Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Updated Living Room Pictures

We've made quite a few changes to our living room in the past year.  The previous owners in our house painted the room a dark tan color that wasn't our style.  We also were not fans of the orange trim, which wasn't salvageable to us anyway since there were so many imperfections in it.

We painted, added crown moulding, and painted the trim and doors white.

This year we added some color into the room by adding curtains, pillows, and accessories.  When there aren't trains or Matchbox cars lying all over the floor, the room can look like this.

What a difference a year makes!

And, just so you know, I actually prefer the room when there are little boys playing...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Little Bit O' Green For Ya

That, my friends, are the beginnings of pretty yellow tulips and lemon mint in my herb garden.

Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cheddar Cream Soup with Soft Pretzels

This recipe is a new one for us at our home this winter but we really love it!  If you're apprehensive about making a cheese soup, don't be.  This soup is not your typical thick, cheese fondue kind of soup, not that that's a bad thing!  You know how we like our fondue around here.  The addition of a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper gives it a little heat, perfect for these last cold winter days.

I had never attempted to make pretzels before, but using Alton Brown's recipe was simple and easy to follow.  This winter I've also come to love making my own fresh bread, rolls, and buns.  I used to be intimidated by yeast, but no more of that nonsense!  Now I can bake bread like I'm Ma Ingalls or something.  You know, this lady.

Image found via
Did anyone else watch this show religiously or was it just me and my sisters?

Here is the recipe for the soup.  I hope you try it!  Please let me know if you do!

Cheddar Cream Soup*
serves: 6  total time:  40 minutes

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup flour
4 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups half and half (or whole milk, if you so choose)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
12 ounces sharp Cheddar Cheese (you may use yellow or white)
Salt, to taste
Optional:  green onions or chives, to garnish

Heat butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.  When hot, add the onion and saute' until softened.  Add the garlic and saute' for one minute more.  Sprinkle flour on top of the onion, butter mixture and stir for two minutes.  Whisk in the chicken stock and half and half and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Add the cayenne pepper and wine until well incorporated.  A little at a time, add the cheese into the soup and after each addition, stir until smooth.  Taste soup and season with salt, if needed.  The cheese may make it salty enough.  

Serve hot and garnish with green onions or chives.

*This recipe was adapted from Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bring a Little Spring In

I was at the grocery store last week and wandered into the floral section, which is pretty typical for me.  Those darn flowers lure me in there every time.  I can usually walk out empty handed and stick to my list, for fear of going over my grocery budget.  This time I got distracted by a sale on little pots of spring flowers.  For a couple of dollars, I got some pretty pink tulips in one ugly little paper wrapped pot.  After putting away the groceries (which for me is always the worst part about shopping, usually because I refuse to organize the fridge and pantry before I go) I put those happy spring flowers into a new container.
First, I put some rocks at the bottom for drainage.


Then, ever so carefully, I pulled those root-bound tulips out of that sad little pot.

I added a little potting soil and some moss, to make that dirt look less dirty.

Then I watered them and placed them in the sun in the living room.



Over the past few days, the other tulips have opened up and they are so pretty!

I've got spring on my mind, folks.  Too bad we're under a winter weather advisory today...  Hopefully whatever we get melts fast!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A DIY West Elm Turned Wood Pendant Light

I was browsing the West Elm website a couple of weeks ago and found this light.  I really liked the style and shape and thought it would be the perfect solution for our dark basement family room.

Pinned Image
West Elm Turning Pendant via Pinterest
You can find the actual pendant here.

 Unfortunately, the $149 price tag was quite a bit more than I would ever be able to spend on a light fixture, especially since I pictured having more than one in the room.  I spent nights lying awake in bed (no, I'm not kidding) wondering how I could make this beautiful light fixture myself, with my husband's help, of course.  Jason and I brainstormed of ways to replicate the look of the pretty wood detail on the top.  We thought of turned furniture legs, spindles from staircases, stacked wooden napkin rings of various sizes, etc.  and searched out our options at various hardware stores.  Finally, we found some medium craft finials at Lowes.  They come in packs of two for $2.86 and have a screw in the bottom, which we easily removed with a pliers.

We then drilled into the finial using a small drill bit and worked our way up until the cord for our lamp kit (which we'll talk about later) fit through.  The hole that goes through the entire finial was drilled with a 7/32'' (5.56mm) drill bit.  Because of our short drill bit, we drilled from both ends of the finial but you could also use a longer drill bit.

We didn't actually buy an actual pendant lamp shade for this project and had to do a bit of cutting and adjusting the fittings inside so that our finial went where it was supposed to.  This part was a big pain but only spent around fifteen dollars per shade at Lowes, so we were okay with it.  If we did it again, we'd splurge a little bit and get an actual pendant light shade to avoid this hassle.  Cutting the metal without ruining the shade was stressful!

We found the lamp kits at Mendards for around five dollars.  This same kit sold for around ten dollars at Lowes and Home Depot.

To secure the finial to the threaded lamp nipple (Ha, ha- all jokes aside, that's what the directions say) we used a 3/8'' (9.53mm) drill bit.

Initially, we were drawn to the white turned wood fixture by West Elm but since we painted the joists in our basement white, it made the most sense to stain the finials a dark color.  We wanted them to stand out a little more than they would have had we painted them white.  I used our favorite Jacobean stain color by Minwax and sealed it with two coats of rub-on Polyurethane.

We followed the directions on the package of the lamp kit to assemble the light fixture.

Here is the finished pendant light!

And, just for kicks, here is our project budget breakdown:

Light kit:  $5.98 at Menards
Medium Craft Finials:  $2.86 (for a pack of two) at Lowes
Lamp Shade:  $15.97 at Lowes
Minwax Stain:  Already had on hand
Polyurethane:  Already had on hand
Total Cost Breakdown:  $24.81
We'll be needing more than one of these light fixtures for our family room, but at this price, that's fine with us!

After this project, we're a little bit more motivated to move along on the process of sprucing up our basement family room.  Having enough light in that room will make it so much more enjoyable to work and play down there!  In the next few weeks, we'll be working on getting an actual color scheme in the room, some shelving for toy storage, building our fireplace, refinishing an accent chair, and my secretary desk makeover.  That's a whole lotta projects and we hope you'll stick around!

P.S.  Husband, thank you for your help.  You're the best, so patient, and I love you!

I'm linking up to:

My Girlish Whims

Home Stories A to Z

House of Hepworths

Simple Home Life

Serenity Now

Tatertots and Jello

Thrifty Decor Chick

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Those Fancy Bookends

I'm sure you've seen those toys turned bookends all over Pinterest or your favorite blog.  Well, I made some and I love them.  I don't know who did it first and unfortunately can't give credit where credit is due.  So, I'll just say this:  Thank you, who ever thought of spray painting plastic toys and turning them into bookends.  You made my bookshelves fun.  I'm forever grateful and I'll call you a genius.

The boys love the giraffes the best, because they look like they're licking the books.  Aah yes, little boy humor is fun!

Also, since we're talking Pinterest (kind of) you can follow me here, if you would like!  I'd sure like it if you did!