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Monday, October 15, 2018

STICKY PECAN CINNAMON BUNS

As I was putting together my brunch recipe for this past weekend, I knew I needed a couple of "sweet treats".  Despite having a number of really good coffee cake recipes, I really wanted to include something a little different, so I opted for sticky buns.......the "easy" version. 
These were so easy and so yummy.  You absolutely have to give them a try!  It all starts with Pillsbury.....

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup melted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 (17.5 oz) cans of refrigerated cinnamon roll dough (5 per can....I recommend Pillsbury Grands Flaky "cinnabon")

INSTRUCTION:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Melt butter and add brown sugar; mix well.   Spread mixture onto the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Sprinkly pecans over the brown sugar mixture.  Open cinnamon rolls and separate.  Place in the dish on top of pecans and sugar/butter mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.  Flip out onto serving platter.  Drizzle top with white icing (included with the rolls) if desired.  They looked so pretty fresh out of the oven,  I just didn't have time to snap pics while I was getting all the food into position.  So these were taken the following day (there were only 3 leftover).  

NOTES:  I flipped my rolls onto a parchment lined large jelly roll pan, then transferred them to a serving dish.  I also only used one of the white icings, which was just the right amount in my opinion. 

Enjoy!

recipe c/o:  www.southernbite.com

Thursday, September 27, 2018

POMANDER BALLS (wedding decor)

I was thrilled to receive a custom order from a bride requesting pomander balls for wedding decor.   She wanted three "soccer ball" size to hang from the gazebo where she and her groom would be exchanging their vows.

She had found me through my Etsy shop and loved the burlap and lace variety I showed for flower girls.  After several email conversations with her....we nailed down exactly what she was looking for!
She wanted to incorporate her wedding colors of burgundy, orange and white.  The white was mostly achieved through the lace and emboidered tulle, and it was easy to find burgundy and orange silk flowers since all the fall decor was in abundance with the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays right around the corner.

My pomander balls begin with styrofoam balls, you can find these at your big box craft stores.  What I wasn't prepared for was the cost of the 8" variety!  I usually use either 4" or 6" for my flower girl variety.  The 6" are under $6 and of course, the 4" are less than that.  The 8" are $13.99 each.  Wait. What?  And....unfortunately, styrofoam products do not go on sale.  The good news is I was able to use the 40%  online coupons (although it did take 3 separate trips) to save some money.   Believe me...I checked everywhere trying to lower the cost, and this was the best I could do.

The next step is a lot of cutting....the burlap, lace, and embroidered tulle.  You can see one of my stacks in the picture above.  You'll also get a sense of how the project progresses with the ball in the background.  It's a slow, but methodical process of "hole punching", folding, and gluing the fabrics into the ball. 
You'll see from the close up pictures, the variety of flowers, pearls and fabrics that I used to create the look for these babies.  I also needed to add a sturdy means for hanging them in the gazebo, so I braided some jute and white cording to create a long loop.

I wish I would have kept track of my time, since I really don't know how long it took to finish these.   I can tell you I worked off and on on them for over a week. 

I love the way they turned out....the next order of business is to get them shipped.  I hope my bride loves them as much as I do!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHIP ZUCCHINI BREAD

Several years ago I shared my zucchini bread recipe on the blog.   Since it took me such a long time to master the recipe (especially in high altitude) I shared it along with the many tips/tricks I learned along the way.

Just the other day, my husband brought home a home grown zucchini that a friend gave him, so I decided to make some bread.  But, instead of my usual recipe, I chose to try a chocolate chocolate chip variety.  Holey Moley!
I have to say this bread was so goooood!  Moist, chocolately, but not overly sweet.

I used my original recipe and added ¼ cup of cocoa powder.  That's it!

The zucchini was so large that I was able to make four loaves.  One of the chocolate chocolate chip varieties went right back to the friend who gifted the zucchini to us, the second is being devoured by my husband and me, and the other two loaves are my "original" recipe.  They're already in the freezer ready to be enjoyed at another time.

You have to try this.....I promise you will not be disappointed.
Enjoy!

Monday, September 3, 2018

BOTANICAL TOWER

As I was looking at ideas for our backyard landscaping project, I stumbled across this "botanical tower" idea.   After some sleuthing, I found a company that made these for over $300!  That didn't include the shipping or the lanterns.  Knowing I had a master woodworker in my life (a.k.a. my husband), I promptly added it to my "honey do"/"wish list".
All he had to go on, was a picture....but, since I've done this to him on many occasions in the past, I knew he would be able to figure out the design, construction and materials to deliver something pretty dang close to what I was looking for.....and for a fraction of the cost.  The materials were approximately $40, and I was able to find the lanterns on Amazon for just under $20 each!                                   Our project began in mid-June and involved removing a large portion of the lawn and replacing it with rock.  We added five large boulders and then I slowly started adding in the plants.   Everything I added is drought resistant which is critical here in Colorado.    I'm thinking I may find myself replacing a few next spring since I may need to also focus on rabbit resistant options as well.  We always have some rabbits in our yard, and I see evidence of them chewing on a couple of my brand new plants!

We've lived in Colorado long enough to know it's going to take a few seasons for my vision to take shape, but as these plants start to mature it's going to be beautiful.  I chose several ornamental grasses, along with some flowering plants and ground covers:  purple salvia, sage, Red Baron grass, Karl Foerster grass, yellow day lilies, red yarrow, purple and pink creeping phlox, blue fescue grass and pink ice plants.   


It's going to be fun to look back on these pictures in a few years time to see how these little baby plants have grown.  I specifically chose what I did for the variety in size, shape, height and color.  As for the tower.....we positioned it so it's best vantage point is when sitting on the back patio....and I intend to spend plenty of time appreciating it in the years to come!

Friday, August 31, 2018

BACON MUSHROOM SPINACH FRITTATA

I enjoy egg dishes..... a lot..... with that in mind, I thought it time to try a new frittata recipe.  So I went with a bacon, mushroom, spinach version.  It turned out really good, and the great thing about a frittata is you get plenty of breakfasts in one recipe!  I cut up the leftovers into individual pie pieces and freeze them in plastic bags for another day.  Just remove from the baggie and re-heat in the microwave.
Frittatas use a combination of stovetop and oven cooking, so you just need to be sure you have an ovenproof skillet. 

INGREDIENTS:

5 eggs
4 slices bacon, diced
½ cup milk
½ tsp. basil
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. thyme
8 oz. cremini (or if you have another favorite) mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups spinach
1 roma tomato, diced
salt and pepper to taste
 stovetop cooking finished and ready to place in the oven


DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.   In a bowl, mix together eggs, milk, basil, oregano, thyme.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the bacon until brown and crispy (I actually cooked an entire pound and reserved three full strips for the top).  Drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Reserve 1 Tbsp. of fat.  Add garlic and mushrooms and cook until tender and browned.  Add a bit of salt and pepper to season.  

Next add the spinach and tomato.  Cook until the spinach is wilted.   Stir egg mixture and bacon into the skillet until well combined.  Let cook undisturbed until the edges are set.  Top with reserved bacon and place in the hot oven.  Cook for approximately 13-16 minutes. 

Enjoy!

recipe c/o:  www.damndelicious.net

Thursday, August 23, 2018

HEATH TOFFEE BIT SCONES

I know I've shared several scone recipes over the years, but here's yet another one.  These are "mini" scones which I really like.  I feel like I can get by with just a couple versus a big 'ole scone so it helps me with portion control.  Because, after all once you put a scone on your plate, you have to finish it right?  I mean, who cares if it's the size of your face!
I'm also happy to report that I really toned down the sweetness from the original recipe, and I'll show you how below.....

INGREDIENTS:

2 3/4 cups flour 
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ cup cold butter (cut into pats)
** 1 cup to 2 cups mini chocolate chips
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 - 2/3 cups half & half or milk (I used whole milk)

Glaze
powdered sugar
milk, enough to make a thin glaze

DIRECTIONS:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.  Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it's okay to have some larger chunks of butter remain unincorporated.  Stir in the chips.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and ½ cup milk.  Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened and the dough holds together.  Don't be afraid to get your hands in there.  Add additional milk if it seems dry.  

Scrape the dough onto a well-floured work surface.  Pat/roll into an 8 x 8 square.  Cut the square into 2" squares; you'll have a total of 16 squares.  Now cut each square in half diagonally to make 32 small triangles.  You can either use a knife or pizza cutter. 

Transfer the scones to a parchment lined baking sheet.  They can be set fairly close together.  For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered.  Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.  

Bake the scones for *12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove and drizzle with glaze after they've cooled.  

Notes:
** I chose to use the Heath Toffee bits to give them a nice toffee flavor.  Also I only used ½ cup so they weren't sicky sweet.  Frankly, I can't imagine using the amount of chocolate chips or toffee bits they recommend. 

* I actually made two batches.  The first batch I let go for 19 minutes and they were way overcooked (bottoms were very dark and they were dry).....so for the second batch I cooked them about 12 minutes and they turned out much better

I love how plump these little dudes are.  Enjoy!

recipe adapted from:  www.kingarthurflour.com

Thursday, August 2, 2018

BRIDAL JUMPSUIT WITH DETACHABLE TRAIN


I've been so anxious to share this project with you.  This was my second bridal "original" this year and as a designer...it was a dream come true!  Chloe really knows herself,  so when it came to her bridal "gown", she actually wanted to be true to her style.  She told me that she just doesn't wear dresses and didn't think that her wedding day should have to be any different.  With that in mind, she came to me with some ideas back in February for a bridal jumpsuit.
In getting to know a little bit more about her, I learned that she loves pearls (in fact, her engagement ring is a pearl), the color pink and rose gold....all elements that could be used in her "one-of-a-kind gown". 
 
Chloe had seen some bridal gowns with splashes of color and was considering incorporating some color into her own....knowing that, as I was sourcing the fabrics, I introduced her to 3D fabric.   Based upon the contemporary  look of the gown, I knew this would add some nteresting dimension.  An added bonus was finding just what I was looking for in a light pink.  I shared my vision to use it in the folds of the train.    Did I mention the train is detachable?  Yep!  There is a center back zipper and she can step right in and out of it! 

I also found a 3D applique that I thought would tie in well on the bodice; it has little bitty pearls as well which Chloe loved.  I took some of the small florals from the pink fabric and incorporated them into the design on both the front and back of the bodice.

If you notice the sleeves, I made them bell shaped from a net fabric with hundred of tiny pearls in an art deco pattern.   I found the fabric locally and shared it with Chloe, hoping she'd fall in love with it as much as I did....and I was right!

Getting the draping just right for the train took some time.   I knew we were looking for some extra body so that there would be fullness, so I ended up adding a complete layer of interfacing to the entire train, along with a 3" horsehair braid edging at the hemline.

I made Chloe a matching hair comb with white and pink florals.  She wasn't quite sure how she was going to wear her hair, but wanted a little something for the big day. 

Obviously, these photos were taken in my studio....but I'm looking forward to getting some from the actual wedding day.  Chloe and Connor were married at the base of the Flatirons in Chattauqua Park in the presence of about 60 of their closest friends and family.   A contemporary wedding, for this contemporary bride! 

Chloe, thank you for letting me be a part of your special day, you were a peach to work.  Cheers to a lifetime of happiness to the new Mr. and Mrs. Laws!             

Friday, July 27, 2018

PALLET SHELF

While I can't take credit for the design (I found something like it on Pinterest), I'll take credit for the "find" and how absolutely adorable it looks in my daughter's powder room.
This as you can see, is made with an old pallet.  My husband gets the credit for the muscle.  He's the one that deconstructed the pallet, cut the boards to the length I wanted and cut the shelves.  There's something about when power tools are involved that he just prefers to do it himself.  Go figure.
I on the other hand, get the credit for the painting and the chotchkies  decorator items.

Once the pallet was dismantled and reassembled.  I lightly sanded it to remove some of the splintered edges, but I wanted to maintain as much of the distressed look as I could.   I even strategically placed the wider board on the outside since it still had actual bark on the edge which looks really cool.

Once that was done I painted the boards with white paint.  I added some water to create more of a white wash.  Then added light touches of blue and green (since those are her accent colors).  Her bathroom was just recently painted a light sage green, so it looks really pretty against it.

The best thing about this project?  The entire unit was constructed at no cost.  The pallet was retrieved from a building site.  The shelves were constructed with old boards we had in the garage, and the paint we already had as well!

I found the majority of the knick-knacks at Hobby Lobby on sale and/or clearance.  So with a little bit of labor (but, mostly love) and minimal cost, this pallet shelf makes for a sweet accent piece!                                                                 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

VINTAGE WINDOW

Ever since seeing some pictures of vintage windows used as home decor, I knew I wanted to try my hand at it.  As it turns out, the perfect opportunity arose when my daughter was interested in one for her new guest room.

I purchased my window from Uncle Benny's in Loveland, Colorado.  It's a great resource for old and new building supplies at very reasonable prices.  They charge $5 per pane for old windows.  I chose to purchase a single pane window and made my own panes; not necessarily for the cost savings, but I didn't see any windows in the size that I was looking for with four panes.
I really didn't do much to the window itself other than hose it down and clean it up just a bit.  I chose not to do any additional sanding since 1) I figured it was lead based paint, and 2) I truly thought it already had all the character it needed.

So, I went to my local big box hardware store and bought a four foot piece of ½" moulding and painted it brown, followed by a top coat of white.  I left sections of the brown showing through in places and scuffed it up in other places to give it that weathered look.

With a little help from my husband, the moulding was cut to the proper dimensions and I hot glued the (3) pieces to the window itself.   I have to say, I'm tickled with the way it looks; I think it's a fine imitation of a four paned window.

To add some additional character, I found a couple of antique brass hooks at Hobby Lobby and placed one on either side of the frame.   As you can see, we hung a straw fedora from one of the hooks, along with some silk hydrangeas (to match the color scheme of the room) and greenery and it's a cute little wall hanging which is displayed on the wall just as you enter the guest room.  So cute!

My husband thinks the window may be pushing 100 years old due to the way it's constructed..oh, if this window could talk!  Can you imagine the stories it could tell?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

COWL BACK BALLROOM DANCE GOWN

This is the second dress I've made for my good friend Daneen.   I love this gown, it is so elegant and it looks fabulous on her (unfortunately, dopey me forgot to pick up the camera and get some pictures of her in it at the last fitting). 
This is the last picture I took.....before I added the panties, the back straps and the horsehair trim in the hem.  Once I put the "panties" into the dress, I can no longer get it on my dress form to take more pictures.
This is the beginning process...just after I finished the pattern work. In this case, Daneen only had so much of the black/white fabric and we were worried that we'd have enough.  But, I was able to puzzle piece the pattern pieces in a way, that the yardage she had was just enough!

As far as the pattern work was concerned, I used the skirt from the first gown I made her and just had to modify the bodice.  This gown is a jewel neckline with a deep scoop back and a beautiful cowl drape.   Whenever I work on one of these gowns, I have to keep in mind not just the design elements, but the technical aspects of the gown as well.  While we want it to look beautiful, we also need to ensure the logistical components.  For instance, the drape has to be tacked in places to keep it from flying too much and eliminating any possibility of her partner's hands getting caught up in it.

I drew some lines on the picture to the right so you could see where we placed the back straps.  Daneen has a beautiful sculpted back, so this open back design really showcases it perfectly. 

After I finish my work, Daneen adds all the bling to the gown.  It's quite a process gluing on all the rhinestones and beads, but it looks so gorgeous when it's finished...and is quite a sight on the dance floor!

I'll have to add a few more pictures to this post once it's beaded and ready for her fall competition.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

CRANBERRY ORANGE SCONES

This effort came from the need to use some craisins before they got really stale.  You see, I buy the industrial size bag at Costco and use them mainly on my salads, so by the time I get to the bottom third of the bag, they're getting a bit firm.

So being the scone lover that I am, I knew I could find a recipe for cranberry scones.....and this one turned out to be as yummy as I had hoped.
There are times when I need something sweet, but not too over the top and to me, a scone fits the bill.

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups Bisquick baking mix
½ cup orange marmalade
½ cup craisins
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. orange juice

Sugar Coating:
¼ cups sugar
1 egg beaten

*optional drizzle

DIRECTIONS: 

Combine Bisquick, marmalade, cranberries, spices, 2 eggs and juice until moist.  

Turn dough onto a floured board, sprinkled with flour.

Roll into a 9-inch circle.  Cut into 8 wedges using a floured knife.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Beat the third egg in a small bowl and brush on the scones.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes.  Allow to cool.  I chose to make a powdered sugar drizzle using OJ as my liquid. 

NOTES:  Next time, I'm not going to make my circle as large, since I want my scones to be a bit taller.   I also recently read another recipe that said to slice into wedges, but not separate.  I'm thinking that will also make them a bit plumper.   Finally, I want to pick up some decorator sugar crystals so the sugar coating looks and tastes even better!

I put the leftovers in a freezer bag, and re-heat as the mood hits me.  

Enjoy!

recipe c/o:  www.onceamonthmeals.com 

Monday, June 11, 2018

RE-STYLED WEDDING GOWN

I've taken on this type of project once before....and I have to say, next to creating my own designs, re-styling an existing gown into a "new creation" may be my new runner up.  Don't get me wrong, I have my share of angst about ripping apart, cutting, removing, taking in, letting out what was Mom's bridal gown, but when it's all said and done and the bride is tickled with the result, it's all worth it! 

It really tugs on my heart when a bride wants to incorporate a special keepsake into her wedding day, be it something of a special Aunt, Grandma or Mom.  I've worked with heirloom veils, and garters many times, but when it turns out she hopes to be able to wear Mom's gown on her big day, well that's extra special!

So below is my most recent project.  Let's start with a picture of Mom's circa 1980's satin gown, with the large Princess Diana sleeves, dropped waist, and elaborate beading.
Our first step was deciding what the bride wanted to keep and what she wanted to update.  As you can imagine, the sleeves had to go, she also wanted a much shorter train since her wedding is taking place on a beach, and she had an idea already for the back bodice. 

Step One-the Train.....this was an easy starting point.  To convert the gown to a "sweep" train, you'll see in the picture to the left I eliminated everything below the line I drew.  There was an obvious point to make the cut just above the large bow.  I then had to remove the lace from the hem and re-stitch it to the new hem.  I took one of the bows from the sleeves and we added that about at the center back, about 3/4 of the way down.  If you look closely at the large picture above you'll see a large number of lace appliques all over the train.  I ended up removing most of those and used them to create the new bodice.

Step Two-Front and Back Bodice....Kat knew she wanted an open back with a beaded applique' as the focal point.  She was able to share some pictures of what she was hoping for and I went to work trying to find something online that I could incorporate.  As for the front of the bodice, she was looking for input because she really didn't know what to do.  After giving it some thought, I presented her with an idea for a halter neck bodice.  I felt it would blend well with the "racer back" look for the back of the gown. 

Step Three-the Skirt....the dress fit really well.  I only had to take the bust in along the side seams just a smidge, but the waist and length were perfect!  Kat liked the vintage feel of the dropped waistline, so we kept that, and she shared that she liked having some of the original beading and sequins as well.

So.....with that in mind I went to work......I used an organza as my base fabric for the halter neckline and added the appliques' from the train to create a light and airy bodice.  I literally cut apart the appliques' and pieced them into a new pattern.  I added some pearls and sequins that I removed from the original gown where the beading was really heavy which allowed the "old" and the "new" to blend together.

On either side of the neck you can see some beading, this is from the applique' which was used for the back.

The applique' for the back I cut into the shape I needed to make it narrower at the shoulder blades.  I chose to create a little "keyhole" at the center back and built the shape I needed for the "wraparound" pieces at the neckline.  Before sewing it onto the gown, I had to lower the the back bodice which also meant removing the zipper and re-setting it once I had the right line.  Since the original gown's embellishments were mostly pearls, I incorporated some that I had removed into the racer back motif.     

In case you're wondering how much time this took me....it was 18.25 hours.  I have to say, I love the transformation on this gown.  It truly illustrates how you can transform a gown into an updated version of the original, and what a wonderfully sentimental way for the second generation of bride to honor the first generation! 

Here are just a couple more side-by-side pictures for you......