Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Little Late to the Silver Party

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I am just a little late to the Silver Party.  I keep finding pieces of silver at the Goodwill and bringing them home with me.  This week I was tickled to find a pair of salt and pepper shakers.  They are made by Oneida and in decent shape…there are a few spots on them that I haven’t been able to remove with my silver and tarnish remover but overall I am happy with them.  I paid $3.99 for the set.  I also added a couple of bows to my sugar bowl from a few weeks ago.  I am getting closer to getting that bowl turned into a pin cushion but I still have to find a small piece of fabric for it.  And truth is…I haven’t started looking yet!

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I also picked up this wine/champagne bottle coaster at the Goodwill before Christmas.  I just forgot to show it to you and today seemed like a good day to do it!  It has a beautiful grape vine pattern and I just love it.  It’s a bit of a pain to clean and polish but worth it.  I paid $4.99 for it.  A good deal don’t you think?

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How’s that for a close up???  (I love using my Windows Live Writer Program!)  There is lot’s more silver to see over at Gypsy Fish Journal where Gypsy Fish is hosting her Silver Sunday Party.  Stop by for a visit.  I am on my way over their right now!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Because One Sock is Just Not Enough

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Because one sock is just not enough. How about five! Nothing better than five dirty socks off the bedroom floor of a favorite 16 year old boy.

Nothing better.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Melody Gardot


Oh my.  I haven’t heard such a beautiful sound in I can’t tell you how long.  I was up early last Sunday morning compliments of my crazy and neurotic (to the point of possibly needing medication) dog.  The new carpet runner we gave her for Christmas I am happy to report is working.  Oakley the dog is enjoying the new freedom she has and is exercising that freedom by coming up to our bedroom and waking me (not my husband) up by shoving her wet dog nose in my face most mornings now between 6:30 and 7:00 AM.  She doesn’t understand the concept of weekends. 

So up with the sun on a Sunday morning, the dog and I headed downstairs to drink a pot of coffee and eat a bowl of Beneful Playful Life.  On the Sunday Morning Show on CBS I saw a story about an American singer named Melody Gardot.  This woman is a huge talent and I had never heard of her.  Her music is soft, feminine, jazzy.  I love it when I find new music.  I am a bit old school in that I like to play CD’s in my car and I ordered her CD from and it arrived today.  LOVE IT.  But of course i-Tunes is a perfectly good alternative.  :)

Click here (MELODY GARDOT) to be taken to her website and you can listen to her for yourself.   Do nothing….her velvety voice will start on it’s own.  You will thank me later.  :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ballard Inspired Burlap Foot Stool

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My latest project was another Goodwill Re-hab. My inspiration can be found on page 47 of the latest copy of the new Ballard Catalog. That is where you will find a foot stool that looks a lot like the one I just made. The price was $129.00. I kid you not!!

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Such a sad and lonely little foot stool. I’ll bet it was the hit of the party back in the 1970’s. I paid $4.49 for it at the Goodwill and took it home for an easy project. Well, I knew I could I could fix this little baby up to look just like new and I could include a few of my favorite touches like covering it in Burlap. Not only is Burlap CHEAP… I really do like the look of it. And then I thought I would use my new question mark stencil.

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The first thing I had to do was remove the wood legs which was very easy because they simple screwed on and off and then I gave them a couple of coats of black spray paint.

I turned a box over and screwed the legs into the box so that they were standing straight up which made it very easy to paint them with out any paint runs or smudges. (This is a great way to spray paint door and cabinet knobs too.)

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I wanted my foot stool to look nice and plump and have some loft on top so I cut out two pieces of high loft quilt batting (very cheap at Walmart for around $5.00 for a bag.) and wrapped the top piece with it and stapled into place with my upholstery stapler. This kind of stapler is a must for projects like this and they are not very expensive. I purchased mine from Lowe’s a few years ago.

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Next step was to cut out a piece of Burlap to go over the batting and cover the top. I used a steam iron to press out the wrinkles before I stapled it into place.

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As I stapled the burlap to the top piece, I folded the edge under for a more finished edge.

I screwed the legs back into place before I had a chance to paint them in this photo to see how they fit and trimmed the underside of the corners.

Rest assured that the newly painted black legs look fabulous on the finished product.

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And here it is. The total cost was about $8.00. I guess you could say I saved $121.00. Cha- Ching! And this is so easy to change when I get tired of the Burlap or the Question Mark…I can just re-cover it again with some decorator fabric. But for right now I am happy with the Question Mark. It gives it air of mystery don’t you think? :)

I am adding this post to Cottage Instincts....Come see all the other How-To projects!!

And there are more projects to see over at The Twice Remembered Cottage.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Caesar Salad: I Hope You Like Garlic.

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This is one of those recipes that I probably make a least once per week. It is the recipe I will only share with my closest friends. If you have ever been mean to me….forget it! No Recipe For You! But every one I have met via my blog have been more than nice and have never been mean to me so I am happy to share it with all of you. :) It is my recipe for Caesar Salad. It is my favorite Caesar Salad period. I have not come across a Restaurant version of a Caesar Salad that I like better. It is has a fresh, light, and bright flavor and no anchovies! And be warned………it has big garlic flavor. I mean BIG! It is guaranteed to keep the vampires away. (and everyone else for that matter if you are not careful. :))

Caesar Salad

1 head of Romaine lettuce

1 half of a lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

1 to 2 large cloves of garlic, pressed

1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 tsp dried mustard

1/4 tsp. salt

black pepper


Parmesan Cheese (PARMESAN REGGIANO is best and Grana Padano would also work here too.)

Wash the lettuce and cut or tear into bite sized pieces and place in a big bowl.

Dressing: With a whisk, mix together the olive oil, the pressed garlic, Worcestershire Sauce, the dried mustard, the salt and pepper. Do not put the dressing on the salad until it is time to serve.

Croutons: Home made croutons are best and easy. Simply cube up a really good French or Italian Bread and spread on a cookie sheet. Toss them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for approximately 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven until nicely dried and toasted.

When it is time to serve the salad, toss it with the dressing. Squeeze the half lemon over the salad and toss again. Sprinkle with the croutons and then add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese. The “stuff” in the green can will work and truthfully for the weeknight salad, I use the stuff in the green can but if you want something divine……use a Microplane grater and finely grate PARMESAN REGGIANO over the entire salad and watch if fall like snow. :)

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I love to serve this salad with Spaghetti and Lasagna of course but it is also great with anything off of the grill. In the summertime when the tomatoes are in season I will cut one up and add that to the salad. Adding a couple of diced up hard boiled eggs is also a nice addition.


I am linking this post up to Foodie Friday at Designs By Gollum. Stop by for more great recipes!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Pottery Barn Goodies


I did some in depth browsing of the new Pottery Barn catalog and found a few things.  Just a few…


Like these beautiful  Robin’s Egg Blue dishes.


And how fresh and clean looking is this bathroom.  They even tell us the name of the paint color used.  I can appreciate that!


I am happy to see script is still considered “in” and I love the postmarks on this drum shaped shade.


Beautiful turquoise and coral colors.  This would be a brave and huge change for us in our shades of green house.

I am almost ready for that change.  :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Silver Collection is Growing

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My silver collection is growing.  And it isn’t intentional.  But, when I see silver at Goodwill and lately I have been seeing a lot of it I can’t seem to leave it there! 

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I picked this piece up for just $2.99.  I believe it is a potpourri vase but I think I will also use it as a votive candle holder. 

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I washed both pieces and then used some silver tarnish polish. 

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Here it is in my powder room.  The same powder room that this past summer I committed on my blog to re-do.  Still hasn’t happened.  It’s going to be a big job when I do get to it.  I mean look at that wallpaper I have to peel. 

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I found the little coaster in this photo for .49 cents at Goodwill too. 

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And I also found this sugar bowl there and I paid $1.99 for it.  It did not have a lid but that's okay with me.  I think I might try and make one of those pincushions that I have seen on Etsy with it.  I was very happy to find the silver tray at Goodwill on another visit.  I paid $2.99 for it and love it.   There are two spots on it that I think are permanent.  Hard to see but I know they are there.  I guess one of the tricks to finding and buying tarnished silver is to look the piece over very carefully and where you see excessively dark spots, run your finger over the spot to see if you can feel “pitting”.  If so, you can decide if you can live with it and if you still want the piece.  I knew when I bought the tray that I might have a couple of spots that would be permanent.  Are there any seasoned silver hunters out there?  I could use some tips!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Monkey Love

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I was shopping in a second hand shop recently and couldn’t get over all of the Monkey Art.  It was everywhere!  And really nice oil paintings with big beautiful frames.  And they were not cheap either!!  $300.00 for some of these!

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Kind of scary!

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All hail to the Queen.

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I think this one is my favorite! 

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There must be a market for this kind of thing.

Kind of makes you wonder where they came from.

And where they are going. 

Sorry but it just isn’t my taste.   :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chocolate Dipped Almond Horseshoe Cookies and Mah Jong

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I know these cookies don’t look like Horseshoes….and they don’t looked dipped in chocolate either.  I’ll explain later.  :)

I tasted these cookies for the first time the other night when I was asked if I wanted to play Mah Jong.  It seems the group I was going to play with was short a person and I was asked if I wanted to sub.  Okay…but I haven’t a clue how to play.

Don’t worry I was told. It’s easy.  You’ll catch on quick. 

All lies.

From what I could gather, Mah Jong is a Chinese game that uses tiles instead of cards.  Instead of suits you have things like Craks, Bams, and Dots.  The North, South, East, and West Winds make an appearance, and then you have to deal with the tiles from “the wall”, and there are quints and flowers.  And don’t get me started on the dragons.

I can honestly say I came away from the evening still not knowing how to play but I was pretty sure I grew a few more brain cells and I think I had fun.

The real reason I said Yes was that it was being hosted at Jane’s house.  And Jane knows how to throw a good party.  It was there at Jane’s house playing Mah Jong that I was introduced to the World’s Finest Cookie.  And I NEVER exaggerate.

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Jane served a tray of Chocolate Dipped Almond Horseshoe Cookies that she picked up a the Simple Kneads Bakery in downtown Greensboro, NC.  These cookies were in the shape of a horseshoe and coated with sliced almonds.  The cookie was chewy and so flavorful and was delightful with a cup of hot coffee.  Decaf of course…I mean it was 9:30 at night!  Of course my first choice is to buy these cookies whenever possible.  But since I do not live live near downtown I wanted to try my hand at making them myself to see how close I could come to getting them to taste like what I had a the Mah Jong party.

Here is the recipe that I found on line and I decided to give it a try.  These tasted just like what I had at Jane’s.  The recipe is from the December 1991 issue of Gourmet magazine.  They have a short shelf life and if not eaten right away they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days.  And these are gluten free is that is important to you!

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Chocolate Dipped Almond Horseshoe Cookies

2 Cups almonds, sliced and very lightly crushed, about 6 ounces.

7 ounces almond paste, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup sugar

2 large egg whites

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened,) chopped.  Semi-sweet may be used instead.  White Chocolate is nice too.  :)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray 1 baking sheets with nonstick spray.  Spread almonds on a separate rimmed baking sheet.  Place almond paste and sugar in processor (I mixed in my Kitchen Aid Mixer) and process until blended.  Add egg whites, 1 at a time, blending well between additions. 

Spoon dough into pastry bag fitted with plain 5/8 inch wide tip.  Pipe one 6 inch long log of dough atop almonds on rimmed sheet.  Gently roll dough in almonds. coating completely.  (Dough is sticky.)

Transfer to prepared sheets, bending dough ends to create horseshoe shape with 1 1/2 inch wide space between ends.  Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies about 1 inch apart.  Bake cookies until golden, about 18 minutes.  Transfer to a rack and cool. 

Line another baking sheet with foil.  Stir chocolate in medium metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Dip ends of 1 cookie into chocolate, tilting pan if necessary.  Shake cookie gently to remove excess chocolate.  Place cookie, rounded side up, on foil lined sheet.  Repeat with remaining cookies.

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I have never used Almond Paste in a recipe before but I know it is what makes these cookies taste so good.  The recipe is basically almond paste, sugar and egg whites.  That’s it.  Now you will notice that I had to strike out the word “horseshoe” because try as I might I could not get these cookies to keep a horseshoe shape as I rolled them in the sliced almonds.  So, I did what any enterprising baker would do….I rolled them into little almond coated balls and baked them up just like a regular cookie.  I even stopped by Williams Sonoma today to get a pastry bag and some tips because I did not have a set.  The cookie dough is so sticky and soft that I still think you will need the pastry bag so my purchase was not un-needed.  Anyway, they turned out beautiful!  And because I am in calorie saving mode…after all it’s still January….I did not dip my cookies in the melted chocolate.  I’ll add that extra bit of hip padding some other time.  :)

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So I am still deciding if I want to become a regular at the Mah Jong table and even if I decide not to, it was a fun evening and I got to discover these little gems.  I’ll be making them again soon.  So good with a steaming hot cup of coffee or tea.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cheese Alert: Neal’s Yard Shropshire Blue

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I tried a new cheese this week.  It made me weak in the knees.

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I have a job where I work on the fringe of the cheese world as a Merchandiser.  I have an elementary knowledge of cheese but find it fascinating and love learning about and discovering new cheese.  This one is my latest find.

This is a special cheese.  I would call it an indulgence.

Did you happen to notice the price tag on this tiny package of goodness?

Yes…a mere $24.99 per pound.  That’s right.  Un huh! And it is worth every penny!!  Of course a whole pound is a lot of cheese.   I don’t need that much.  This little piece will be just the right amount and I can splurge on a $7.50 piece of dairy heaven every now and then right?


This is one of the famous Neal’s Yard Cheese shops.  Love that blue awning.  Neal’s Yard is a cheese company in England that buys cheese from about 70 cheese makers in both England and Ireland and they sell their cheese in two of their famous stores in London.  And lucky for us here in the states they export to shops and restaurants all over the world.  They carry some of the finest cheese the U.K. has to offer. 


I will shop here someday.  Oh, yes, I WILL shop here one fine day. (And I will ask for a sample of the “Stinking Bishop” in the photo above.)

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I’m having mine with a sliced pear.  I found my little package of Shropshire Blue at Whole Foods in their Specialty Cheese case. (I had to go all the way to Chapel Hill in NC to find this treat as we don’t have a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s or a Southern Seasons here in Greensboro.)  Whole Foods was offering samples.  Offering samples is smart.  That cheese was flying out the door.  A piece flew out with me.

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Neal’s Yard Shropshire Blue is a cow’s milk cheese.  It is best to serve it at room temperature.  Delicious and it melts in your mouth.  If you like Blue cheese, this one is a highly recommended.  The flavor is incredible. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Decorating a Tin Can…Ballard Style

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Have you seen the Dog Food Canister in the Ballard Designs Catalog???  I have wanted one of these can ever since spotting it in their catalog but can’t quite seem to place the order.  I think that has something to do with the $49.00 price tag associated with it.  It’s cute but not $49.00 worth of cute.


Then on one of my recent trips to the Goodwill I spotted this steel can.  The price tag said $1.99.  Sold. Goodwill 005

I took it home and washed it up.  Then took it outside for some American Accents Heirloom White Re-hab.

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I gave it two coats of paint and let it dry over night.  I really wanted the paint to adhere so that I don’t have it chipping off when take the lid on and off.

Next step was to decorate it somehow.

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I settled on painting some numbers on it since I was just itching to use my new number stencils.  They worked so well on my Burlap Place Mats Project that I wanted to try them on something else.  Now I have to say I do like the look I achieved with these stencils but I also have to tell you they were much more difficult to work with on a hard surface like this for some reason.   I even used my favorite blue painter’s tape.   The edges were not nearly as crisp as I would have like and I had lots of smudging and had to go back over most of the numbers with a small paint brush.  Next time I think I will try spray adhesive in addition to the painter’s tape. 

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  But overall, I am happy with how it turned out. :)

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If you want to try this yourself, keep your eyes out for cans like this one or even those old popcorn or potato chip cans.  They could easily be turned into a container just like mine.  This will be a much more attractive way to store Oakley’s dog food and it cost me next to nothing to make. 

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And here’s another thought…Wouldn’t a can like this be cute if you painted a big rectangle on it with chalkboard paint?  Then you could use chalk to write anything you want on it.   I also found a cute stamp of a dog’s paw.  That would be cute on a can like this if it was going to be used as the dog food container. I found another empty can at Goodwill the other day so I think that I  might be an making another one.  Chalkboard or Dog paw?

I am going to link this project up over at Twice Remembered Cottage for MAKE IT MONDAY.  Come see what everyone else has been making.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Little Bit Creepy


Just a little bit creepy don’t you think?