removed

1. place jalapeno, onion & garlic in food processor & blend until chopped
2. add herbs
3. add rest of ingredients & blend until combined

This recipe came from Married Claire.  She has some good stuff on her site so check her out.  :)

Happy Wednesday!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Artist's Way.....

Every once in awhile I find a book I want to share.  I read all the time, but rarely find a book that I want others to read too. If you feel "stuck" or feel like you need to bring more creativity into your life (whatever that may be for you) this book will help you to find that creativity and make room for greater balance and happiness in your life.

“Most of us are not raised to actively encounter our destiny. We may not know that we have one. As children, we are seldom told we have a place in life that is uniquely ours alone. Instead, we are encouraged to believe that our life should somehow fulfill the expectations of others, that we will (or should) find our satisfactions as they have found theirs. Rather than being taugh to ask ourselves who we are, we are schooled to ask others. We are, in effect, trained to listen to others' versions of ourselves. We are brought up in our life as told to us by someone else! When we survey our lives, seeking to fulfill our creativity, we often see we had a dream that went glimmering because we believed, and those around us believed, that the dream was beyond our reach. Many of us would have been, or at least might have been, done, tried something, if...
If we had known who we really were.”
― Julia Cameron

The book is set up to be done in 12 weeks.  It includes exercises and yes, I would encourage you to do them and be committed to them. :)  It doesn't really work if you pick it up here and there. I've actually gone through this book during different phases of my life and have found that there is always something new to learn and some new creative processes that offer different perspectives and experiences.

This isn't just for artists.  This book is for everyone that is looking to transform their life and overcome obstacles that may be in your way.  It's a way to see things differently and to allow the greater force in your life to emerge. You may not agree with everything you read, but I would recommend that you be open and allow the creative force to work through you.  We speak of God as the creator, but rarely do I hear about God as an artist.  He was in fact, the greatest artist ever! Through this book and the exercises that follow you can tap into your artist side and find strength, inspiration and direction.

I am getting ready to participate in this insightful journey again.  I'm looking forward to what may come my way......


Monday, October 20, 2014

Giving New Life To An Old Dresser

This weekend I was working on an old dresser that needed a new life.
My sister-in-law wanted this dresser painted black.  Knowing that I had a limited amount of time on a quick weekend trip, I really wanted to chalk paint this.  Chalk paint is by far, the quickest and easiest paint to use. There is no prep needed to your furniture and you don't have to sand and prime.   But....Annie Sloan doesn't have a true black.  She has a color called Graphite, but it's more of a dark grey.  So I called a great resource out there....Trish, from The Purple Painted Lady.  If you are interested in painting and have questions, or need can get all of this from her and her website.
Trish explained that I could get a true black by adding three vials of India ink to the graphite paint.  I actually ordered this from her and had her ship it to my parents home in VA.  When I arrived for the weekend, I was ready to get to work.

I want you to know that painting is not an exact science.  Things don't always go the way you want them to.  And...even for someone who does this a lot, you have to expect the unexpected.  For whatever reason, the wax was not working for me on this piece. So I switched gears and tried something else.

Also, you don't have to use a brush and you don't have to wax if that isn't your thing.  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is very versatile. It can be rolled on and you can also use a different finish, like a polycrylic, if you don't want to wax. I used a foam roller like these below and finished the piece with a polycrylic water based finished from Minwax.

So don't be afraid of working on that old dresser.  And if you don't want to brush and wax....don't. :)  

Hope you have a great week!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lights Lights and Lanterns

Lighting makes such a difference....doesn't it? 

All pictures found roaming on Pinterest.

Thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mixing Contemporary with Antiques

We can all use a little inspiration to achieve balance and beauty.  Hope this inspires you.

This was part of a beautiful house tour done way back in 2010.  You can find the link at Cotedetexas.

Happy Wednesday.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Butternut Squash - The Best

One of the many things that I love about fall....are the vegetables that are in season.  Aside from spaghetti squash, which you all know that I love, there is butternut squash.  If you aren't making this at least once a need to start.  Butternut squash is that big ugly squash that most of you walk on by because you don't know what it is or you don't know what to do with it :)
Winter squash is a super food!  It is one of the richest sources of plant based anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega 3s and beta-carotene - which is important for a strong immune system. The problem, is that most people don't know how to cook it.  If you cook and season squash right, there is nothing better. It is also low in calorie so you can go back for thirds on this stuff and you are still on the skinny plan.
The good news is that you don't have to buy it whole like you see it above. Almost all grocery stores have butternut squash cut up and ready to go in the produce section.  It comes in a bag or in a big plastic container.  Which prep time.  All the work is done for you. You can cook it as a side, put it in stews or make an awesome power packed lunch soup.
Ignore the fuzzy picture here and try this.  Take a little olive oil in a pan.  Chop up a vidalia onion and simmer for a couple of minutes.  Then add the whole bag or container of butternut squash.  Add a cup or so of chicken broth until the broth starts to come up the sides. (Not overtop of the squash, just enough to allow the squash to softly boil). If the pan begins to get dry as you cook, add some more chicken broth. Add some crushed sea salt.  Stir the squash up as it's cooking.  I like to take a spoon and kind of mash it up a bit so you have some soft and chunky pieces.  You will know its done when all the pieces are tender and most of the broth is gone.

You can also make soup from this if you want.  Just add the mixture above to your blender and blend it up. If it's too thick add more chicken broth.  Hit puree and you are ready to go.  This couldn't be any easier.

2tbsp Olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion
Chicken stock
Sea Salt
Butternut squash

Try it.  I promise you will love it.

Happy Healthy  Eating!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Gold Leafing

A friend brought me this cute little decorative table and asked that I do something to it Right away I'm thinking...what a great little piece to gold leaf!
Before you gold leaf your furniture, you want to make sure that you fill in any little holes or dents and sand down your piece so you have a smooth finish. Gold leaf is so thin that if you don't do this, those indentions will show up like nobody's business and you aren't going to be happy.  I filled two little places with wood putty, let it dry and then sanded it down to a smooth finish.
Because gold leaf is super thin, there is the tendency to see the paint color underneath if you get little tears in it.  It is a very cool look, but I didn't want the grey color to come through with the gold so I painted this with a soft ivory color.  

To begin, clean off your piece really well and brush on the gold leafing adhesive to wherever you want to see gold. You can buy the adhesive at most craft stores. Follow the directions on wait time.  Mine was tacky and ready in about 30 minutes. Gold leaf comes in these little packets and it is extremely thin.
Think butterfly wings thin... 
Make sure your hands are super dry because the leaf will pull apart and stick to whatever is on your hands.  Gently lay the sheets down all over your piece.  Don't freak out at this point and think you have ruined anything.  This is how it should look. 
Take a soft cloth and lightly pat down the leaf to make sure you have good adhesion.  Then slowly and softly start to rub down your top and then work on your sides.  This is how it looks right after you rub the leaf off.  Beautiful.  
The gold leaf sticks to wherever you had the adhesive. What doesn't stick will flutter off to the floor.  Use any little scraps where there are holes or little tears.  Just stick them back on and rub them in with your cloth.  It's literally the coolest thing ever.  I put a light poly over the leaf to seal it in and she was ready to go.
I was playing around with my pumpkins after....wishing this little table was mine.  :)
Have a fabulous Monday and go get yourself some gold leaf.  You are going to love it!


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