Sunday, March 31, 2013

Self Portrait Sunday


Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Best Chocolate Cake I've Ever Had


Guys. You guys. This is the best. It's so good. It gets moister and moister the longer you set it out. It is fudgy, decadent, delicious, mm.... Go check out Jennifer's recipe at Flavors of the Umpqua and make this marvelous chocolate cake. Do it today. Your loved ones will thank you and fall in love with you all over again.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Day that Project 365 Died

I can't do it. The Universe has conspired with my husband and has left me unable to complete my New Year's resolution to post a photo every day. But that sounds dramatic. Let me back up.

Daniel is busy. All the time. He works on work stuff for many hours a week, tweaking, planning, and drawing up tweaked plans for this project he's working on. He also works on church stuff for just as much time every week, going over lists, mission statements, assignments, and all sorts of stuff. (For those who care, he was just called as the Elders' Quorum President a few weeks ago. It is quite the load of extra stuff to do.)

Most, if not all, of this homework is completed on the computer. The same computer that holds all my photos, my Photoshop, and which also has a full-sized keyboard and mouse touchpad. I take photos almost every day, but the little time I spend on the computer (which is a laptop, and therefore portable, and therefore used for work, at work, where I am not) is simply not enough time to keep up with a daily posting habit.

So, I admit defeat. I cannot post a picture every day. But, my dear readers, fear not! for I will not give up on blogging altogether. I am announcing my intentions to scrap this 365 project. It got me started on my blog, and that is enough. Please enjoy some pictures I've taken but not posted:
Not really getting the point, yet.

"Walks." Hah! More like, "Let's see if we can break and enter!"




Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How to Redo My Mom's Bathroom (Cheap and Easy)




Mom, you know how I like to imagine redoing rooms in your house? I thought I'd share one of my plans with the world because I wanted some more content for my blog and since I'm going to all this trouble anyway, I might as well publish it.

Internet, I just came across this picture from The Lettered Cottage. It inspired me, to say the least.


My mom loves it, too. So I've put together a list of materials and how-to posts that will help you, too, turn your bathroom into a cottage bathroom!

First up: the shelf. The folks that own The Lettered Cottage totally tore out their wall-to-wall vanity and replaced it with a custom tall shelf-open vanity combo. That's more work than I want to handle. Instead, I recommend buying a shelf (like one of the Billys or Trofasts from IKEA) and anchoring it directly to the counter top on the existing wall-to-wall vanity.

Short Billy from IKEA
Tall Trofast from IKEA

This Billy is short, only ~42 inches, so you would need to frame in a small space between it and the ceiling. Easy-peasy. Here's a post, also from TLC, that shows how to make cabinets taller by adding moulding to the top. His turned out gorgeous! To use the Trofast, I would go out and cut 1x12's down to shelf size, paint them white, install at the correct heights, then frame the whole thing in with some 2" moulding on all sides, sealing the shelves in and making it look more expensive than what you paid.
Kona stain from Rust-Oleum

That pretty shelf was my jumping-off point. If you have a pretty white custom shelf, you need a pretty, dark wood counter top to contrast with it! Enter (again) IKEA! They sell solid wood counters for cheap, and I found some great options in birch or beech. The folks at IKEA recommend finishing these butcher blocks with oil, but that's only for kitchen use. For a bathroom, I say stain it and poly it. Our favorite stain is Rust-Oleum Ultimate Wood Stain in Kona. We used that on our bedroom furniture and had great success with the chest and dresser. It didn't take as well to the (probably maple) top of the bedside table. That's okay. It's cottage-y, so mismatch is fine, right?


Little Green Notebook, Before
Little Green Notebook, After
Now that you've got your counter top and new shelves taken care of, it's time to dress up the original cabinet doors. Replacing them is totally unnecessary when you can cut some 1/8x2" or 1/4x2" trim to size and frame in each door and drawer face. Paint that white, add those crystal knobs you've been holding onto, and it'll feel like a whole new room. Tutorial from Little Green Notebook. It's simple enough. Part 1 and Part 2.

For the finishing touch, get rid of that 60-year old wall-to-wall mirror! It's cool to see the entire bathroom in the mirror, but this glass has seen better days. Send it to its maker. Or save it an create a mosaic. Just take it down and replace it with a 3'x4' mirror. You can spend big or small(-ish) here. I would buy a frameless mirror from Lowes and hang it according to instructions. Then, I would use Liquid Nails to adhere a light, mitered trim around its edge, directly to the mirror. (tutorial from Shanty 2 Chic here). It doesn't seem like the "right" way to do something like that, does it? But if you use a light-ish trim, the strong glue should be plenty to hold it on. How much stress are you going to be putting on your mirror frame, anyway?

Before you hang that sucker up, take a moment to contemplate paint colors. I have a few favorites:

Fisherman's Net, Revere Pewter, Comfort Gray
My bedroom is done in Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore (lightened to 75% intensity). It's a pretty solid gray color. My family room and my MIL's bathroom are both done in Fisherman's Net (Pittsburgh Paints), which looks a tidbit green in sunlight. That color could go anywhere! Comfort Gray is the blue version of those colors, made by Sherwin Williams. 

As for the floor, my mom already has a handle on that. But Daniel and I have been looking at flooring, recently, and by FAR the coolest, most durable (and easiest!) floor we've seen is Invincible Vinyl tiles from CarpetOne. The tiles click together in a watertight seal and have a scratch- and dent-resistant finish. They're about 1/4" thick, so they won't mess with your floor level too much, and, best of all, they float on top of your subfloor (or the linoleum you're trying to cover up). No glue or tacks to mess with; just install by clicking them together (making any trims that might be needed on the edges), install your baseboards over the top, and presto! You're done! This'll set you back $5-10/sf, which is great, compared to many manufactured tiles and fantastic, compared to natural stone.

Phew! I'm not going to touch the fixtures. They are pink. I'll let my parents decide on the best course of action for those. You know where to buy new bathroom porcelain.

This concludes my public letter to my mother. This is so much more fun than a boring old email! I love the embedded pictures. Go forth and renovate!



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Project 365: Self Portrait Sunday

To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the family gathered together to have a green breakfast celebration for dinner. My SIL is quite the crafty Pinner, and she threw a fabulous celebration. There were green clover-shaped pancakes, a pot of gold (scrambled eggs), clouds in a bottle (whipped cream), and so much more! My contribution was the rainbow:

Pineapple, orange, strawberry, grape, frozen blueberry

After dinner, we braided my niece's hair and then braided my hair, too! I got Daniel to snap this quick shot.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Project 365: Leek, Pepper, and Potato Tortilla

Have you ever had a Spanish tortilla? It's nothing like the Mexican version, and it's absolutely scrumptious. I  first came across the Spanish tortilla while reading The Jet Set months ago, but didn't do anything about it because her recipe was a little plain (and therefore a little uninspiring). That basic recipe is here. You can go ahead and ignore it, if you want to, but I don't recommend that. I recommend that you go and make this for dinner. Right now. It's good hot or cold!



The recipe that finally got me going was a little gem I found when trying to figure out how to use a leek that I got in my Bountiful Basket. I love leeks (and always have, since I, with an old roommate, discovered how great they are), but I just don't use them much. If you're not familiar with the leek, think of it as the onion's milder, cooler cousin. The leek is fresh, green, and guaranteed to get along great with your party guests or picky family members!


Cheese, Leek, Sweet Pepper, and Potato Tortilla
Adapted from BBC Good Food

Ingredients:
butter, for frying
1 leek, cleaned
4-6 small sweet red peppers or 1 regular red bell pepper
3-4 medium-sized potatoes (Iused a combo of Russets and Yukon Golds)
6 eggs
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 c grated medium cheddar cheese

Directions:
Boil water, add whole potatoes and cook until tender (10-20 minutes, depending on size). Drain and set potatoes aside to cool slightly. Slice the leek and peppers thin, then, in an oven-safe skillet, saute in butter for about 5 minutes until soft. Peel the potatoes, if necessary, and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Layer on top of leek and pepper mixture. Beat eggs and yogurt until smooth (if working by hand, try beating the yogurt with an egg or two before adding the rest of the eggs), mix cheese (reserving a bit to sprinkle on top) into egg mixture, then pour over the top of the potatoes.

Cook, on low, for up to 10 minutes, or until the eggs are mostly set. Add a bit of cheese to the top and finish under the broiler for 5 minutes and serve hot alongside a cold salad.


Note:
When preparing leeks, it's important to understand how they're grown. To make the plant grow tall, the farmer mounds up dirt or sand around the stalk as it grows, forcing it ever higher. This is great, because it makes more leek. This is not great, however, because it ensures sandy particulate in between each leeky-leaf. So, wash well!


I learned from Alton Brown the best way to clean a leek: remove scraggly outer leaves, cut off white root end along with a few inches off the top of the dark green leaves, and cut the rest into 3-4 inch sections. Separate each leaf and soak in cold water for five minutes, agitating the leaves and water with your hands a few times. The sand will sink to the bottom, the leeks will float at the top.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Project 365: Macaroons!

I have been craving coconut macaroons lately, and I was so happy to find this recipe! Allrecipes rocks when my Pillsbury Baking Book lets me down.




A few hints about this recipe: I used a very small food processor to chop everything, and it wasn't able to completely get rid of the stringy coconut feel. In the future, I will process the ingredients in two batches so that everything is sure to be ground up fine. I also would've liked a sweeter cookie. As it is, this cookie is delicious, but If you're wanting a truly decadent sweet craving-killer, add a little sugar. I'm not sure how much. Next time, I'll add an extra 1/4 cup and see where that gets me.


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