Works For Me Wednesday: Organizing Recipes

Today's "Works For Me Wednesday" post is something that has really changed the way that I cook.  For a few years, I have been a monthly subscriber to Cooking Light magazine.  I would faithfully read each issue and dog-ear the pages for things that sounded good.  However, pretty soon, I started a nice little collection of magazines like this:

The clutter was bad enough, but the most annoying part is that I never even used any of the recipes that sounded so good.  It was daunting when I was looking for a new recipe to try that night to even glance at that huge stack of magazines!  Then one day I got all fancy-schmancy and decided to get organized:

I tore out the recipes I had been tagging for years, found a notebook and some plastic sleeves, and arranged the pages according to appetizers, main dishes, vegetables, desserts, etc.

I know it seems like a very basic idea.  (Hey!  Look at me!  I put recipes in a binder!)  But it has made a huge difference in our family's cooking.  I actually use the recipes in the book now and it takes me just a few minutes to glance through and find something I want.  In the old days, I may have spent 20 minutes paging through magazine after magazine (if I even cracked them open), with my toddler pulling on my leg the whole time.  And you all know how much fun that can be!

This works so well for me that I am planning to put together a similar book for all my decorating ideas, torn out of various magazines and catalogs.  Can you imagine having a huge binder with ideas for every room in your house, seasons, holidays, and craft projects, to pull out whenever you are looking for something new?  I am such a design geek that that I am really whooped up by this!  

This definitely works for me!

Tour My House Tuesday: Kitchen/Dining Room

**I would love to be able to show you larger photos...not sure why some of these are able to be enlarged and some are not.  If anyone has any advice for me on how to do this, I will take it!  So sorry it is not working right now!

Continuing our tour of my house...today it is the kitchen and dining room!  Last week I showed you my family room, which is adjacent to this space.  I really like that the family room and kitchen are in the back of the house; it makes me feel more protected somehow.  (P.S. Can you spot my floppy dog Frankie in the photo below?  He didn't feel like moving.)

When we went to select the kitchen cabinets, I told the guy that I wanted white with black knobs, and he told me that I was one of only three houses in the whole neighborhood (out of hundreds of homes) that had chosen white over natural wood.  He totally made me second-guess my choice!  I am so glad I stuck with it, though, because I love how the cabinets look with the dark wood floors and the black granite countertops.  It has the danger of being a very cold, stark space, but I hope I prevented that by using a warm beige-y yellow on the walls.

Above is a sweet little corner of my kitchen: it is usually covered with my calendar and any number of coupons, notes, post-its...you get the idea.  But it still feels cozy because of my little lamp and cute chalkboard!

When we chose the cabinets, we also got to decide how they were configured.  I begged them to re-orient the kitchen island so that I could have bookshelves facing away from the hubbub of the rest of the kitchen (they are facing my laundry room/pantry).  They aren't the most stylized bookshelves in the world, but they are so stinkin' convenient!

The hanging bookcase above was made by a family friend for me when I got married.  It weighs a ton and my husband practically called the Colorado Builder's Association before he let this thing hang on the wall by itself.  But it looks like it was made for the space, so I hope he feels it was worth the stress of hanging it!  Hmmm....I hope he doesn't answer that.

Yes, this is silly, but I hated the builder's poor excuse for a faucet when we moved in.  I found this charming faucet on ebay and begged until my husband installed it.  I am not sorry...it's like a little jewelry for my kitchen!

Lastly, just a little view of my dining room table with cute little vases full of...what are these?  Berries?  Some kind of bittersweet?  Do I even know what bittersweet is?  (Nope.)  

Hope you enjoyed the tour!  As you read this, my kitchen is probably covered in Cheerios and half empty coffee mugs!  I'm sure you can't relate, can you?


Mod Podge, Screws and Being Stumped

Have you ever had a room that just stumped you?  That is my living room.  I will tell you more about it soon, but the basics are that I am in the midst of trying to overhaul it, and the following piece just didn't work in my new color scheme:

I made this piece with some old fabric scraps a while back, and now the colors are just wrong for the room.  So one day I got "my shorts in a bunch" (don't you love that expression?) and changed it up.  First, I found some cute scrapbook paper and Mod Podged it (underneath the paper and on top of the paper for extra coverage) to some cardboard.

Next I found the center of the square and put a screw through it.  I have these cute little hooks that I discovered at my local antique shop/flea market for $3 each.  I thought they would be perfect for the project.  (As an aside, I have also seen similar cute hooks and knobs at Hobby Lobby for anyone else who might be on the hunt!)

Once everything was screwed in and completely dry, I glue gunned the cardboard into the frame.  
And here is the new piece!  I actually made two of them: this one has a dragonfly hook in the center, and the paper is a pretty toile in a chocolate brown.  The other is a simple French-looking black and white pattern with a butterfly hook in the center.

They look so cute on either side of my grandmother's hutch!  Below is one view of the living room that has been giving me so much trouble.  I'll show you the "before and after" of the rest of the room as it comes together, hopefully in the next few weeks! 

How about you?  Do you have a room that is "stumping" you, no matter how you try to tweak it?


My New Spa Bench!

I have been trying to get this project done for weeks, and it is finally ready to show you!  It all started a few months ago when I bought this iron bench at a garage sale for $5. 

See?  Pretty cute as is.  But I had been looking for a way to "cozy up" my master bathroom.  It has ceramic tile, dark wood cabinets and shutters on the windows.  I love it, but it feels rather cold.  So I had the idea to create a little spa bench.  You know, somewhere to sit while I try to reach my legs to put lotion on after the shower, which is getting increasingly difficult as the belly gets in the way!

Around this same time, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a woman who does monogramming out of her home.  A few weeks ago, I dropped off a few things for her to work her magic.  Above is a cozy white bath towel that I gave her.  Can you see where I am going with this?

I wanted to cover the bench in a fluffy white towel so it would be a cozy little addition to my bathroom.  But I also wanted the cover to be removable, because (bathroom + permanent fabric + no way to wash it) does not work in my house.  This baby needs to be able to go in the washing machine!  So no staple guns for this project.  Instead, I got iron-on Velcro strips and went to town.

After I affixed the Velcro, I cut the towel to fit and then folded it up like a big Christmas present.  And below you can see the results!

I am almost afraid to sit on it, I love it so much!  Plus, I adore monograms, and anytime I can figure out how to add a monogram to something, I can't resist!   If you enlarge the photo below, you will see that the bottom of the bench is not perfectly trimmed; I have a little more fabric cutting to do.  But it still looks pretty cute in my bathroom these days!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Mini Renovations

I just have a few mini-renovations to share today.  We have an out-of-town guest, so I've been busy playing hostess this week.  I also have a few big projects cooking, but nothing is quite ready to show yet.  But stay tuned for tomorrow's post; I am super-excited to show you something I've been working on!

In the meantime, here are a few little things.  First, this swirly guy (yep, that's what it's officially called).  I like red, but this seemed a little too country for me.  The price was right though: $5.  

Add some black spray paint, and voila!  Perfect for my family room wall.

Second is this urn.  The price?  It was sitting in a box marked "FREE!" at a garage sale a few weeks ago.  It is so cute, just a bit sad and cement-y looking.

I added some black spray paint again, which was a good start.  Next I bought one of those styrofoam balls at Hobby Lobby, and a bag of moss.  I had never used moss before but it was kind of like a jigsaw puzzle.  I just used my glue gun to patch each piece into place.  It makes a cute little addition to my slowly growing topiary collection.

And yes, in case you were wondering, that is dust on top of my grandmother's hutch.  I thought about cleaning before I took the photo, but figured you guys might appreciate seeing the real deal!

OK, see you tomorrow for a fun post that I am very excited to share with you!


Someone Knows the Gender of My Baby...

...but it isn't me!  We just had our 20-week ultrasound a few days ago.  We told the doctor before the exam that we did not want to know the gender.  We were surprised when pregnant with our daughter Nina, and we really loved it that way.  I found that it gave me that extra motivation to push when I kept falling asleep between contractions!  And my husband got to be the one to tell me "It's a girl!," which was so meaningful to me.

Anyway, I digress.  The ultrasound went well and the doctor says everything looks healthy.  I am so glad for that.  The baby was wiggling around like crazy and she could not get very clear photos.  He/she kept turning towards the camera, so a profile shot was especially difficult.  This was the best we could do:

At the end of the visit, I said to the doctor "Please don't tell us, but do you know the gender?"  She smiled at me and said "I KNOW!"  Needless to say, it has been all I can do not to race to the phone to call her and say "I changed my mind!  Please tell me!"  But I keep remembering how amazing that moment in the delivery room was, and I refrain.

Either way, I thank God for a healthy ultrasound and an active little baby!  Only four more months to go...seems like an eternity.  


Tour My House Tuesday: Family Room

**P.S. The color of the walls is called "Cracker Crumb" and it's by Lowe's house brand, Valspar.

For the next few weeks I thought it would be fun to host a weekly tour of my house.  I love seeing photos of other people's houses so I hope you like it!  Today it's my family room.

The family room shares the back of the house with the kitchen and dining room.  Every room is open to the others, which I love, especially when I am cooking and I can see Nina as she plays.

I was used to an older, more traditional house, so this house was an adjustment for me.  The fireplace and TV nook are side by side, which I thought was strange, but have gotten used to.  

I really miss having a charming wooden mantle above the fireplace to decorate.  Instead the "thing" out here in Colorado is to have a huge drywalled cavern above the TV/fireplace.  It has been a challenge to decorate because the size of the space tends to dwarf anything I put there.  I am always tweaking it! (Yesterday's post included a photo of this space with my "Boo" pumpkins.  It is fun to decorate for holidays!)

I have tried my best to make my house reflect the cozy, traditional feel that I love, even though it is a new construction.  This piece above was my mother's hope chest, which she painted a garish midnight blue with gold accents in her teenage days.  Thankfully she let me strip and refinish it, and now I love how it looks in my family room.  Hopefully it adds to the cozy factor!

I'll be posting a new tour for the next few weeks on Tuesdays.  Eventually I will run out of rooms, but it will be fun in the meantime!


Vinyl Letters: My Exciting Discovery!

I am so excited about my new discovery!  OK, I doubt this is a new discovery for any of you, but I am a relative novice here and this is new for me.  Vinyl and rub-on letters!  So many of you have done adorable projects with these, and most recently I got some advice from the undomesticated wife and Rhoda (she directed me to Manuela's cute project) that pushed me over the edge.

So this weekend I re-did a few little items around my house that needed a face lift.  I am amazed at what a difference a few cute letters can make!  Here is a little tea canister I bought at TJ Maxx.  I didn't like the letters that used to be on here, so I took a little acetone, rubbed it over the paint, and it came right off.  Then I used some cute rub-on letters I found at Hobby Lobby and it is a whole new piece!

Next is a flower pot I picked up a few weeks ago at a garage sale for $1.  It was sponge painted.  Enough said.  I spray painted it a creamy white, then added this little saying.  Now the real miracle is going to be keeping this plant alive!

Lastly is a blatant copy from so many others out there.  I love your "Boo" pumpkins and just had to have some of my own.  I added a few thrift sale candlesticks painted black, and I have an adorable fall corner above my fireplace!

I think in the coming weeks you will see a lot more "lettering" from me!  Let me know if you have any other ideas (I know you do) so I can copy you, too!


Do I Have a Problem?

Does anybody else think I have a problem?

I have started buying shoes that look like my furniture.

But these are so cute!

P.S. Just got them at Kohl's.  (The shoes, not the stool.)  I'm considering wearing these to walk to the mailbox, just because I love them so much.  And not only because they look like my upholstery.

P.P.S. The link to the pumpkin dip recipe is now listed in yesterday's post...scroll down!


Come to a Bridal Shower!

**UPDATE: Thanks to tidymom, I have found the link to the pumpkin dip!  Yum Yum Yum.  Here it is, (it was on Blissfully Domestic, love them!) and enjoy!  Also, if you can get your hands on some Honey Crisp apples, they are spectacular with this!  My grocery store only has them in the beginning of the season, so they should be out now.

A few weeks ago, I hosted a bridal shower for a friend of mine (the same friend who I framed the wedding invitation for, actually).  I just love girlie girl parties!  Here are a few photos from the day...

Isn't the shower invitation cute?  I didn't pick it out, so I can say that.  I thought it was a fun little touch to hang it outside my front door to welcome people.

We had all the usual girlie food.  It was a brunch, so there was some yummy fruit, coffee cake and an egg casserole with sausage and cheddar that was to die for!  I also used a pumpkin dip recipe (perfect with crunchy apples!) that I found out there in blogland but can't for the life of me remember who posted it.  If it was you, please tell me so I can personally thank you!  It was the hit of the shower!

We had sparkling water for us preggos, and refreshing mimosas for the rest.  Aren't these wine charms cute?  So great for parties when you don't want to mix up your drink with someone else's.  I've also used them on coffee mugs.  My sister and I started a little business about a year ago to sell these.  We do lots of handpainted little goodies and sell them on etsy and in a local shop in Denver.  We named it Mildred Lane, after the street we grew up on!

My friend and co-host brought all the ingredients for lattes.  Oh my.  These were so good!  Mine was so pretty I almost didn't want to drink it!  (But I managed to force it down.) 

Oh, and did I mention it was a lingerie shower?  I thought these little undies looked cute hanging from the chandelier.  Of course my husband, when he saw me hanging them, asked me why we don't have undies hanging from the light fixtures more often.  But I really doubt that my maternity underwear would look nearly as good over the kitchen table.

What do you think?  :)


Unique Wedding Gift Idea

Wedding gifts can be fun but can also be, well, a pain.  Mostly because I usually wait until the last minute.  Sometimes I buy off people's registries, which is of course always a good idea because you know they will like the gift.  As a rule I don't buy anything that the couple didn't register for, because the last thing they need is to be saddled with some lame gift that I might love but they might hate!

However, there is one exception to my rule and here it is: get the couple's wedding invitation framed.  Hey, you know they like the invitation.  I mean, they picked it out.  So go out and get something tasteful and simple that matches their invitation, and voila!  Such a unique gift.

Below you can see an example of a friend's wedding invitation that I recently had framed.  And here's another bonus: frequently you can find really cool frames on sale, stash them away, and then pull them out when you need a gift.  I don't give these gifts because I want to save money, but it is a nice bonus sometimes!  This one below was $10 for the frame and $19 for the custom mat.  Not bad.

This idea came to me when one of my great-aunts framed my wedding invitation for me (see below).  I have since learned that she pretty much does this for all my cousins and everyone else in the family.  It has honestly been one of my all-time favorite gifts, because it is so personal, and not something that I would take the time to buy for myself.

Works for me!  (And hopefully for the other couples I buy for!)

Small Town Bargains in Colorado

As promised, today I want to share with you a few of the treasures I picked up on my Colorado road trip.  There were so many little shops in these charming mountain towns, it was all I could do not to stop at every single one!  

Anyway, on to the goods.  This first one is a sheepskin jacket that looks absolutely adorable with jeans.  We found in this little vintage shop so I have no idea where it came from, but it is so cute!  The only downside is that I am already too big in the belly for it to zip up, so I guess I will have to wait for next winter.  Got it for $65!  Just to put that in perspective, we checked out this swanky leather shop in Telluride and Brent fell in love with a men's sheepskin jacket...for $1,800.  Which one would you buy?  :)

Next is an item I didn't even know I wanted, but it fell in my lap and I couldn't resist.  At a little antique shop in Montrose, this little guy was selling for $22.  It looks so perfect sitting in a sunny corner of my kitchen, and it holds all my onions and potatoes.  All it needed was a good cleaning.  You should have seen me trying to wrestle it into our backseat next to Nina, even strapping it into a seat belt so it would be safe on the drive!

Last (but not least, not by a long shot!)  is my favorite find of the week.  We were in a thrift shop in Aspen when I saw this quilt.  It had a sign on it that said "Display Items Not For Sale" and I was so bummed out.  On a whim I asked about it as I was leaving.  The woman told me that earlier in the day they had decided that they could no longer keep things on display and not allow them to be sold...so they sold it to me for $50!  Can you believe it?  The quilt is at least big enough for a full-size bed, hand-stitched, in perfect condition.  Why would anyone ever give this up?  I washed it three times and here it is on my guest room bed!

Love love love!  So many colors that it will go with nearly anything!  Yippee for yurts and road trips and even peeing in the woods if it means finding treasures like this!


Adventures of the Yurt-Dwellers

I am back from my adventures in the wild!  Thanks to all of you for your well-wishes.  We had a great time and I have to say, if you're going to go camping and your not really a camping kind of girl, the yurt is a great way to go.  Although, a few words of wisdom: pregnancy + multiple overnight bathroom breaks + utter darkness + no indoor plumbing = peeing on your own foot.  Just saying.  Other than that, we had a great time!  Check out some of my photos:

Since we are all so into making spaces cozy, I thought you would appreciate this photo because the yurt was rather cozy...for a pseudo-tent.  It had a bunk bed, a few couches, a microwave, even a quaint little propane stove that kicked on throughout the night when the temperature dipped below 65 degrees.  It even had hardwood floors!

And really, how bad could any vacation be when you take your kid to the park...and the park looks like this?  Here are Brent and Nina in a little mountain town called Ouray.

We hopped all over the state, and this photo is the only one we managed to snap of all three of us, on an overcast day in Telluride.  Well, all four of us if you count my growing belly!

I am glad to be back!  Tomorrow I can't wait to show you a few of the little treasures I picked up on our travels...you guys didn't think we would drive through a few dozen cute little mountain towns and not stop at the local antique shops, did you?  :)