Sunday, June 29, 2014


Starts and stripes, red, white and blue, flags and sparklers, the weather is warm, the flowers are blooming, the garden is growing by the day, all those things we tend to associate with our independence day, the 4th of July. The plan was when I put a bench out front was to change the theme with the seasons.
 This is what the bench looked like before.....
Started with the burlap pillow, pulled off the "D." Then printed out a big star (just Google "free star graphic" and you will find one you like).
I just cut out the star and outlined it with painters tape.  You could just purchase a star stencil but this was so easy and worked.
I next painted the star using Annie Sloan's Emperor's Silk red, using a foam stamper. I slid some cardboard under the burlap to keep the paint from going through to the other side.  I purposely used more paint in some areas than others because I wanted it to have an aged look and the "D" had showed too as it had faded into the fabric, all the better. Just let it dry (or dry with a hair dryer), pull off the tape and it's done.
Not perfect but I like the way it looks.
Next the covers for the pillows.  I used a package of (3) kitchen towels.  Depending on the size of your pillows (mine are 17") will determine the size of your fabric.  All you do is measure the pillow size and in this case the width was fine but the length needed to be added to so I cut a piece about 12" from the third towel (be sure and used the finished ends so you don't have to hem anything) and sewed right sided together to get the length I needed.
 Here is the back of the pillow - all you are doing is making an envelope for the pillow to go inside. Once you have your length fold the envelope part over then take the bottom part (right sides together) up to meet the top (you will now have the envelope part covered) and sew the side seams and that is it, done - pull it out and using a bone folder or something similar push out the corners and then insert your pillow.  This is so easy because you have finished edges on the towels so you don't even have to hem anything.
Finished product!

Ready for the 4th on the porch!


Annie Sloan paint, online and dealers, Ebay sellers too
Kitchen Towels, Hobby Lobby
Foam Stampers, Michael's

Thank you for stopping by.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Recently received an email from The Graphic's Fairy with an adorable free print out for napkin rings - two sets, one Miss Liberty (as in the photo) and one of an adorable Yankee Doodle Dandy boy.  I liked Miss Liberty and thought I would like to make them so that they will be usable again.  I had not decided on my tablescape for the 4th so I made just one and planned my table scape.

 I love the way they look with the napkin and decided on photo #3.
 So now I need to make the other (3), not having a crowd this year.

Materials Needed

Napkin Ring print out - link will be at the bottom of the page
Red cardstock
Cardboard tube or other tube, I used a 1.5" gift wrapping tube
Full page labels
2 3/8 punch, or cut out circles
Sanding block or sand paper
Small sharp scissors
Cut your tube pieces the width of the paper, sand the edges smooth, print out your graphic on full page label, punch our or cut out your circles.
Cut out your napkin rings, pull off the paper backing from the label and affix the ring to your circle, then affix the ring to the cardboard ring.  All done.
Finished product from the front and the side.  Ready to use again and again.


Free Patriotic Napkin Ring print out, The Graphic's Fairy 
Cardstock, Michael's
2 3/4" Punch, Stampin Up
Avery 81/2 x 11 Full Page Label, Avery® White Full-Sheet Labels for Inkjet Printers with  TrueBlock(TM) Technology, 8-1/2 inches x 11 inches, Pack of 25 (8165)
Napkins & red charger, Tuesday Morning
Rooster plates, Hobby Lobby
Blue star plate, Chartstone ironware
Glasses, Villeroy & Boch Bernadotte 


Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Making refrigerator pickles is easy and fun and something that you can do very quickly.  I used small burp-less cukes (no Kirby's in the store or the garden at this time), green beans, small carrots, sweet onion, jalapenos (for flavor and a little heat) and cauliflower.


2 cups white distilled vinegar
4 cups of water
6 t Kosher salt
2 T Pickling spice
2 t Red pepper flakes
2 Cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 cups Splenda for baking
2 Bay leaves, crushed

(combine the spice, pepper flakes, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks into two equal piles)

Veggies of your choice, I chose:
6 cukes, quartered
6-8 carrots, cleaned and trimmed
1 large sweet onion, cut into big chunks and pulled apart
2 Jalapenos, seeds cleaned out and cut in half lengthwise
Handful of green beans, trimmed (I pick out the straightest ones I can find in the produce section)
Sprigs of fresh dill
Hunks of cauliflower - great filler to pack the jar
 6 large cloves of garlic, peeled

Bring the water and the garlic to a boil and boil 4-5 minutes.  Add the salt and the Splenda, bring to a boil, boil until the salt and the Splenda dissolve, remove from the heat.

To your jars, add the divided spices, some of the dill sprigs and the divided garlic you have removed from the brine. Pack tightly as many veggies as will fit into your jars.

Bring the brine back to a boil and ladle to fill the jars and cover the veggies completely.  Let them fully cool, label and refrigerate. After just a few hours you could eat them but I like to refrigerate and leave them for a few days.  They will keep in the refrigerator for approximately three months.

Packed and ready to label.

 In the fridge, ready, all you have to do now is wait.

Delicious, great with sandwiches or to set out with some salami and cheese as an appetizer before a dinner meal.

Please note that this recipe has been created because of our likes and you can change the spices and veggies to your likes.  We like it spicy but if you don't, leave out the red pepper flakes, we like it a little sweet but if you don't leave out the Splenda. I would however, leave in the jalapenos for the flavor they impart - just don't eat them if you don't like spicy. The're your pickles - add whatever spices you like. You may make your own pickling spice but I prefer to buy it in a big bag vs a small can that is always very pricy.  I also love the jars with the chalk label but you can just use a chalk label and recycle mayo jars or any jar you happen to have on hand.


Pickling Spice, Hoosier Hill Farm Pickling Spice, 1 Lb.
Chalkboard Labels, Wrapables Fancy Rectangle Chalkboard Labels for Organizing, Labeling, and Weddings, Various Sizes, Set of 24
Martha Steward also has chalkboard labels at Staples
Jars as shown, The Chalkboard Collection by Blue Harbor, HomeGoods

Thank you for stopping by.


Monday, June 23, 2014


 Followers of this blog know I am a fan of all things Annie Sloan and her wonderful chalk paint - I was recently given a couple of chests that I intended to give an A.S. shabby chic treatment....but then I remembered my dear husband needed a little more storage in his office so one chest will be shabby chic and the other dark as in espresso. I think he will be surprised and happy for the additional storage.

One of the main reasons I love the A.S. products is the ease of use and the great end product so when thinking about the office project I knew I wanted something easy to use that would give a great end result.  I found that in Woodcraft's General Finishes gel stain. All you  have to do is clean the surfaces and using a foam brush, brush on the stain.  If you need more than one coat, a light standing in between coats is all that is needed.


After....this stain brings out the grain of the wood and gives a very rich look.

Hubby's office furniture is espresso finish so this blends right in and he now has more desk storage.  I cannot begin to tell you how easy this product is to use - it is not however water based, it is oil based, so you will not be re-using the foam paint pads and will have to responsibly dispose of them.
 He also has a nice leather chair and a little side table (for drinks, the remote, etc.) and after I saw what a great job the gel did on the chest decided to make the side table better too.
I had anticipated that this project would take several hours, require two coats on both the table and the chest and was mistaken - one coat was enough and I was finished with the two projects in about one hour or less.  I let them dry completely overnight before setting anything on them.


General Finishes Gel Stain - Available exclusively at Woodcraft stores and online. Link

Thank you for stopping by.


Friday, June 20, 2014


I would like to share a wonderful recipe for chicken enchiladas given to me by a dear friend in Colorado.  My friend worked in a restaurant so this recipe has been modified for home use so it is not a typical recipe.  I recently made these and ended up with a pan to share (5 enchiladas to a round aluminum container) the ones in the photo above and I have three containers in my freezer as well as (3) jars of sauce so the next time I want to make these I will have the sauce pre-made. I promise you these are yummy! Sauce also good on chicken tamales.
I also served Vermicelli Nests with Onions & Tomatoes
(Sopa seca de fideos) with the enchiladas. Recipe new to me, with the exception of homemade chicken stock, this is so easy and so good. 

Rounding out the dinner was my version of Cowboy Salsa, sometimes known as Cowboy Caviar. So instead of enchiladas, rice and beans, we had enchiladas, bean salad and pasta.


Chicken Enchaladas
4 large bone-in chicken breasts
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, minced
5-7 cups shredded sharp cheddar - Sharp Tillamook
1.5 cups light sour cream
10 fresh basil leaves (I chop very fine with a mezzaluna)
3 T ground cumin
3 T better than bouillon (or substitute)
Sea Salt & pepper to taste (during the sauce phase, do not salt the boiling chicken)
3 T green chili powder
1/2 T red chili powder*, 1 t cayenne
4 bay leaves
2-3 T Green Tabasco Sauce
1 cube butter
1.5 cups Wondra

Tortillas - either corn or flour, personal preference, I use corn - wrap them in a kitchen towel and heat  in microwave to soften them.

In large pot boil chicken and garlic, onion, basil, cumin, pepper powder, pepper for 1.5 hours.  Remove chicken from the bone (reserve the liquid for sauce), discard skin and either dice into chunks or shred the chicken and then mix chicken with 3 - cups cheese & sour cream.

For sauce: Add 3 cups cheese to the boiling liquid, in another pan melt the butter and then add the flour (to make a roux) and cook for a few minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste.  Slowly add the roux to the sauce liquid and cheese and cook until the desired consistency is achieved. NOTE: 1 1/2 cups flour way too much to add to one cube of butter for the roux so I use enough flour to make the roux and then take some of the sauce in a bowl, add the rest of the flour and gradually add to the sauce. This looks like a lot of butter and a lot of flour but remember you are making a ton of sauce and will have leftover sauce so it really is not so much when you consider how many servings you get out of a batch.

Because there are not exact amounts of water to add to this when you are done and the sauce made it may be too thin or too thick - if too thick add some chicken stock or broth if too thin just let it reduce down before assembling the enchiladas.  This is also the time to taste and see if you need more salt, or seasonings. The highlighted areas are where I made changes to the original recipe.

To assemble the enchiladas put some of the thickened sauce in the bottom of a Pyrex casserole dish and then fill the tortillas with the chicken mixture until you fill the casserole, cover with sauce and then sprinkle with cheese. You will note I don't put much cheese on the top of these - the sauce is so good they do not need a lot of cheese - again, personal preference.

*For years I used Grandma's chili powder (Grandma's Spanish Pepper) made in Sacramento, CA, then the company was sold and now no longer available. Williams chili powder closely resembles Grandma's.  

Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes

NOTE: The recipe as give to me did not have green chili powder, it had chili powder and cayenne powder.  You may use any powder you like but I happen to love the taste of the green chili powder.  It can be hard to find but it is available online, Amazon, etc.  The one I like best is from the Santa Fe School of Cooking in Santa Fe, NM. My hubby and I took a class there once and I bought some of the green chili powder and was hooked.  I will put a link below.

Vermicelli Nests with Onions & Tomatoes
(Sopa seca de fideos)

1/2 Pound vermicelli or angel hair nests - no substitution
2 large tomatoes, peeled and small dice (do not need to seed)
1 medium sweet onion, small dice
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 cups homemade stock

Put 1/2 of the oil in a medium fry pan, brown the nests on both sides (be careful not to burn) you want them toasty brown not dark brown, remove from the fry pan and set aside. Add the remainder of the oil to the pan and cook the onion and chopped tomato until the onion is translucent.  Add the chicken stock and the browned vermicelli nests, put the lid on the pan and cook until the liquid is absorbed about 20-30 minutes.  Test for seasoning and add salt and pepper if you like. Enough for (4).

NOTE: This is a good substitute for rice with Mexican food but needs the homemade stock.

 Chicken Stock
Use leftover bones and skin from cooked or raw chicken, I tend to save my Costco roasted chicken carcass and other leftover chicken in a bag in the freezer and when you have enough in the bag make some stock.

For Stock
Put the leftover bones and skin from a chicken carcass into a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Add veggies like celery, onion, carrots, parsley. Add salt and pepper, about a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 tsp of pepper.
Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer. Simmer uncovered at least 4 hours, occasionally skimming off the foam that comes to the surface.
Remove the bones and strain the stock, I line a big colander with cheese cloth so there is no need to strain more than once. I freeze any stock that I am not going to use immediately after the stock cools, I like to use wide-mouth canning jars and I also save things like glass spaghetti jars, etc. that may be used.
Cowboy Salsa
1 can of corn
1 can of either kidney or black beans
2 cans of pintos
6 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion diced
2 avacados, small dice
1/3 bunch of parsley, finely chopped

Dressing:  vinaigrette 
3/4 t sea salt
3 T apple cider or sherry vinegar
1 1/2 t Edmond Fallot Dijon mustard (or your favorite)
9 T olive oil
3 pkg sweet n' low or sugar - personal preference

Drain and rinse the beans in a colander, then add the corn and let it drain. Place the corn/bean mixture in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients and gently fold all together, add a little salt and pepper and then the vinaigrette, gently toss again. Place in a serving bowl and put in the fridge for the flavors to meld for an hour or two.

This can either be a side dish or served with tortilla chips as an appetizer.



Enchaladas, my dear Cinderella
Sopa seca de fideos, Simply Recipes, Link
Cowboy Salsa, from me!
Labels, Martha Stewart at Staples, free template on Avery website
Canning jars, Ball wide mouth 24oz
Santa Fe School of Cooking Green Chili Powder, Link

Thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


 Seems like every year I wait too long to put out my patriotic items on the entry table for the 4th - so this year I put a reminder in Outlook so I would not forget!

Besides decorating outside for the holidays I will always at least decorate my entry table.  The lamp and the cachepot stay and I decorate around them.
 The white lantern is re-purposed from a previous post. Here is the link where you will find instructions, all I had to do was change out the ribbon (& I added a couple of ribbons on the sides too), Lantern.
Cute little Anna Lee's in the cachepot.
 July picture from my Nancy Thomas collection. A note about Nancy Thomas.  If you do not know her work she is an American folk artist and her works are found in museums, etc.  If you are ever near Yorktown, VA, her little gallery there is just wonderful.  I have placed a link to her page below but you can find her works in gift stores around the country. 
Nancy Thomas Gallery in Yorktown, VA,  are you ready for a roadtrip Gayle?
Nancy Thomas window box on a bench outside her gallery in Yorktown, VA. My belief is that no matter what your decorating style, there is always a place for a little folk art, especially American folk art.

Little patriotic lantern with candle in sand - here is the link for complete instructions from a previous post, Lantern


White Lantern, resources listed on the link page provided
Mason Jar Lantern, resources listed on the link page provided
Nancy Thomas picture, Link 
Home & Garden Art, another resource for NT, Link
Cachepot and other items from my personal collection
Folk Art Eagle, from my collection
Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, June 16, 2014


The table is set, the menu planned.
 I have extra leafs for my table but prefer to have the smaller table and a buffet for my dinner.
The little pots turned out to be the perfect size for the place card and do not take up too much room on the table.

Bargain salad (or in this case dessert) plates just say summer.
Buffalo checked black and white gingham was not to be found (fabric for napkins) in my area so I opted for the check and hope my guests will think more MacKenzie-Childs and less Indy 500!

Recipes listed below.

For years I have made it my habit to print out a menu when entertaining.  When family and friends come for dinner I will often find someone in the kitchen looking for the menu to see "whats for dinner." I save these menu cards and it is fun to later pull them out and remember the occasion.  I found this metal "chalkboard" on a sale table for $3.50 and thought it would be fun to post for my dinner.
 Using a liquid chalk pen I just printed the dinner menu (it sits nicely on a metal easel).  I am not an artist (plus I am left handed) so this is not by any means perfect but serves it's purpose and guests can see "what's for dinner." My bargain sign had a scratch which I covered with a star. A wet paper towel will remove the chalk paint.


Jalapeno Ranch Dip - Using the original Buttermilk Ranch dressing packet (small one) 1 C buttermilk and 1/2 C Best Foods (Hellman's) mayo, 1/2 C sour cream and a dash or two of Lawry's garlic salt, add one (or two if your like it really spicy) large jalapeno (remove the ribs and the seeds) finely diced. Mix all of this together and let it sit in the fridge overnight (flavors need to meld). Serve with veggies of your choice. I will also set out a bowl of roasted, salted almonds and a bowl of shelled pistachios.

Marinade for chicken Breasts - Mix together the following:
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1/c water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 green onions, sliced white and green part
2 big cloves of garlic, minced
2 T brown sugar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t fresh ginger, grated (or the grated ginger in a jar)

Mix all these ingredients and marinade the chicken for at least 2-3 hours.

Rice Pilaf
1 cup long grain converted rice
1/2 cup coiled vermicelli
2-3 Tablespoons of butter
2 cups good chicken broth (or homemade stock)
Salt to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan, break up the vermicelli coils and brown them in the butter, add the rice and saute for a few minutes. Add the broth and the salt and bring to a boil, stirring a couple of times, turn down to low. Cook for 20 minutes DO NOT LIFT THE LID!!!!!!! After the twenty minutes turn off and let it rest for a few minutes.  Then fluff with a fork and serve.  Toasted pine nuts are also really good in this pilaf.

Roasted Asparagus

Wash and trim asparagus and lay on a Silpat lined cookie sheet, spray with olive oil, shake the tray to turn them and spray again. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper and put into a 425° oven for about 12-15 minutes until done.  My husband loves almost any veggies roasted this way.

Caprese Salad

Even if you don't have an herb garden basil is so available this time of year.  This salad just says summer to me and is so easy and so good. So many ways to make this salad, sliced tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, different kinds of fresh mozzarella, with balsamic, without, etc.  Here is how I make this salad.

Sliced big fresh tomatoes layered with slices of good mozzarella cheese, then chiffonade fresh basil (fancy word for roll it up and slice into tiny strips), sprinkle the basil over the tomato-cheese, then I like to make a little dressing with vinegar, oil, finely diced shallots, some Edmond Fallot Dijon and some more basil, very finely chopped. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the salad and drizzle a little of the dressing.


This is super easy.  Either bake or purchase an angel food cake - not the loaf and not the little one, the big one that they bake in an aluminum pan.  Remove the cake from the pan and slice in half so you end up with two doughnut looking pieces of cake - the bottom half should be an inch or two taller than the top.  Now dig out a little tunnel (do not cut all the way through the cake) all around the cake. Scoop the cake out of the tunnel and use for something else.  At this point you could use sweetened whipped cream, Cool Whip, whipped cream fortified with cream cheese, whatever you want.  When you have the whipped cream, take out enough to fill the tunnel and add chopped fresh strawberries to the cream and fill the tunnel.  Put the top back on the cake and using the rest of the cream frost the cake. Refrigerate. Because I have strawberries in my garden (unless the squirrels have eaten them again) when serving I will take a bowl of macerated strawberries and pour some over each slice.

I call this my little black dress dessert because if you keep an angel food cake in the freezer you can whip together a dessert very quickly.  You can use chocolate whipped cream and top with toasted almonds, you can use any kind of pie filling and mix some with the cream for the tunnel and then drizzle some on the top, you can add custard (mix sour cream with your milk using instant vanilla pudding) to the top and then frost over the custard - the angle food is just a base.

Garlic Toast
 Find the best french bread you can find, hopefully crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  Get fat cloves of garlic and rub them across the bread after you have brushed with butter. Put under the broiler until toasty and slice and serve.
I never put fresh garlic on food as not everyone can tolerate this particular item.


Recipes - these are just some of my old tried and true recipes that we enjoy all summer.

Metal chicken chalk board, HomeGoods
Salad plates, Kohl's
Dinner plates, IKEA
Chargers, Tuesday Morning
Red flatware, Hampton Silversmiths, Argent Sophia pattern
Glassware, Villeroy & Boch, Bernadotte pattern
Liquid Chalk Pen, David Tutera's are my favorite here is a  link, David

"Antique" wine bottles, little pot place card holders, napkins, centerpiece, all previous blog posts with instructions.

Thank you for stopping by.