Saturday, March 31, 2012

Decorating Seasons: Spring

The seasons seem to be a little confused around here this year. We had beautiful weather until the first day of spring, then it has been one storm after another. It made it a little hard to get into spring decorating, until I realized just how close we were to Easter. Then I decided I better get moving!

This year's mantle

These cute little clay pots came from a Country Living Fair in Ohio a few years ago and the backdrop is a piece of ceiling tin from an old building.
I made the Rejoice banner this year
 I love these blue plates. They came from England and were a gift from my stepmother many years ago.
There are usually candles in these hurricanes but I like to put English primroses inside them for spring.

 Entry table
The grandkids call the little tray with the miniature rabbits and vegetables, "the neighbors".

Dining table
Eggs nestled in the napkins are the place cards.
Closeup of the centerpiece.
Love this bunny platter I got at a yardsale a few years ago.

Miscellaneous spring touches

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Family Recipes: Chicken Enchilada Casserole

This is a shortcut I made up several years ago when I didn't want to fill and roll the tortillas 1 at a time.

I make a white cheese sauce that I use in lots of recipes: Melt an 8 ounce block of cream cheese with 1 1/2 cups milk, stirring until melted so it doesn't burn (I use nonfat milk and low fat cream cheese, but use whatever type you like). Remove from the stove.

To this mixture, add some garlic salt, Italian spices (oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc) and nutmeg. (I rarely measure things, especially spices; if you are not used to this kind of cooking, start with a small amount, taste, add more if you want it) Pour a small amount of the mixture into a baking dish, enough to cover the bottom.

Using scissors, I then cut up several corn tortillas, about 8-10, into bite-size pieces. The pieces can be square, triangular, any shape you want.

Cover the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish with the tortilla pieces.

Next, layer bite-sized cooked chicken, either cubed or shredded, some grated cheese and whatever else you might like. I usually add chopped onion, bell pepper, sometimes jalapenos and cilantro. Again, I don't measure this type of thing, so use any amount you want; I found that I tend to go by looks--in other words, the colors of the different ingredients should have a balanced, pleasing look, and that seems to give me the right amount.


You can make as many layers as you want, but to keep it simple, I usually just put everything in and cover with a layer of tortillas pieces.

Pour the cheese sauce over the final layer and top with grated cheese. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

Serve with guacamole or sliced avocado.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Craft Room Part 3...The Finale

When my youngest son got married and my daughter moved into an apartment, I finally got a craft room again (see earlier posts, My New Craft Room: An Empty Nest Has its Upside and My New Craft Room...Continued). 

Once I had the living space of the room done, I was ready to tackle the work spaces.  I decided to set up my sewing machine and fabric in the closet, so, after Husband took off the doors, I took out the pole and dragged in an old computer desk that my son left behind. This desk was totally falling apart and had been sitting outside, waiting for a trip to the dump for months. My daughter and I had dragged it outside when Luke moved. It was  a cheap, rickety old thing, but I started wondering if I could salvage anything from it; maybe I could reuse the shelves, and the desktop was a good size for my sewing machine... then I wondered why I had to take it apart. So I dragged it inside by myself (I managed to get a large towel underneath it and dragged the towel, worked like a charm),  put a coat of white paint on it and wedged it into the closet.

 It was perfect for my sewing machine and boxes of thread, ribbons, and other items. No one even recognized it, including Luke, who had spent many hours sitting at it (supposedly doing homework, but in reality, listening to music).

Can you see the old desk on the left?
These are the shelves that held all of Luke's CDs and now hold thread, piping and ribbon.

Husband added more shelves on the other side of the desk and that gave it more stability.

Plus, they hold my fabric, at least some of it.

Across the room, I installed my daughter's table that she left behind. It has become my workspace.

 I needed more storage here, so I found an old board in the shed and cut it in half (it was already white, so I didn't even need to paint it). I went on a search for something I might already have to become the shelf supports. I found some coffee cans Husband was using/saving for screws and such. I found six in the garage and two more in the pantry (I couldn't wait for him to finish the coffee in these cans, so I emptied them into plastic containers).

I covered the cans with leftover pieces of burlap.
These shelves hold papers, tags, glue and other small items that I use a lot.

Paper storage from office supplies

A beautiful painted iron fence piece is a good spot to place inspiration pictures.

 This old cupboard once held towels in the bathroom, now it holds craft supplies.

So I managed to complete another room using my criteria of not buying anything except paint and, in this case, I didn't even have to do that! 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Slipcovers are the Answer to Just About Everything

 For 25 years, we have mostly bought thrift store or clearance furniture which I would paint and slipcover. My husband was sometimes not a fan; they weren't always the most comfortable or stable pieces of furniture. So, when we received a tax refund a few years ago, we decided we would buy a new couch; a brand-spanking new one, never before owned by anyone else!
We set out to visit the furniture stores. I thought it would be easy to find something amongst all the shiny, beautiful sets. A year and half later, we settled on a big, dark leather couch. Problem was, I didn't care that much for it, but I was tired of looking and I thought my husband really liked it; he didn't care for it that much, but he was tired of looking and thought I really liked it. We didn't realize this until it was too late.

You know, those furniture stores are huge, and the couch looked much smaller than it did when it got to our normal sized living room. It was also so dark, it sucked the light right out of the room. What had I been thinking?

I tried many different ways to make it more to my liking.



 Really big pillows

Finally I knew I had to slipcover it. I knew this all along, but I was trying anything I could think of to avoid it, thus the variety of quilts and pillows. It's really big and an awkward shape for a slipcover, but I could put it off no longer.

So here it is

I used $6 a yard natural cotton duck fabric from Walmart. It took about 8 yards plus a couple yards of muslin that I already had. And it wasn't all that difficult once I got started.

It totally changed the look of the whole room, making it much lighter and brighter.

I'll talk about the pillows another day.

I think I might even love this couch now!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My New Craft Room... Continued

My new craft room had been taking shape in my head for a few months, but before I could make it a reality, my daughter moved back home. She moved in as my son moved out, just a few short weeks before his wedding. In fact, as he moved his boxes out of the room, she was painting.

I had been planning to paint the room yellow,  because I missed having a cheerful yellow room (I thought I was tired of yellow, but clearly, I was not).  Caitlin was good with that, so she chose the shade, a little stronger than I would have picked, but I thought I could live with it.

I enjoyed having her at home, because it had been about 5 years since she had really lived with us, but at the same time, I was anxious to get started on my craft room. Also, her stuff completely filled up our already crowded garage to the point that I could get to the laundry, but nothing else.

So, it was with mixed feelings that I helped her move four months later into her own place. But the very next day, I started moving the furniture into my new craft room. I started with a pair of bookcases that had been in my old house and fit perfectly on either side of the window in this room. They were already white with a light blue beadboard back. Perfect.

I filled them with a mix of quilts and craft books and fun things for my granddaughter who will be sharing the space with me.

I wanted to have a daybed in the room for my granddaughter to use or an occasional visitor. I started with a double mattress and boxspring on the floor because that's what I had.

Then one of the kids needed it; fortunately, about this time, a friend  gave me an old oak day bed with drawers that had belonged to her teenage son (no charge for the hatchet marks).

               I didn't get a shot of the before on the bed, but this is the matching bedside table,
  so you get the idea.

    I pulled off the funky wood piece across the tops of the drawers, sanded and painted it white, then added beadboard wallpaper and yellow polka dot knobs from World Market to the drawers.

I made a cover for the mattress out of 2 yardsale sheets. The three large pillows are the ones that used to be blue on the big leather couch that I recently slipcovered (Slipcovers Are The Answer to Just About Anything). The bolsters are stuffed with 2 old bed pillows. New covers for old decorative pillows complete the ensemble.

At this point, the color was really bothering me. It was just too strong. I considered repainting, but that's so much work! Then I remembered what I did when this same daughter wanted a pink bedroom about 20 years ago. The pink paint looked a little like Pepto Bismal (remember that?) when I got it on all four walls. So I did what I call a "white wash". I tried it here and it was just what was needed (more on this later). It made the yellow much softer.

It's now a quiet place for me to look through quilt books or have a tea party with Camille.

Next up: the work space. Finally!