Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Birthday Present

I'm hoping to have the back patio fixed up for my birthday. I put together this "Inspiration collage" to help my husband catch my vision... let's see if it works. :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Correction to the Sun-dried Tomato and Spinach Quiche Tartlets

I posted an excerpt from the entertaining book I'm writing, several days ago. Included in the "Spa Opulence Party Planner" a recipe for Sun-dried Tomato and Spinach Quiche Tartlets. I tested the recipe on Thursday and had to make some alterations. I'm including the modified recipe in this post and pictures of how I made the mini quiches. I hope you try the recipe--they are yummy! In fact, the quiches did not last long in our house.
First modification: only needed one pie crust and 2 1/2" round cutter instead of 1 1/2". I tried a 3" but it was too big.  However, you might have to adjust the size of round depending on the size of your mini muffin tin.
I increased the spinach by 1 cup.
I think it works better to add the cheese, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes first,
then add the egg mixture. 
I added the cheese on top of the egg mixture on a couple of these,
 then realized it filled better to add the egg last.
Here are the finished quiches out of the oven.
They did not last long past this stage (barely, made it to a plate).

Sun-dried Tomato and Spinach Quiche Tartlets
Pre-made Pie dough (enough for one 9 inch crust)
1/2 cup finely snipped sun-dried tomato 
3 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup half-and-half
2 1/2 cup spinach, loosely torn
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash ground black pepper
Dash nutmeg
Dash cayenne
3/4 cup finely shredded swiss cheese 
Olive oil, for saute pan
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
Over medium heat, drizzle one tablespoon olive oil in a saute pan. Add spinach, garlic and a pinch of salt to pan, saute until spinach is wilted. Set aside.
Roll out pie crust, then using 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut 24 rounds. Press each round into the cup of a mini muffin tin and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, half-and-half, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. 
Distribute equally the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and swiss cheese between the cups. Next, spoon egg mixture on top of spinach evenly into pie shells (about 1 1/2-2 tablespoons per cup). 
Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes or until filling is slightly puffed and a small knife inserted into the centers of the tartlets comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes.
Makes 24.
Make-ahead directions: Prepare and bake tartlets one day ahead. Store tartlets in an airtight container and refrigerate. On the day of event, place tartlets on a baking sheet and bake in a 300 degrees F oven for approximately 10 minutes or until heated through.

Grain Sack Pillows

As I was looking for pillows for my mom's bedroom, I came across these lovely grain sack pillows. Whew! These were expensive:
$129 (SOLD)
from Full Bloom Cottage
$185 (SOLD)
http://www.frenchgardenhouse.com/catalog.php?item=2306
Being the DIYer that I am, I knew there was a less expensive way to recreate these pillows. First, I found this great source for grain sack fabric: Click here to go to the online store.  There you can buy burlap grain sacks for around a $1.00.
17 X 27 grain sack bag for $1.04
Lauren, from Our Hiding Place, had the same idea of making her own pillows.  She recreated the grain sack pillow found on Pottery Barn and gave step by step instructions. Click here to see her tutorial.
Here are Lauren's pillows
Then again, I could just buy a less expensive one from The Bolster Queens on Etsy. Check out their pillow:
Red Stripes Grain sack bolster pillow 8x18 for $38
The Bolster Queens' pillow may not be as inexpensive as if I made it myself, but it is whole lot less expensive than the inspiration pillows.

Friday, March 25, 2011

For mom...

After I posted "Mom's New House", my mom fell in love with the bedding I chose for her bedroom. However, it is expensive and being discontinued. She found several choices that she said, "I could live with." I told her, "No, let's actually get what you really want." I told her, "We can make a duvet easily." So, I did some searching and found a nice "inspiration" bedding by Horchow. Spendy, right? Well, not if you make your own duvet, shams and skirt plus buy the sheets and quilt from Kmart and Walmart.

Check it out:

Cute little Spanish-Style house for sale

I LOVE Spanish Style houses!

I've dreamed of owning a cute little spanish bungalow for years. Back in 2005, my husband and I visited Mexico. From Puerto Vallarta, we drove to Tonalá, Jalisco Mexico and bought a beautiful hand-painted sink and tile. At the time, we were remodeling our home and thought we would use it there. However, we decided that it would look best in a spanish style house. So, for the past six years, we have held on to it thinking we would buy a house that it would fit into.  (Kinda crazy to buy a house that will match a sink, huh?).

Anyway, this morning while checking my email, I got an update on a listing for this house MLS# 572088:

 The house is now $14,000 less. Here is the catch--  it's a short sale.  I saw it when it first went on the market. It was a bargain then...now, well it is a steal.  I'm going to see if my husband wants to check it out tomorrow and see if it is worth the hassle of a short sale.

Here are pictures of what I dream of it looking similar to when we are done fixing it up:

http://www.homebysunset.com/
http://www.rhoadsstephens.com
http://www.en.eprospecting.com/
http://www.modative.com/heted-hybrid-bungalows/
http://www.yelp.com/user_local_photos?userid=2Ikibg9SF2nAYl6XpIi6dw

I'd love to have a back courtyard like this (I can dream, right?):
http://www.trails.com/rentals/property.aspx?vacation=095695_Oxnard_CA

I'll keep you posted as to what we decide to do...
 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Celebrating Friends!

Several years ago, after moving here and there with my family, I started losing connections with my friends. I then came up with an idea to have a "girls only" party. I invited five of my closest friends (not all from the same city). It was a spa theme with food, beauty stations and a masseuse. We had so much fun!  About a year or two later, we had another party but this time it was an afternoon tea plus one more friend. To this day, my friends still talk about it and ask when we are having the next one. It's a little bit harder now because I live on the other side of the country. However, I've added new friends now and may surprise them. (Start saving up for those plane tickets now ladies!)

Well, anyway let me get to the real reason I am writing this post...I put quite a bit of work together organizing myself and collecting recipes for these parties. It occurred to me, "Why don't I write a book on celebrating friendship?"  So, I've been slowly working on parts of the book. I've saved some interesting journal articles on how friendship helps you live longer and stay mentally healthy (you are less likely to be depressed).  Plus, I have several get together ideas from elaborate parties to small get togethers. Each entertaining idea includes checklists, menu with recipes, and step by step directions to throw a successful party. I thought I'd share part of what I am currently working on...it is called "Spa Opulence Party." I still need to complete the invitation and party favor section, but it's almost done. Let me know what you think of this first draft.



Click here to go to the corrected Sun-dried Tomato and Spinach Quiche Tartlets Recipe

Friday, March 18, 2011

Artist: Carol Winner

While Carolyn-Marie and I were in Fernandina Beach today, we went to Gallery C. The gallery of Carol Winner.
Here is one of her pieces that stood out to me.
Mixed Media
I found this one on her website:
Frayed in Acrylic
http://carolwinnerart.com/paintings/?p=93
She is an amazing artist, who paints in acrylics. Plus, she does mixed media, collage, makes handbags and jewelry! All gorgeous. She shared, "I think I might have ADHD but was never diagnosed." She explained that she gets bored easy. Well, she is one talented lady. Check out the rest of her work on her own website  or see her work on Etsy.com. Or you can visit her in Fernandina:
Her gallery is located at 218 Ash Street Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

Seriously, shopping?

Yes, I went shopping- the very day after I posted that I would NOT buy anymore clothing.

This is what happened. Yesterday evening, I got a text from my cute little friend Carolyn-Marie who wanted to pick up a dress that she saw in Fernandina Beach, FL. She wrote:

"Hellooo. I need to go to fernandina tomorrow. I'm going to get that dress I sent you a pic of for my Betty Boop debut. :-) ....Wanna make the trip with me?"
I guess I have to explain the Betty Boop thing...Long story short, she kinda looks like Betty Boop and this cute 50's diner asked her to dress like Betty for a car show. I asked her to take pictures tonight, which I will see if she will let me share with you.

Anyway, I love Fernandina and said, "Of course, I'll go."  I did not expect the shop where the dress was to be so incredibly darling. PLUS, most everything is under $20. I was tempted by everything.
Look at that adorable pink blouse and rose purse!

I loved the oversized floppy hats
Adorable shoes and funky decor
I found a fantastic handbag that I thought was only $20. I told myself that for $20 I could buy it, besides it isn't clothes or shoes, right? Well, the purse was actually $40 (still a great price, right?). But, I decided not to buy it (it was easier to abstain at $40).

Believe it or not I left the store empty handed...almost. The sweet store owner made me take a bracelet for *free*. Yes, she made me! She said she felt bad because she felt it was her fault that I did not know the bag was $40.
Here's the bracelet--nice chunky wood
I am definitely going back.

Oh, and Carolyn-Marie got her dress. She is going to look phenomenal tonight.

If you are ever in Fernandina Beach, FL, please go to Palladium. It's at 116 Centre St., the hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. It reminds me of something Betsey Johnson would throw together on a budget. Some things over the top and some things spot on. The quirky but delightful owners are from England and bring things back to their shop from their travels. Lots of fun.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Guilty of being a clothes horse

Oh, my...

*GUILTY* of 'being a clotheshorse' and possibly gluttony

clothes·horse  (klzhôrs, klz-)
n. : 2. A person excessively concerned with dress.
gluttony [ˈglʌtənɪ]
: 2. greedy or excessive indulgence

Back in November, I took one of our extra bedrooms and made it my office/walk-in-closet. Ever since I did it, I've had nothing but troubles. 
1.    One of the clothing racks fell on me. I was buried in clothes, crying out, "Help!" for my husband who was laughing. He was not sympathetic. pfff.
  1. It isn't practical as an office either because it feels cramped and I can't get to anything. 
I knew I was going to have to go in there at some point and make some changes. I have just been putting it off. 

Yay! today is the day (read: sarcasm). 

Well, I have to actually do some work in the office today and need to reach some cables for the computer. I can't get to anything the way it is...so, I dove in...ready or not! 

I took my clothes racks, shoe racks and shelves and moved them into the guest room. I decided to over-take use the guest room instead of the office. I stored away the queen size bed and swapped it for the twin size bed, which I'm putting in the office to use as a daybed/sofa. 
In the process of making the switch, I realized I have a lot of clothes. I mean, a lot. What woman needs 40 jackets? or 30 dresses or 30 skirts? Really. I haven't even mentioned shoes. I realized I've been gluttonous over clothes

I had an epiphany that I need to stop shopping for clothes and shoes. I decided I am going to take a break. I'm thinking, I will try to go *ALL* spring/summer 2011 without adding anything new to my wardrobe. 

Let's see if I can do it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Roll over images: handmade pillows

I learned a new trick: how to make roll over images. I'd like to use it later for before and after posts. Just for practice, I used photos of pillows I made this past fall. If you roll your mouse over, you will see the other photo. So, cool! (I realize to some this is pretty easy html coding, but I just learned how about 30 minutes ago). Do you want to make a roll over image, too? Here's the tutorial.



Ok, so since I posted photos of my pillows- I'll tell you what I did.

  1. I started out with a red cotton twin sheet and some muslin. I measured around two down pillow inserts and left about 1/2 inch seam allowance; cutting one in the muslin and then one in the red cotton. 
  2. Then picked out some black and white images from Clipart ETC. I printed the images on iron on transfer paper, then ironed the images onto the muslin. 
  3. Lastly, I sewed the two pieces of fabric together, inserted the down inserts and hand-sewed the opening. 
Viola! C'est fini.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I *love* Hobby Lobby

I'm so thrilled with my purchase today from Hobby Lobby. I was running errands and decided to stop by Hobby Lobby to pick out some hardware for my armoire. I couldn't have picked a better day because all the hardware was 50% off! Yay!  I found the perfect knobs for my armoire that match the finish on the existing hinges (which I don't plan on removing). Six knobs cost $10 plus tax. 
Here's the knobs I picked out:
I think this new hardware is going to look stellar! 
Remember this is the piece that I'm redoing (I think this weekend).
My piece is on the right and I'm going to copy the finish on the left.



Before and After

I can't wait to get my hands on a house to redo again. I keep looking at the fixer uppers and dream about what I would do to make one *sparkle*. I was going through some old photos on my computer and I found some before and after pictures of our old house in Washington State. I loved that old house. It was built in 1906. Here is just the outside makeover. I'll show you inside pictures on another post.  
this is what the house looked like from the outside when we bought it

this is what the house looked like when we sold it about 3 years later
I really can't take much credit for the outside, 'cause my hubby did most of the work out there. I just picked out paint color.