If you want to give a Valentine's gift that really has meaning, try this little DIY project. You will have fun putting it together and your special person will have 52 reasons why they are loved.
First, come up with a list of 52 things that you love about the special person in your life. Don't get overwhelmed when coming up with your list. Sit down and really think about what you love about your special someone. Once you have your list, you are ready to put the deck together.
What you need:
A deck of cards (preferably red if for Valentine's Day)
Letter labels that fit onto a card
Album rings (I got mine at Hobby Loby)
Your list of things you love about your person
A whole puncher
Write out your love thoughts on each label and attach one to each card. You can follow the directions for printing out labels if you want them to be uniform and pretty. Me... I just wrote them out. Hole punch each card and attach with the rings.
For a fun little gift, this is actually a pretty powerful way for someone to know of all the things they do that mean so much. My husband and I had fun talking about what I love about him. It sounds a little hokey, but it was actually very sweet. He didn't know that some of the things he does - mean as much as they do.
By card 52, he felt pretty good about himself and so did I.
If you are struggling to come up with a gift, this is a good one. Set up a romantic dinner, or grab wine on the porch or in front of the fire and let that someone special in your life know all the reasons why you love them. You will be happy you did.
One of the many things that I have been focusing on this year is my health. As I am getting older, I realize the importance of staying active, eating healthy and encouraging the body to heal itself naturally. I thinks its important to try different things and find what works for you. We all know about the benefits of eating healthy. But what about alternative or different options to what happens in your daily life?
Albert Einstein once said that the definition to insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you want different results you have to try something new.
Change is hard for most people. But if you make a small change every day things in your life will change. Whatever you do, do it consistently and see what happens.
My health regime went from years of running and lifting heavy weights to spinning and hot yoga. I've used acupuncture with great success and meditate and sit in silence regularly. It works for me.
My newest obsession is learning about natural therapeutic oils. My sister in law introduced me to essential oils and to this this petal diffuser over the holidays. It is a great way to introduce aromatherapy into your life. Essential oils were the first "medicines" ever used and have many health qualities to them.
Have you ever been out in public and smelled something that transported you back to a previous time in your life? That smell triggered something in your brain to bring forward a past memory - sometimes from many years past. Think about the power in that. Scents and the brain are powerful together. Why not use it to your advantage?
I'm not an expert on oils and I'm just learning about their health benefits. This is my first diffuser. It's easy to use and fairly inexpensive. A few drops of an oil of your choice and you can reap the benefits right away.
Do your research and make sure whatever oils you put into your home are pure and of the best grade. There are many cheap oils on the market that may not be good for you. It's something new for me and I'm enjoying it.
My husband has been saying that he wants a nice chair for the deck off of our bedroom. It's small, and we have a nice screened in porch, so I really hadn't given it much thought until.... I was walking our dog last week. Coming around the corner, I saw these two Adirondack chairs put out with the trash. I am a refinisher of things so what the heck right? They looked pretty beat up....but I thought I'd do some swapping out and see if I could preserve one out of two.
Since I love to work with wood, taking pieces from one thing to another is relatively simple. A couple of "slat" swops, and I was able to make one chair complete.
I sanded this down, primed, painted and sealed....and wholla! Brand new chair.
Here she sits in her new little spot on the back deck. Perfect!
This is an outdoor chair with painted wood so you have to pick your finish carefully. I used a flat interior/exterior latex paint and I used a water based polycrylic to seal it. Polycrylic is best used on a flat latex paint for outdoor use as it may have trouble bonding to a satin or gloss finish. If your paint is oil based, you do not want to use a water based sealant like polycrylic. You will want to use an oil based product..
Now, if this chair was going to be in direct sunlight with lots of heat and moisture, I would have chosen a product that works with heat and moisture and blocks UV rays. Minwax makes a product called Helmsman Spar Urethane that is good for this. We'll see how this one holds up.
One man's trash is another man's treasure right? :)
I posted this on FB the other day and I've had so many emails asking about it I thought I'd blog about it. I want you to know that cooking good food doesn't have to take a long time. It makes me sad that so many people order out because they don't have time or don't think they can cook.
This is an eggplant lasagna from The Italian Dish. If you haven't checked out her blog - you should. She has some great recipes that reminds me of family dishes.... YUM. And, I want you to know that you can follow her recipe on the link above or I have a simpler version that is just as good.
My first recommendation would be to use your own sauce or use momma ferraro's sauce which I posted about earlier. Her recipe is good too, I'm just partial to my own. :) Her recipe calls for "ricotta salata" which is basically hardened ricotta that you can grate but may not be able to find. I used whole ricotta which you can find in any grocery store and this worked out great.
What I'm super excited about are these oven ready lasagne noodles from Barilla. You don't have to cook them before you get started. Take them out of the box, use plenty of sauce, layer your ingredients and pop it in the oven! You layer the noodles without cooking them. That means you can be oven ready in a jiff!
Take a large eggplant, I peeled mine, chop into smaller pieces, toss in some olive oil, add a little sea salt and pop in the oven at 425 degrees for about 25 min. Halfway through, stir them around so they all get soft.
While this is baking, take 8 oz whole milk ricotta (you can use skim, I just like creamy whole), add an egg a little salt and pepper and a tsp of basil and mix together.
Take a 13x9 pan and place enough sauce to cover the bottom. Since you are softening your noodles as you bake, don't skimp on the sauce. That is what will cook them. Place your uncooked noodles on the bottom. Add little spoonfuls of ricotta and spread out. Then add some eggplant, fresh basil leaves (if you have them) and sauce to cover. Do this three more times. Cover your last layer with a good amount of sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella, Cover with foil and cook on 425 for 30 minutes. Take off foil and cook for another 10. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before serving.
Now look.....if you don't like eggplant, then don't make this and email me saying that you didn't like the eggplant. :) It's an eggplant lasagna..... If you want to use sausage, or hamburger or mushrooms, or spinach, in it's place, it's the same recipe. Just swap out your eggplant for your choice of meat/veggies. But for you eggplant lovers....this is very good.
You can put this together in under 30 minutes.
Barilla Oven Ready Lasagne Noodles
Spaghetti Sauce, momma's or your own
1 large Egg Plant
Basil Leaves (not a deal breaker...but a definite taste booster)
8oz Ricotta - whole or skim
1 tsp dry basil, salt and pepper (use about a tsp each in the ricotta)
Good food doesn't have to take a long time to prepare. Try it. You and your family will be happy you did.
As a painter of wood furniture, I've received my share of "why did you paint that?" emails. People get very sentimental over grandpa's wood armoire or Aunt Betty's antique hutch. I have to chuckle every time someone sends me an email upset that I painted over this little armoire. They just keep coming....
This was my grandpa's armoire that he used to put his day sweaters in. He lived in a large row house in Brooklyn and this sat in the downstairs kitchen. His bedroom was several flights up so it made sense that he kept this downstairs. Anyway, I had this for a long time (in my attic, my garage, the basement) because it just didn't fit anywhere with it's brown wood. It was kind of an "odd piece out" if you know what I mean.
Then I decided to paint it. The inside is beautiful cedar - which I never really paid attention to....cuz it just didn't stand out. Once I painted it, the cedar on the inside popped out. The whole piece popped out! It went from ugly brown nothing to beautiful, curvy, romantic something. This piece is now a beautiful addition to a bedroom and a treasured piece that I can actually use.
So why the "not so nice" emails? Why are people upset that I painted this? I get it that some pieces are worth a lot of money kept "as is". But if you don't use it and you aren't selling it, it becomes worthless in my opinion. Now, if you truly have a beautiful antique piece that is worth a lot of money, or you don't know if it is worth a lot of money - get it appraised and if you want to sell it - go for it. Don't de-value a true antique or a piece that is worth a lot of money and have painters remorse. I get that. But if you aren't using it......what's the point of having it?
I love how this piece turned out and I love that I get to use it. It makes me happy when I see it. For years....I forgot I even had this piece. So why can't people be happy that I'm happy? :)
In the end, it's wood. Wood can be stripped and furniture can always be restored. If you have an expensive antique...keep it as is or sell it. If you have other furniture that you don't use but could use....go for it.
I can honestly say I have zero remorse in painting this piece. It was the right choice for me and I'm happy about it.
I bet you have some old pieces stuck in your attic or garage and you aren't using them because they don't work in your house right? You can't fathom painting over them because they are antiques right? Hmmm......keep them stored away forever or paint them and actually use them? I'll let you decide what to do with that. :)
Joy; a feeling of great pleasure and happiness; the pure and simple delight in being alive. Rejoice!
I saw this picture of a little cafe in Paris. With all of its colors, wisteria and hanging flowers, it made me happy. Can't you see yourself sitting there with a cup of coffee and a chocolate croissant (that's what I picture) :). Sometimes we just need to notice what is around us to bring joy into our lives.
Bring more joy into your life. Start today.
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no
Don't be intimidated by an old piece of furniture that needs to be reupholstered. Certainly, you can take your pieces to a professional, but you might want to try this yourself.
I thought I'd give you a quick before and after so you aren't wading through photos to see the finished product.
The picture above is how this sweet little piece arrived. I'm not sure how old she is....but she is old and a bit beaten up. Get passed the old and imagine how she will look with a makeover.
With all of the padding and stuffing out, you can see the intricate springs and how the original cushion was actually made. Cool stuff! I actually had to add some string and pull down some of the original springs as she was a bit uneven.
I painted this piece in a soft ivory and used muslin (which is a cheap cloth) to create a pattern for my final material and to seal in the the cushions and stuffing.
I had to throw away the original padding but found and molded new pads to the original piece.
I used a staple gun to attach the material to the wood.
And attached cording to hide the staples. You can see a bit of the muslin sticking out from the bottom of this picture....ooops :)
I used a clear wax to seal the paint and created a little cushion for the arm rest. Now she is ready to go back to her home.
I love working on old pieces like this. I wish I knew all the places she has been. I'm sure she has a few stories to tell.....
A few of you have asked for quick and easy meals for families on the go...that are healthy. One of our favorite quick and easy go to meals - especially when it's cold outside is Chicken In The Pot. You can make this from start to finish in about 35 minutes and it's pretty much a home run.
Start off with a large pack of skinless chicken thighs.....
chicken broth, carrots, a large onion and celery.
Put a a cup of flour and some salt and pepper in a ziplock back and toss your thighs so they are coated with flour.
Brown the thighs in a large skillet with a little oil of your choice. I use about 2 tbsp of olive oil.
Chop up the onion and celery and add the bag of carrots (don't worry about cutting the carrots) to the skillet. Add enough broth to almost cover the tops of the thighs. Bring to a boil and stir from the bottom as the flour will begin to thicken your stock. Once this boils, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. Stir every now and then and if you need to add more stock you can. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
Serve over rice with a salad and hot rolls. YUM!
This is definite comfort food. My whole family loves this dish and it couldn't be any easier to make.