Sunday, November 27, 2011

Decorations from Christmas Past

Every year I take pictures of my house decorated for Christmas. It was never for anyone else to see mind you, just so I knew where to put everything again next year!

With decor mapping my only goal, the photos are not always great. Sometimes the television is on in the background or I waited until after Christmas morning to take them and there are toys everywhere!

So while I am busy decorating the house again, here's a look back at a few of the best photos of Christmas decorations from years past. :)

The family room mantle and tree...

 Another year with a slightly different centerpiece on the mantle. The tin Nutcrackers are candle holders. My mother made the wreath for me for my first Christmas in my first apartment.

The living room mantle and tree...
The living room tree is called the Memory Tree. It's where we hang all of our ornaments that hold a special memory for us. It started as a way to keep the ornaments out of reach from the children, but now has become a special way to honor our Christmas memories. It's so full of ornaments, that we need a bigger tree!

The dining room and kitchen tables used for buffet and dessert table for a holiday party...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What happened to Fall?

I thought I would share with you some photos from Halloween and Thanksgiving from years past. The problem is... most of my photos were lost when my external photo hard drive crashed. So this is all I was able to pull together and it's not much :(

Halloween's past... 


Fall's past...

Thanksgiving's past...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Best Tip EVER!!

I don't know why it is that my sweaters "pill- up" the way they do. I've used a "sweater shaver" in the past, but it broke and I haven't been able to find one to replace it. So out of desperation, I asked my Drycleaner if they could remove them for me. I knew I'd pay a premium for this, but it was better than letting them sit in the closet unwearable. Instead she gave me an AWESOME tip... use a shaving razor!

It had never occurred to me to try a shaving razor, but as soon as I got home I grabbed it out of the shower and gave it a try. It was amazing! The fuzz and pills came right off! To finish it off, I used a tape roller over the shaved area and it cleaned it right up.

So, today I am finally getting to wear my sweaters before it gets to warm and I have to put it away until next year.

Custom Window Films

I’ve been looking for a window solution for my kitchen for almost six years!! I’ve got a wall of windows overlooking our backyard and unfortunately my neighbor’s backyard as well.

This is not always such a bad thing because they have lots of trees that provide great screening in the spring and summer, and beautiful colors in autumn… but during the winter months it’s pretty stark.  I feel like I’m starring in my own reality show when standing at the kitchen sink or sitting down to a meal with my family.

The view from my kitchen sink

I just hadn't been able to find a solution that would continue to let the light in, but not block the pretty view of the trees. I considered both full and half shutters, cafe curtains, and roman shades. But I felt these options would either make the room too dark or would block the view from the upper window panes.

View from the kitchen to the family room

I have been playing with the idea of window films in my head for a little while now, but just couldn’t wrap my head around a design.  I found a couple of great ideas over at design*sponge and at not martha, but I didn’t want to completely block out the view from the lower window panes because my children love to look out the window and watch the birds, squirrels, and occasional bunny in our trees and yard.

When I came across a post over at Skip to my Lou on how to make your own window clings with your kids, it made me think… what if I did this in reverse? Cover the window with shelf lining and cut out a design in the center? But what design to use? I love the classic look of a fleur-de-lis, so I decided to run with it.

So here are are my step-by step instructions…

1.      My first step was to clean the windows! You may want to take a razor over the glass to remove any teeny little bit of debris that could be on the window, because it may make a little bubble in the film later. I learned this the hard way, but then it doesn’t really bother me enough to remove and redo!

2.      Then I printed off a copy of a fleur-de-lis in a size/scale that I liked.

3.      Then I cut a piece of film to the size of my window.

4.      Then I centered the fleur-de-lis onto the back of the cut piece of window film.

6.      Then I flipped the film over, and taking a pencil, traced the outside of the image onto the film. I removed the paper image from the back of the film when I was done so I can repeat on another window.

7.      So here’s where it gets a little tricky… Starting at the top corner, pull the film away from the backing about half way. Line up the film with the top of the window and adhere it to the window by rubbing with the pads of your fingers.  Work your way down the window, rubbing out the bubbles with your fingers, pulling the film back and re-rubbing the bubbles if necessary, back and forth until you have removed all of the backing and the entire film is adhered to your window.  You can also use a special plastic “burner” you can buy at most home improvement stores or even a credit card or spatula, but I found that my fingertips worked the best for me.

8.      Then I took my Exacto knife and cut along the pencil marks that I traced on to the front of the film. Be careful to press hard enough to cut through the film, but not so hard that you scratch the image onto your window!

9.      When I was done cutting, I just peeled the image away from the window.

10.  Then I took my metal ruler and butted it up against the inside edge of my window, cutting a line with my Exacto knife. I did this all around the inside of my window and peeled away to reveal a frame to the window film.

All in all I applied the film to six windows, but only used the fleur-de-lis image on the two center windows. I didn’t want it to look to busy, having had nothing on the windows for so long.

The new view from my kitchen sink
I love that I can still see the trees that will be
green and lush soon
No more diner time episodes of our reality
 show for our neighbors

I am planning on making upholstered pelmet boxes I saw over at little green notebook to finish off the project, but for now I am very pleased with how it looks! I hope you are too!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

What we had for dinner last night…Baked Pork Chops and Rice

This is my favorite recipe these days. I fix this almost every week. It’s major quick to throw together and put in the oven. My recipe is an adaptation of Tricia Yearwood’s Baked Pork Chops and Rice.

I’ve eliminated the onions and bell peppers from Tricia’s recipe and added in mixed veggies. Her recipe also called for using beef broth, which I think tastes the best, but in a pinch you can use whatever broth you have on hand. I have used beef, chicken, and vegetable broth. The important thing to remember is that you need a total of two cups of liquid.  If I am using chicken or vegetable broth, I don’t dilute it with water unless I come up short of the two cups. I have also been known to use a little of each to get me to the two cups of liquid. I've also made this milk allergy-friendly for my son.

So here’s my recipe for Baked Pork Chops and Rice…

4T. Earth Balance vegan buttery stick 
1 cup Long-grain white rice
4-6 Pork chops (I use boneless chops, but bone-in would work)
1 1/2 cup Mixed frozen veggies
1 1/4 cup Beef broth
3/4 cup Water
Morton’s Season Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the rice and sauté until light brown.

Spread the rice in a 9x13 casserole dish and mix in the veggies. 

Season the pork chops with the salt and arrange them on top of the rice.

Pour the broth and water over the chops.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour.