a pretty cool life.: July 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Don't try this at home

Or anywhere else for that matter. Remember the miracle cupcake recipe I shared awhile back? Well, I thought I'd give it a try with brownie mix. The cake mix says add eggs and oil. So does the brownie mix. Sounds like a reasonable idea, right?

Uh, no. It doesn't work. They don't really taste bad, there's just a weird gummy layer in the middle. Ew.

And what a waste of perfectly good brownie mix.

Anywho, head on over to Kimba's to check out DIY Thursday and some projects that turned out a whole lot better than this one.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Shower curtain turned pleated table skirt

This is the new look of my vanity table in our bedroom. It was desperate for a makeover.

The whole project took me no more than a half hour (with 2 little monkeys at my feet the whole time) and didn't require any cutting or sewing!

So...from the beginning, this is how it looked before today. It's cute and somewhat functional, but I'm really not in love with it.
I bought this when Target started carrying their Simply Shabby Chic line a few years ago. I raced out to get the vanity table and the matching stool. I love Rachel Ashwell and her style, it fit perfectly between our newly built his and hers closets, and I thought the price was reasonable. (So not-the knobs have fallen off the drawer at least once a week since I bought it and the legs keep coming completely unscrewed. The reviews on Target.com say about the same thing.) Now I probably wouldn't buy the set again-I'd find something at an antique store or flea market and work with it from there. Live and learn...

Anyway, underneath is typically this mess of products and other random junk sitting there looking ugly.
And who doesn't have a pile of maternity clothes? It's not like I've not been pregnant for 7 months or anything.

So anyway, in a recent fit of extreme girliness, I bought this pink toile shower curtain. I didn't have a home for it, but it was just so pretty! (I really could be happy decorating only in gingham and toile for the rest of my life.)
Anyway, I found the perfect girly home for her, repurposed as a skirt for my pathetic, knobless little vanity. Of course, I couldn't bear to cut it, just in case, one day, I may actually hang it in our bathroom.

So here's what I did.

My table is 29ish inches or so high. I folded the shower curtain in half and ironed it.

Then I folded it down the remaining 7-8 inches to get it to be about 30 inches, so it would fall and drape nicely on the floor.

I found the center top and marked it with chalk.
I found the center of the table and put a prickly piece of Velcro on it. The Beanie Baby pig is a must.

I put a fuzzy piece of Velcro on the shower curtain where I marked the center and then attached it to the prickly side on the table.

Now for the pleat. Of course my picture of this step was blurry, and my best explanation is I did &*#&(^% and then I did &!#%$#.

What I did, in words, was put a 2 inch piece of prickly Velcro in the center top, directly on top of the last pieces.

Then, 6 inches to the left and 6 inches to the right of the prickly piece of Velcro, I put a 1 inch piece of fuzzy Velcro.

I took the two pieces of fuzzy Velcro and joined them in the center to the prickly Velcro.

I then put a piece of prickly Velcro on each corner of the table and a fuzzy piece on the back of the shower curtain and wrapped it around the table.

And there you have it.

Now all I need is new seating. Stick around to see how I made over the old one!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Did I miss something?

Is it November? Should I be setting my alarm for 3 am to go to the mall in the morning? Do I need a sleeping bag so I can camp out at Best Buy? Looking through the Sunday sale papers with crazy back-to-school sales is reminding me of the Black Friday ads Thanksgiving week.

Now don't get me wrong--I love fresh school supplies. The smell of pencils right out of the package, the feel of a new eraser, the crispness of a brand new notebook with its unwritten pages. I love it all. I look forward to Target's $1 Crayola markers and 25 cent crayons all year long. Even before I had children I would buy the crayons. It's that good of a deal.

But last I checked, it's still July.

Can't we just enjoy the summer? Do we have to rush? When my boys are old enough for school and summer vacation, we're going to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of it. We still have lots of time to spend at the pool and walking to Dairy Queen. We still have plenty of nights of chasing fireflies. What's the hurry?

Am I the only one that feels this way?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Patience is a virtue.

But it's clearly not one my child possesses.

If you're into things like picking and eating unripe tomatoes too, here's a great recipe for them. (I usually wait until the end of the season in September-October, but there always a few stragglers that come off the vine too soon.) This is enough for a dinner for 2, but of course they always make for a great appetizer as well.

Fried Green Tomatoes

You'll need:

8-10 decent sized green tomatoes
3 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 3/4 tsp. pepper
5 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup cornmeal
4 cups olive oil
1 package shredded mozzerella cheese

Slice tomatoes 1/4-inch thick.

Season tomato slices with a little salt and pepper and set aside.

Whisk together eggs and milk and set aside.

In a second bowl, whisk together flour, 1/2-teaspoon salt, and 1/4-teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Place breadcrumbs in a bowl along with cornmeal, remaining teaspoon salt, and 1/2-teaspoon pepper; stir to combine and set aside.

One slice at a time, coat the tomatoes with flour mixture, shaking off excess.

Then coat with egg mixture, followed by breadcrumb mixture. Transfer to a wire rack set over a wax paper or parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining tomatoes.

Heat 2 cups oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer.

Place tomatoes into the heated oil in a single layer. Fry until golden, turning once, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Drain on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. After frying half of the tomato slices, dump oil and heat remaining 2 cups oil in skillet. Fry the rest of the tomato slices.

While the tomatoes are still hot, sprinkle cheese on top. If you have any extra spaghetti sauce around, it's yummy poured on top as well.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Up next on the project list

Etched water glasses. Since we remodeled the kitchen and got one of those fancy shmancy refrigerators with a water dispenser, I've stopped buying bottled water. Clearly that calls for some pretty new glasses.

This project (like many of my Martha wannabes) has the potential to be an epic failure, especially based on what I've read about it in blogland. It could very well be a better idea to just go buy some new glasses. Eh, we'll see. If I never post again, it's possible I died of the fumes. It's been nice knowing you.

Wish me luck and good ventilation.

picture from marthastewart.com

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Boys' room art

I've never been a big fan of the cheesy nursery or children's "art" I've found in stores, and I think the things geared toward little boys is especially lame.

Trucks? Bugs? Airplanes? Disney characters? Things labeled "little slugger"? I shudder. To make matters worse, I think these things are quickly outgrown. No self-respecting 8 year old would want to be seen with those.

So when I found these prints from the Norman Rockwell Museum store, I was thrilled. Fun, whimisical, boyish, and best of all, something that fits nicely with my style and blends with the rest of our home. I've always loved Saturday Evening Post covers as art, and no other artist is so all-American and classic as Norman Rockwell.

I have these hung in the hallway leading to the Little Guys' room.

"Sporting Boys"

"Sporting Boys Golf"

"Day in the Life of a Boy"

That iconic signature.

At about $25 a piece, these weren't much more expensive than a lot of the typical things I saw in the store, and I got frames for $5 each at Menard's. All together, this gallery was less than $100, and I'm thrilled there's nothing cheesy about it.

And while we're talking about children's decorating...of course, I'm still trying to decide what to do with these.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

4 years ago today

We were burning up in the 90 degree July sun saying "I do."

And what a great 4 years it's been. Plenty of fun, plenty of laughs and two of the most beautiful little boys. Here's to a million more!


ps. It's Thursday, so don't forget to stop by Kimba's DIY party!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Price my space at The Nester's place

It's The Nester's Price My Space party today and I decided to show off our dining room. The Little Guys and I spend the majority of our day gathered either in the kitchen or in this room.
The view from the hallway leading into the room.

1. Dining room table. (World Market) We paid about $600 for this table 5-6 years ago. The price was great for this table and I even assembled it myself. It is a gorgeous dark wood, rectangular and solid. It's also HUGE. It's perfect for everything from dinner parties to crafts. I will have this table forever.

2. Dining room chairs. (World Market) These were about $120 each, which was a sale from $200. While they are not my favorite, my husband liked them and that they matched the table. I pick my battles, so I let that one go. They're really big and awkward, and we actually have 4 more hidden away in another room for when we have company. Ideally, I'd like to get black Windsor chairs and get rid of these.

3. Accent table and chair. (Flea market finds) The two were about $15 total. The lamp which is hard to see is a cute little rooster and I picked that up at Homegoods for about $30 last summer. The basket that I'm using as a drawer was a 40% off Michael's purchase and cost about $15.

4. Chandelier. (IKEA) The chandy was $35 and the shades were about $3 a piece from Michael's. After looking at it for the past 5 years, I finally recovered them with the red gingham.

5. Cafe curtains. (IKEA by way of one of my dear friends) Free. A good girlfriend of mine had these panels, and after moving out of the city and into the suburbs, didn't know where to put them. She gave them to me and I turned them into cafe curtains, with tons of extra fabric to spare. I love, love, love (big pink puffy heart!!) these. They are light and airy and I just adore the red and pink roses on them.

6. Ledges. (Target) I'm having a hard time remembering what I paid for these since I bought them so long ago, but I would guess about $10 each (there is one on each side of the window in case you can't see). I've struggled with what to put on them for years, but have finally fallen in love with the simplicity of white dishes and other odds and ends. The dishes and other decorations are things that I've had around the house, and range from Bloomingdale's to flea market prices.

The view from the kitchen into the room.

7. Hutch. (World Market, again) Both pieces (top and bottom) were a Valentine's day gift from my hubby 3-4 years ago, and I think combined, cost around $750. I knew I wanted a painted hutch, and went back and forth between black and red. After researching and researching, this was the cheapest we could find. I love it with its tons of cabinet space and doors up top.

Here are a few close-ups of some of the details around the room.
One of the ledges. I adore that Ralph Lauren plate in the middle. It's part of a set we got as wedding gifts, which also includes two darling cake stands. I know I need to work on adding to the ledges and would like to hang white platters beneath them, a la Nester herself.

I love that summer means freshly cut flowers from the yard.

The planter in the middle of the table is another Homegoods purchase. I have 3 glossy pots in it with my favorite, impossible to kill philodendrons. Elaborate centerpieces are not my style, so this is easy enough and is a cinch to pick up and move when it's time to eat or I need to clear the table.

The view of the top of the hutch. It's a little too country for me now, but until I think of something better, it's staying. I may do something with a collection of mason jars or maybe crocks. I'm not sure. I do love that weathered flower pot, though. I've had it and that plant since before we got married.
A little bit lower view of the hutch.

And in the interest of full disclosure, this is what the room looks like when the two little tornadoes aren't napping. It's a sweet reminder of the giggles and happiness that I love in our home.

One question that many people have asked is the name of the green paint on the walls. Um, I have no idea. I chose it when we first bought the house 5+ years ago, and only remember it being from a Martha Stewart paint chip from Kmart.

I took that chip to the Sherwin Williams store (can't beat getting Hubby's contractor pricing--$8 a gallon!) and have subsequently taken chips of broken plaster for them to match.

I hope you've enjoyed the tour of our dining room. This is definitely a room in our house that I love and has been worth every penny!


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