Saturday, January 26, 2013

Vintage Valentine Hearts

Pardon me while I get sentimental...
 When I was a little girl, way back in the 1960's, my grandmother would make me beautiful dresses. 
She had the talent to see a dress in a store window and make a pattern out of a paper grocery bag, then make the dress from some fabric she had on hand. Fortunately for me I inherited that same gene. Wish I had inherited her fabulous cooking gene too, as she used to put on fabulous multi-course Holiday dinners that everyone raved about. Ah, but I digress...

 When I was 8 years old, she made me a dress from some red and white, sort of plaidish fabric and saved the leftover yardage. Living through the Great Depression, my grandmother saved everything.  
Last year, when I was in a creative mood, I came across the vintage fabric and decided to make these hearts.

It is only fitting that I made the little red hearts from leftover fabric from a dress my grandmother made me when I was 8 years old.  I always loved the dresses she made for me, they always seemed to be my style and color. Here I am sitting on the piano bench (next to my brother) wearing the dress. .

I made several of the red and white hearts last year and gave one to each of my girls on Valentine's day.

I love decorating the bare branches with the vintage Valentine hearts and think of those special dresses that my grandmother made me every time I walk by them.

What special memories do you have of Valentine's Day?

If you'd like to see more Valentine's Day crafts, click HERE.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Super Easy Side Dish

Many of you ladies (and gents) seem to be so fabulous in the kitchen when it comes to cooking.
Y'all seem to LOVE cooking and are INTERESTED in making new and exciting things.

I didn't get that gene.

Cooking is a chore for me and takes too long and there's too much clean up. 
My idea of cooking is pulling a Trader Joe's chicken pot pie out of the refrigerator and popping it in the oven at 375 for 25 minutes. No cooking, no cleaning and they are delicious...even Mr. Fanatic (who used to be a chef thinks so).

When we are going to a party or other get together and we're suppose to bring food, my first reaction is to FREEZE.
Is there a name for a phobia like that?

Pinterest has been a big help. 
I look at the pretty pictures and pin them to my Yum board.
Then I usually send them to Mr. F to make them for me...
I know
So a few weeks ago, I come across this gorgeous picture titled Parmesan Baked Potato Halves  and click on the link that takes me to  Favorite Family Recipes. Click on the link to see the photo.
 Looks yummy, don't you think?
My criteria for a good and easy recipe is  that it can't have any weird ingredients in it. By weird, I mean ingredients that I don't like... and there are many. 

And did I say the recipe has to be easy

If it's complicated, it gets sent immediately to Mr. F.
But this recipe was super easy and doesn't take up your time and you can pretty much pop them in the oven, set the timer and forget about them until the timer goes off.
Here's a pic of how mine came out the very first time I made them
*sticks out chest proudly*
Ok, so shut up already and tell me the recipe, I hear you saying...

Well, here it is:
  • 6 small potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half (if the potatoes are too large, then cut a 1/4" to 1/2" slice out of the center.
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • grated parmesan cheese-(I used Romano)
  • garlic powder
  • other seasonings you like (I used Basil)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 
Melt butter and pour into a sheet pan and spread evenly across the bottom. Sprinkle the Romano or Parmesan cheese on the butter and do the same with the garlic powder and other seasonings. Put the potato halves face down on the butter and seasonings.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve with sour cream  or ketchup for dipping.
They were a hit and all three of us liked them. While we were eating them, I said, "Wouldn't they be good with some bacon on them?" Mr. F and daughter also added that green onions would be good.

All  you adventurous cooks can keep reading...the rest of you just skip to the comment section and leave me a note saying how crazy you think I am ; )

So the next day I went to Trader Joe's. This was the reason I went to Trader Joe's to Chase The Blues Away.
Since the recipe was super easy, I thought I'd try to add  a few things and to improvise a little.
I was out of potatoes and sour cream. I had this bacon, cheese dip mix and added a little to the sour cream.

I fried up 2 pounds of bacon I had in the fridge that had to be fried up before it went bad(doesn't have nitrates or nitrites, so it doesn't last forever like the kind that does) I then take all the bacon and freeze it and use it as I need it. Ya know bacon makes everything taste better and I like to get the frying all done at once.

Instead of butter, I used olive oil and of course, romano cheese.

This time, I used Yukon Gold potatoes, instead of Russet, but the Russet's were actually better.

So this time the potatoes had bacon and green onions (which I'm growing in the garden) and Mr. F. dipped them in spiced sour cream.
Either way, they were delicious.
You've got to try these tonight. Don't worry if you don't have bacon, green onions or even the sour cream. The potatoes were so good  and super easy to make without them.

My kind of cooking.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chasing The Blues Away

So yesterday I wrote about our gray, drizzly skies and how sunless days make me melancholy.
I had to get do something to chase those blues away.
I wasn't going to let a little drizzle keep me in my pj's all day and keep me from getting out of the house.

So where did I go?

Shopping, of course.

But it wasn't to the mall or even HomeGoods. lol. We're only a little more than halfway through January and going to the mall or HomeGoods would blow my budget.

I went and bought myself some flowers at Trader Joe's... 
No I didn't blow my budget because they were only $4.99
For the whole bouquet you see here.
 Yup, gotta love Trader Joe's. That place always cheers me up, especially when I can buy myself a bunch of flowers for $4.99

Plus, we needed some milk and chicken and a whole bunch of other stuff...

Couldn't resist buying this pretty bottle of White Balsamic Vinegar for $2.29. It's pretty enough to sit on the counter. I also bought some Dukkah, which I haven't tried before. Evidently Dukkah is just a fancy name for herbs you put in some olive oil(and maybe some balsamic vinegar)and dip some crusty bread in it. 
Says so right on the back of the label.

I also stocked up on some Sipping Chocolate because they only carry it seasonally. I really love this stuff and put a 1/2 of a teaspoon in my whey protein shake in the morning. Bought enough to last me until next November when they start carrying it again. Wish I could do that with their seasonal homemade tamales.
mmm, tamales.

The week before last, Mr. Fanatic & I stopped by TJ's and while we were shopping, he noticed they carried french vanilla ice cream and that it was a FULL HALF GALLON. Remember when all ice cream containers were a full half gallon? Ice cream packages have gotten pretty small. TJ's french vanilla is really creamy, is only 24 carbs  per serving and isn't made with High Fructose Corn Syrup, which I'm trying to avoid. Ya know they put HFCS in just about everything. Just remember sugar IS NOT sugar.

Anyway, by the time I got home and put my flowers in some water, I had completely forgotten about my gray sky blues.
And I didn't even blow my budget!
Tomorrow I'm going to share a super easy and yummy recipe I made with the potatoes I bought at Trader Joe's.
Saw the recipe on Pinterest.
Hope you are having a sunny day...more rain here, but I have my flowers to cheer me up.  


PS: Thanks for all the comments on yesterday's post. They definitely were the icing on the cake.

BTW, Trader Joe's did  not compensate me in any way for this post. I'm just a Trader Joe's fanatic. lol. I really am. Before we had a TJ's here in Charlotte, we once planned a long weekend trip in a city where there was a Trader Joe's...and we would take an extra suitcase with us for TJ's stuff when we flew to SoCal. When we were in Chicago visiting Mr. F's mom, we would always bring a bunch of TJ's goodies back home with us.  Before you think I'm crazy...on the day that the local TJ's opened in August of 2006, there were about 150 people waiting in line for the store to open a couple of hours before and we were all swapping stories about how we all got our Trader Joe's "fix". We weren't the only ones planning vacations around visiting a TJ's.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's A Gray, Drizzly Day

Do gray days make you feel melancholy?
It's another gray day here in our little part of the world. 

It's a little drizzly too.

Makes me want to curl up with a good book my laptop and stay in bed all day blog hopping...or

...spend all day searching  for a quaint little farm house with a running creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Gray days leave me wishing Spring would hurry up and get here.

so the trees would sprout little green leaves beyond my windows.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy the quiet gray days until the sun returns
with a cup of hot tea and a good blog...

What's your best cure for gray, drizzly days?


Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter Mantel

Hope your weekend was fun.
Thought I'd share our Winter mantel with you. Don't know about where you are, but it's been really warm here the past few days and doesn't feel like Winter at all...more like mid Spring.  

Back to the Winter mantel...
I just pulled a few accessories together from all over the house. 

The large white vase with bare branches had ornaments on it for Christmas. I thought I'd keep the branches up for Winter.  

I saved the pine branches and pine cones from our Christmas centerpiece. 
See the large blue Ball jar on the right?

Southern Belle Magazine had a post on their Facebook page awhile back that said 
"Why not start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen. Then, on New Years Eve, empty it and see what awesome things happened that year." 

As you can see, there's already a piece of paper with something written on it. 
Can't wait to see what great stories and events it will be filled with. 

What fun things do you have planned this year? Any new things you're trying or doing? Any resolutions?
No resolutions here, but I am back on a lower carb diet so my skinny jeans will be a little more comfortable. Seems they "shrunk" a little bit from all those good Holiday goodies. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fortune Cookie Valentines

Here's a creative  and fun Valentine I made last year.
(Can't take credit for the this creative idea, though)

Fortune Cookie Valentines

You can put them in any number of containers, but I put them in Chinese takeout boxes.

You can get the Chinese boxes and the paper at Michael's or Hobby Lobby

The messages on the fortunes inside can be personalized depending on who you give it to.
 I originally found out how to make these Valentines at Make Merry Events, but alas, the page doesn't exist any longer. 
I found another website, though, that shows you how to make them. We Heart It
Hope you have as much fun making & giving these as I did!


Monday, January 7, 2013

DIY Barn Doors

I'm finally going to share how we made the barn doors for our basement Family Room. 

I've always thought barn doors were awesome and wanted to put them somewhere in our house, but didn't know where. It finally hit me that barn doors over the existing patio doors in the basement would serve two purposes; the first being for privacy and second for security. The barn doors fit over the existing blinds that we have installed on the patio doors, but I am thinking of taking them off because no sun ever hits the windows due to the deck covering the patio just outside.

Mr. Fanatic bought galvanized barn door hardware at Tractor Supply and I spray painted the pieces an oil rubbed bronze, which is almost black.

Here are the 8ft unpainted galvanized box rails.

Mr. Fanatic marked the studs in the wall with tape.

He then marked where the studs were on  the pine 2 x 8  for the left side and then on a 2 x 8 for the right side. The two 2 x 8's were used as a header to hang the rail for the doors on. After marking the headers, Mr. F pre-drilled holes in them.

I stained the two headers with oil based Jacobean stain by Minwax. You can see the pre-drilled holes in the header.

After the stain was dry, Mr. F installed the header. I knew as soon as the header went up that the barn doors were going to look great.

He attached the header to the studs with 1/2" diameter x 5" lag screws (with washers)

He attached a small piece of 2 x 4 (that was my stain sample) to test out how to adjust the hangers.

To make the doors, Mr. Fanatic used eight 2 x 6's, which are roughly each 5 1/2" each, making each door 44". (Each door covers the exterior door plus the width of the width of the molding and the center frame between the two doors).
The eight 2 x 6's were clamped together with pipe clamps and sanded down.

Since 2 x 6's are not all perfect, Mr. F hammered them down so they wouldn't stick up quite so much. He used a wood block so the hammer wouldn't leave marks.

After that, he measured the height that he wanted for the door, then cut the door to length.

He then layed out the 1 x 4's that would hold the  boards together. We chose a Z pattern.

Mr. F used 1 1/2" torx drive screws to hold the boards together.

Once the first door was made, Mr. F. hung the door to make sure it would all work.

After Mr. F made the 2nd door, I stained the first coat on the first side. You can see the 2nd door on the pool table.

I stained each side with two coats of stain and let the stain dry 2 days between each coat.  I did the same for the other sides of the doors.

Mr.F had to change out the cable connector to one that turned 90 degrees and the plugs on the TV to flat plugs (on the left side of the doors and lamp on the right side of the door) in order for the barn doors to open while everything was plugged in.  

Mr. Fanatic still has to the handles, slide bolts, guides, and will add stops to the ends of the rails.
Can't wait to get the handles on.

In the meantime, we can still enjoy the barn doors.

I think they really make the room.

Here's the before:

And After:
barn doors, diy barn doors, diy,

Mr. F's next projects include making some coordinating shutters for the little window next to the fireplace and a heavier door to the unfinished part of the basement. 

The projects list for 2013 is getting longer.

ps: just in case you're wondering, we spent approximately $650 on the doors and all hardware...$550 for what is shown in the last photo. (yep, we splurged on the handles and gate latches & they're bee u tee ful!)

UPDATE: if you'd like to see the fancy hardware we put on the Barn Doors, click here.

We purchased 2 of these from Amazon if you're wondering where to get them:


Disclaimer: The above post is how we made our barn doors. I don't take any responsibility for any errors or results obtained from using this information. When using power tools, use safety equipment.
If you order from Amazon by clicking the link, I will make a commision on them.