Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday, July 29, 2016

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bloomin' Tuesday...

I hope you're having a nice day. The last few weeks have been busy ones for me. First, a daughter and her little family visited for a week. Then, most of the rest of the kids and their families came for a reunion, and last week I went to Indiana to help my son's family with their new little one. It's been busy and fun. I'm back to my "usual" (whatever that is) routine, so I thought I'd share some pictures of the garden today. The relentless heat and sun of this time of year always creates a challenge in my garden. No matter how much water I pour on my plants, it just doesn't compensate for the high temps and the scorching sun. In about a month, the plants will get a break in the hot weather and they will perk back up.

We have a bumper crop of lettuce this year. It's shaded throughout the day, so the sun doesn't bother it too much...

Many plants in my containers are struggling, but the geraniums love the heat.

My morning glory are beginning to bloom. I love going out early in the morning and seeing their beautiful deep purple faces!

Luscious impatiens have completely filled the planter boxes we made last spring.

Wishing you a nice Bloomin' Tuesday.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Monday, July 11, 2016

Children's Ice Cream Shop... the big reveal!

A few weeks ago on a blog post I mentioned that I had bought a used TV stand to repurpose into an ice cream shop for children. I finished it shortly after that post and it's time for the reveal. You might remember that I talked the cashier at the thrift store down to $5 for this "beauty." {I'm embarrassingly cheap when it come to repurposing items.}

Here are the steps it took to repupose this TV stand into a fun treat shop for the grandkids...

1. I disassembled it -- the top, kick plate, knobs, and cupboard doors all came off.

At this point, the back of the TV stand became the front of the ice cream shop, so when I refer to the "front" and "back" I am referring to the front and back of the new ice cream shop.

2. I applied a coat of Kilz Original Oil-Based Primer on all the pieces.  I also bought a piece of hard board and cut it to size for the front of the ice cream shop. {There was no "back" on the TV stand before.}

3. I used Behr "One to Remember" and Behr "Misty Isle" to paint the shop. These are beautiful colors reminiscent of peach and mint chocolate chip ice cream -- perfect for the little shop.

4. When the pieces were painted, I reassembled the stand -- turning the top around to the (now) front of the ice cream shop and placing the kick plate on the front of the shop. The hard board was also put on the front of the shop. New knobs were placed on the cupboard doors.

5. I bought two 1-1/4" x 48" round dowels at Home Depot. Two round holes were drilled in the top of the shop. I also cut two 2-1/2" cubes and drilled a hole through both of those. They were glued to the inside of the shop to help secure the bottom of the dowels. {See below.}

6. Strips of cotton were cut 1-1/2" x 16" to make the fabric banner. It was strung across the dowels.

7. A cute ice cream sign was purchased from Amazon to add to the front of the shop.

8. Two "Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Scoop Sets" were purchased. This magnetic play set makes it easy for little ones to scoop up the ice cream and place it on the cones!

The result was more than I'd hoped for... 

The ice cream shop was revealed at our family reunion. It was my hope the little ones would enjoy playing with something new. It did not disappoint...

It was especially fun when the adults got into it and ordered real ice cream from the kiddos. 

From a junkie old TV stand to a fresh new children's ice cream shop, this repurposed item was one of my favorites of all time!

My thanks to Mindi, at My Love 2 Create, for inspiring this project with her Frozen Treat Stand!

And one more thing... aren't my grandkids adorable!?!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bloomin' Tuesday...

I have a few random photos of our garden today for Bloomin' Tuesday. 
Isn't summer glorious?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Children's Ice Cream Shop...

A week ago I got inspired. Mindi at "My Love 2 Create" made a sweet Frozen Treat Stand for her children. She repurposed a nightstand to create a darling toy that will undoubtedly serve her children for years. Mindi inspired me to create an Ice Cream Shop for our grandchildren. Most of them will be here in a week for a family reunion, and I thought a new toy like this might capture their attention for awhile. A couple of days ago I found this beauty...

I know. I know. I'll just bet you're all dying of jealousy, but this little wonder is all mine. I found her at a local thrift store for $6.99. I'm embarrassed to say that I talked them down to $5.  I'm cheap like that.

To make it into an Ice Cream Shop, I disassembled it. I'm going to make the back of the TV stand the front of the Ice Cream Shop, so the top and kick plate need to be turned around to face the other way and I need to mount a piece of 1/8" hardboard on the front of the ice cream stand (originally the back was open on this TV stand).

I chose these luscious creamy dreamy colors to paint the stand...

Behr "One to Remember"

Behr "Misty Isle"

Those colors remind me of peach and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Wish me luck in reassembling it and the decorating. I'm ridiculously excited about this project!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chocoflan {Mexican Chocolate Flan Cake} ...

I celebrated a birthday last month and on that day my neighbor brought over some of the best cake I've ever tasted. Truly. Take a look at the photo below. It's a Mexican Chocoflan. {Chocolate Flan Cake} Tasting it will ruin you for life because you will want a piece every day.

It's beautiful, isn't it? It was made by my friend's friend, who is from Mexico. That day I knew I had to learn how to make this delicious concoction. I started with an easy recipe from Betty Crocker on the internet using a cake mix. Below is the result...

Not as pretty as the original, but I was incredibly grateful that the cake came out of the pan easily and in one piece. However, the texture of my cake wasn't as dense or chocolatey as the original, so I tweaked the recipe further. First, I've always preferred Duncan Hines cake mixes over Betty Crocker, so that was an easy change. I chose Classic Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix. I also added 1/4 cup {natural unsweetened} cocoa, which raised the chocolatey level to my liking and made the cake less sweet. One of the things I loved about the original was that it wasn't as sweet as a typical cake in the United States. I glazed the pecans with a little sugar to add a crunch to the top of the cake, and I added more caramel to the top of the cake than they had suggested in the Betty Crocker recipe. Here's the result of those changes in the recipe...

Awesome yumminess.

I don't know if my pallet is particularly discerning, but, to me, this tasted very close to the original. It was delicious. My tweaked recipe is below. Not only is this tasty, but it's easy to make too!

Mexican Chocoflan

1 jar (12.25 oz. caramel topping
1 box Classic Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
1 cup water 
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated) 
1 cup milk
4 eggs

Sugared Pecans:
1/2 to 1 cup pecans

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit).  Grease a 12 cup fluted tube cake pan with butter. Take the top off the caramel jar and put the jar in the microwave for 15 seconds to heat the caramel and make it thinner to pour. Pour 1/2 - 3/4 of the jar of caramel topping (6 oz. - 9 oz.) into the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate the remaining caramel topping. 
  • In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil, 3 eggs and cocoa in an electric mixer on medium speed till the cake mix is blended about one minute, scraping bowl occasionally. (Do not over-beat. You want a more dense cake, rather than light and airy.) Pour batter over caramel topping in pan.
  • In blender, place flan ingredients. Cover; blend on high speed until smooth, about 40 seconds. Slowly pour mixture over the batter in the pan. (Flan mixture will mix with the batter as you pour, but they will separate during baking, forming 1 layer of cake and 1 layer of flan.)
  • Place cake in large roasting pan in the oven. (I use a metal 9x13 pan.) Add one inch of hot water to roasting pan, so that your cake pan is sitting in a water bath.
  • Bake 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cake pan from water bath to cooling rack. Cool completely, for at least one hour. 
  • Place serving plate upside down on the cooled cake pan; turn plate and pan over. Remove pan. 
  • While the cake is baking or cooling make the sugared pecans. Make a simple syrup -- about 1/4 cup water to 1/2 cup sugar (1 part water to 2 parts sugar) in saucepan. Stir in pecans and cook until liquid is gone and the pecans are covered with sugar. Then spread the pecans on a cookie sheet and bake for a few minutes at 350 degrees. Cool. Sprinkle these on the top of the flan. You can also use fresh fruit, as in the first photo.
  • This cake can be prepared the day before, in fact, the cake is more moist and the flavors are better the second day!


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bloomin' Tuesday...

Most mornings when the day is young and the temperature still cool, I take a walk with our puppy Beau.

I love going on walks that take me past homes and through parks with beautiful gardens. It's fun to get ideas from other gardeners. I've always thought that poppies need a lot of sun, but these beauties are tucked under a shade tree. So gorgeous...

But wait, there's more...

Wishing you a lovely flower-filled week.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Furniture Refinishing -- Kitchen Table -- Part 4...

I'm done. The table is fully refinished, reassembled, and sitting in our nook. What's more... I love it. Love. Love. Love. I love the dark walnut stain on the top of the table that brings out the grain in the oak.

I love the distressed white base, that lightens up the room and "matches" a little buffet table I have to the side.

Please read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 for the products and techniques I used to refinish this project. I would highly recommend each and every product that was used.

Now to figure out the chairs. Do I refinish our current chairs? I shudder at the thought, but that might be the way I go. There's a place in our town that strips furniture. It would be about $30 - $40 a chair, but that's a lot less than buying new, and these chairs are solid wood. Or, do I buy these new Eames style chairs that I adore? {I love the juxtaposition of mixing different styles of furniture -- in this case -- traditional with retro/modern.}

I'm not sure which direction I want to go with the chairs. I'll think about it for awhile before I settle on something. In the meantime, we'll enjoy this "new" piece of furniture...

Here's the "before" {with a similar table} and "after." Although furniture refinishing can be a chore, it's certainly worth the price you pay in time and effort...