Saturday, June 18, 2011

Patriotic Decorations

The thing I love most about decorating for Memorial Day is knowing that it gets to stay up until after 4th of July.  Since we've moved into our home almost 2 years ago, I've gathered a few items containing stars & stripes.
Almost every item on our buffet is an everyday item.  The white tray we received as a wedding gift and was just sitting in a box tucked away in a cabinet until now.  The lace framing the flag plate was something we purchased on our honeymoon.  It adds such grace.  The pitcher is something we use whenever we have company and fits right in. The candles can be seen around for some other holidays too, and might even be decorated accordingly.  See the picture's on the wall? Those I'll be blogging about later.  It's our photo wall.
I LOVE how our table turned out.  After watching some awesome videos here and here made by Sherry from Young House Love and Katie from Bower Power, I took notes and this is the result.  The great thing is that the only thing actually holiday specific is the runner and I snagged that from Kohl's after the holiday last year for a whopping $10.  I originally bought it for the buffet, but it was WAY too long so I threw it on the table.  It looks fantastic if I do say so myself.  Oh yeah and see that beautiful candle in the middle? Yup, that's the unity candle from our wedding.

Are you putting together any decorations?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our Patio: Before & After

Upon moving into our house we began our list of projects.  Under our deck we had a bedding full of ivy.  Now I understand that some people think ivy is pretty but seriously?
1. It NEVER stops growing
2. You can't kill it
3. It grows like Crazy taking over siding.
There's many more reasons but I'm getting worked up just thinking about it.

So Joe and I ripped up the Ivy
We (and I mean Joe) dug down 6-inches to place about 4-inches of clean rock and about 1 1/2-inches of sand underneath our beautiful pavers.

The final product is amazing.  We already had the patio furniture which looks lovely on our newly finished patio.  Joe worked really hard and now we have a lovely place to relax. I can't wait to have a big BBQ to celebrate all our hard work!  There are more things to be added, like a way to hang my fern. And I'm thinking garden boxes....

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Delights

One of my favorite things of all times is chocolate covered cherries. My mom always used to get them for Valentine's Day from my Dad.  I love them at Christmas time and I usually stock up on them to eat year-round.  They are so delish!

Cordial Cherries
I was so excited when I found them in cookie form.  Thanks to the Hannah Swensen Mystery series, I found this recipe in Joanne Fluke's 1st book: Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder.

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Delights
Joanne Fluke, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., rack in the middle position.

1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup cocoa powder
3 cups flour (not sifted)
2 small, 10-oz. jars of maraschino cherries***
1 pkg. chocolate chips (6 oz. pkg. - 2 cups)
1/2 cup condensed sweetened milk

Melt butter and mix in sugar. Let mixture cool and add eggs. Mix it thoroughly and then add baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and cocoa, stirring after each addition. Add flour and mix well.  (Dough will be stiff and a bit crumbly.)

Drain cherries and remove stems, reserve juice.

Pat dough into walnut-sized balls with your fingers. Place on greased cookie sheet, 12 to a standard sheet. Press down in center with thumb to make a deep indentation. (if the health board's around, use the bowl of a small spoon!) Place one cherry in each indentation.

In a saucepan over simmering water (double boiler) combine the chocolate chips and the condensed milk. Heat on low until the chips are melted. (You can also do this in the microwave, but you'll have to keep zapping it to keep it from hardening.)

Add approx.1/8 cup of the reserved cherry juice and stir to a thick sauce. If sauce is too thick, add more juice in small increments. (Test it with a teaspoon. If it doesn't glob of, it's too thick.)

Spoon the sauce over the center of each cookie just enough to cover each cherry. Make sure it doesn't drip down the sides.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to rack to finish cooling.

***For those who don't like cherries, substitute well-drained pineapple tidbits, using the juice to thin the frosting. You can also use pecan halves or macadamia nuts and thin the frosting with cold coffee or water. If you don't have anything to go on top, just glob the chocolate mixture into the indentations. That's good too.

Yield: 7 to 8 dozen, depending on cookie size.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Organizing My Dresser

I get really tired of having stuff just all over my dresser: necklaces, earrings, laundry that needs to get put away, perfume, receipts, clothing tags, and plenty of other "junk".   I hate that it looks unorganized and messy ALL THE TIME.  After seeing a few decorating pictures of dining room buffets with trays on them to decorate/organize I thought to myself, why not move that do my dresser?

I went to Hobby Lobby and picked out a little wooden tray that was 50% off.

I took it home and used some gloss white paint leftover from little samples we'd bought a while ago.

I added some felt we already had to the bottom so it wouldn't scratch my dresser.

And voilĂ !
Perfect for dressing up my dresser and de-cluttering my stash of smelly-goods.

Organized Perfumes

Total Cost: about $1.50
Total Time: about 1.25 hours (I did 3-coats of paint over 2 days)

Lessons Learned:
1. Sand your tray first, It'll be smoother and may not require the felt.
2. Cover it with some kind of lacquer to protect it.  I didn't do this and I'm not sure how long it'll be before it starts showing a lot of dirt.  Maybe never, who knows.

This project has been linked to:
The Shabby Nest

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

While I'm 25....

Everyone has dreams.

Dreams of doing things, going places, completing projects, and being happy.

Some dreams are big, such as living in a foreign country or quiting a hated job.

Some dreams are small, like hanging up a picture they've had forever or going to a museum.

I have dreams of doing a few things this year, you know, before I turn the big 2-6!

I came up with this list in my mind while stuck laying on the couch this last week. Hopefully I can stay motivated along the way and always remember to keep a smile on my face.

Dreams like:
- Losing 15 pounds
- Having a date with Joe that includes a picnic
- Baking a pie
- Making homemade spaghetti sauce
- Finding a fantastic recipe for salsa and making it with veggies from my garden
- Baking a loaf of bread
- Visit a new city
- Go to a concert
- Run a 5K (and train for it first)
- Make a menu for the week using my cookbooks, or at least Monday through Wednesday for the whole summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day)
- Write notes to friends
- Make homemade salad Dressing
- Blog at least 1x per week!
- Volunteer with an organization
- Go to church more
- Go to a Sporting KC Soccer game at their new stadium (I'm not sure when construction is going to be completed though)
- Attend a Play, Symphony, or Orchestra Concert
- Make a little "Welcome" spot for visitors to our house
- Host a dinner party
- Read 2 books a month (any suggestions?)
- Plan a trip for "just the girls"
- Get a pedicure with my mom
- Make a fancy tiered cake (a reason isn't necessary)
- Tailgate at 6 Royals Games
- Ride a motorcycle

So there's my list. Now that I've written it down it seems kinda long and quite daunting.  I've got just under 7 months. Time to get started! Although, I don't think my macchiato this morning is helping with the 1st one. I guess I'll have to work on that.