Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

just a few inspiring images to put you in the mood for the coziest and warmest holiday of all.  enjoy the time with your families this week and may you have many reasons to be thankful!  i'm thankful for all of you that stop by here and encourage me to share little bits and pieces of my life with you!  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekend Mornings in My Kitchen | Buttermilk + Brown Sugar Waffles with Fried Cinnamon Apples

It's 12:00 in the afternoon on Sunday.  I'm sitting in my PJs, it's raining buckets outside and I'm cranking out a couple blog posts that I had almost ready last week but needed to proof read the recipes. So here you go, back-to-back posts...  This recipe is a keeper, so pin it, print it, tuck it away somewhere because it is one that you'll go back to time and time again.  I know I do, pretty much weekly.  I got the idea to top them with apples last weekend since I had a big bowl full on my counter and they were divine. My Mum used to serve fried apples often with breakfast when I was little so this version is a bit nostalgic to me.

Buttermilk + Brown Sugar Waffles
(adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 stick of melted butter, cooled
2 cups shaken buttermilk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar (sift if your is on the lumpy side)
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine buttermilk, butter, eggs and vanilla. (I do this in a 4 cup measuring cup to dirty one less bowl.) Combine four through cinnamon in a large bowl and slowly stir in buttermilk mixture till combined.  I cook 1/2 cup of batter on my highest waffle setting till it says it is cooked.  We like our waffles just a slight bit crispy.

Top with whatever fruit you like, butter, powdered sugar, and/or syrup.  In the summer I love it with sliced, ripe peaches or berries!

Fried Cinnamon Apple Topping
Peel and slice (about 1/4 inch thick) as many apples as you like.  I'd say about 1.5 medium sized apples per person but not so many that you can't form a single layer in your pan.  Melt 2-4 TBS butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Toss in apples and cook until just beginning to soften. Lower heat if they are browning too fast, add a little more butter if needed.  Sprinkle with 1 tsp cinnamon and a generous pinch or two of brown sugar for the last couple minutes of cooking to get them all caramelized.  

Halloween + Recipe | Homemade Patriotic Costume | 5 Spice Beer Chili

I'm a little behind with this post, hope it's still ok to to be talking Halloween even though I know you are all itching to hang boxwood wreaths, string white lights, force paperwhites, and start shopping for stocking stuffers.  Well, indulge me if you will, we had a bit of topsy turvy Halloween this year.

October 31st brought lots and lots of rain, so even though school costume parades and parties were in full swing, trick-or-treat was canceled.  Andrew had planned a return of the Haunted Trail this year and we had stayed up for 3 hours trying to convert our not-so-big garage into a Haunted House the night before Halloween just so it wouldn't be a total rained out bust.

Andrew's costume this year was a homemade one and quite possibly my very favorite ever.  He wanted to be a Revolutionary War Patriot as soon as we visited the Boston Tea Party museum last summer.  We had so much fun putting this costume together.  The shirt, vest, and collar came from a vintage clothing shop.  It took a lot of rummaging around in the shop to find what we needed.  I replaced the Western style buttons on the west with vintage brass eagle buttons to look more authentic.  I bought a $6 pair of pants from Wal-Mart, cut them under the knee and sewed in elastic to look like knickers.  The hat and musket came from a shop in Boston.

^^he left the musket at home for the school parade and waved a flag (with too many starts on it, I know) in school.  he's pictured above with a girl in his class that put her old granny costume together from the same vintage clothing store.  Andrew would like me to be very clear this is not his girlfriend! :)  I took a picture for the shop owner!^^

Trick-or-Treat was rescheduled for Sunday evening.  We spent the day finishing up decorations for the the Haunted Trail, adding strobe lights, scary music and doing a few run throughs to work out any glitches.  Charlie and I went trick-treating with friends for an hour and then came back to our house to help out with the haunted happenings... Thankfully, no nightmares were had that evening.  While I don't allow anything bloody or gory, once you add strobe lights to a plastic skeleton he looks pretty darn frightening!  My only regret is that it was too dark that evening to take pictures, so all I have are blurry ones of Charlie as Jango Fett from Star Wars.  Since it was November 3rd, we had gone through a time change and it was pretty much pitch black at 6:00 PM.

I didn't make a pot of chili on Halloween, but I had planned to.  Instead we grabbed Chipotle and we were still scrambling at the last minute to get everyone ready and out the door on time.  I did however, make chili the day after and it was just the perfect thing for the string of chilly nights we had that followed.   This recipe can easily be tweaked to your liking but I think the beer (you all know how I love a secret ingredient) is essential!  Enjoy!!

5 Spice Beer Chili
(source: My Mum, tweaked by me)
2.5 lbs ground chuck
1/2 lb ground sirloin
2 large onions finely chopped
1 garlic clove minced
olive oil
16 oz tomato sauce
12 oz tomato paste
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 bay leaves
1 TBS chili powder
1 TBS sweet paprika
2 TBS dried basil
1 TBS kosher salt

2 cups (or more) beef broth
1 cup beer, I used Samuel Adams Octoberfest.

(optional) 30 oz can of hot chili beans  -- Sometimes I add the beans, sometimes I don't (like this time), I like them but the kids aren't huge fans.  This is one of the ingredients you can play around with and still get an excellent tasting chili!

Brown beef and onion together, add garlic for last couple minutes of cooking time.  Add all other ingredients, except beans and simmer for 1 hour uncovered.  If you want a thinner chili add more broth at this time.  Cover and simmer for another hour.  Remove lid and add beans if you choose and simmer till desired consistency.

Note: If short on time, just skip the second hour of cooking, chili will still taste amazing. The longer you are able to cook it, the better, but I don't always have 2 hours to simmer and no one seems to mind in the least.  I usually serve ours Cincinnati style, over spaghetti and topped with shredded cheese.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Our Home | Work Corner | Bemz Slipcovers | DIY Table Refinishing

As our children grow up, so do the spaces in our home.  We have a playroom on the first floor of our home that really wasn't getting that much quality play time anymore.  There were piles and baskets of toys that, when picked up, made it a rather enticing space, but within minutes of it being tidy, Charlie would come in like a hurricane and spread every little action figure, instrument, toy truck, etc. all over the floor.  I was fighting a losing battle.  So slowly the toys have been replaced by more books on the overrun shelves and the play kitchen and train table have been replaced by a work/project corner.  We always knew the room would eventually become a children's library/homework spot so this space will continue to evolve that way down that road.

^^For the desk, I stripped the paint off of a table that Jimmy found out for the trash in our neighborhood a couple years ago.  He picked it up thinking I could do something with it and use it for the boys.  It was painted a sickly yellow on top with dark, hunter green legs and underside.^^

I will be very honest and say that the hours that went into this DIY probably don't justify the result.  It was my first time (and maybe last?) stripping paint and it was a bit of a pain.  The table top was a breeze and went just like I expected.  I had hoped the bare wood underneath might have a nice patina or reclaimed wood look to it, but it just looked like light, boring, bare wood.  As for stripping the paint of the legs, I first tried the same stripper I used on the top and nothing came off.  I upgraded to a heavy duty chemical stripper and still barely anything.  I was starting to think the legs were colored using a green Sharpie!  I tried heavy grit sand paper and only then could I get down to the bare wood. It would have taken many, many, MANY hours to finish all the legs that way and given its intended purpose that hardly seemed worth it.   So, I painted the legs (Benjamin Moore Bennington Gray.  I used oil paint.  Sorry.  Still nothing really like it when it comes to painting wood, in my opinion. )

As for getting the top the color and look I wanted, I just started experimenting a bit.  I applied 2-3 coats of Minwax in Dark Walnut.  I brushed it on with a foam brush and almost immediately wiped it off with a soft cloth.  Then after a couple days, I used Briwax in Dark Brown to deepen the color and add some variation.  I wiped it on (generously), let it sit for 20 minutes or so then buffed it off using steel wool.  It was a great arm workout! :)  I didn't top with a poly coat because I wanted it to look a little more matte and I like the idea of the finish wearing off in places.

^^ Here are the products I used, minus the Dark Walnut Minwax which I threw out before I had a chance to take a photo.^^

^^Ikea chair + Bemz slipcover^^

I have long loved the smaller Chelsea Editions check and felt like these Bemz covers copied the look pretty darn closely.  Super impressed and happy with the quality and fit!!

^^Les Indienness pillow cover, in gray^^

I like looking down the little hallway adjacent to our kitchen and seeing this cozy corner.  I also love the green lamp (Ballard) among all the browns and grays in the room.  I like it so much that I've been using this spot to do bills, write weekly menu plans, and update my calendar.  Andrew hasn't once touched it for homework but I think eventually he will because it allows plenty of space to spread out his materials and it's close to me if he needs help.  Thanks for taking a peek.  And my apologies for the less than ideal DIY steps and slightly burry photos, I should have used my tripod, bad blogger.  DIY will never be my thing but I am happy with the results.  For now.