How To Restain A Wood Table Top

I’m probably the only blogger in the history of blogging who writes about a table redo a few days before Thanksgiving! I know I should be writing about food or tablescapes or other things holiday related, but indulge me, ok?

I’ve talked about our small dining table before here and more recently, here where I mentioned the sanding of this table was turning out to be more work than I had anticipated. A little background:We purchased this table more than 8 years ago, shortly after buying the cabin. It was a steal at less than $400, including the chairs. We were able to get such a great deal because the store was going out of business. At just 48″, it was the perfect size for this small space, plus I liked the idea of having a round table. They just seem to work better for ease of conversation, don’t you agree?

Even at the time of purchase, there were scratches because it had been on the selling floor for who knows how long, but it was never a huge issue because the table has an overall rustic feel to begin with. But I must confess I’ve thought about painting it many times over the years. Not only is painting easier than refinishing, but I thought a nice coat of creamy white would help it to stand out a bit against the log walls. But a dark wood table is timeless, and I wanted to try my hand at staining and figured this would be a good opportunity.

table top

 

Here’s a peak at some of the damage before…

wood table

 

…and here’s the ‘after’!

wood table

 

Here’s the low down on how I restored the top of this table in just a few days:

staining a tabletop

 

The first thing I did was gather all my supplies.

wood table

Here’s what I used: 1. stain  2. metal container (this is only needed if you’re mixing stains) 3. foam brushes  4. dust mask  5.  sander  6. sandpaper in medium and fine grit  7. tack cloth  8. wood conditioner  9. latex gloves   10. sanding wedge (not shown-optional)  11.  sticks for stirring/mixing the stain 12. satin poly or wax of choice (I used Minwax fast drying poly, not shown)

The only part of this table that was heavily damaged was the top. Thank goodness for that, because sanding the pedestal would be a difficult, tedious job due to all the nooks and crannies. I wanted to do a test run for the stain so I found a scratch on one of the chair bottoms to use for practice. 

I already had the stains that I would need. Yup, I said stains. I needed to use not one, not two, but three stains to get the color I was going for. In this case it was 3 parts Ipswich Pine to 1 part each of Gunstock and Dark Walnut, all by Minwax.

wood table leg

 

I sanded it smooth using 80 grit sandpaper…  

table-3

 

and here’s the color when I was finished.

tableleg

 

If you scroll back up and look closely, the ‘before’ looks like it has more yellow in it than the ‘after’. This is completely due to the lighting at the time of taking the photos. The truth is, the table has a little bit of yellow, a little bit of brown and a little bit of reddish tones. That’s what made it so tricky to find the right stain combinations, but I wanted the end result to blend in more with the brown tones than the yellows, and I got exactly what I was looking for.

Once I had the right stain combinations, we removed the top from the base and I did the bulk of the sanding outdoors. (Thank goodness it was warm enough, or else I’d be getting rid of dust in my house for weeks!) This was by far the most time consuming part. In total, I think I spent about 4 hours sanding. I’m certain it had more to do with the sander that I was using and also what was apparently a build up of varnish on the table top. If I ever do an extensive sanding project again, I’m going to invest in a belt sander. I had wanted the table to have a uniform finish after sanding, but I quickly realized that was not going to be possible. The nature of this wood, which is pine, is rustic and somewhat uneven and that’s actually the appeal of it. So I gave up that fight and decided this is what I was going to work with.

table-7

After using the wood conditioner (an important step, especially if you’re working with a soft wood) I applied a coat of stain with a foam brush and let it sit for a few minutes and then wiped away the excess. When you’re working with raw wood, it tends to be pretty thirsty so most of the stain was absorbed. After the first coat was dry, I sanded using a fine grit sandpaper, wiped it clean with the tack cloth, and applied another coat. Now, after I applied this coat, I FORGOT TO WIPE AWAY THE EXCESS! What that resulted in was a sticky surface. I used some mineral spirits on an absorbent cloth and wiped the table with a fair amount of pressure and that did the trick. Crisis averted.

The side on the right is after one coat of stain and the side on the left is after two coats. 

wood table

  

I applied three coats in total, and after the third coat of stain dried completely, I applied two coats of satin poly and here she is, good as new!

Actually, better!   

table-11

Now…I love the look of the table, but I still feel like the area needs some brightening up. The chairs have lots of interesting carvings and I’m thinking I should highlight those with paint. Or maybe paint the chairs a light color and distress the areas where the chairs have the carvings. I’ll live with it a while longer and see how I feel.

 

In other news…

 

It’s been another frustrating week dealing with the NY City Dept. of Health regarding the never ending saga of my BC. Here’s an excerpt from my latest email to an attorney at the Dept:

‘I have written to the Mayor’s office in NY, as well as a Consumer Advocacy group here in Massachusetts. If needed, I will also be contacting a local news station, and if none of these work, I will be forced to hire an attorney. I wish this wasn’t necessary, but I don’t see any other way around this bureaucracy.

Can we please put an end to this nonsense?’

 

I’m happy to say she emailed me back asking for additional information, so that’s encouraging. At least I hope so!!

I’m not sure I’ll get another post in this week, so let me take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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Set To Celebrate! (Part 2)

Are you starting to get into the spirit of the holidays? If not, I think some of these pictures will help :).

If you missed my last post on Sunday, you may want to click here. (Since there were too many pictures to put in one post, I thought I’d divide them up a bit.)

 

place settings 

Although most of the tables had a holiday or ‘grown up’ theme, not all did. What do you think about this circus themed table? Pretty elaborate, especially with the added canopy!

circus setting

This next table garnered a LOT of attention, and it was well deserved. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to sit down at this table, but I suppose that’s a minor detail ;).

place settings

Sweet little birds were placed strategically through out the branches, and I really liked the combination of natural and glamorous touches, but I’ll be perfectly honest and say I’m including this because I just love this picture!

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Here’s a cute little table set for a young lady’s birthday celebration. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have three small cakes with different fillings than one big one! Let’s see…maybe cannoli filling in one, chocolate mousse in another and coconut/lemon in the third. Yup, that would pretty much be heaven for me!

placesettings-27

 

place settings

This next table was another crowd favorite. Everyone, including me, seemed to be fascinated with the centerpiece. It’s really quite simple to make, using plastic, glittery beads, adhesive and LED lights. If you stay tuned, I think I may be able to show you a diy version soon. ;)

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And isn’t this clever? A complete table showcasing various napkin folds. There must have been at least 50!

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I showed this table in my previous post, but forgot to include this shot of the front of it. If you look closely, you’ll notice those are ladles wrapped around the ends of the ribbon in various  heights. Very cool!

placesettings-23 

 Do you have a favorite? 

 

In other news…

 

I think my site was down for a good part of the day. I tried to log in around 3 to write this post, and it wouldn’t load up on the back end or the front end. I contacted hostgator and after chatting for 30 minutes (and that’s AFTER a 30 minute wait time) they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. As soon as we ended our chat, the site was working! They wrote a ‘ticket’ and said an administrator would contact me, but so far no one has. Good thing the site is up and running because if I had to wait for them to figure it out I’d still be waiting. It’s making me wonder if I want to stay with Hostgator. Who host’s your site? Have you been satisfied?

 

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Set To Celebrate!

Are you looking at this from your phone? If you are, you may want to consider moseying on over to a desktop, or at least an iPad. You’re going to want to see this from a larger screen so you can fully appreciate all the delicious eye candy you’re about to see.

Saturday I went to a fundraiser called ‘Set To Celebrate’ in Hartford, Ct. that showcased table settings designed by various artisans. Most of the participants were florists or interior designers, so it’s safe to say they know they’re stuff, and it showed. But don’t take my word for it. Get comfortable and see for yourself.

Each table represented a different theme, and although it’s nearing the holidays and there were several Thanksgiving and Christmas themed tables, many were not. I’ll start with the more rustic, ‘Autumnal’ tables and work my way toward Christmas and then a couple of tables that would be fabulous for New Year’s and then my favorites, wedding tables. 

SET TO CELEBRATE

 

Set To Celebrate

 

placesettings-3

I thought the shape of this plate was unique, and pairing a rustic napkin with it was a touch of the unexpected! This table was filled with succulents, moss and various plantings. Perhaps not the most practical table setting, but interesting nonetheless.

placesettings-4

Ok, so I cheated a little bit here. This was a garland at the end of a staircase. I really like the mix of orange ribbon against the bright green evergreen, and it really shows how simple elements can make a huge impact. 

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 Notice the chicken wire? How cute is that?

placesettings-7

Each table, or in this case, vignette, were labeled with their theme name. This next one was located on a stage area and was labeled ‘A Posh Picnic’, and indeed it was!

place settings

 

placesettings-22

This next table, with an Asian theme, was called ‘Christmas with the Goldberg’s’. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but in our part of the country many Jewish people go to a movie and out for Chinese food on Christmas, so this was a bit tongue in cheek.  

placesettings-8

 

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Here’s a table that could easily be used for a wedding as well as New Year’s, or even Christmas. I love the classic combinations of gold, cream and crystal!

placesettings-5

 

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Here’s a close up of the napkin in the above picture. Interesting buttons sewed on make for a unique, albeit unpractical, napkin!

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This table, filed with antique hard to find Steuben glass, is so festive for a Christmas celebration.  

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Placing roses on top of cranberries in a compote dish is such a pretty, elegant way to add color and interest to a table.

set to celebrate

This next table, perfect anytime but especially for New Year’s, represents what a table might have looked like at the famous Algonquin Hotel in the 20’s when it was a well known hang out for the movers and shakers at that time.

placesettings-14

Tucked away in a corner was this stunning wedding table vignette. That was a real goose, stuffed of course! 

set to celebrate

Take a good look at this detail. Can you believe how beautiful this is?? It was even prettier in person!

wedding tea pot  

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On the other side of the room was one of my personal favorites (but there were so many!). I loved the use of pearls, crystal and soft apricot colors that this table showcased. So romantic, don’t you agree?

wedding table

 

set to celebrate

 

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In all, I took over 130 photos. Of course, some of them aren’t worth sharing but there are many more that are so I will show you those in another follow up post later this week.

Update: Click here for the follow up post

Now you can go back to your phone ;).

 

In other news…

 

I don’t know if you’re tired of hearing about my birth certificate debacle, but let me tell you, I’m definitely tired of it! I thought I might have gotten things straightened out, but no such luck. One of the items they (Dept. of Mental Health) asked for was a letter from a Dr. I’ve seen for ten years or more. Well, there are only two that fall into that category…my gyno and my dentist. My dentist was easier to reach and communicate with so I sent a letter from him with the information they were asking for. Well, it looks like that wasn’t good enough because he’s not an ‘MD’. He also said that normally I would need a court order to change my name from ‘Dorien’ to ‘Doreen’ (even though the instruction document indicates otherwise) because the pronunciation is different. I almost asked him if English was his second language, because anyone with a 3rd grade education or above knows the pronunciations are the same.

Just shoot me now.

 

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Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Jalapeño Pepper Jelly is one of my all time favorite things to eat. Trust me. It’s AMAZING! It’s tart and sweet, with just enough of a kick to keep you coming back for more. Paired with some mild cheese like goat or cream cheese, it’s the perfect bite.

Our friend has served this several times as an appetizer at get togethers but until recently I never made it, but now that I have, I’m hooked. EVERYONE who tries this loves it and says it tastes like a fancy jelly you’d find at a gourmet store, and they’re right!

I found a few recipes on line but ended up tweaking them and came up with the following recipe, which seems to work for my taste buds. If you like things a bit spicier or milder, adjust the jalapeños accordingly.

 

jelly

 

Jalapeño Jelly
A fabulously tasty jelly perfect as an appetizer paired with goat or cream cheese and crackers
Write a review
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large red bell pepper
  2. 1 large green bell pepper
  3. 12-14 jalapeños (leave a few seeds in)
  4. 1 1/2 cup white vinegar
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 6 cups of sugar
  7. 1 pouch of Certo liquid fruit pectin
Instructions
  1. 1 - In a food processor, finely chop peppers, scraping sides once or twice. Place peppers in a large pot with the vinegar, salt and sugar. Boil for 10-12 minutes, stirring often. Add Certo pouch and boil 1 more minute.
  2. 2 - Using a funnel, fill canning jars and place lids on, being careful not to tighten them too much.
  3. 3 - Place in water bath for 10 minutes, remove with tongs and cool.
Notes
  1. The jelly will appear to be runny for a day or two. Don't worry. It will set up.
  2. When boiling, make sure you watch the pot closely, or you might end up with an over boiled pot of sugar and pectin on your stove top...just sayin' ;)
  3. Any kind of cracker goes great, but I like Triscuits.
  4. You can also use this as a dipping sauce for meats and poultry!
HouseHoneys.com http://www.househoneys.com/

Did you know jalapeños can vary in their degree of hotness? So how can you tell what you’re buying you ask? Here’s a tip: jalapeños get hotter the older they get and eventually turn bright red. During the aging process they develop white lines (sort of like we do, only we call it cellulite and unlike the jalapeño, that’s not hot). The more lines, the hotter the pepper. (You can see in the photo above the differences between some of the peppers.)

If you’ve been thinking about doing some canning but are concerned about the fuss, there’s a canning pot I highly recommend. It costs a bit more, but sooooo worth it! Here’s a link (not an affiliate link) in case you want to have a look. This type of canner eliminates the need for filling a large pot with water and submerging the jars. A HUGE PLUS!

Did you miss my post on ‘How To Create An Awesome Cheese Platter‘? Click on over for some easy ways to create a beautiful and delicious platter that all you guests are sure to love! (You can get a glimpse of the jelly in use in that post.)

 

In other news…

 

I spent more than three hours yesterday and today sanding the top of our dining table, and I still don’t have all the stain removed. It’s turning out to be a bear of a project, and I think I might have opened up a can of worms, but I’m determined to make it work. 

 

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Autumn In New England (and other random tidbits)

Autumn in New England is special, and I don’t take it for granted. Not for a minute.

People come from all over to experience the beauty that is Autumn here in New England, and why wouldn’t they? If there is anything more spectacular, I have yet to see it.

maple tree 

autumn in new england

On my way to the gym, (at least twice a week. You didn’t think my Beyonce-like body was come by naturally, did you?) I pass this property and have been crushing on it. I posted this picture on Facebook October 4th, and four weeks later I noticed a ‘For Sale By Owner’ sign. Serendipity perhaps? I think not. Fisherman would rather lose an appendage then give up…

house

this. Where he spends a great deal of time on his boat, weather permitting. Can’t say I blame him. 

lake

I dug this next picture up from the archives from a few years ago. Looks like it might have been around September, as the leaves are just beginning to turn.

(When my daughter saw the picture of that property on Facebook, she said it looks like the kind of place where someone would drag her into the barn and murder her. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she was left on our doorstep.) 

fisherman

Vistas like this are commonplace around here. 

farm

A few days ago we went to the Smith College Chrysanthemum Show. I took lots of pics, but here’s one of my favorites. Completely unedited except for the watermark. Isn’t it gorgeous??

mum

This Japanese Maple was located on the property of the college, just outside the greenhouse. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one quite this vibrant. These are such fabulous specimen trees, and it looks like this one has been around a while. 

japanesemaple

Now for the ‘tidbits’…

Last month Susan Branch was having a book signing at a library and a friend and I went. The library is housed in a beautiful, old, historic building, the likes of which you rarely see anymore. I think it might have been a bank at one time. Nowadays, banks are utilitarian boxes with as much character as a zit. 

(Excuse the blurry picture por favor. I take no ‘credit’ for this one.)

susanbranch

I have my own special greeting from Susan! How cool is that!? 

calendertwo

I didn’t get her book while I was there, but I picked it up this past weekend at a small, family run book store. Just like the beautiful buildings of days past, it’s getting harder and harder to find businesses that haven’t succumbed to the onslaught of the horrendous big box stores.

book

We took the grandkids to The Springfield Museums a few weeks ago. It’s a cluster of museums in one spot that truly has something for everyone. I learned that Springfield is where the automobile was invented, and that Dr. Seus grew up there. Here’s Maddox striking a pose in the Dr. Seus sculpture garden.

drseus

There was an aquarium in one of the museums and I couldn’t resist the colors and textures of this display. 

shells

We later went to a Halloween Event at Forest Park in Springfield and he wore a police uniform. That’s where we saw the ‘creature’ I showed you in this post (it’s actually a turtle!). 

Do you get the feeling he likes having his picture taken?  He looks so angelic in this picture…if only. ;) 

maddox

The next day we went for a walk, looking for ‘big leaves’.

maddoxwalking

And just in case you missed it the first time…

mapletree

 

wonderful world 

In other news…

 

We’ve got some projects in the works. I’m hoping to add some crown molding to the tops of our kitchen cabinets. Last week, some trees were cut down and I’m thinking about using some slabs for a walkway, and maybe some smaller ones for plate chargers. Next week I’m going to a fundraiser that will be showcasing about 30 tablescapes for the holidays. I’ll be sure to share that with you!

 

 

 

 

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How To Create An Awesome Cheese Platter

It’s November my friends, and that pretty much signals the beginning of the holiday season. For the next two months many of you will be busy entertaining, (or if you’re lucky, being entertained) and mining through your cookbooks and Pinterest for some inspiration.

To me, a cheese platter is a great choice when thinking about what to serve guests while dinner is brewing. It’s best served at room temperature, so go ahead and put it out an hour or two before your guests arrive and you don’t have to think about it during the hustle and bustle. 

But I’m not letting you off the hook that easy. Don’t think a cheese log and some nachos are what I’m talking about here. Far from it. If you follow some of my suggestions, I can guarantee your cheese board will be the star of the show, unless of course you cook this or this for dessert. Then all bets are off.

Creating a cheese board can be, well…creative! It’s fun to think about the colors and textures as well as the flavor combinations. Try to have something for everyone when making your choices. After all, everyone loves cheese, but not everyone loves every kind of cheese.

 

cheeseboard

With this cheese board, I began by placing four different cheeses in the corners and then went hog wild with dried figs, cured meats, crackers, cheese sticks, mixed nuts, olives, candied ginger, apricots (soaked in madeira for a nice, sophisticated touch) and some grapes. I also added some ricotta cheese mixed with a little bit of honey, and a honeycomb right in the center of the board. I placed some fresh pears and quince on the board for some color and texture too.

 cheese board

Still a little intimidated about putting a fabulous cheeseboard together? Here are some quick tips for a ‘no-fail’ board: 

  • Keep It Simple

Avoid serving too many different cheeses all at once. Too many cheeses can easily overwhelm your palette. A good rule of thumb is 3-5 different cheeses.

 

cheeseboard-4 

  • Taste In Order

The other day I was sampling some sausages in a supermarket. There were 6 different kinds, and I was given the mildest first which was somewhat sweet, and ended with a very spicy one. There was a reason the sausage was given to me that way. If I had started out with the spiciest, it would have overwhelmed the milder sausage. Same thing with cheese. 

cheese board

 

  • Use Lots of Knives 

Try to have a different knife for each cheese to avoid mixing flavors.

crackers cheeseboard

 

  • Clear Your Palette 

If you’ve ever been to a wine tasting, you know it’s a good idea to clear your palette between tastings. Same principle with cheese. Water is fine, but crackers, bread or even an apple or pear slice will work.

cheeseboard

 

  • Sample The Cheese Before You Buy 

If you happen to be in a specialty store, you should be able to do this easily. Most good cheesemongers are happy to oblige. If not, just do what I did…pick a soft, hard, blue and aged cheese and hope for the best!

cheeseboard

When I put this platter together I thought it might be too much food. There were only six of us, but scroll down… 

cheeseboard

  This is what was left. I guess we were hungry ;).

cheeseboard

A week later I was ready for round two. Since cheese keeps well I decided to put together another platter, this time using a board I made earlier. I had a piece of wood and some leftover stained glass which I glued on, added some rope and I had myself a cool, unique cheeseboard.   

stained glass cheeseboard

The only thing I added this go around was some Jalepeno jelly on goat and cream cheese. (Recipe will be coming. You’ll definitely want this one!) 

cheeseboard 

Want some other ideas for what to serve with cheese? How about some grilled stone fruit, caramelized onions, preserves, and even chocolate.

This season, why not gather a few friends and some of your favorite wines and have them compare them all alongside each other while you talk about what you like and don’t like about the pairings. It’s a great way to learn! 

 

In other news…

 

After 31 years, I donated my wedding dress this week! Yup, the local High School’s theater department is now the proud recipient of my puffy, poufy 1983 wedding dress. I know some of you thought I should keep it, and I admit it felt kinda weird giving it away, but it was time. I’m actually encouraging my daughter to have her dress shortened and I think it would make a very pretty cocktail dress, maybe to be worn on their first anniversary. I doubt she’ll do it though.

 

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A Romantic Autumn Table For Two

I love putting together a pretty table, but I think I enjoy putting together Autumn tables most of all. Maybe it’s because they lend themselves so well to the warm tones that I’m drawn to. The golds, coppers and bronzes reflect both a sophisticated and cozy feeling which I love. 

Almost everything on this table came from Pier I, by far one of my favorite places to wander. They have a beautiful selection of just about anything you might need to complete your table, from dishes to the all important accessories.

 

ROMANTIC TABLE

 Now about those accessories…aren’t these napkin rings pretty?

romantic autumn table

This simple but elegant stemware had to come home with me! The ‘cracked’ glass looks so pretty I just couldn’t resist…so I didn’t!

autumnwatermarks-4

I also picked up a centerpiece that coordinated with the glassware. I prefer centerpieces that can be left on the table without interfering with anyone seeing each other, and this fit the bill nicely. This is a fairly small table as well, and a large centerpiece might look overwhelming. If you love tall centerpieces (who doesn’t?), a good option would be to simply remove it and place it somewhere else just before your guests are seated.

autumnwatermarks-7 

This unique ladle was a gift our daughter gave us from a trip to Vietnam, one of her favorite travel destinations. 

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The salad plates have a cute little pumpkin shape, making them perfect for an Autumn or Thanksgiving dinner. As cute as they are, I almost wish they had the same design as the dinner plates so they could be used year round.

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Of course, no table would be complete without a salt and pepper set!

romantic autumn table

 

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I’ve had this sterling flatware for ages! Over 20 years ago I worked as a Bridal Consultant at Macy*s and one of the perks was getting first dibs on sale items. Coupled with the employee discount, I was able to get lots of things I normally wouldn’t have been willing to pay full retail for.

romantic autumn table

 

autumnwatermarks

I’m still debating whether or not to paint this table. I have MMSMP in Ironstone at the ready in case I get the urge to have at it. One of my favorite paint projects was this cabinet, which was also the first time I used milk paint. It’s in our master bath and every time I go to the bathroom it’s right in front of me and it makes me smile. Beats reading The Wall Street Journal ;). 

autumnwatermarks-9

 

Wanna stalk some more of my Autumn tablescapes? You can start here for a look at a rustic table, then go here for a look at something with a bit more color, then here for a quick look at our former dining room and another Pier I table from two years ago. Or you can click on ‘Categories’ in my Nav Bar and click on ‘Tablescapes’.

 

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In other news…

 

It’s windy and cold here today! We’ve already lost power a few times, but thankfully not for long. The rest of the week should be a bit warmer.

Remember my Birth Certificate debacle (scroll to the bottom of that post so you know what I’m talking about)? Well, I think I may finally have gotten that resolved, although I still don’t have one yet. Stay tuned and fingers crossed.

 

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The Lightest, Creamiest Cheesecake You Will Ever Eat!

Have you ever met anyone who didn’t like cheesecake?

Me either.

With this recipe, I’ve gone from ‘liking’ cheesecake, to being somewhat obsessed with it. This is the cheesecake of my dreams.

It’s light, it’s airy, and it’s pretty easy to make too. That’s the trifecta in my book.

I’m not a huge fan of dense desserts. The kind that make you feel over stuffed after eating just a small amount. This cake is different. I think I could have eaten the whole cake by myself and lived to tell the tale.

After making this cake and serving it to guests, I found myself looking at the leftovers and thinking ‘hummmm, this piece looks a little crooked, I should straighten it out’, then taking the fork, grabbing a piece and continuing this process until I pretty much consumed an entire piece. You’ve done that too, right?

It’s truly that good, and once you make cheesecake this way, I doubt you’ll ever try another recipe again. I know I won’t.

 

CREAMY CHEESECAKE 

 

 

I first experienced this divine gift from the Gods a few weeks ago at a friends house when another guest had brought this to share. We all agreed it was heavenly and I knew I wanted to make it at the first opportunity I had and share with you all, so here goes…

Light & Airy Cheesecake
Serves 12
An incredibly light and airy cheesecake that will have your friends begging you for the recipe!
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 8 oz and 1 3 oz package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  2. 1 cup of sugar
  3. 1 pint sour cream
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 6 eggs, separated
For the crust
  1. 2 cups graham crackers, crushed
  2. 1 stick butter, melted
  3. 3 Tbs. sugar
  4. 1 10" springform pan
Instructions
  1. Combine ingredients for crust either in a food processor or by hand and place in bottom and sides of pan up to 2/3 of the way up.
  2. Mix cream cheese until creamy and add sour cream. Blend until incorporated. Add sugar and vanilla and incorporate thoroughly. Add six yolks, one at a time, and blend.
  3. In a separate bowl and using clean beaters, beat egg whites until fluffy. Fold in gently and incorporate.
  4. Place mixture in springform pan and place in a preheated, 300 degree oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour, turn oven off and leave cake in oven for an additional hour before removing.
Notes
  1. Here's a a tip I learned the hard way: make sure your cake has plenty of 'head room'. I placed another rack too close and that resulted in a cracked top. It didn't change the taste of the cake but if you want your cake to be all nice and pretty give it some room to rise up.
  2. Depending on your oven, your cake may not brown on top. If that happens, place it under the broiler but make sure you don't take your eyes off it! It will brown in less than 3 minutes so be careful!
  3. If you don't have a 10" springform pan, you may use a 9" pan but you will have to add about 15 minutes to the cooking time.
  4. To avoid potentially getting your oven dirty, use a piece of foil on the bottom of your oven. I didn't have an issue with this but it's a good thing to do nonetheless.
  5. Use a thin, sharp knife if needed to separate the cake from the sides before removing the springform.
  6. The recipe doesn't call for greasing the pan before adding the ingredients, but I did anyway. I think it helped.
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What makes this cheesecake special is the egg whites. Typically there are fewer eggs used for most cheesecakes, and you usually add the eggs all at once. Whipping the whites and gently folding them in is what sets this cake apart. It’s another step, but very much worth the effort.  Make sure you Pin this one using my Pin button below for the holidays!

 

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Where All Our Junk Is, aka ‘The Shed’

Let’s be honest. Have you ever seen anyone make such a big deal out of a storage shed?

It’s not even a cute one. There’s no windows or sweet little window boxes. There’s no adorable cupola or even pretty flowers around it. And there isn’t even super cool organizing systems inside.

But, I admit it. I’m more than a little obsessed with this space.

 

SHED

 

The story of our shed started nearly two years ago when we decided we were going to add a deck to the back of the house.

I had plans. Big plans.

Plans that included a gazebo on the deck, and a portion of the deck to be a screened in porch for bug free dining, and a fully functioning workshop directly underneath, complete with electricity and direct home access. After receiving estimates that would require I sell a kidney, we scaled back.

Waaaaay back.

We first ditched the gazebo idea, which was just as well because it would have looked too bulky for the space. Next came the screened in porch. I let go of that idea kickin’ and screamin’. We decided to just make the most of the space under the deck and called the contractor who built it last year to complete the work. After two unanswered phone calls and emails to him (that’s pretty typical behavior around here), in the spirit of true DIY’ers, we decided to tackle it ourselves. 

We found someone to level the area and spread about 3″ of pea gravel down, and then we got to work. After installing 14 boards of OSB and staining them, we went from this…

 

under deck storage

to this. Don’t worry, this is Phase 1.

shed-3

 

At about 1/3 the cost of standard plywood, OSB is a great budget friendly choice when aesthetics aren’t important, which is exactly the case here except for the outside which we covered with vinyl lattice.

Once the area was built, we got to work sorting through the tons of stuff Fisherman had. Let me tell you, it’s a miracle he was ever able to find anything, and in fact I know he purchased things over the years that he already had because he couldn’t find what he was looking for. Drove me crazy!

 

shed1-2

 

The room above, aka the ‘Man Cave’, is where we also had two very small storage rooms where all the stuff most people would store in their garage, attic, basement, shed, etc. had to reside.

It was horrendous.

See what I mean?

 

storage room 

That workbench took up way too much space. I might have started a conga line the day we moved it into the shed. Yup. Pretty sure I did.

Moving all this stuff outside where it belongs freed up this space for MY stuff. Stuff that wasn’t getting used regularly in my craft room but that I still needed/wanted, so I’ve been busy getting all that organized. I even put a curtain in front of the ugly furnace. Yes. I. Did. 

Take note of the ceiling in the pic below. That’s plastic, grooved panels readily available that were installed when the deck was constructed to keep water from infiltrating the ‘future’ shed. We still have some water coming in, especially when it rains really hard, and we’ll address that somehow, but for the most part it stays pretty dry. We put some tarps down because we quickly realized they would help keep the moisture build up at bay, then spent some time critter proofing it as best we could. One day I was in the shed and saw what I knew was a mouse under the tarps, trying to get out from under. He finally found his way out, looked up at me, and disappeared. Two seconds later I jumped when he crossed paths with a mouse trap.

Life in the country :/. 

 

shed-5

 

We picked this console up off the curb, and received nearly 15 linear feet of laminate counter top from a neighbor for free. (See below)

 

shed1

 

We purchased another console from Craigslist for $20 (solid walnut!) which was just the right height to work alongside some existing tables that we had and it gives us plenty of counter space to store stuff. We didn’t want to make holes in the house and the framing isn’t super sturdy so we opted to just use freestanding shelves for our storage needs.

We have one small light in the center, which isn’t nearly enough but we will add to that in the future. 

 

shed3-2

 

See the garbage pail? We didn’t have a secure place to store it but now we do. Definitely a major consideration when you’re in bear country!

 

storage shed 

We needed to order the lattice. All they had in stock were dark brown, which looked way too dark, and white, which wouldn’t have worked at all.We were able to install the lattice fairly quickly, and called it a day.  

 

shed-6

 

Some of you know our house is a log cabin, so you may be wondering why this portion of the house is sided. The previous owners added on, and when they did so they did it this way, instead of logs. :(

 

shed-7

 

shed-9

 

I’m planning on softening up the lattice a bit with some vines, and am open to suggestions if you have any other ideas.

Now, it may not be what I had initially hoped for, it’s not going to get ooooohs and ahhhhhs (but feel free to do so), and it’s certainly not going to get pinned a hundred times, but I’m very, very, happy to have it! You can imagine what it was like having most of this stuff in two very tiny storage rooms in our basement for this self professed neat freak.

If you’ve got some dead space under a deck, seriously consider doing something like this. The entire cost for this storage space, which measures approximately 32×12, was just under $1,200. It’s not perfect, but I got to keep my kidney, and that’s a good thing.

 

In other news…

 

I’ve mentioned recently that I’m posting just once a week now on Sunday evenings, but I’m thinking for the next few weeks I might up the anty. Lots of you are busy planning your holiday menus, and I’ve got some awesome recipes that will make your friends think you’ve morphed into Giada DeLaurentis. Well, at least the cooking part. You’re on your own with the face and body. And the teeth? Don’t even get me started! 

If you don’t want to miss a single post, click here to subscribe to receive free updates in your in box. Once you’re there, the easiest way to subscribe is just click on where it says ‘subscribe to Househoneys.com via email’ in the box. I know. Super complicated. 

Before I let you go, here’s one more picture I want to share. Can you guess what this is????

Turtle at the Zoo

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Vintage Treasures aka ‘Junk I Don’t Need’

You know the feeling. I know you do.

You see something at a garage sale and your heart skips a beat.

But you’ve been down this road before, so you remain cool.

So cool you would make James Dean look like George Costanza, minus the hat and leather jacket.

You say to the guy, very casually – what are you asking for this thing?

You try to appear nonchalant, as if you’re the only person who would be interested in his junk. But, you’re ready to pay almost anything he asks, within reason. When he says $15, your heart skips ANOTHER beat. You tell him you don’t really have a place for it and the items inside the drawers are of no use to you. You ask ‘will you take $10’? 

A few moments later you’re smiling like the Cheshire cat. Yup. YOU are ;). 

 

VINTAGE TREASURES

Before we get to my treasure (tell the truth, you knew it was me all along didn’t you?), I’m going to share some pictures I took while on a bike ride the other day. 

It’s no secret New England is gorgeous this time of year. We went on a trail called the Noratuck trail near Northhampton, Massachusetts, a lively college town about 1 hour away. 

I fell in love with this shed and the silver trough on the side. Love the cupola and how pristine the surroundings are, nicer than most homes actually, mine definitely included! I had to brave the elements, the brush and poison ivy to get this shot. Who loves ya’ baby?

vintage treasures

vintagetreasures-3

vintagetreasures-4

Now here’s the money shot. 

vintagetreasures-5

Now on to my recent treasures. In spite of the title of this post, I don’t consider this junk, although I know many, many, people who would

But that’s only because they’re sane.

After all, it was filthy and almost falling apart. After cleaning it up with rust remover and mineral spirits, (and yes, this is the ‘after’ if you can believe it) and hammering in a couple of pieces of wood that had fallen off, I’m giving this a place of honor in my craft room. And I’m not putting manly things inside. I’m not even putting brushes or sewing supplies inside. I’m putting the goodies that I have leftover from the bouquet. Talk about a juxtaposition of materials.

I love it.

I love it in a way most rationale people wouldn’t understand. I love the patina, the well worn look and its history.

It was owned by the grandfather of the man I bought it from and he said it’s from the ’40’s. Judging by it’s condition and some of the items inside, I’d say that’s a conservative estimate. 

It was filled to the brim with small tools, screws and items I couldn’t even identify. Between the steel drawers and the heavy tools, this thing weighed more than moi, and that’s saying a lot since within a 48 hour time span I had some of my apple pie, a cannoli and a Brontosaurus Rex for an appetizer.

 I imagine the man who owned this was one handy dude.

vintagetreasures-6

The hinges on the right are exactly like the hinges that are on this console that I acquired several months ago and refinished. They were, and still are, my favorite part of that piece and I hope I can find a use for these hinges someday, not to mention the pretty knobs on the left. 

vintagetreasures-7

I’ve been wanting a metal planter like this one in the middle but they’re about $50-75 in the stores and of course they’re lacking that all important patina that I covet. I picked this one up for $5 and the pail on the left was free. And free is good.

vintage drawers

I bought the pails at a different tag sale than the tool chest. The owner of the pails had owned an antique shop and was selling everything off to move to South Dakota. I also picked up an old Waring blender for $3.00. I actually donated one when we moved several months ago but lived to regret it when I started using MMSMP. That stuff really needs to be blended and there’s just no better way to do it than with a blender. 

vintagetreasures-9

We’ve been working a bit outside and trying to clean things up so maybe next year there will be a place for these items outside. I imagine they’ll be put to use as planters. Our yard is a hot mess, but I’m hoping that will change in the next year or two. Unlike working inside, I actually don’t enjoy outside work and neither does Fisherman so it’s something that gets put off. Our former home had lovely landscaping but other than the planning of it, I couldn’t take credit for it. We had help with that, but it’s difficult to get reliable, knowledgeable help here and besides, now that we’re retired we have the time so I feel we should do what we can on our own.

vintagetreasures-10

 

In other news…

 

The storage shed under the deck is complete, although we’re having some issues with water coming in when it rains hard, which it recently did. It’s not terrible, but it needs to be addressed. I spent some time organizing the basement storage areas that are now free of all the stuff that have found a new home in the shed and I feel like I can finally breathe! I’ll show you some pictures next week. They’re not pretty, but since I’ve been yapping about this shed for months I think I should come clean with some pictures.

 

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