Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spring Things

This morning I had every intention of Springing into action, stripping the wallpaper from our downstairs bathroom.  But I got distracted.  I have home decor accessories for each season, and I started digging in to the Spring things.  That's a whole lot more fun than stripping wallpaper.

Here's my dining room sideboard all gussied up for Spring:

The large vintage watering can was given to me by my Dad probably about 15 years ago.  I admired it when I was home once, and he gave it to me.  He didn't understand why I loved it so, but he knew I had an appreciation for older, useful pieces.

I treasure it because my Dad is gone now.  I softened the look and provided contrast with the vintage lace hanky.

I love the spout on this, paint drip and all!
The two smaller watering cans aren't vintage, but they sure look like they are!  It's amazing how "aged" new things can look even more vintage than the real thing!

I got the small green plates and wire cloche from HomeGoods this year.  My little white Dollar Tree bird is peeking out.

The small wooden garden trug is so sweet! 

Love!  I hope to put some real hydrangeas in once they 

I turned the trug around because I thought there were too many competing "words" otherwise.

The flipside

And what is Spring without birds, eggs, and nests?!

I know that Spring has arrived when I awaken to a heavenly chorus of bird songs and when I catch a glimpse of the mourning doves on our fence.   It seems that every year we have a bird family or three building nests in our live oak trees.  It's Bird Drama.  We have had to rescue baby birds that have fallen out of the nest, baby birds that can't seem to fly, egg-laden nests that fall out of trees...

But seeing this whole drama reinforces how dependent I am on my Heavenly Father.  He provides for me, shelters me, and rescues me when I fall.  I am nothing without Him.
How priceless is your unfailing love!
  Both high and low among men find
    refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:7)
Hallelujah!  Now that's something to sing about! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Chili & Cornbread: Quick as a Mix

I like the Two-Alarm Chili kit and Jiffy cornbread mix that you can get at any grocery store, but here are two recipes that are as quick as a mix--as well as fresher and tastier!  Plus, you can control the heat and calorie count somewhat!

Firehouse Chili
(click here to print)

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (leaner is better)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 10-oz. can Rotel tomatoes (spicy tomatoes and green chiles--I use Mild)
1 14-oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 16-oz. can pinto or kidney beans (I like pintos)

Heat oil in dutch oven over medium heat and add onion, garlic, and ground beef.  Stir to break up the beef and brown lightly.  Drain off the oil.

Add seasonings, Rotel, tomatoes, and tomato sauce.  Stir thoroughly and bring to a simmer.  Cook for about an hour, covered.  If it gets too thick, add a little water or tomato juice, if you have it.  Stir in the pinto beans and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with:

Quickie Cornbread
Adapted from this recipe
(click here to print my version)

1 stick butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk (or regular milk with 1 tsp. lemon juice added to sour it)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter in the microwave, about 1 minute on high.  Remove and vigorously stir in the sugar.  Add eggs and mix well.  Combine buttermilk and soda and add to mixture.  Stir in cornmeal, salt, and flour until no lumps remain.

Pour into a well-greased 8x8" pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Eggs-cellent Crustless Spinach Quiche

When I was in high school, I worked in a mom-and-pop restaurant which would probably be classified as a diner.  It was only open for breakfast and lunch.  I was a waitress, dishwasher, and even a short-order cook.

I probably made thousands of eggs when I worked there: over-easy, sunnyside up, scrambled, poached, basted, and boiled.

Eggs are a very inexpensive source of protein: one egg has 6 grams of protein and costs less than 20 cents!   Most people have them on hand all the time.  Here's one of my favorite eggs-cellent recipes for an anytime light meal.  Serve it with fresh fruit on the side or with bacon or sausage if you need to satisfy your man's carnivore cravings!

Crustless Spinach Quiche
Adapted from
click here to print

1 T. olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
6 large eggs, beaten well
2 cups cheddar cheese (or variety of your choice--even combine them!)
10 oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Saute' the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until clear.  Add the spinach and stir until the moisture has evaporated.  Cool slightly.

Combine the eggs, cheese, onions, and spinach mixture.  Turn into a well-greased 9-inch pie pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until eggs are set.

NOTE:  You could also make individual quiches for an on-the-go breakfast or even an appetizer by dividing the mixture into muffin cups and baking for a shorter time, probably 15-20 minutes or until they are set.

Defrost spinach by cooking it in the microwave on HIGH for 3-4 minutes with no water.  Then turn the spinach into a clean (but not precious!) linen kitchen towel and squeeze the moisture out.  You'll be amazed at how much moisture is in there!

Friday, February 18, 2011

I've Got the Fever

Last week, it was 18 degrees, today it was 85 degrees in North Texas.   I have a serious case of Spring Fever. So guess what I did?

Indulged in a little retail therapy.  I guess I caught a shopping bug with this change in weather.

I have a home accessories fetish. I think it's because I seem to have trouble making Big Decisions regarding home decor so I make small decisions instead.  I am constantly amazed by the gazillions of bloggers out there who can paint and glaze furniture, sew drapes, whip up some cupcakes, put up board and batten, make homemade baby food...all before lunch.  They don't seem to have any trouble making a plan and then implementing it.  Me?  I shop.

I went to one furniture store and a lot of home discount stores today:  Marshall's, Stein Mart, Tuesday Morning, and  Ross.  Here are a few things that caught my eye.

From Weir's Furniture

I love this little hall chest: the yummy color (kind of a grey-green), the shape, the storage.  It is a steal at $199.  I need to measure to see if it would fit in my house somewhere.  Remember what I said about me and Big Decisions?

I noticed a lot of grey (or greige) and burlap all over the place.  I can't decide if the stores are following the blog trends or if the blogs are following the home store trends.

Here are some gray offerings from Stein Mart:

Galvanized terrarium

Love the reticulated (pierced) edge on this
I LOVE this piece but wish the three little piggies would go home.  I would either use this for flowers on the patio or for cupcakes or pastries in the dining room.  This was nice and tall.

More galvanized metal, this time with some wicker for texture and warmth
I thought these little wicker caddies would be great to hold office supplies or kitchen cutlery or fresh herbs on the kitchen window sill.

Here is Marshalls' homage to grey:

Nice lantern -- I have a similar one that I may paint
Another lantern design

Love the box pleats on this grey pillow...

and the puckered texture on this one!
Here was the piece de resistance at Marshalls:

Fab, French Linen for $199?--Oo la la!

So do you want to see what I bought?  There's not one grey thing among them!

Little white pitcher--$3 from Ross

Presto-changeo candleholder (aka mini cloche)--$7 at Tuesday Morning

Cool little sign that has my fave colors--$7 at Marshalls
For less than $20, I got a few cute new things to usher in Spring!  Hey!  I think I'm feeling a little bit better!

What do YOU do when you get the Fever?

Monday, February 14, 2011

14 Favorite Things on February 14th

I have been reading my blog friend Jessee's writings for awhile and I am always taken with her honest, sincere, and amusing thoughts, anecdotes and stories. Today I'm partying with Jessee;  readers were asked to share 14 Favorite Things. Here are mine, in no particular order:

Chocolate.  I especially heart dark chocolate, but any will do!  And daily, please.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest.  We lived in New Orleans for most of my adult life, and this is my favorite festival, held annually in the Spring.  It is a celebration of cultural, racial, and culinary diversity.  There's awesome food, all genres of music (not just Jazz), unique crafts, and spontaneous dancing and parades.  Add it to your bucket list.

Hugs & Kisses

Flipping Through Magazines or the E-quivalent, Home Blogs

Iced Tea, Unsweetened (lemon optional but lots of ice)

Lilacs -- Oh, how I miss you so!  The closest I can get in the South are hydrangeas and crepe myrtles, both of which are missing the heady scent.  I loved picking lilacs!

The Shore: Ocean, bay or lake.  Something about the surf relaxes me like nothing else can.

My Dog Jazz.  He is a Bichon Frisee' rescue that we found on PetFinder and he is a keeper f'sure!

Long, hot showers with fragrant, bubbly bath gels.

Flea markets, antiquing, and craft shows.  My favorite venue that combines all of these things is in Canton, Texas.  There are lots of vendors, lots of excitement, and I rather enjoy watching the women trying to outdo each other's bling.

Breakfast at Cracker Barrel  My husband doesn't understand the appeal, but I love eating breakfast at Cracker Barrel.  It feels a little like my grandma's kitchen, and those rockers on the porch...SIGH!

Sunday morning praise & worship at my church is truly a mountain-top experience and one of the best parts of my week.

Warm WeatherSome like it hot.  That would be me.

HOME is where my heart is because that's where My Family is.  And they are my favorite thing of all.

Pop on over and share the linky love at Jessee's Spot!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Way to My Man's Heart...

My Man is from New England.  Massachusetts, to be exact.  So when any special occasion (especially Valentine's Day) rolls around, I always know exactly what he wants.

Lobster love

I found a 3-pound live Maine lobster today and brought it home for him.  Look at the tail on this baby!

The platter this fella is resting on is 13 inches square.  Now that's a whole lotta lobsta!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine Tussie Mussie

A couple of years ago, I saw these tussie mussies on Etsy and had to have some.

My Inspiration:  Christmas Tussie Mussie from Etsy

I looked at the construction of these and thought I might be able to make one.  I was thinking about making one for Christmas, but never got around to it.  Well, it's two days before Valentine's Day, and I thought I would give it a shot to Gitter Done!  Now I'm not particularly crafty because I didn't get the construction or mechanical genes.  But I did a google search to try to figure these out because they're so.stinking.cute.  The paper rosettes are the most challenging part.  I don't think I need to reinvent the (pin)wheel, so here is an excellent link.  I also wanted to get a more precise tutorial on cone-making, which I found here.

My original Etsy version (seller is no longer there so I cannot cite the source) has a smaller cone and two rosettes layered over a large glittered star.

The cone is scrapbook paper, the handle is a metallic chenille stem, and there is flat silver garland around the cone opening.

Since I'm making these for Valentine's Day, I decided to soften them up and add a lot of PINK.  I LOVE me some pink!  So I gathered my supplies:

One advantage of waiting till the last minute is that I scored the pink feather "boas" for $1 at Hobby Lobby.

I made the layered rosettes first, using the above-mentioned tutorials.  You basically cut the paper into strips and fan-fold them.  I used a contrasting paper to the one I used for the cones and used my scallop scissors to cut the strips on one side to add a cute detail..  One thing I learned is that the accordian folds of the paper strips should be very tight and quite small.  I thought a paper crimper might be good for this project if those still exist, but I don't have one so I did it the old fashioned way.  Be careful with the hot glue when you're making the fan shape!

A glittered foam sticker heart forms the center of my rosettes, but you could also use a die cut heart, button, gem or whatever your heart desires

I also tried a rosette using crepe paper as seen in this video which turned out pretty cute, too.  Truly, there are so many talented people out there that don't mind sharing their knowledge!  Here's my first attempt at a crepe paper rosette:

After I made my cone and glued on my rosettes, I used a single hole punch on the top left and right sides of the cone to thread my chenille stem through.  Then I used my hot glue gun to embellish the cone with that frothy, feathery pink boa.  That was my favorite part, because everything started coming together!  Here's the finished version:

My frothy pink confection that will be filled with creamy chocolate confections

I added a cream-colored banner that simply says, "Valentine."  I used the Edwardian Script font in MS Word, then cut it out and prettied up the ends.

The last part of my tussie mussie is the little ball on the bottom.  The original had a small styrofoam ball that is glittered.  I couldn't find any styro balls smaller than 1 inch, so I decided to use a pink pompom.  Still looks chic, no?

These aren't perfect by any means, but they were made with love with my own two little hands.  I cannot wait to fill these with Dove's dark chocolate Promise hearts and gift them to my friends, because we all know that love isn't love until you give it away!

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm linking this to: