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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cape Cod Co. Lantern & Dining Room Update



Finally, there is light in the dining room!  


More specifically, a light.  Or should I say, a lantern.  The lantern. 


After chatting with Mike's mom, Joy, about my vision for the fixture, I told her that I wanted something that felt authentic for a "Cape Cod" style house.  Being Joy and an expert in all things unique and special, "Have you looked at Cape Cod Lantern Company?  They are in Chatham.  I believe they make all of the lanterns at Chatham Bars Inn."  Only Joy would know great things like that sitting in KC!


  Do you remember my post about our stay at the Chatham Bars Inn?  I oogled over the authentic fixtures and lanterns that hung seemingly everywhere on the property.  The photo above (no, that is not my family room...) is of the sitting room at the Inn.






So, I immediately searched their site and found the "5652 Concord" Lantern.  Not only did I love the style but I loved that this particular style was a nod to our New England home, Concord.  Perfect.

I love it.  It is simple, yet very striking.  The scale is lovely, which I was a little concerned about before it arrived... would it be too big?  Not big enough?  But, alas, it is just right.

I love that it is an authentic, handmade representation of our time in New England that hangs in the center of our home.  I imagine that we will take it with us to all of our future homes.  As Mike and I drove through Mission Hills on our way to dinner last weekend, I noticed all of the graceful lanterns that hung in front of the front doors of the large stately homes... maybe someday...

I'm not big on souveneirs, I mostly rely on photos instead of sweatshirts, but I have to say... This is one great souvenir!



I had it made (all of their fixtures are handmade to order) in Antique Brass finish with clear glass to compliment the original brass fixtures in our house.   The un-laqured finish will weather and age with time. 


 You may also notice a peek at our Christmas decorations that are beginning to take their places.  In our windows, I've hung fresh bay leaf wreaths.  They smell soooo good.


Here is another look at the room - a couple of stacks of plates, compote of tangerines, etc., piled in the center of the table from my holiday header shoot for the blog.


Another "authentic" decision for the room was to feature photos from our travels.  As I was getting ready to order some random prints of botanicals and birds, I decided to take a more authentic approach to the artwork that hung in our home.  I decided to have 11x14 photos from our favorite experiences displayed in the room.  

They are framed in frames that are painted the same color as our trim, Navajo White in Satin.  The walls are painted navajo white in flat.

Above : Stowe, Vermont and Martha's Vineyard


I included a caption of the place and date of each photo.


We plan to keep adding to our collection... maybe someday we'll have an entire wall gallery devoted to it... I imagine it in a long hallway - in the same stately home in which the lantern hangs in our entryway. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Cookies | Sugar Cookies



As I'm preparing for my Holiday Christmas Cookie Brunch Workshop next week, I'd thought I'd share my tried and true, favorite recipe.  This is the same recipe my mom used when my sister and I were growing up, decorating sugar cookies for each and every holiday.  The dough is incredible to snack on!

Jenny's
Deluxe Sugar Cookies
 

Sugar Cookie Recipe

2 sticks of butter
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp of vanilla
1 tsp of cream of tarter
1 tsp of baking soda
1 egg

In your Kitchen Aid fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter and powdered sugar.  Add Flour, vanilla, cream of tarter, soda, and egg.  On slow, stir together ingredients just until combined.  Turn the dough out onto a floured board and wrap it with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.  
Unwrap the dough and put it on a floured board.  Be sure to flour the rollin pin, as well. 
Roll out dough until 1/4 inch thick. 
Cut shapes.   Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  




Bake for 6-8 minutes at 350 degrees just until the edges begin to turn brown - baking time will depend on size and thickness of the cookie.  
Utilize scraps of dough by making them into a ball and re-rolling them and cutting shapes.

Royal Icing

3 egg whites
4 cups of powdered sugar

In the Kitchen Aid fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until almost frothy.  Add in the powdered sugar and whisk on slow until smooth.  You may need to add more or less powdered sugar or water to achieve desired thickness.  For sugar cookies, you want the icing to be thin enough that it will fall back on itself and smooth itself out, but not too thin so it will run off of the cookie.

Good colors are so important to making professional looking sugar cookies.  Here are my tips :

Red : When making red you need to use a lot of food coloring.  I also add orange to the red to make it less pink.  Add just a touch of green to the red to make it less electric.

Green : I add a little bit of yellow and orange to green to make it more of a natural green.  For christmas, I like to use two shades of green - light and dark. 

Blue : I add a little bit of yellow and orange to blue to make it softer.  It is a more sophisticated looking blue.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Home Depot Holiday Style Challenge | Our Mantle Makeover



To kick off the Holiday Season, I thought I'd share the mantle I created for the Home Depot Holiday Challenge.  After selecting bloggers to participate in their Holiday Challenge, they sent us supplies and gift cards to transform areas of our homes into winter wonderlands.  I was thrilled that I was selected to design a mantle... and was able to use my gift card to purchase gas logs for our fireplace! 

To see all of the photos and details about my design, visit here!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Leaf Topped Apple & Cranberry Cobbler with Orange Zest, Cinnamon & Nutmeg



As I mentioned, it is not Thanksgiving unless there are multiple desserts.  In addition to the Traditional Pumpkin and Pecan Pies, try adding this Apple Cobbler to your slew of desserts this Thanksgiving.  The mixture of baking apples and fresh cranberries with cinnamon, orange zest and nutmeg will make your house smell like The Holidays.



The New England version of a "cobbler" is pieces of pie dough that are torn and layered on the top of a fruit mixture - when cooked, it looks like a cobbled street.  


I decided to take a new twist on this version of a cobbler and decided to use cutouts of leaves as my top, so it will look like a pile of leaves.  Besides being so very, very simple (I even used store-bought pie dough), it looks extra festive for Fall.

The filling is same filling I used on my Apple Cranberry Crisp, but I used fresh cranberries as they are in season.  They add a fabulous tartness to the pie that makes it really extra special.

Leaf Topped Apple & Cranberry Cobbler 
Orange Zest, Cinnamon & Nutmeg

Apple Cranberry Filling :

10 apples (4 pounds), cored and peeled
3/4 cup of dried cranberries
2 teaspoons of orange zest
4 tablespoons of orange juice
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
......
1 store-bought or homemade pie dough
egg
1/4 cup of sugar

Cut the peeled and cored apples to large cubes, about 3/4 inch pieces.  Place them in a large bowl.  Add cranberries, zest, orange juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Toss together with a big spoon until all of the fruit is well coated.  Pour the fruit into a casserole dish or deep baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, covered with foil.





After baking for 30 minutes, cut out leaves using a cookie cutter.  Place them on top of the half baked apples in a scattered fashion.  Beat the egg in a small bowl, then brush it on the top.  Sprinkle the sugar over the dough.

Bake for 30 more minutes

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thanksgiving Workshop in Kansas City | The Thanksgiving Host


My Pumkin Harvest Party workshops are sold out - all three of them!  If you weren't able to get a spot, or just want to come to another one of my classes, sign up for my "The Thanksgiving Host" class.  

I'm offering two classes (click on the links to register) :

Tuesday, November 13th @ 6pm, $55 (only 1 spot left!)
Thursday, November 15th @ 6pm, $55

The Thanksgiving Host
Workshop at A Thyme for Everything

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year?  If you've hosted Thanksgiving a thousand times or it is your first, this class will inspire your feast with new twists on classic Thanksgiving recipes.  I will share her tips for Hosting Thanksgiving like a Caterer with great make-ahead methods and a prep schedule that will make hosting easy and stress free.  I'll also share some Harvest themed table settings and DIY centerpieces for your feast.  
 
Brie En Croute with Caramelized Pecans
Turkey Breasts Stuffed with Fresh Herbs
Real Green Beans in Cream Sauce with Pan Fried Shallots
The BEST Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Tips for making classic Thanksgiving Pies Pretty
Thanksgiving Table Setting Ideas & Centerpieces

For more Thanksgiving planning, visit my Thanksgiving Planning Guide page

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

DIY Kitchen Remodel | $40 Subway Tile Counter Tops


As I've mentioned (but for those of you that are new...), we are planning to do a major addition in the near future, but in the meantime, I wanted to do a DIY refresher on our kitchen to make it lighter, brighter and more functional (and tolerable).

We started by ripping out the upper cabinets and old tile backsplash, then replacing them with painted wood paneling and open shelving.  The next step was to address the counter tops.

I didn't want to spend much money, as we'll be ripping it out in a year or two, but I wanted it to feel brighter and happier.  In our first home, we had a charming country kitchen that sported a combo of butcher block and white tile counter tops.  As I had learned to tile while re-doing our old bathroom and entryway, I thought adding bright white subway tiles would be the perfect solution for our temporary counter tops. 



This is the BEFORE.  


As you can see, I just laid white 2 x 6 subway tiles directly over our laminate counter tops.  I used a pre-mixed combo grout and adhesive that I purchased from Home Depot.  It took me all of an afternoon and $40 to do the entire thing. 

I recommend you watch a couple of YouTube videos if you're going to do some tiling.  I had done our old bathroom and entryway, so I was comfortable just slapping this together.  Here is the basic method I used.

Step 1 : Lay out tile in pattern.
Step 2 : Cut all pieces with a tile cutter (I used a manual tile cutter vs. electric wet saw) to fit.
Step 3 : Spread layer of grout/adhesive with tile.
Step 4 : Butter the back of each tile with adhesive and set into place, using spacers if necessary.
Step 5 : Set all tiles in place.  Let dry.
Step 6 : Grout.

Again, this is not a great guide, but gives you an idea - be sure to consult a real resource before you do your own!


 I used 'bullnose' tiles for the sides - you can see they have a rounded top for a finished look.


To see my post about ripping out our upper cabinets and replacing them with a painted paneling back splash and open shelving, click here.

For more information about the new Verona Range, click here!

Monday, November 5, 2012

DIY Kitchen Remodel | New Verona Range


It is finally here!  Granted, I only had to wait 3 days for it to arrive, but it has been a long time coming.  In our first house, we had installed a 36" gas range.  We'd just received all of our new cookware - All Clad and Staub - and I felt like I had it my stride.  I loved it, but it sold with the house. Then, we moved to our house in Concord, Ma. that we rented which came with appliances - an electric flattop range.  It was good looking, but I really missed the control of a real gas range.  

When we moved into our new house, it came with a 1990-ish black gas range.  Hum.  It was gas.  It worked great.  It was fine.  I decided that with all of the other expenses we were incurring with the new move, I could live with it.  Yes, I decided I would wait until we did the new addition to the house that would include a new kitchen to replace it.  Then, it happened. 

A few weeks ago, I was baking some test scones for my cooking class... and the oven never turned on.  Hum...  I tried it that night - worked.  Must have been a fluke.  Ugh. 

A week later, I was getting ready to bake some cookies- no heat.  No heat for our pre-bedtime cookies?!  That's where I draw the line.  Most people would have been annoyed...

I sent an email to Verona.  Three days later...


She's here!  And in a way, I finally feel like "I'm back."



For the sake of comparison : New vs. Old

When I was doing research for a new range, I knew the look I was after.  I didn't quite (or even close...) have the $10K budget for a Viking, but I really wanted a professional-grade 36" stainless steel gas range.  So I looked around.

A Verona.  I'm not sure where I found it, but when I did I was shocked.  She was beautiful.  She was commercial looking.  She was Italian.  But I wasn't sure how much she cost... $3,500 (AJ Madison).  Sold.




This is the online description of the Verona Duel Fuel 36" Gas Range:
Exquisite Italian design meets superior power and performance in this 36-Inch Dual Fuel Range by Verona. Elegant chrome knobs and handles compliment type 304 stainless steel construction for professional looking style and function while Duel Fuel delivers the best of both cooking worlds, the control of a gas cooktop and the consistency of an electric oven. The Verona series range has a cooktop with five high-power sealed burners offering semi, dual and triple ring configurations for optimal cooking power.  The large capacity electric oven features a multi-function programming with European convection and added element allowing for more uniform oven temperature.  Added features of the Verona range include a digital clock and timer, continuous cast iron grates, EZ clean oven surface and a spacious full-width storage compartment.   Customize this Verona range with four color choices- burgundy, antique white, matte black and stainless steel- four backguard choices and an optional rounded handle.   Available accessories include easy-glide rolling racks, a range top griddle and maple cutting board.


So far, I have absolutely looovvved it.  No complaints.  Not only does it look like a professional range, but it works like one, too.  I have complete control over the flame, the grates are heavy and handle my big heavy pots and pans like a champ, and it cleans up really well.  I got the duel fuel - gas stove top and electric oven.  The best of both worlds. 


We also purchased a new refrigerator - GE Cafe French Door.  I love that it also has a commercial look.  I think the two look great together without being the same brand.

As I posted last week, we also ripped out the upper cabinets on the left side of the kitchen and replaced it with open shelving.  Some of the other upgrades include DIY subway tile counter tops, new antique brass pulls and solid wood paneling backsplash.  




 Up next... our DIY subway tile counter tops.  It was a great $40 way to brighten up our kitchen.  Yes - $40!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Kitchen | DIY Remodel | New Open Shelving & Beadboard Backsplash


This is the "Before" of our kitchen.
That is Mr. Darcy knocking over his bowl to request a refill...
I believe the previous owners had this kitchen done early-90's.  It is not terrible, but not very light and it is missing the utilitarian feel that I like kitchens to have.

At some point in the near (1-2 years) future, we plan to add an addition onto the house that will triple the size of the kitchen and include a cozy hearth room.  For the meantime, we planned a DIY (budget-friendly!) remodel to freshen up the space.

DIY Backsplash and Open Shelving Update :

-Remove Upper Cabinets from the Left side ($0)
-Add Pine Wainscoting Back Splash ($60)
-Add Open Shelving ($100)

Total Cost = $160.00

Other Projects (we've already completed, and will be sharing this week...) :

-Counter Tops
-Light Fixtures
-New Appliances
-Revive Wood Floor

I'll be posting the rest of the "Progress" and "After" photos throughout the day and over the next couple of days... so, stay tuned!


 Here is the Before of the Upper Cabinets.



And the After.  Much lighter and brighter, right?

Our first step was to remove the upper cabinets on the left side of the kitchen and to remove the dark tile.  We decided to keep the upper cabinets on the right side so we would have some covered storage.  They are visually blocked by the refrigerator, so removing them wouldn't have really opened up the space anymore. 


Now all of the tile has been removed.  Ick. 


Here, my Dad and Mike install the solid wood paneling that goes from the counter top to the ceiling.


They used construction adhesive on the back and finish nails to secure it.


Voila.  There is a part of me that wanted to keep the rustic, raw knotty pine.  Someday I'll have cozy cabin and I'll do the entire thing in this paneling!

Installing paneling was a great option because :

#1 - We didn't have to repair the walls from the tile or cabinets.
#2 - It was only $60 worth of paneling.
#3 - The project to this point took my Dad and Mike about 4 hours.
#4 - It gave the entire room a "fresh and new" feel for $60 in 4 hours.


Before priming and painting, I filled all of the holes with wood filler...


Then sanded.  Doesn't my manicure look lovely?


I painted it to match our trim : Benjamin Moore Navajo White in Satin



Here is the "After" photo of the paneling with the shelves installed.  I didn't take photos of the shelving installation... because... well, they went up so fast, I painted them and then they were finished before I knew it!  Sorry.

We got the birds beak brackets from Home Depot for about $10 each.  The shelves themselves are 1x12x8 pine boards with 1 x 2 1/2 trim pieces on the perimeter.  Mike secured 3 of 4 of the brackets into studs so the shelves are very sturdy.

I still haven't decided on an official display of my things on the shelves, but I'm working on it - probably an entire post in itself. 

As you can see, we also replaced the light fixtures - source links here : http://jennysteffens.blogspot.com/2012/09/house-tour-work-in-progress-progressing.html

Next up, the counter tops!

UPDATE : Here is the link to the completed kitchen!

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