February 24, 2011

Some Vacation...

Since the chicklets were off all week on their winter break, I thought I would take the week off as well.

I had visions of a lovely drive through Canada to the Ikea store, crafting beautiful handmade things for my etsy shop, of gently washing all the glassware and china in my china cabinet, carefully brushing glossy white paint on the window trim in my living room, spring cleaning the cobwebs from my dusty bedroom...
...and i didn't even mention the bentwood chairs that need to be lovingly restored with black paint and new fabric...

But I have children. And they have bigger and better social lives than I. So I didn't really have one good day to get anything major done around here. I haven't even had time to blog! A whole week off and this is my first post!

Also, we have a flat roof on the garage and it needs replacing. But while we are at it, we thought it might be fun to look into raising the roof and add some storage to our house. There is a door from our bedroom out over the garage and I thought it would be an easy way to get to the new storage area. So, long story short, I have had builders here looking at the job to give us estimates this week.

One thing I did get done was to make preserved lemons.

I was looking at Katy's blog and found some interesting info about Meyer lemons. Katy referred me to another woman who does a lot of canning because I want to make lemon curd with the Meyer lemons I bought at the grocery store.

In the past I clipped a recipe out of the paper that called for a preserved lemon. Well, it takes 3 weeks to make one so needless to say, I haven't made that recipe. This lady, Marisa, who does all the canning, had a post on her blog on how to make preserved lemons. I was so excited! Apparently you can use them for all kinds of dishes and in salads. So, today, I started it.

First, wash your lemons. Then, cut the ends off the lemon and cut the lemon into quarters of sorts, but not all the way through...

...then you layer them in a jar with sea salt...

...put the lid on the jar and leave it on your counter for three days.
Give it a shake a couple of times a day. This will mix up the salt and increase the juices. Over the next three days, the jar should be filling with juice. If not, open it up now and then and squeeze the lemons a little with a wooden spoon or even your hand. On day four, the lemons should be covered with their own juice, if not, add some juice to the jar. Then, put it in the back of the refridgerator for three weeks or longer. By then, they will be ready to use. The lemons will keep for about 6 months. You can check out Marisa's post here.

I will post the recipe for the chicken dish that calls for the preserved lemon when I make it and other recipes I find or try.

Today I am thankful for my lovely daughter who turned 15 today. I will post pics of her birthday after the party on Saturday night.

Thanks for stopping in, I really appreciate it!!!!!

February 19, 2011

A Great Birthday

I had a wonderful birthday today.

It started out with me shopping all by myself at a local antique mall. I got the pitcher I mentioned a few days ago. It's a Johnson Brothers Ironstone. I'm so thrilled with it, it's in fantastic condition. AND...I got it for 20% off!!

Then I found a couple more...

The scallop-y one has no markings on the bottom but the small one on the left is Buffalo China. I'm guessing it's a creamer. It's about 4 1/2 inches at the top of the spout so it may be large for the creamer. Anyway, I can't wait for my garden to be in bloom so I can put fresh cut flowers in them all.

I also bought a flower frog for Big V's makeup brushes. Little V got the last one I bought.

Speaking of flowers...

Here's how the Valentines flowers opened up. I love them.

Then I got some new flowers today...

Isn't my husband the best? If there could be such a thing as vintage roses, this is what they would look like. Faded, with a hint of green and a hint of beige. Just gorgeous.

Since my husband couldn't get the night off from work, Nicole decided she should be the best friend ever and take care of me on my birthday. We went to church and then Nic got a pizza and some cupcakes and we celebrated.

The flowers are RINGS! Isn't that cute? We all got one. It was a girls night in, my girls and I, Nic, her daughter and her friend.

They sang wonderfully and I was able to blow out all 6 candles.
Please, no comments on how the girls are taller than me. It's a touchy subject.

Then the girls went and goofed around and Nic and I made jewels for the upcoming theme-tray auction at school. Here's what I made.

I like them so much, very springy. I think I"m going to make another pair and put them in my...


I haven't mentioned that I fulfilled one of my January 1 resolutions. I finally got it set up, with the help of my friend Susan. I'm really not as good as I should be on the computer, so she offered to help me.  Anyhoo, the name of the shop is Gabrielles Daughter and you can find it here.

All in all, it was such a great birthday, and tomorrow I get to sleep in and go to my favorite restaurant in Buffalo, Panos, for dinner.

Today I am thankful for the wonderful people in my life and the love they all give me. Also for my Mom who put up with getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom when she was pregnant with me and I was sitting on her bladder. You never appreciate someone until you find yourself in their shoes someday. Love you Momma, thanks for my life. : )

February 15, 2011

Finished Hutch and Winds of Change

Here are the finished pictures of my freshly stocked hutch cabinet.

I realized I am lacking in the pitcher area. I have a glass one on the middle shelf, but I have my eye on an antique ironstone one that I can get on sale this weekend. Since it will be my birthday, I just may treat myself.

I saw an antique hutch in a book once that had a mirrored back on the first shelf and under cabinet lighting. I loved the look, but I cannot modify this piece of furniture by gluing mirrors to it. So, I did the next best thing and put mirror tiles in the plate rail on the back of the middle shelf.

Now everything is within arms reach. : )

Now on to the winds of change. They are blowing through our bathroom.

Here is what it looks like now.

Our house is old and it's small. It's tiny. It's wee. As is our bathroom. We have one small closet in the hallway facing the door to the bathroom. It is supposed to serve as our linen closet. Since we remodeled this bathroom the last time, I have come to miss the storage a vanity and sink provides. All toiletries are in the cupboard over the toilet and in the linen closet. I was so stuck on having this period sink in my house that I didn't even think about the storage space I was giving up. I would love, Love, LOve, LOVe, LOVE having my linens in the closet again. They are currently in a cupboard in my dresser. It doesn't really have enough space or air flow for linens.

Anyhoo, we purchased a vanity/sink combo and we will be putting it in the bathroom soon. I'm so excited for the space. More on that when we have some progress to show. I want to put in a new toilet and tile the floor. That will have to wait til summer so the girls can take a bath in the pool and we won't have to get ready for school. I have never done tile before but our friend Bob said he would show me how and help out. I am excited for the tile too. If I do well enough, maybe I'll be able to do the tub area as well.

Today I made a corned beef for dinner. Since we are missing Irish dancing, we are eating Irish instead. 

I put peppercorns, garlic, bay leaf and cinnamon sticks in the coffee filter and tie it with butcher's twine. Put it in the braising pot and cover it with water. You're supposed to cook it for 4 hours, but I don't think it will take that long.

Once it's done, I make a glaze with brown sugar, dry mustard, ground ginger and ground cloves.

 I put it all over the meat then put it under the broiler to melt the glaze. Yum! It's so good.

Even though it was early, we enjoyed our St Patrick's meal now.
Hope you get a chance to make a corned beef this season. It makes me feel like spring is in the air. Could also be that we are in a thaw of sorts and I'm so excited. I can't wait to get out and walk again.

Thankful for the beautiful sun today! I've missed you!!

I'll be back in a couple of days, have to work tomorrow and Thursday. Have a great week!

February 14, 2011

Valentines Day

Today is Valentines Day and I started out having breakfast with my sweet friends, Valerie, Maria, Nicole and Susan. We went to Panera and had a little knit fest. We really did more talking than knitting.

My husband brought me flowers...and took me back to Panera for lunch. Lol. I thought the lady working there was going to say, "Don't you ever make a meal at your own home?" But she didn't.

I can't wait for the lilies to open. Sadly, it's not warm enough here to make them open, and as you maybe can see out my window, there was no sun today either.

I made this delicious apple cake for dessert tonight.

It warranted seconds. Here is the recipe:

Apple Cake
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Golden Delicious or Gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Cinnamon, for dusting

1. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add apples and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
2. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour a 6 cup Bundt pan. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat remaining 8 tablespoons butter with the sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well mixed. Using a wooden spoon, beat in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with milk in two batches. Stir in apples.
3. Scrape batter into the pan and bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Turn out on a wire rack and cool. Just before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar and cinnamon. Serve with creme fraiche.

p.s. I used an angel food pan, so it's a little flat. It will look much prettier in a Bundt pan.

Too delicious.

Speaking of cake, we had a visit from Bob and Nic recently and Nic made a double layer cake that was to die for. It was so tall, we had to measure it.

No wonder I can't lose any weight. Hmm, maybe I should make some changes to my diet. I have to think about that one.

The night was topped off with a good old fashioned Catholic school basketball game. Complete with opposing coach who thinks his team is playing for a college scholarship and that he is trying for a job in the NBA.

Little V is 00 there. Going for the rebound. We lost, of course, and I hate losing to jerky coaches.

All in all a nice day. So thankful for my good friends and my loving family.

Have a good night!

February 8, 2011

Empty Shelves

Since Christmas decorations were taken down, I have yet to put anything up on my dining room hutch.

I will give you a little history of the piece.

My father built this cabinet the year I was born. So, it's not very old. Twenty something. I'm just saying, that this piece of furniture was born the same year as me. It started out as a stereo cabinet. The two doors in the middle on the bottom housed the stereo and record albums, (lol, still, not that old, vinyl is making a comeback) and the end compartments were actually speakers. Well, due to my dad putting in a fireplace at their house, this cabinet no longer fit in the living room. I somehow was lucky enough to get it. My dad took the speakers out and put drawers in their place. Then he put a wood panel where the speaker fabric had been and made those into doors. Does that make sense?

Over the years the arrangements on it have varied. I'm sure when I first got married it had brass stuff and cut glass Mikasa bowls on it. Candles, dried floral and things like that. Then I moved into a period of displaying different teapots from my collection. After the teapots, I was in a vintage glass phase. Cake plates and compotes. Pitchers and creamers and sugar bowls.

Lately I have, due to an influence from Pottery Barn, been using it for the original "hutch" purpose of a utilitarian piece, to hold everything needed at meals so I wouldn't have to keep getting up and going into the kitchen to get things I forgot.

Well, when holidays roll around, I need the space for decorating so, everything is put away. But I'm tired of the empty shelves, so my project for this week is to stock it once again with all the mealtime necessities. I'm tired of getting up from the table to go get something I forgot. Of course, I sit the closest to the kitchen. Not that I don't need the exercise, I just would like to eat a hot meal once in a while.

Check back to see how it comes out!!!

I am planning on doing a post every week with a piece of furniture my dad has made us. He is amazing and I need to share.

Thanks for dropping in!!

February 2, 2011

Meet Gary

Meet Gary.

This is our Kitchen Aid mixer, Gary. When Gary first joined our family, he was so shiny and smooth that we decided he was too pretty to not have a name. So, we named him Gary.

Today the kids were off of school for the big storm that sort of fizzled out when it got here. The school supers got scared and closed schools last night before it even started snowing or sleeting. So the kids got a free day and I stayed home too.

You see, even though most people have lived here all their lives, when they hear the word "snow" or "storm" they freak out and run to the store and, the pharmacy. Last time we had a "non-storm" (a predicted storm that turned out to be nothing), the pharm was packed the day before and when I went to work the next day, no one came in. Thus, I was sent home after working 45 min. This time, I called before I went in to see if that might happen again. One of the pharmacists, Sherry, said to just stay home and she would call me if it got busy.

So, we got Gary out and started baking.

Big V helped me make a lovely banana bread. I always use the recipe in my Mom's old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

Don't let the name fool you, it's OLD.
But, it has some great recipes in it and many basics.

We put all the ingredients into Gary's bowl...

And beat it till it couldn't talk no more...

Poured it into Grandma's glass loaf pan...

Put it in the oven and...

...delicious banana bread.

Hope you had a nice Wednesday!

Thankful for a nice snow day to make this great banana bread with V. We have fun together cuz I'm a little insane and I make us both laugh. She has picked up on my sense of humor and she makes us both laugh too.

Enjoy the weather, wherever you may be.