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January 28, 2010

Home | Distressing a Hutch | Painting Furniture

In my recent DIY Dining Room makeover, I painted and distressed this hutch - I love the result. It is the perfect whimsical piece for our home.

This is the base of the hutch - an old wood finish.

This is the top cabinet for china. I like the 3 panel design with the thick crown moulding top.

I started with a pale blue-green paint that I mixed from old paints I had from other projects (like our bathroom). I ended up with a satin finish paint that works great on rustic furniture. After the blue paint, I applied a grey wash that I made from mixing a deep grey paint with a clear polyurethane and water. I brushed it on, then wiped it off, then used some of the blue paint to blend it, then brushed it on, then wiped it off...... you get the point. You really have to be creative and brave. Any mistakes can be painted over.

Here is the top painted. Mike removed the glass for me to make the painting easier. I left the interior the stained wood... I think it looks great with the white china.

I added new hardware to complete the look. These were $0.97 from Lowes.

Here is the completed room! See the details of the entire makeover here.

Travel | Aspen | Our Engagement

Two weeks ago, Mike and I took a ski vacation to Aspen, Co. where he proposed!

We had the most wonderful trip - I love Aspen because not only does it have picturesque skiing, it is a fantastic town with amazing restaurants, cafes, shopping and fun night life, as well. The entire village is located at the base of Aspen Mountain - you can ski right into town for lunch or an apres ski drink.

ABOVE : this is our first day skiing after our lunch at Cloud 9 Bistro. The restaurant is located 100 yards off of the Cloud 9 lift on the Aspen Highlands Mountain - my favorite mountain... it is a private, luxurious feeling mountain without crowds and long lines.


The first day was our travel day - we flew directly into Aspen, then settled in to our hotel, The Grand Hyatt Residences.

ABOVE : a view of the town during the day.

The first day, we had lunch at the Ajax Tavern at The Little Nell. It was delicious - truffle fries and tomato bisque!

ABOVE : Mike in front of our hotel at the base.

For dinner, we went to the Brexi Brasserie - a fabulous little spot. At restaurants, instead of sticking with the typical salad then entree routine, I like to order several small courses to be shared. At the Brexi, we started with crab legs, then we shared a warm goat cheese and beet salad, then steamed mussels in a saffron broth. I'm still daydreaming about it today...

On our first day skiing, we skied Aspen Highlands. Here I am in front of "Apple Strudel" my favorite run... note the 'easiest' designation.

ABOVE : Lunch at Cloud 9 - such a nice treat to be 12,000 feet up having a white tablecloth lunch by the fire. We started with a seafood and potato chowder, then...

I had a pan fried bass with homemade dumplings and caper berries. We ended the meal with the most spectacular hot chocolate.

After skiing, we hit the hot tub at our hotel.

That evening, Mike surprised me with a horse-drawn sleigh ride thru trails on the back side of Aspen Mountain, where he proposed : ) Unfortunately, I only had my iphone camera with me, so we didn't have a flash for a better photo - this was taken by the light of the sleigh!

ABOVE : Chocolate covered strawberries and champagne to congratulate us on the engagement from Mike's parents.

The view from our hotel room - an ice skating rink and sparkling lights!

January 21, 2010

Workshops | Valentine's Day | Romantic Dinner & Sweets Cooking Class in Kansas City | Feb 11th

Do you need help making treats for your Valentine's Day Sweet? Join my for the first workshop to be held in my home...

Thursday, February 11th, 6:30 p.m. : Romantic Dinner & Sweets Workshop, $30 per person

I'll demonstrate how to prepare Chicken Picatta for the class to enjoy... Then it is hands-on time! Learn how to make and decorate Sugar Cookies, Cupcakes & Chocolate Truffles. Take home a box of goodies for your Sweetheart.

The class is limited to 12 participants - click here to register!

Home | Organizing | Spice & Baking Pantry

UPDATE!  I posted this 2 years ago- ick, look at those photos... now I've redone my baking pantry in our new house... read about it here!

Original Post :

Of all of the projects that I've done in our house, I know THIS organizing project is going to be one of Mike's favorites... my crazy, messy and dysfunctional spice & baking pantry drives him crazy. Actually, it drives me crazy, too, so I finally tackled the pantry this morning.

In this photo, you can see there is no rhyme or reason to the placement of everything - besides shoving things wherever they'll fit...

Blow-tourches, sprinkles, spices, vinegars, and endless varieties of sea salt containers... ugh.

With a $30 budget, I headed to the craft store (hobby lobby is the closest to our house). I purchased these two unfinished wood moulding shelves. Turned upside-down, they create a lovely riser for spices - a great system for maximizing space. I painted the shelves to match the interior of the cabinets. The paint will not only look better, but will help to keep them clean.

As you can see - much improved! And... I didn't relocated anything from the cabinet - amazing how a little organization can make space.

Top Shelf : Decorating Supplies : Craft Box containing Cupcake Liners (I have a huge collection - all shapes and sizes), and food coloring. Jars are filled with pastry bags, couplers and tips. Clear containers with sprinkles.

Middle Shelf : Baking Supplies : Baking Soda, Powder, Cocoa, Vanilla Beans & Cinnamon

Lower Shelf : Cooking Supplies : Spices, Salt & Peppers, Vinegars & Olive Oil

January 19, 2010

Recipes | Brunch | Quiche Recipes

Quiche is a great answer to "What can I serve to a large group that is elegant and unique?" question. You might think that quiche can be boring or predictable - but it doesn't have to. Quiche is limitless! Just like all great recipes, you start with an easy base and by changing a couple of ingredients, you can make countless versions. Here are some of my favorites...

Basic Quiche Recipe :

1 Pastry Crust - I use store bought that you roll into your own pan, even though it drives my Mom crazy!
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup of Half & Half
Salt & Pepper
1/4 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper

Roll out pie dough and place in a glass pie dish, crimping the edge artfully. Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

Goat Cheese Quiche :

3/4 cup of Swiss, shredded
1/4 cup of Soft Goat Cheese

After placing the pie crust in the pie dish and crimping the edges, scatter the Swiss cheese around the bottom of the shell. Pour in the egg mixture. Drop small dollops of the goat cheese around the top of the quiche. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

Asparagus & Ham Quiche :

1/4 cup of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup of ham, julienned
3/4 cup of Cheddar Cheese, shredded

After placing the pie crust in the pie dish and crimping the edges, scatter the Cheddar cheese, asparagus & ham around the bottom of the shell. Pour in the egg mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

White Cheddar & Chive Quiche :

1 cup of White Cheddar, shredded
2 tablespoons of Chives, minced

After placing the pie crust in the pie dish and crimping the edges, scatter the White Cheddar cheese around the bottom of the shell. Pour in the egg mixture. Sprinkle chives over the top of the quiche. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

January 18, 2010

Entertaining | Baby Bird Baby Shower

Last weekend, I designed a Baby Bird Baby Shower. Using a neutral theme of cream, grey and ivory, I created a charming event that was perfect for a January shower. Above is the invitation with the glittered bird.

For the favors, I made baby bird sugar cookies...

For cookie decorating, I always use disposable pastry bags with the ends snipped off. It is a very easy, no-fuss method of decorating... no pastry tips and no cleaning bags! For the icing, I use royal icing.

4 egg whites
4 cups of powdered sugar

Beat the egg whites until almost frothy, then add sugar. You may need to add more sugar to reach a thick icing.

Step 1 : Pipe base color as a wing...

Step 2 : "Glitter" the wing using sanding sugar.

Step 3 : Pipe the remaining body of the bird in the same base color, leaving the beak, feet and breast.

Step 4 : Accent the bird with a white breast and pale peach feet and beak.

Step 5 : Add a white eye after the body has hardened.

I made three colors : Ivory, Cream & Grey

I displayed the cookies in a basket. They were packaged in clear bags tied with 'angel fleece' yarn.

For the food display table, I used a linen drapery panel to which I applied 'baby' letters made of yarn wrapped pipe-cleaners. Above, I hung onsies from a yarn clothesline with clothespins. The food was displayed on white platters and cake pedestals with white peonies in bud vases.

I made the letters by forming letters in pipe-cleaners, then wrapping them with yarn.

I quick stitched the letters onto the linen panel.

The Menu :

Ham & Asparagus Quiche
Crab and Chive Quiche
Fruit Platter with Fluffy Fruit Dip
Cinnamon Sugar Monkey Bread
Spinach, Strawberry & Pecan Salad
Baby Bird Sugar Cookies

January 04, 2010

Home | Installing a TV in the Kitchen

Our latest home project was installing my Christmas gift... A white flat screen tv for the kitchen. We used a 2ft x 1ft x 1inch piece of hardwood and 2 crown moulding corner accent pieces to cover the "L" brackets that secure the shelf.

I painted all of the pieces the same color of the wall to create a less obtrusive, but sophisticated look.

Mike had to relocate the outlet on the wall so it would be directly behind the tv.

He moved the outlet up, and installed 'L' brackets to hold the shelf.

The outlet needed to contain a cable plug and an electrical plug.

Here, Mike is attaching the shelf to the brackets.

Next, we affixed these crowd moulding corner accent pieces beneath the shelf to cover the brackets and add some architectural detail to the shelf.

Now I can enjoy the morning news while I work in the kitchen!
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