Tuesday, September 27, 2011

C&B Thrift Make Over

I bought this candle holder at the thrift store for 5.00 (50% off day!) -- it still had the Crate & Barrel sticker on the bottom. It was pretty enough but didn't match my decor.
The brass candle holders screwed right off so I sprayed those with a flat, black paint.  I gave the wood part a coat of Paris Grey chalk paint and then a coat of Antique White. 
After lightly distressing, I gave it a coat of clear wax and then buffed it to a soft shine.  I already had the berry garland and candle holders and added a few small pumpkins.
I think this will be a fun piece to work with for Christmas too so it will get a lot of use!  How's your fall decorating coming along? Can you believe it's almost OCTOBER?? Happy Fall!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall Decorating and Allium

Well I FINALLY got my fall decorations up so I'll share some with you today.  Here's my new/old ladder with a garland and a few other goodies.
I had these tiny, unfinished frames I bought at the thrift store. There were five per package and they were 80 cents a package so I couldn't pass them up. All I did was give them a coat of flat, black spray paint and covered the inserts with fall fabric scraps I already had.  I also had the 3-D letter stickers so those were used to spell out the word "Autumn".  I think I may keep these up for Christmas and just change out the inserts.
This is a dried Allium plant.  A friend of mine grew them this summer and was going to throw them out.  Thankfully her husband stopped her and said, "I bet Lauren would find something to do with these." -- he was SO right! This one found its way onto my ladder!
Two more of the Allium ended up in my porch display.  I just draped a piece of fall fabric I had, over the chair.  Then I added a garland, my wooden pumpkins and of course, the Allium 'skeletons'.  A potted mum replaced the Impatiens.  

Now my house is beginning to match up with the definite chill in the air!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Love My Thrift Store!

I have the greatest thrift store right around the corner from me and it always amazes me what I can find there! It's currently "50% off the entire store" there and here are some of the great finds I got.  
This huge, heavy frame was 50 cents and I LOVE this bottle -- also 50 cents. It's a vintage Jergens hand lotion bottle!  The two brass bowls were 1.50 each and will be used in my fall decorating for sure.
I grabbed this white glass bowl for 1.00 and it is also being used in my fall decorating -- look at the beautiful leaves on it! That sparkly fabric (also to be appearing soon) was a 4 yard piece for 1.00.
This is getting a whole new look right now -- it's from Crate and Barrel and is solid wood and brass.  My cost $5.00.
I fell in love with this lamp, especially at a cost of 3.80! It too is going to be painted although I'm not sure what color.  It's electric and works -- it's definitely old as I can tell by the electric cord which I may replace because of it's age.  
I love the little key that turns the light on!  Well, I'm finally getting my fall decorating started so I'll be back tomorrow with some pictures of my projects!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Black Bean Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries

This is one of our favorite meals.  You can use any type of beans that you like, I usually do use all black beans.  Just be sure that don't skip the Corn Salsa and "Guacamole" -- they really are the 'icing on the burgers'!

Corn Salsa:  Combine 1 can corn, drained (fresh or frozen is great if you have it.  Since we're cutting the sodium, I used fresh.), 1/2 c chopped tomato, 1 green onion, 1/4 c cilantro, 1 diced jalapeno pepper, juice of one lime.

I have this in quotes because it's truly not guacamole -- just 2 avocados mashed and combined with the juice of 1 lime but it's fantastic on these burgers!

Here are a few helpful tips for some of the ingredients used in this recipe.
If you use Cilantro, you know it goes 'bad' very quickly.  I learned this neat trick -- Wash and dry the Cilantro and put it in a jar with a little bit of water.  Put a plastic bag over the leaves and store in the refrigerator.  It really works!  I've had this bunch of Cilantro for TEN DAYS and it is as fresh as the day I bought it!
Lots of recipes may call for fresh lime juice but not the peel.  I never throw the squeezed limes (or lemons) away! Toss them into a ziplock bag and put in your freezer.  When you DO need lime peel, pull them out and grate.  Since they're frozen, they will be really easy to grate as well!  The reverse is true, using the peel, I toss the lemons or limes in the freezer and have them to use for juice another time.
An easy way to get your avocado ready for mashing -- using a knife, cut the meat of the avocado in both directions (and make sure you don't jab the knife through the skin and out into the palm of your hand . . . just sayin').  Using a spoon, scoop out all of the little diced pieces.

And finally, here's the recipe for the burgers:

2/3 c onion, 4 cloves garlic, 2 t cumin, 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed, 4 slices light, bread, 2/3 c Cilantro, 1 c walnuts, salt, pepper, 2 eggs (or 1/2 c egg substitute).  Combine all in a food processor.  Chill for about an hour and form into patties. (It IS a sticky mixture so sometimes I may flour my hands to form the patties.  Cook in non-stick skillet sprayed with cooking spray until lightly browned.  Top with corn salsa and guacamole.

Sweet Potato Fries
Peel and slice four large sweet potatoes.  Brush with 2 t olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 t half and half salt (or regular), 1/4 t black pepper, 1/2 t paprika, 1/4 t red pepper flakes, 1/4 t garlic powder.  Toss together with your hands or in a plastic bag to coat evenly.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, Toss and bake 20 minutes longer or until golden brown and cooked through.
A great, healthy meal that you'll actually ENJOY!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Super Fruit and A Garden House

We visited our daughter for Parent Weekend Fri-Sat and had a chance to see an amazing project at her college that she is participating in . . . a Garden House.  There are 2 young men and 4 young ladies all living here growing their own produce, canning, freezing and sustaining themselves mainly on what they've grown.  They also belong to a local co-op and purchase items they couldn't grow through the co-op.  

They have grown lots and lots of lettuce and other greens, radishes, pickles, every variety and of tomato you could imagine, broccoli, pumpkins, peppers, eggplant and probably lots of other things I'm forgetting!
The guys designed and created this beautiful herb garden.  They've also dried and frozen lots and lots of herbs as well as making their own pesto for the freezer.
A large whiteboard is filled with goals, menus (each person cooks for the 'family' one night a week), grocery lists, budget, garden chores and more!
On Friday, we walked in to the guys blanching pounds and pounds of broccoli for freezing! You just can't imagine what these kids are able to pump out of this tiny kitchen! They have a giant chest freezer that is filled to the top with all they've put aside for the winter months!  As I said, this is a new project at their college and they have totally impressed me with their knowledge and all they've accomplished on their own!
Like I said, they (and WE) have tons and tons of tomatoes so I'm always sending my daughter recipes to use them up! Here are two that I just made and oh my . . . are they good!  
Tomato and Basil Salad
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T minced onion (I used green onions)
1 T olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper
2 1/4 c yellow pear tomatoes, halved
2 1/4 c red cherry tomatoes, halved
4 large basil leaves cut into slender ribbons
Combine vinegar and onion. Let sit 15 minutes. Combine with other vinaigrette ingredients and toss with the tomatoes and basil shreds.  NOTE: I had these lovely purple ant yellow tomatoes from "the Garden House" and the red cherry tomatoes from my garden but use whatever you have.
Tomato Spinach Soup
2 T margarine/butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 t minced garlic
2 c milk
1/2 c sour cream
10 large tomatoes, pureed (end up with about 10 cups of puree)
1/3 cup sugar
3 c fresh spinach leaves
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese

Melt margarine in large pot and saute onion and garlic for 3 min.  Stir in milk and cook for two minutes.   Stir in puree and sugar.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered for 5 minutes.  Add spinach, basil, salt, pepper and sour cream.  Simmer two more minutes.  Sprinkle with Parmesan to serve.  (NOTE: For health reasons I used skim milk, fat-free sour cream and Stevia (in place of the sugar) ).

So with all of the tomatoes we've been eating, I wondered what the health benefits were . . .
One of the most well known tomato eating benefits is its' Lycopene content. Lycopene is a vital anti-oxidant that helps in the fight against cancerous cell formation as well as other kinds of health complications and diseases. No other fruit or vegetable has the high concentration of Lycopene that the tomato does!

Studies in the scientific community have proven the benefits in preventing cancer, heart disease and high cholesterol

Loaded with Vitamin A they can help prevent and reduce the risk of macular degeneration and night blindness.  This vitamin is also good for keeping the hair shiny and strong and is good for the bones, skin and teeth.

In most expensive facial cleansers, Lycopene is present. One of the best ways of using tomatoes for skin care is to take about 8 to 10 tomatoes and peel their skin. Later, lay back and then place the skins of tomato on the face or other parts of the skin. Be sure to keep the inner side of the tomato skin against the skin and leave for about 10 minutes. Then wash your face, you face will look cleaner and may be more shiny. Though, your skin might also be a little pinkish or red, but it will wear away. (WELL, this is what they say . . . I haven't tried this yet!)

The Lycopene content actually INCREASES with cooking! So tomato paste contains four times more Lycopene that in fresh tomatoes.

Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.

I for one am adding this amazing fruit (yep, they're fruits, not vegetables) to my daily diet!  What is one thing YOU feel you have to have each day to feel healthy? Chocolate maybe :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

More Thrift Store Find Makeovers

This past weekend I was finally able to put a dent in the massive amount of thrift store remakes I had waiting for me! All of them were finished with A.S. chalk paint(s) and waxes.
I was able to add some of the vintage jewelry I scored a few weeks back at the Kane Co. Flea Market.  
All of these pieces are for sale in my Etsy Shop although after seeing them in MY living room, I'm finding it hard to part with them!
One of my favorite projects was this set of bookends -- they were originally a dark, mahogany color and they are HEAVY! I gave them a coat of A.S. Paris Gray and a coat of Old White, distressed and waxed with dark and clear waxes. The bases are covered in vintage French book pages and waxed also -- OH I do love these!! But, they are for sale :)
Like I said, this put a "dent" in what I've accumulated! So little time, so many projects, right!?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Vintage Ladders

Seems like everyone has one of these and now, I'm one of them! We picked this up at the Kane County Flea Market on Saturday.  I especially love it because it has the wires under each rung, all intact.
The funniest part was when we got it back to our car, we realized we forgot WHICH car we'd driven and getting a 7 1/2 foot ladder into a Chevy Cavalier was no small feat!  I'm not sure what I'll do with it but when looking for inspiration I found some very cute ideas!
Carolina Country Living added a rustic piece of wood to the top and made this fantastic shelf!
Here's another version with the ladder as a shelf from Mia's Interior
Better Homes & Gardens featured this in a storage and organization article - LOVE those old furnace grates attached as shelves!
Crafts by Amanda has the most wonderful tutorial on this decoupage ladder! She gives all of the details for covering the rungs as well as how she made some of the decorative items ON the ladder! I think some of this will definitely be happening to my ladder!
 Poetic Home has a whole slew of ideas for ladders including this great one for housing your book collection!
 This "Spooky Style Ladder from Midwest Living.com would be fun for different holidays too! I'm thinking some vintage fabric hanging behind with different letters for different holidays . . .
I know, this is a bit early but over at curbly.com (OH, you have to stop and browse this site!) they came up with what they call "Curbly Recession Busters: Free Alternative Christmas Trees" -- this really made me smile!

Not sure what MY ladder will end up looking like but this gives me a start on ideas!