Author Archives: D.Ann

Chalk It Up!

Okay, so I have climbed aboard the chalk board paint bandwagon.

But really, I was using chalkboard paint years ago, before everyone got all crazy about chalk board painting everything in their lives.

Five years ago, I made a chalk board for Younger Daughter’s college apartment. I stumbled on a huge frame at a thrift store. At Home Depot, I had a piece of board cut to fit, and then painted the board with a couple of coats of chalk board paint. It looked great.

I envisioned all of the roommates writing notes like: “We are out of milk and bread.” Or “I’m at the library, be home at 10.” Or “Let’s all have breakfast on Saturday.” But apparently, it was not a good idea to give college kids chalk and a chalk board. The chalk board soon became R-rated, known as a place to draw pictures and write things that would make a mom blush. Ahhh, but I digress.

After our new countertops were installed, I went crazy organizing my kitchen. I wanted every drawer, cabinet and even the fridge to look as good as the counters. So I gutted the place and got rid of everything I didn’t need or use or that was cracked or broken. Then I started in on the pantry.

My first thought was to go spend $200 on all new containers. I envisioned those beautiful clear ones with the white tops. But then I remembered I had a can of chalkboard paint out in the garage and decided to see if I might be able to dress up some of my old, 28-year-old Tupperware.

Yep, sure did. What do you think?

 

 

All That Glitters…

A couple of weeks back, I received a text with this photo: “Look Mom, I glittered my key.”

Of course I cracked up. Oldest Daughter had glittered her house key. Why did that not surprise me? The next day I met her for lunch in a little town half way between our houses to give her the dog to keep while we were away on business. First thing I asked was, “Can I see the key?”

She had it right there, all cute and sparkly.

How did she get the idea? Pinterest, of course.

How did she do it? Well, apparently she coated the top portion of the key with regular white glue and then sprinkled on very fine glitter. When it was dry enough, she did the same to the other side. When both sides were dry, she painted on a few coats of clear fingernail polish. After drying overnight, the key was good to go. I held it in my hand and there was no residual glitter.

Anyway, glittered keys are so cute. What else could be glittered in this fashion? Wouldn’t it be cute to buy some cheap, old silverware and glitter the handles in the same manner? Maybe do a couple of place settings in all different types and patterns. They would set a cute Valentine’s Day table, glittered flatware. In that same theme, I guess you could also glitter the base of cheap wine glasses.

Just imagine!

 

Sofa Table Turned Credenza

Sometimes you see a piece of furniture, and you just know there’s a place for it in your home. That’s how I felt about this table.

I wasn’t big on the knotty pine and the top had some deep scratches, but I knew it was meant for my house. And for $35 —well yeah!

So I get the table home and I study it for a couple of weeks. My first thought was to use it as a sofa table. It would fit beautifully behind our tall, camel back sofa. But I really didn’t need a sofa table. What I needed was a credenza behind my desk. But the measurements were very specific.

Of course, this was one of those MTB (meant to be) things. The measurements were perfect, within an inch. Plus, I desperately needed that extra table-top and storage space in my office.

So how should I finish it? My first thought was to paint it red like my office walls. Raspberry Truffle (Benjamin Moore) is the most gorgeous red. But then I realized if it was red and sitting against a red wall, well that wouldn’t work. So then I thought I’d paint it black and stain the top a dark wood. That seemed like a good idea.

So I stripped the table top, sanded down the rest of the table and wiped it with a deglosser. Once the table top was down to the wood, I stained it. And then I stained it some more. And then some more. But it wouldn’t take the stain. Okay, Plan B. I painted the entire table black.

I thought the handles would need to be replaced, but after polishing them up really well, they were MTB with the table.

Here’s the final table. I love it.

 

 

Last Look Mirror

Remembering back when Older Daughter graduated from college and started her first “real job,” we helped her move in a cute, tiny apartment near downtown Dallas. As we were hanging pictures, she mentioned that she’d like to hang a mirror in the entry way. We agreed that a mirror would look really nice in the space above a small entry hall table.

I told her, “I’m on it.” In no time I had salvaged a mirror from a local thrift shop, painted the frame and whisked it to Dallas. She hung it in the empty space. It was perfect.

A few months later when I was at her apartment, we were headed out the door, and I noticed she took a last look in the mirror, checking her lipstick, hair, etc. From then on we called it the “last look” mirror, for that last look you take when you head out the door.

Many times, I wish I had taken a last look before I headed out the door. Often I’ve had a chive in my tooth, really needed lipstick or had no idea that the glasses I often wear on my head had tussled my hair into the perfect birds nest. Since I generally go out to my car through the laundry room, I have decided I need a “last look” mirror on the wall that leads to the garage.

As well, Older Daughter now needs a different last look mirror for her new apartment. The configuration of the new place makes it impossible to use the bigger mirror from the last apartment. She has repurposed it in another place.

So I’ve been on the hunt for last look mirrors. Small ones, round ones, square ones, rectangle ones. Five dollars is the most I’ve spent.  I intend to paint and give one to Older Daughter, to Younger Daughter and whoever else wants one.

In a future post I’ll show the afters.

 

 

South Beach Quiche Cups

Sweet Husband and I have started the South Beach diet. Well actually he’s doing a low/no carb diet, and I’m trying to stick to the low fat/low carb variety. Regardless, among the hardest meals is breakfast. You can only eat so many Egg Beater omelets and scrambles. It’s just hard to think about having a salad for breakfast, don’t you think?

When Older Daughter did the diet she found great success making little muffin cup quiches and freezing them. She’d make a dozen, freeze by twos, and then microwave them for breakfast. For hers, she used Egg Beaters and low fat turkey crumbles. I made the ones out of the South Beach cookbook, and they were delicious. I made six of them, just to see if we would like them. We did!

Here’s the recipe.

1 10 oz pkg. frozen chopped spinach

3/4 cup liquid egg substitute (Egg Beaters)

3/4 cup shredded, reduced-fat cheese

1/4 cup diced green bell peppers

1/4 cup diced onions

3 drops of hot pepper sauce (optional)

Microwave the spinach for 2.5 minutes on high. Drain excess liquid. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups. Spray the cups with cooking spray.

Combine the egg mixture with all the other ingredients. Divide evenly among the muffin cups. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

(May be frozen and reheated in the microwave. Any combination of appropriate vegetables may be used and reduced fat cheeses may be used.)

What I did different

I didn’t have any frozen spinach so I sautéed fresh spinach in about 1/4 cup of water in a small pan for about 3 minutes until it was tender. I drained it, chopped it up and mixed it with the other ingredients. It tasted great.

I left off the hot pepper sauce until I had the mix in the muffin cups. I put about three drops of Tabasco in each one. The extra flavor was nice!

(Per serving (two cups): 77 calories, 9 grams of protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fat

Super Bowl Jello Shots

I’m not a big shot taker — in basketball, pool or drinking. But Jell-O Shots are fun sometimes, especially at Super Bowl parties. I found this out last year when a friend invited us over to see the Green Bay Packers play the Pittsburgh Steelers. I decided to bring Jell-O shots, and the hostess was excited. Not many 50-something adults have ever had a Jell-O shot. In fact, we laughed at the party when a couple of moms of college-age kids texted their kids: “Just had a Jell-O shot.” I’m sure their kids were thrilled. But again, I digress.

For the party, I made two sets of Jell-O shots — Lemon (yellow) for the Steelers fans and Lime (green) for the Packer fans. I put them in little paper cups I bought at the grocery store. When I was young, people sometimes served nuts or mints in them. When the girls were in college, they used small plastic cups that had lids, like you would get in a restaurant for taking out dressings, salsas or sauces.

As I was making my Jell-O shots the night before the party, I received a call from Younger Daughter in California. She was making Jell-O shots and putting them in cored-out lemon rinds. Now this was clever. She used green Jell-O and put them in the yellow lemons, perfect for the Packer fan party she was attending. I guess you could use all sorts of containers for Jell-O shots.

To jazz mine up, I found the logos of the Packers and the Steelers on the Internet. I printed them on address labels and then cut them to size to stick on the paper cups. It was a nice touch.

If you make Jell-O Shots for this year’s Super Bowl, you will need to make either red or blue Jell-O for the Giants and the Patriots. Interestingly, both teams’ colors are red and blue.

Here’s the recipe I used:

Ingredients:

3 oz Jell-O (any flavor)

6 oz water

6 oz vodka (apparently you can use any clear liquor)

Preparation:

1. Pour gelatin into a bowl.

2. Add boiling water, stirring until the gelatin is dissolved.

3. Stir in liquor.

4. Pour into shot glasses

6. Refrigerate until the liquid sets. (At least 2 hours, but overnight refrigeration is recommended)

Below is a picture of found on the Internet of Jell-O Shots made in cored-out lemons.

 

 

 

King Cakes and Pancakes

With the season of Lent just around the corner, I started thinking about King Cakes and Pancakes. At our church we belonged to in Houston, Shrove Tuesday, (the day before Ash Wednesday), was when we held an all-church pancake supper. All the teens would make the pancakes. Being Fellowship chairman, I was in charge of this event. Sweet Husband would supervise the pancake making and I would make sure there was plenty of butter, syrup, sausage, coffee, orange juice and all the breakfast-for-dinner fixings. Again, I digress.

King Cakes are another “before Lent” tradition. I had never heard of a King Cake until I was an adult and my father-in-law sent us a traditional King Cake from Baton Rouge. It looked like a huge doughnut with white icing and sprinkled with green, yellow and purple sugar. Inside the cake, for whoever got that particular slice, was a tiny plastic baby. The tradition goes that king cakes were baked as a celebration of Mardi Gras. They were baked to honor the three kings who came to see Baby Jesus. Some believe that the shape of the cake, an oval, symbolized the unity of faiths. The colors of Mardi Gras — purple, green and gold — also have meaning. Apparently purple is for justice, green is for faith and gold is for the power of God. The baby is of course Baby Jesus, and whoever gets the baby in his/her slice of cake will be lucky. Others believe that whoever gets the baby buys the next King Cake.

When the girls were kids, I would buy a King Cake each year for fun. We even began serving King Cake at those Shrove Tuesday Pancake Suppers.

Last year at a wedding we went to in Baton Rouge in January, King Cake was served at a day-of-the-wedding brunch. After that beautiful wedding, I was inspired to make King Cakes and give them to our neighbors. My idea was to make mini-cakes, as who needs a huge King Cake sitting around? A few bites and your sugar level will surge.

I looked through my cookbooks and found several King Cake recipes (we have several cookbooks from Louisiana due to Sweet Husband’s family living there). Some of the recipes said to just use the dough of your choice, ranging from packaged cinnamon rolls to making dough with yeast. I decided on a recipe and went out to get what I needed, including the sugars and the little baby dolls. I found six in a package at Hobby Lobby, where I also found small cardboard cake rounds and doilies to fit. I had plastic bags in which I placed the cakes and tied with green, gold and purple ribbon. On my computer I made a little tag that explained the King Cake tradition. It was a nice gift for my neighbors on a cold, dreary Saturday in February. I used an Easy King Cake Recipe I got off the Internet at http://www.mardigrasday.com/kcrecip.php.

Easy King Cake

Ingredients

1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)

2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 cup, plus 1 teaspoon sugar

3 1/2  to 4 1/2 cups un-sifted flour

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon lemon zest, (lemon rind) grated

1/2 cup warm milk

5 egg yolks

1 stick butter cut into slices and softened, plus 2 tablespoons more softened butter

1 egg slightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1 plastic baby doll

Directions

Pour the warm water into a small shallow bowl, and sprinkle yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar into it. Allow the yeast and sugar to rest for three minutes and then mix thoroughly. Set the bowl in a warm place for 10 minutes, or until the yeast bubbles up and the mixture almost doubles in volume. Combine 3 1/2 cups of flour, remaining sugar, nutmeg and salt, and sift into a large mixing bowl. Stir in lemon zest. Separate center of mixture to form a hole and pour in yeast mixture and milk. Add egg yolks and, using a wooden spoon, slowly combine dry ingredients into the yeast/milk mixture. When mixture is smooth, beat in 8 tablespoons butter (1 tablespoon at a time) and continue to beat 2 minutes, or until dough can be formed into a medium-soft ball.

Place ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and knead like bread. While kneading, sprinkle up to 1 cup more of flour (1 tablespoon at a time) over the dough. When dough is no longer sticky, knead 10 minutes more until shiny and elastic. Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of a large bowl evenly with one tablespoon softened butter. Place dough ball in the bowl and rotate until the entire surface is buttered. Cover bowl with a moderately thick kitchen towel and place in a draft-free spot for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough doubles in volume. Using a pastry brush, coat a large baking sheet with one tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Remove dough from bowl and place on lightly floured surface. Using your fist, punch dough down forcefully. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top, pat and shake dough into a cylinder. Twist dough to form a curled cylinder and loop cylinder onto the buttered baking sheet. Pinch the ends together to complete the circle. Cover dough with towel and set it in draft-free spot for 45 minutes, or until the circle of dough doubles in volume. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. If desired, you can hide the plastic baby in the cake at this time. Brush top and sides of cake with egg wash and bake on middle rack of oven for 25 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Place cake on wire rack to cool.

Colored sugars

Green, purple, & yellow

Icing

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 – 6 tablespoons water
Combine sugar, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons water until smooth. If icing is too stiff, add more water until spreadable. Spread icing over top of cake. Immediately sprinkle the colored sugars in individual rows consisting of about 2 rows of green, purple and yellow.

What I did different

Before baking, I divided the dough into six, small cakes.